Parliament | Daily News


We are a resilient country and people; we shall defeat extremism - Malik

Under the leadership of the President and Prime Minister, our Security Forces have engaged in impressive counter-terrorism measures and begun to break the back of the extremist network that had surreptitiously spread. Suspects are being apprehended and questioned, new security measures are being implemented, and targeted international cooperation is being obtained, said Development Strategies and International Trade Minister Malik Samarawickrama.

Joining the first day of the two day debate in Parliament yesterday on the current security situation in the country following the Easter Sunday terror attacks he said, “The tragic events of Easter Sunday last month has left us with enduring grief for the families of those innocent people who lost their lives, but it has also strengthened our resolve to fight this menace of extremist terrorism and bring safety and security to our people.

They tried to break the country and our people. They tried to fill Sri Lankans with fear. But Sri Lankans are stronger than that. We are more united than we give ourselves credit for”.

Amidst all this, the minister assured that the government is working towards bringing normalcy to the country and called on everyone to collectively focus all efforts on building back confidence to the economy.

He said one of the most important ways to help the country and the economy bounce back, is by encouraging international partners to keep doing business with Sri Lanka.

“I have written individually to every major Chamber of Commerce and business association in Sri Lanka, as well as to our Ambassadors and High Commissioners in over two dozen key markets, seeking their help to reach out to the international business and investor community, to encourage them to keep supporting our economy.”

He pointed out that many sectors in the economy rely on positive international support to continue their business – whether it is the globally competitive IT industry, the apparel and other manufacturing industry, the tea, rubber and spices industry, the electronics industry, and the tourism industry.

“We commit to our international investors that our country is being made safe, and all efforts are being taken to this end. It is their support during challenging times like this that will ensure that terrorism does not win, and Sri Lanka’s quest for economic prosperity will not be beaten down.”

“As we have done before, on numerous occasions in recent history, we will demonstrate that we are a resilient country and a resilient people.

Meanwhile, here at home, I believe the private sector of our country can play a big role in supporting the Government’s efforts and helping our economy get through this challenging time.

We have seen it before. Whether it was during the decades of the armed conflict; whether it was after repeated terrorist attacks on our city and our economic infrastructure; whether it was after tragic events like the tsunami and other natural disasters that occur frequently, our private sector has remained courageous and resilient,” said Minister Samarawickrama.

He said now is such a time, once again for the private sector and government to work closely together to ensure that the country bounce back from this atrocity quickly and don’t let the terrorists win.

He thanked the private sector for what they have done so far – whether it is their cooperation with security measures in the aftermath of the attacks; their cooperation in ensuring religious and ethnic harmony is maintained; and now, cooperation to ensure the economic fallout can be minimized.

He said that the government has already begun formulating an assistance plan for the tourism industry, to help them tide through the coming months. “We have been meeting with tourism industry representatives over the past two weeks to come up with a suitable package. As a government we stand ready to listen and assist any other sector that may need support.”

He noted that by the end of March the country’s foreign reserves stood at US Dollars 7.6 Billion, which is sufficient for over 4 months of import cover. “Exports and FDI reached all-time highs in 2018 and the trade deficit in February was the lowest monthly deficit in over 5 years. Inflation was well under control at 4.5% in April. The Rupee has appreciated 3.0% during this year and up to yesterday. Interest rates declined over 100 basis points this year and we have taken measures to bring down borrowing costs even further by at least 2%, especially for SMEs. The fiscal position continues to strengthen, with a primary budget surplus of 0.6% of GDP in 2018 and a 1.5% surplus projected for 2019.”

Therefore, he said against this backdrop of strong economic fundamentals; a resilient and courageous private sector; and the comprehensive measures being taken by the Government and the security forces, he is confident that the country will emerge out of this challenge, strong and unfazed.

“This is not the time for the fanatics nor the faint-hearted. Our duty as Parliamentarians is not to our Party alone, but to the Nation and indeed to all our citizens. Our duty is not merely the preservation of political power but the preservation of peace and democracy. So, let us not be petty when our cause is so great. Let us not quarrel amongst ourselves when our Nation’s future is at stake,” he urged.

