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PARLIAMENT

Mahatma Gandhi an example to the whole world, President Sirisena

During a time when certain groups are belittling the reconciliation process initiated by the government, Mahathma Gandhi’s legacy was a great example for true reconciliation, President Maithripala Sirisena yesterday said.

President Sirisena made these observations in Parliament yesterday, participating in the Special Adjournment debate on the Commemoration of the 150th Birth Anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi.

Speaking further, President Sirisena said that Mahathma Gandhi was an exemplary personality to the whole world.

“When India gained independence, he urged that Pakistan should not be made a separate country. He was in tears as he requested Muhammad Ali Jinnah, not to ask for a separate country. But his request was not accepted. Now, look at the long prevailing Indo - Pakistani conflict. How much has it affected the economy of these two countries? Look at the billions of money allocated by both these countries for security purposes. How many were killed?” President Sirisena pointed out.

President Sirisena also said that Mahatma Gandhi was not a politician, but a humanist who gathered and led all contemporary leaders with a non-violent approach.

“Mahatma Gandhi led the people who were suppressed by British colonial rule towards independence, cherishing discipline, order, patience and love.

He was an example not only to our country, but to the entire world,” President Sirisena observed.

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Parliament commemorates Mahatma Gandhi : the “Father of India”

Parliament yesterday, took up a special Adjournment Debate to commemorate the 150th Birth Anniversary of the late Mahatma Gandhi, prominent political and spiritual leader of India.

The 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi is being commemorated as a global event starting from October 2.

The Adjournment Motion was moved by Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe. Indian High Commissioner to Sri Lanka Taranjit Singh was present at the VIP gallery along with his diplomatic officers to listen to the debate.

Speaker Karu Jayasuriya at the commencement of the Adjournment Debate announced that Gandhi’s vision, based on truth and non-violence, is a guiding light for the entire world. Gandhi, who is remembered with great respect as the “Father of India” and “Father of non-violence,” spearheaded India’s independent movement based on truth and non-violence, said the Speaker.

Prime Minister Wickremesinghe called Gandhi as “an extra-ordinary political strategist who challenged the largest empire of the world through Satyagraha.”

“Gandhi realized that you have to mobilize the masses to free India and that you have to use legal framework as the tool,” he added.

Wickremesinghe quoting Gandhi’s words, ‘I can see that in the midst of death life persists, in the midst of untruth truth persists, in the midst of darkness light persists,’ went on to say that “this was the confidence he gave the people of India, a confidence which others copied from the people of India as they struggled to win their freedom.” Gandhi is shared by all of us.

Though he is known for leading the freedom struggle in India, his influence was such, that it immediately influenced the countries around India.

Swaraj meant not merely political independence, but self-sufficiency,” the Premier said.

Opposition Leader R Sampanthan, Party Leaders and members of both the Government and the Opposition, joined in the debate that continued for about half a day.

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Trincomalee Oil Tank Farm development

Amendments to Commissions of Inquiry Act to expedite judicial process:Minister Rajapakshe

The amendment to the Commissions of Inquiry Act intends to lower the duplicity of proceedings and expedite the judicial process, Higher Education and Cultural Affairs Minister Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe yesterday said. With the amendment, the Presidential Commission of Inquiry Act and the Special Presidential Commission of Inquiry Act would be brought to an equal level, he pointed out.

Minister Rajapakshe made these observations, opening the Second Reading of the Commission of Inquiry (Amendment) Bill yesterday.

He pointed out that the findings of a Presidential Commission of Inquiry are considered admissible evidence which leads to duplicity of proceedings when taking legal action. “Even though the COI comes up with solid evidence in an inquiry, the Police have to conduct a separate inquiry from the beginning, when legal action is taken on the same case. This results in duplicity of proceedings,” he said.

“The Attorney General could take legal action based on the findings of a Special Presidential Commission of Inquiry. With this amendment, the same status would be given to the Presidential Commission of Inquiry as well. The only difference is that the person who could institute legal action is not the Attorney General, but the Director General of the Commission to Investigate Allegations of Bribery or Corruption,” Minister Rajapakshe explained.

In reply to a question raised by JO MP Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena, Minister Rajapakshe observed that following these amendments, the Bribery Commission could take legal action based on the findings of the Treasury Bond Commission if the evidence collected by the Commission be adequate.

Minister Rajapakshe also said that experts would be recruited to the Bribery Commission for the first time in Sri Lanka. He said that countries such as Hong Kong, with a less population than Sri Lanka, has experts attached to their corruption fighting establishments whereas in Sri Lanka, there is not a single expert used for the same process.

The Minister also observed that the amendment to the Bribery Act is not satisfactory. He also pointed out that the Assets Laxatives Act should also be amended for which Cabinet approval has been granted. Rajapakshe also pointed out it that is of national interest that new laws be introduced to strengthen the anti-corruption establishments.

“The current laws only cover bribery and corruption in the public sector. But we understand that there is bribery and corruption thriving in the private sector as well. We need to bring in new laws to curb bribery and corruption in the private sector. We don’t have a law in reference to bribing in the guise of giving gifts or presents. There is no law on conflicts of interest or bribing foreign dealers. We need to bring in new laws covering all these sections” he said.

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Trincomalee Oil Tank Farm development Minister urges JVP not to hamper joint venture project

Petroleum Resources Development Minister Arjuna Ranatunga urged that the Government’s endeavour to develop the Trincomalee Oil Tank Farm by way of a joint venture project between the Ceylon Petroleum Corporation (CPC) and Lanka Indian Oil Company (LIOC) not be hampered.

He requested the JVP not to spread falsehoods on the initiative to develop the Trincomalee oil storage facility which had been idling for years.

The minister was responding to a question raised by Chief Opposition Whip and JVP Leader Anura Dissanayake on September 21.

The Minister said the upper tank farm comprising 85 tanks would be leased to a sub company formed jointly by the CPC and LIOC for development. Out of them 16 tanks would be handed over to the CPC by the sub company once the development work is over.

The period of the lease will be decided by Cabinet.

The agreement signed between the Sri Lankan Government and LIOC on February 7, 2003 would be cancelled with the signing of the new agreement.

The lower tank farm comprising 15 tanks, which are already being used by the IOC, would be given to the same company for a period determined by Cabinet.

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