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Subject [Sunday Observer] Ranil drags local politics at ICAPP
Writer ICAPP
Date 2014/09/21
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Ranil drags local politics at ICAPP


The election fever in Uva reached its peak last week with the main political parties contesting the Uva Provincial Council (UPC) elections intensifying their campaigns.


The Opposition, which has been starved of election slogans, was stunned last week after President Mahinda Rajapaksa announced relief for the masses with a staggering 25 percent reduction in electricity tariff and reduction of petroleum products that included kerosene going down by Rs. 20 a litre.


Most Opposition politicians could not believe their eyes when the daily newspapers carried banner headlines. Hence, the Opposition leader Ranil Wickremesinghe used an international forum to settle domestic political scores.


Ranil criticised the Government action by bringing his own theories to give a political twist at the inauguration of the 8th General Assembly of the International Conference of Asian Political Parties (ICAPP) at Nelum Pokuna on Friday at which President Rajapaksa was the chief guest.


The President smiled when Ranil showed his political bankruptcy by dragging local political issues to international fora of that nature. Though Ranil could not achieve what he intended in misleading the international community, his disclosure enabled the participants at ICAPP to know that the Government has passed such a massive benefit to the public.

The reduction of electricity tariff is nothing new. The Government had previously said that the electricity tariff would be reduced after the full commissioning of Norochcholai coal power plant. No sooner the third and final phase of the project was opened by Chinese President Xi Jinping, President Rajapaksa passed the benefit to the masses by granting a massive 25 percent reduction on monthly electricity bill which will not only be a boon to households but also to industrialists.


Addressing the ICAPP inaugural session, President Rajapaksa cautioned Asian political parties when he said that the emerging trends in the world, including in parts of Asia, give signals that are dangerous to the Asian community.


“We see how external forces under the guise of democracy and other enticing slogans seek to interfere in the domestic affairs of other countries.


They show little concern about destabilising nations. They encourage domestic disharmony and we now see how the media, including social media being used by the forces that are continuing the cause of division, separation and terror,” he said.


The President said this is the most timely occasion to remind the world of what we have earlier said that all terrorists are the same, they are all brutal, they all carry out acts of savagery, and they all are ready to massacre innocent people.


“As we seek to harvest the fruits of economic growth in this Asian century, we have also to look at unity in facing up to other issues of importance that are important to build peace and stability in Asia,” he said.


Opposition fails in Uva


Though the Opposition made every effort to project a gloomy picture and force to postpone Uva Provincial Council elections, they failed miserably with the law-enforcing authorities taking extra precautions to assure an incident-free lead up to yesterday’s election.

There wasn’t any major incident in the last few of weeks prior to the election and the Opposition was forced to give up its false campaign with concocted stories of election violence. Hence the police had taken steps to launch immediate investigations on all election related complaints and take action against bogus complain, the Opposition was forced to limit its complaints to only NGOs monitoring elections.


UPFA’s chief ministerial candidate Shasheendra Rajapaksa went to his polling booth early last morning to cast his vote. Speaking to media thereafter, Shasheendra said thanked everybody who contributed to maintain a peaceful atmosphere for the Uva polls, especially the Inspector General of Police, the Commissioner of Elections and media. He said that the masses would continue to repose faith in President Rajapaksa and the UPFA.


A total of 942,730 voters were eligible to vote at yesterday’s Uva Provincial Election which was held from 7.00 a.m. to 4.00 p.m. to elect new members to the sixth Uva Provincial Council. The Uva Province consists of the Badulla and Moneragala districts and the names of the new 34 new members elected to the UPC in the two districts are to be expected later this evening. While the Badulla district elects 18 members, the Moneragala district will have 14 members. The Moneragala district has 332,764 voters and the Badulla district 609,966 voters.


JVP rules out common candidate


The JVP has once again ruled out possibility of fielding a common candidate at the next Presidential election, falling in line with the UNP, which has already declared its leader Ranil Wickremesinghe as the candidate.


JVP Leader Anura Kumara Dissanayake said last week that his party had no faith in a common candidate at the forthcoming Presidential election, shattering the hopes of Ven. Maduluwawe Sobhitha who will now have to wage a lone battle with no support whatsoever from any of the main political parties. Even Sarath Fonseka’s Democratic Party has not responded to the Bikkhu’s call.