He called on all MPs of the House to commit to working together, putting aside petty differences and work together. “If not completely put aside then at least postpone for another time our usual blame-games and narrow politicking. For this is a time for solidarity and collective responsibility in this Parliament – Government and Opposition alike. Our citizens are watching us and are expecting much from us. Let’s not let them down,” he said, calling on all MPs to stand together, determined to eradicating terrorism and lead the citizens into new frontiers of peace and prosperity.

Adequate security provided for schools - Akila

The government has provided adequate security for schools after taking into consideration the reports of the Security Council and Intelligence Units, Education Minister Akila Viraj Kariyawasam said in Parliament yesterday.

Minister Kariyawasam also said that although the attendance of the students was very low on Monday, the number had increased by two fold by yesterday in most of areas, although the student turnout remained low in Colombo schools.

The Education Minister further said that conducting security checks at all schools countrywide were completed by Sunday and security personnel had been deployed to all schools.

He also said that student attendance in the Uva Province was 20 percent on Monday and this figure had increased to 40 percent yesterday. However, student attendance would increase in due course.

Minister Kariyawasam further said that schools functioned even during the three decades of terrorism and even during the 88-89 insurgency period. He added that schools cannot be kept closed for long and even though we would open the schools a few weeks later, the people would raise the same questions on the security situation of the country.

The Minister was speaking in response to a question raised by EPDP Parliamentarian Douglas Devananda under Standing Order 27(2) on the security provided for schools. He said that 95 percent of the schools in the country do not have parapet walls or fences around them.

He also said that 25 percent of the schools in the country do not have security guards. He questioned if the government has guaranteed the security of the schools for students to attend.

‘Opposition wants schools closed for cheap political mileage’

The Opposition Members those who have no proper education background but somehow managed to get themselves elected to Parliament oppose the reopening of schools, said Education Minister Akila Viraj Kariyawasam.

Joining the Adjournment Motion debate, Minister Kariyawasam said the opposition attempts are trying to gain petty political mileage by creating an unnecessary fear phycosis among the public in the country by trying to force the closure of schools.

He made these observations yesterday joining the adjournment debate on the Easter Sunday Suicide attacks and its impact on tourism and other related industries.

Minister Kariyawasam said that the Opposition that attempted to gain political mileage by slinging mud against him quoting his response to a media personnel on the Suraksha Insurance Policy do not know the importance of education. They are trying to gain cheap political advantage over the bodies of the victims of the Easter Sunday suicide attack.

Minister Kariyawasam said that only 10 of around 10,000 intelligence personnel have been arrested. But the opposition mislead the public by saying that all these these happened as four intelligence personnel had been imprisoned. He queried as to where the intelligence was when Sarath Fonseka and Gotabhaya Rajapaksa were attacked by the suicide attackers.

“Before seven days lapsed, Gotabhaya Rajapaksa said that he would contest the Presidential Election,” Minister Kariyawasam said. “He attempts to become the President over the bodies of the deceased. In the past, those leaders had given money to 28 extremists and to the Bodu Bala Sena too.”

He also said that even the Pentagon was attacked and bomb attacks took place in France Their intelligence failed too. That was the nature of global terrorism.

He said that it was the Opposition that does not like opening schools for political advantage. “I request these people not to create a similar situation like in 1983,” Minister Kariyawasam requested.

Kiriella on arrest of three members of his media unit

The Police is showing so much interest in the letters meant to be sent to temples by my media personnel, but had they focused such attention regarding the warning issued to them on April 4, they could have saved the lives of 300 people, Public Enterprise, Kandyan Heritage and Kandy Development Minister and Leader of the House of Parliament Lakshman Kiriella said.

Making a statement on the first day of the two day debate in Parliament yesterday regarding three members of his media unit who were arrested on Thursday night with 600 allegedly defamatory letters regarding the President and inciting enmity among races, Leader of the House Minister Lakshman Kiriella said he had come to know that the letters were translations of excerpts of a news report on a prominent website and intended to be circulated to Buddhist temples and politicians.

