No intention to cover police wrongdoings - PM
The government has no intention of covering the wrongdoings of the Police. The government was set up to restore the law and order, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe said in Parliament yesterday.
He said the Embilipitiya incident is before the Courts and it will deliver the decision.
The Premier made these observations in response to the adjournment motion moved by Chief Opposition Whip Anura Kumara Dissanayake.
He said that there are problems with regard to the police the world over and added that after police shooting in Ferguson town in the US, the people took to the streets against it. A similar incident happened in the UK last year.
"Whenever there is a problem with police duties, there could be problems. Recently we saw such problems. The Embilipitiya incident is only such incident. The other incident was with regard to the conduct of officers at the Kotadeniyawa Police station. That has been investigated and courts of law have been moved for that purpose," Premier Wickremesinghe said.
He said that if the police have done anything wrong, the government has no intention to cover their wrongdoings and added that the government was elected when there was a need to restoring the rule of law arisen.
"The British instituted the police force here within 30 years after they established a police force there," Premier said.
"It is not only the police that involves in maintaining the law and order. The Courts of law, the police and the media are needed for that purpose."
He said the Courts were established in Sri Lanka in 1835 and added that Sri Lanka was the first country in Asia and Africa to have a modern judicial system. "We have forgotten that tradition," the Premier said. "We have a similar history for the media too."
He also said that all these institutions are needed for maintaining the law and order and to restore the rule of law. The police cannot perform that task single-handedly. All these three institutions are needed for that purpose.
"What we witnessed during the last 10 years was that the disintegration of those three institutions and politicising of them. The Rajapaksa regime destroyed all those three institutions," Premier Wickremesinghe said.
He said it was the task of the government to reestablish them and added same could be considered when the new committees were set up.
"There are shortcomings in the Police. We need to modernise them. We have sought the assistance of Britain and other countries to modernise these organisations," he said.
Premier Wickremesinghe said that there was a time that Sri Lanka had the best police force in Asia. "It was after the Second World War. Now where are we? " the Premier questioned.
"We have to regain that position. We had an exemplary judicial system too. All these institutions have been destroyed."
He said the certain politicians used the Police and Army to kill people and added that the government has to investigate those instances.
Prime Minister Wickremesinghe also said that when the judicial system was freed from undue political interference it was welcomed. The government is cleaning up the police and judiciary. The same process should also come from within the system.
"We cannot establish a new court or new police department. We have to investigate those incidents," the Premier said.
He said that there was no point of blaming the police for those incidents and added that police personnel too know those actions were wrong and majority of police personnel joined with us to reject the previous regime on January 8.
"No matter Sinhala or Tamil, one has to keep in mind that we all have to come together and correct those institutions. We rebuild the police and judiciary," the Premier said.
"One of our female MPs too had been taken into police custody. We should introduce remedies where they are needed."
He said that what is witnessed now is a witch-hunt against the police and added that the media is engaged in this witch-hunt.
The Prime Minister said that he would not talk of the death in Embiliptiya and added that there were reports of police forcibly taking of media personnel's note books.
"I ask you who is this Jayantha Nanayakkara? Where was Jayantha Nanayakkara when Ekneligoda was abducted? Has he uttered a word when Lasantha Wickrematunga was murdered?," the Premier questioned. "For whom Jayantha Nanayakkara is working? He too was one of the hunters," he said.
He questioned as to what the Editors' Guild had been doing when the Uthayan newspaper was attacked? The Prime Minister said that if some journalists are going to courts, the government too could go there and added that he could give an affidavit describing what the editors did in the past.
He said that there was one editor who carried tales of a fellow journalist and got the previous regime to abduct the latter in a white van and added that he intervened to save him.
The witch hunting by the media is wrong. That is wrong and I am opposed to it, he said and added that the Police Commission and the police should work together.
He questioned if the same media that engaged on a witch hunt was going to hunt and ciriticise the courts? "We do not need a media that applauds the court at Embilipitiya and hunt the same at Homagama," the Premier said.
"Have you been able to write a single editorial on what happened at Homagama court?" and questioned as to when the Lankadeepa, Divaina, Lakbima and Rivira were going to write that editorial?
He also questioned as to what those media were doing with regard to the racism? The Prime Minister also asked as to what the electronic media had to say about the incident at the Homagama courts? He said that they too have a right to talk of Buddhism as Buddhists. "Those who said Mahinda Saranam Gacchami have no right to talk of Buddhism," the Premier said. "What happened at the Abhayaramaya yesterday? Some 20-30 came there. How many journalists were there? Now they want to go for street fights."
The people's power could not be undermined by the power of the former regime, he said.
"If one thinks that the previous regime could be white washed and resurrected then they are mistaken," the Premier said. "The Bar Association issued a statement with regard to the Homagama incident. How many media organisations talked of that incident?, "the Prime Minister queried. The Premier also said that Keerthi Warnakulasuriya has claimed that the War Heroes are being killed. He questioned as to what they said about Ekneligoda abduction. He called upon the media to reveal the country of their position with regard to the Ekneligoda issue.
He questioned whether the media approved the blaming of Ekneligoda's wife at the Homgama courts?