“There was an idea of fielding a common candidate at the presidential election, but with the rift in the UNP, its leader Ranil Wickremesinghe is planning to come forward as the Opposition candidate and we now have no faith in a common candidate,” he said after a meeting the Chief Prelate of the Malwatte chapter, the Most Venerable Thibbotuwawe Sri Siddhartha Sumangala Thera in Kandy last week.


“By appearing on the stage, holding hands and hugging each other, the JVP does not believe that such a show will usher in a better future for the masses of the country.


These issues cannot be resolved by the Constitution, which had now swallowed, the country’s judiciary, Parliament and the rule of law,” he said.


“Despite having a two-thirds majority in Parliament, and having control of the provincial councils and the Pradeshiya sabha, the government is now getting scared and attempting to hold the presidential election ahead of time,” he said.


Anura Kumara said that the need of the hour is not someone to foster an era of luxurious living and to continue this same routine in the future. “The JVP cannot accept this situation,” he added.


TB faces unexpected moment


Minister of Cultural Affairs and the Arts T.B. Ekanayake faced an unexpected moment after the sole of shoes he was wearing broke when he was about to attend the official signing of agreement between China and Sri Lanka.


Certain media, especially social media, unreasonably highlighted the incident in a disgraceful attempt to sling mud, rather than appreciating a minister using an old pair of shoes.


He later explained the reason for the worn-down state of his shoes on his way to meet the Chinese President Xi Jinping who was the chief guest at a meeting in connection with the signing of a cultural agreement at the Presidential Secretariat last week.


The minister said he had lost the soles of both his old shoes which he had at home and he had used the shoe pair for a long time. He said he had to proceed to the meeting because it was with the President of China.


“Those shoes were white. I wore them because it matched my costume, but I had not worn them in a while and both soles came off on the way.


What could I do? I had to go to the meeting and meeting on time,” he said adding that “It is not every day that you get to shake hands with the President of China, so I went like that”.

“Our people are all down to earth, so I didn’t pay much attention to the state of my shoes. There were pictures of this that were circulated. These things happen,” Minister Ekanayake added.


Sendil Thondaman hit by own vehicle


UPFA Uva Provincial Council candidate Sendil Thondaman, who was injured in an accident in Bandarawela on Wednesday night and was admitted to a Private Hospital in Colombo.

The driver of the vehicle who had run away after the accident later surrendered to the Badulla Police and was taken to the Bandarawela Police Station.


Thirty one people who were injured in the accident received treatment at the Diyatalawa Hospital. A 48-year-old man was killed in the accident.


The victims had been canvassing in the Bandarawela area when Sendil’s vehicle had ran them down when the driver accelerated.


Back to back State visits


Sri Lanka experienced back to back visits of the Head of State of two friendly Asian nations Japan and China. Following the state visit of Prime Minister of Japan Shinzo Abe, Chinese President Xi Jinping made a similar visit. The two world leaders brought an unprecedented volume of foreign investments. The new port city to be built by China adjoining the Colombo harbour is the most notable.


Sri Lanka and China have agreed to deepen their Strategic Cooperative Partnership, following official talks between the President Jinping and President Rajapaksa at the Presidential Secretariat in Colombo on Wednesday.


The Chinese leader, accompanied by First Lady Peng Liyuan and a high level official delegation toured Colombo last week on a two day State visit, at the invitation of President Rajapaksa. On arrival at the Bandaranaike International Airport, President Xi and Madam Peng were warmly received by President Rajapaksa and First Lady Shiranthi Rajapaksa.


Later in the day, the Chinese dignitaries were accorded a colourful and elaborate ceremonial welcome at the Presidential Secretariat, prior to the commencement of official talks between the delegations, led by the two Presidents.


At the end of the official talks between the Sri Lankan and Chinese delegations, a Plan of Action to deepen the Strategic Cooperative Partnership between the two countries was signed by the Minister of External Affairs of Sri Lanka, Prof. G.L. Peiris and the Chinese Minister of Foreign Affairs, Wang Yi. The two sides agreed to further enrich and deepen this partnership in the spirit of equality, mutual respect and support, and common aspirations for development of the two countries for the benefit of the peoples. It may be recalled that both countries agreed to elevate their bilateral relationship to a ‘Strategic Cooperative Partnership’ during President Rajapaksa’s State visit to China in May 2013.