Minister Kiriella noted that the report published in the Colombo Telegraph website on April 28 had been translated by his media unit in order to notify the Maha Sangha in the Kandy district.

“However, as I was operating from my residence, due to security concerns and as my ministry is located in close proximity to one of the bombed hotels. Therefore, I was unable to go through the contents of the letter. However, upon reading through this letter, I did not find anything controversial targeting anyone or containing anything illegal.”

However, the letter only raised the issue that occurred on April 21 and whether the relevant authorities had failed to notify the intelligence units prior to the Easter Sunday attacks.

“As the media have the freedom to report any incident that takes place in the country, I feel that the members of my media unit too have the same rights.”

However, he said the relevant letter had been sent to the Attorney General and he is willing to accept whatever decision is taken by the AG.

The Minister questioned as to how an opposition MP who had made a statement on TV which could have aroused racial tensions is set free, while the three members of his media unit are still being detained.

“The UPFA MP made a statement on a TV programme on April 26 claiming that 11 soldiers had been killed during the Ampara operations, which could have aroused racial clashes and how come he is in Parliament? We do not manipulate the Police. The Prime Minister too does not control the police. Then who is manipulating the Police to harass the UNP members?”

However, in response, Opposition MP Piyal Nishantha said that he had made a correction the next day and apologised for making sucha a statement.

Minister Kiriella then said that he is awaiting a response from the Attorney General regarding the letter and is willing to accept his verdict, whatever it may be.

Meanwhile, MP Manusha Nanayakkara said there are varied claims regarding this letter, including that it is an attempt to sling mud at the President. Therefore, he urged that this controversial letter be tabled in Parliament so that everyone would know what was contained in it.

Swift measures needed to boost tourism industry - Chandrasena

Moving the Adjournment Motion on the present situation in the country following the Easter Sunday terror attacks, Anuradhapura District UPFA MP S.M. Chandrasena said that many sectors including the economic and tourism sectors have been severely affected after the terror attacks and urged the government to take swift measures to bring relief to the people. MP Chandrasena also pointed out that the government has not provided sufficient compensation for the victims of the terror attacks.

Chandrasena also expressed his displeasure on the absence of the subject Minister of Tourism during the debate. “We are debating these matters, but even the subject minister is not present in the Chamber to answer the questions.”

Chandrasena was also critical of the government for not taking proper measures to revitalise the country’s tourism industry.

“They said the tourists would come if they want to and they won’t if they don’t want to come. How can you develop tourism like this?” he questioned.

MP Chandrasena also pointed out that some countries relying on tourism have overcome similar terrorist attacks, but the government has not taken any solid remedial steps even several weeks after the attack.

Extremism cannot be defeated by extremism - JVP leader

Participating in the Adjournment Debate on the situation in the country following the Easter Sunday terror attack, JVP leader Anura Kumara Dissanayake said that extremism cannot be defeated by another kind of extremism.

“Any kind of extremism would only bring destruction to the country,” Dissanayake pointed out.

He also pointed out that one kind of extremism nourishes all other kinds of extremism.

“Hence, when eradicating terrorism from the country, no room should be given to any kind of religious, racial or political extremism,” he added.

“At times like these, the hardest thing is to stand for unity, reconciliation, equality and justice for all. That is what we stand for. We stand for national unity. While we are at it, we cannot allow any kind of extremism to flourish as a byproduct,” Dissanayake pointed out.

Dissanayake also pointed out that some politicians, sadly, are relishing the situation of the country in quite a psychotic manner. “Some of them are trying to feed their political agendas misusing this situation. We should never allow that.

The JVP Leader also said that the government will only be able to entirely irradiate Islamic extremist terrorism, only if it is truly determined to tackle the issue.

“However, I still don’t see the government actually giving everything to fight these extremists. They are still not determined about bringing all the culprits of this terror attack to task. The government’s operational behaviour is not strong enough to tackle this matter,” Dissanayake pointed out.

Meanwhile, the JVP leader urged about the importance of restructuring thecountry’s defense structure. However, I doubt if the government is ready to introduce the essential reforms, Dissanayake further said.