Prime Minister Wickremesinghe said that Chathura and Madhawa Madawala joined with others to ruin that place with the help of the Rajapaksas. "We know that you all are getting ready to start racism. We could not let the media being used to rouse racism." He said there are two groups of journalists. There is a group that fights for the media freedom and others.
Govt to reach decision on fuel prices
Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe said in Parliament yesterday that the government could reach a decision on the fuel price following the discussions with the Finance Minister and the other stake holders.
Premier made these observations yesterday in response to the special statement made by Chief Opposition Whip Anura Kumara Dissanayake on the fuel prices under Standing Order 23 (2).
The Premier said he would make a complete statement to the House on the matter very soon and subsequently the Opposition could continue a debate for one or two days on the same matter.
He also stated that the government has discussed with the people and they are concerned over the creation of employment opportunities for the youth. They also inquired about the reliefs for the elderly and others, too. The Premier said he has also to make statements on them too, while making a statement on the fuel prices.
"The control over the public finance is vested on the Parliament. So we can decide on these matters in Parliament," the Prime Minister said.
"We made the change on January 8 to uphold those powers and we would act accordingly by discussing them in parliament," he said.
The Premier said that the fuel prices in the world market are decreasing and it does not seem to increase in the near future for at least in the next two or three years.
"There had been no economic improvement in the European market as predicted and the US economy too had shown some slowdowns," the Premier said. "This situation has affected the Chinese economy. We were wondering as to how the same situation would affect our economy and how we could face such a situation," he said.
Prime Minister Wickremesinghe said the government representatives met with the top brass of the International Monetary Fund including its Managing Director Christine Lagarde and ADB President Takehiko Nakao recently and discussed the dynamics of the world economies.
He said the matter had already been discussed with the Treasury officials. "I would like to make a complete statement to the House on the matter very soon and we could allow the Opposition to debate it taking two or three dates," the Premier said.
"We got a bumper harvest last season and the biggest is expected in the coming season. We are discussing about those matters too."
At this stage Chief Opposition Whip said it was good that the Prime Minister met with IMF bosses and international leaders, but it is better if he could meet Ranbandas in Embilitipitiya and Punchi Menikes of Polonnaruwa and listen to their problems as well.
The Prime Minister in response said that he had met with people in remote areas and listened to them. The people were asking for not only the price reductions of essentials but the progress of the implementation of the project to give 1,000,000 jobs.
He said the government is working to achieve all it had promised and to provide relief to people.
'Govt. aims to provide equal access to justice for all'
Law and Order and Southern Development Minister Sagala Ratnayake told the Parliament yesterday that the main objective of the government is to set up a police force that protects its self respect.
"We also need to enhance the standard of the Police officers as well," he said.
Joining the Adjournment Debate, Minister Ratnayake said that special attention would be given to the improvement of the country's police service.
"The government's aim is to ensure equal access to justice for all citizens as we pledged during the election campaign," he said.
Ratnayake said that the government will never intervene in police investigations. We always encourage police officers to do their job properly in order to bring country's law and order to a higher position.
He said that the measures have also been taken to grant salary increments and promotions to Police officers.
The minister said the urgent need of promoting police officers from Police Constable to Sergeant, Police Constable Drivers to Police Sergeant Drivers including WPCs, Sub Inspector of Police to Inspector of Police including WPCs will be carried out to fill vacancies currently available in the Police Service. All these promotions will be given considering their service period, he said.
"Last year we promoted police officers from Police Sergeants to Sub Inspector of Police, Inspector of Police to Chief Inspector of Police and there are no vacancies in Senior Deputy Inspector of General of Police. There is a shortage of qualified police officers to fill vacancies of Deputy Inspector General of Police and Senior Superintendent of Police," he said.
Commenting on recent media reports on the Embilipitiya incident, the minister urged the media to carry out their duties in a responsible manner without misusing the media freedom prevailing in the country.
Teacher vacancies will be filled
Education Minister Akila Viraj Kariyawasam told the Parliament yesterday that measures will be taken to recruit teachers to fill teacher vacancies in schools following the gazette notification which will be issued by the last week of January.
He was responding a question raised by MP S. M. Marikkar.
The minister also said that "Langama Pasala Hondama Pasala" (Closest School the Best School) programme will commence by January and two to three schools will be selected from each Divisional Secretariat Division.
People not benefited by plummeting fuel prices
The drop of fuel prices in the world market has not been passed on to the people of this country, Chief Opposition Whip Anura Kumara Dissanayake said. He made this observation yesterday in Parliament making a special statement under Standing Order 23 (2).
Dissanayake said that the highest fuel prices were recorded in the country from February 23, 2013 up to September 17, 2014. He said that the fuel prices started to drop in the world market since June 2014.
However, due to the high price of fuel, the CPC earns an extra profit of Rs. 920 million while the IOC earns an extra profit of Rs. 460 million.
Various measures taken to eradicate narcotics
Law and Order and Southern Development Minister Sagala Ratnayake told the Parliament yesterday that various measures have already been taken to reduce the supply and demand of narcotics with the intention of eradicating narcotics from the country within next five to eight years.
He was responding to a question raised by UNP MP S. M. Marikkar concerning the measures that the government has taken to stop the distribution of narcotics carried out in Kolonnawa area.
He also said that he doesn't accept that Kolonnawa is a hub for distribution of narcotics.