A number of Agreements covering bilateral economic cooperation, trade and commerce, power and energy, agriculture, education and culture were also signed today, which would further strengthen the robust relations between the two countries.

Launch of Port City project


Construction work on the mega Colombo Port City Development Project commenced last week under the patronage of visiting Chinese President Xi Jinping and President Mahinda Rajapaksa at the Colombo International Container Terminal (CICT).


The event was held with pomp and pageantry with the participation of the two presidents amid a cultural performance by Kandyan dancers and drum beaters with focus on confidence, dedication, national unity, patriotism, nationalism, peace, national responsibility, culture and awareness of national history in the minds of the people.


The ceremony commenced with the arrival of Chinese President Jinping who was received on arrival by President Rajapaksa and other political heads. The Chinese President was later accompanied to the CICT main building, to view a miniature structure of proposed Port City.


Both Presidents jointly unveiled the plaque of the project amidst the beating of Magul Bera and blowing of conch shells. Then they officially commenced the construction of the mega Colombo Port City Development Project by cutting a ribbon. Parallel to this, sand filling of the sea area began by a ship.


Considering several feasibility studies carried out, it has been identified that Colombo city, which is the major economic centre should be developed as a modern city with all facilities parallel to the overall rapid development drives. However, land limitation of the Colombo City has become a limiting factor when carrying out such a development drive and as it is difficult to find a huge land area within the city limits, it was proposed to add an additional land area to Colombo city by reclaiming the sea as a remedy and develop it as a new city.


It was apparent that prominence should be given to the Port City, which will be constructed by reclaiming the sea to enable city expansion thus uplifting Colombo city as a modern international city. The Colombo Port City Project, which covers 233 hectares has been planned for two stages and will be completed in eight years. The total land area for the project is 233 hectares and that area will totally be reclaimed from the sea.


The proposed area will include all related facilities such as access roads, electricity, communication and all other infrastructure facilities together with landscaping constructions including lakes.


The significant feature of the project is it changes the geography of the country and outlook of Colombo with the inclusion of 233 hectares added to the Sri Lankan map.


Surgical gloves to WHO


President Mahinda Rajapaksa handed over one million surgical gloves to the World Health Organisation (WHO) on Thursday as Sri Lanka's contribution toward the global effort in combating the Ebola outbreak in Africa.


President Rajapaksa handed over the gloves that were produced by the Hayleys Group of Companies, to WHO Country Representative in Sri Lanka, Dr. Firdosi Mehta, at Temple Trees last week.

The current Ebola outbreak was first reported in March 2014 in Guinea, after which it had spread rapidly in several West African countries, including Liberia, Sierra Leone and Nigeria. Congo has become the latest African country to confirm the outbreak.


According to a WHO estimate, Ebola had killed more than 2,400 people out of nearly 5,000 suspected and confirmed cases. The WHO on Tuesday warned that the numbers of new cases “may be approaching an exponential growth rate and could be doubling every three weeks,” and that it may cost as much as US$1 billion to bring the epidemic under control


Close call for Britain


Voters in Scotland have rejected independence from Britain, opting to preserve a more than 300-year-old union in a referendum Thursday that sent shock waves through Europe and opened the door to continuing political tumult in Britain.With turnout averaging 85% - so closely watched that several pubs got special license to stay open all night as the returns came in ? voters dealt a decisive blow to the controversial ballot measure that would have ended Scotland’s union with England, Wales and Northern Ireland.


The independence measure was losing in all-but-final returns with 55% voting against independence, compared with 45% voting “yes.” The outcome was a blow to First Minister Alex Salmond and his Scottish National Party, which pushed for the referendum when it won a majority in the Scottish regional parliament in 2011.


?Let us not dwell on the distance we have fallen short,” Salmond said in a concession speech early Friday. “A movement is abroad in Scotland that will take this nation forward, and we shall go forward as one nation.”Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon called the projected result “a deep personal and political disappointment,” but told the BBC that “the country has been changed forever.”


Independence has been a long-cherished goal for Scottish nationalists. But while the result was not what they had hoped, Scotland in any case is still poised to wrest more powers from the central government in London. Hoping to win over disaffected Scots, the three main political parties in Britain promised last month to turn over more control over tax policy and public spending to the semi autonomous government in Edinburgh.



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