Dissanayake demanded that both the President and Prime Minister should put aside their disagreements and cooperate, given the urgency of the present situation in the country. “But of course they won’t. There is still a power struggle. They should at least put a stop to this struggle for the time being and start working together. Both of them need to understand their limitations and properly manage their resources,” Dissanayake pointed out.

The JVP leader urged the Muslim community to take the lead in fighting against terrorism.

“This Islamic extremist terrorism was born within the Islamic community. This lunatic extremism is using the Muslim community as its cradle. So, it is up to Muslim community to feed this terrorism or not. They should choose to nurture this type of psychotic terrorism or not. It is in your hands, and it is your responsibility,” Dissanayake pointed out.

Dissanayake also said that some are trying to remove the MPs who are representing the Muslim community from Parliament.

“Please don’t do what you did to the Tamil United Liberation Front to these Muslim MPs as well. They were trying to become a voice in mainstream politics, but were deprived of the opportunity. That is how the LTTE become the sole voice representing the Tamil community. So it is important that we do not make the same mistake again,” Dissanayake further said.

MPs should apologize to people after terrorist attacks - Duminda

Every Parliamentarian should apologize to the citizens for their behavior in the aftermath of the Easter Sunday terrorist attacks, United People’s Freedom Alliance UPFA Parliamentarian Duminda Dissanayake said yesterday.

MP Dissanayake made this remark joining the Adjournment Debate on the Easter Sunday attacks and its impact on tourism and related industries.

He said further that everyone was disappointed with the behavior of members of all political parties after the attacks.

He also noted that there should be a common law in the country and all the communities should abide by the same single Law.

“At present we do not have a common law in our country,” MP Dissanayake said. “One of the best examples is that though a person cannot enter a marriage before reaching 18 years of age according to existing Law of the country, the same law is not applicable to the Muslim community. Systematic errors like these had motivated religious extremism in the country.”

He said that all these flaws in the law should be corrected to prevent extremism.

“Furthermore, the government should not reveal everything done by the security and intelligence forces to the public,” MP Dissanayake said. “Such practices weaken national security”.

Establish National  Operational Council - Ven. Rathana Thera

Independent MP Ven.Athuraliye Rathana Thera yesterday urged the government to establish a National Operational Council to manage the crisis situation prevailing in the country following the Easter Sunday terror attack.

“This is not an issue that one or two people can deal with. Thus, I would like to propose of a National Operational Council and give it responsibilities in dealing with this crisis situation,” the Thera continued.

MP Rathana Thera also proposed to introduce an all-inclusive programme to rehabilitate and council the surviving victims of the Easter Sunday terror attacks.

MP Rathana Thera also demanded the government to keep the Counter-Terrorism Bill and introduce a comprehensive programme to encourage national unity. “Who wanted to bring this Counter Terrorism Bill? The Cabinet has approved it, including the President and the SLFP MPs who were there. All of them have to be held responsible for approving this.” the Thero pointed out.

He also said that a joint, national government would have been easier had it not been for Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe.

Further speaking,Ven. Rathana Thera said that an extensive study should be done on the dynamics of Islamic extremism that has entered and terrorized the country. “Some people think that Islamic teachings naturally instigates terrorism. We need to initiate a discourse on this. We all know, terrorism was born not out of some religious preaching but out of global power struggle.”

Thus, the Thera said that the government should not recklessly allow foreign forces to enter the country using the present situation as a scapegoat. MP Rathana Thera also pointed out that the group that instigated the terror in the country should not be defined as a “small group.”

“This is not a small group. They are backed by ISIS. It is not simply a small group. They kill their own wives and children on behalf of their fanatic religious beliefs. These people are not uneducated. They come from well to do families and have received sound education. Wahabism has been spread in the country for a long time. It was our fault for keeping silent on this matter. We cannot remedy this situation without a proper study on how these fanatics spread their extremism. We have ended up with a so called God who has no humanity now.That is what extremism do to us.” the Thera said.

MP Ven. Rathana Thera also demanded that the Burkha be completely banned. “Please stop this full face covering. This dress has been able to divide the Sinhala and Islamic communityies. They try to go all covered even into schools now. There is a similar kind of extremism in Universities, unlike the time we attended them,” he also said.


We should all unite to destroy terrorism- Mustapha

We will be able to rebuild the churches and hotels and put in place the structures that were destroyed on that ill-fated day, but the deep seated sense of fear and uncertainty would take a lifetime, said UPFA-MP Faiszer Mustapha.

“The question of how and why this happened will haunt us for months and years to come. We never expected a Muslim to carry out such a terrorist act and destroy so many lives. We never believed that certain members of our community will be suicide bombers and would be instrumental in destroying lives and the country,” he said joining the debate in Parliament yesterday on the current security situation.

“That is why our Ulemas’ took the decision not to even accord them a Muslim burial. Therefore, I believe that we should all unite in destroying these terrorists. Today, just like every other Sri Lankan citizen, I woke up with a heavy heart. This has been so that bloody day of terror, 16 days have gone by since the senseless terror attack on Easter Sunday that left over 200 people dead and over 500 fighting for their lives in hospital. Some of them will walk out of hospital and find out that they have been left behind on this earth while their families have left them. Others will be scarred for life. You and I will never be able to fathom out their loss and can never comfort them and assure them that they will be all right. We will never be able to understand the depth of their sadness and despair,” he added.

He said those who are subjected to security checks are not the victims and neither are those who have to take off their face veils. The victims are not those who have to open their homes for the Security Forces to inspect them. “You are not the victims, so please cooperate in maintaining peace in Sri Lanka.”

Therefore, he urged the people who play the minority card in order to get media attention, to please stop. “Think like the majority of this country and focus on what is important for the country. Make the necessary changes and let us go forward and let this country gain normalcy as soon as possible.”

He thanked the Archbishop of Colombo His Eminence Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith for his wise and timely words. “I thank him for his words of wisdom and connecting with the peace loving people of this country. His words calmed the troubled hearts of all and guided the people when guidance was needed the most.”

He also thanked the Armed Forces and the Police for coming forward to serve the country at this troubled time. “They are doing a fantastic job and we must all solute them.”

Sridharan calls for release of Jaffna University undergrads

TNA MP S.Sridharan yesterday demanded the release of two undergraduates and a minor worker at Jaffna University who were recently arrested during a STF search operation conducted at the university premises. The MP claims that the students are innocent and demanded their release.

Sridharan also demanded the release of an ex-LTTE cadre who was one of the three suspects arrested in relation to the death of two Police Constables at a checkpoint in Vavunathiwu in November 29, 2018. He made these observations joining the Adjournment Debate on the current situation in the country following the Easter Sunday terror attack. The Police recently discovered that two Islamic extremist terrorists have been behind this brutal murders of the two police constables.

Meanwhile, MP Sridharan also pointed out that the Muslim community is presently under going the same sort of discrimination faced by the Tamil community during the war period.

Thus, MP Sridharan urged the government to take necessary measures to put a stop to such community targeted discriminations.

Presidential Committee report on  terror attack will be tabled - Bandara

The report of the Presidential Committee appointed to investigate the Easter Sunday terror attack will be presented to Parliament and the public soon, United People’s Freedom Alliance (UPFA) MP Shantha Bandara said yesterday. Bandara made this remark in response to United National Party (UNP) MP Ashu Marasinghe who requested Speaker Karu Jayasuriya to have the said report tabled in Parliament as soon as possible. The Speaker said that he had already informed the President’s Secretary to forward a copy of the report to Parliament. A three member committee was appointed by President Sirisena on April 22 to investigate the Easter Sunday terrorist attacks. The committee is headed by Supreme Court Judge Vijith Malalgoda, former Inspector General of Police (IGP) N.K.Ilangakoon and former Law and Order Ministry Secretary Padamasiri Jayamanne.

Addressing a May Day celebration on May 1, the President said he received the report on April 30 and he would discuss its findings with acting Attorney General (AG) Dappula de Livera on the measures required to be taken.



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