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PARLIAMENT

House takes up condolence vote on Abdul Majeed

Deputy Speaker Chandima Weerakkody presided yesterday when Parliament met at 1 p.m. After presentation of papers and oral questions the House took up the condolence motion of late Parliamentarian MA Abdul Majeed.

Leader of the House and Irrigation and Water Resources Management Nimal Siripala de Silva moved the condolence motion.

Nimal Siripala de Silva (Irrigation and Water Resources Management Minister): Abdul Majeed was born on October 15, 1926. He was married to Mrs. R. Kadeeja and they had five children. His parents and grandparents lived in the same area and they were educated in the English medium. He was lucky enough to become the first Muslim graduate from the Eastern Province. He was elected to Parliament in 1960. Majeed was elected for the third time in 1966.

In 1977 he was elected again to Parliament under the UNP banner and was appointed as the Deputy Agriculture and Land Minister. He was also appointed as the Power and Highways Deputy Minister and provided electricity to various villages. He took measures to set up 50 schools in Sammanthurai and built 4,000 houses. Majeed became an MP again from the UNP list after 1989. He was appointed the Handloom Project Minister. He died in 2011.

A.H.M. Azwer takes the Chair.

Ranil Wickremesinghe (Opposition Leader): I met Abdul Majeed in 1955. He came to see my father. In 1965 he came to Parliament and joined UNP. He was a keen backbencher. He was successful in winning his seat in 1970. He attended to all the basic needs of his electorate-agriculture, electricity.

He enriched the Sammanthurai area. He was much concerned of the Muslims. He was much dedicated to develop the coastal area of the Eastern Province.

P. Dayaratne (Food Security Minister): I met him in 1965 when I went there as an Engineer to work in the Gal Oya Project. He was a young Parliamentarian. I too was elected in 1977 along with him. We could work together. I knew he was dedicated to serve his area.

He could win from his seat at any moment. I can say that he was the most friendly Muslim MP from the Eastern Province.

John Amarathunga (UNP): Abdul Majeed was an asset to the UNP. He was a Minister. He was a handsome man and no other can finger at him as a corrupt Parliamentarian. He was referred to as “BA Majeed”, as he was an educated person. He believed in gentleman politics.

M.L.M. Athaullah (Provincial Council and Local Government Minister): He worked a lot to Sammanthurai and Batticaloa areas. He was a thorough gentleman. His demise is a great loss not only to my area but to the entire country. My first vote was cast to Abdul Majeed in 1974. He was never a racist and served to all Muslim, Tamil and Sinhala people. He rendered a great service to develop education.

A.H.M. Fowzie - Urban Affairs Senior Minister: Late M.A. Majeed MP had very good qualities. He rendered a unique service to the people living in the Eastern Province. He pioneered in uplifting livelihoods of the people of that area. He was the voice of the ordinary people. He always gave priority for the necessities of the humanity.

Basheer Segudawood (UPFA): Late MP Majeed was a very humble politician and interesting character. He was a teacher to us. He had very clear ideas and concepts on ethnicity. He was a people’s man. He was also an ardent worker who always pioneered in fulfilling needs of the people.

H.M.M. Harees (UPFA): He was very keen in bringing harmony among all communities. Infrastructure facilities were improved in rural villages of the East under his leadership. He was so much concerned of the importance of youth. A number of youth were provided with employment opportunities during his era.

M.L.A.M. Hizbullah - Child Development and Women’s Affairs Deputy Minister: He initiated a number of projects to provide drinking water to the people living in the Eastern Province. He was very keen in uplifting Muslims. He pioneered in uplifting livelihoods of the people in his electorate. He had a clear understanding of the problems of Muslims.

A.M.M. Azwer (UPFA): He was a son of the Sammanthurei soil. He was a person who had a successful political life. Majeed was a generous and humble person.

He always spoke pleasant words. He was able to understand the problems of the Tamil speaking people together with his religion. He was the first Muslim graduate from the Eastern Province. For the first time in the history, a number of Muslims were gathered to Mahabodi Headquarters in Maligakanda recently to break their fast. This was significant, because inter-religious harmony and cooperation between the two communities were further promoted due to this event.

Buddhika Pathirana (UNP): Copies of hanzard containing the speeches made by the members of the both parties of the Well during the condolence vote would be sent to the family members and relatives of the late MP Abdul Majeed.

The house was adjourned until 1.30 p.m today.


‘Revolutionary changes in cricket soon’

Sports Minister Mahindananda Aluthgamage yesterday stated that measures are afoot to make a revolutionary change in the Cricket Control Board before the end of this year.

He made this observation in Parliament in response to a question raised by UNP MP Ravi Karunanayake. Minister Aluthgamage further stated that the Cricket board seems to have acted so far to please the clubs that appointed them. He added that trend have to be changed as it had a negative effect on the development of cricket in the country.

He also stated that Lanka is the only country which pays 60 percent of cricket income to pay salaries to cricketers. He added that no country does so.

He also stated that measures will be taken to make changes after discussions with the cricketers.


Discussions to end university lecturers’ issue - SB

Higher Education Minister SB Dissanayake yesterday stated that discussions will be held today to find a solution to the university lecturers’ issue.

He stated that none of the lecturers in South-Eastern University, Uva -Wellassa University, Buddhist and Pali University, Bhikku University etc. have joined the strike while 50 percent to 30 percent of lecturers in other universities too are reporting for duty.

He made this statement in response to a special statement made by Opposition Leader Ranil Wickremesinghe under the Standing Order 23(2).

The Minister stated that the allegation made by Wickremesinghe that all the universities are inactive was baseless.

He added that the government has granted as a salary increment 39 percent to 83 percent to junior and senior lecturers which no other public servant has been granted.

‘President Mahinda Rajapaksa also discussed and gave instructions on this issue.

‘On my request Minister Basil Rajapaksa too joined to discuss this matter. Some of these demands cannot be granted.

‘While some others are ridiculous and contradictory. Some are inconsistent with the Higher Education Act.

‘Two contradictory demands are to stop giving scholarships to foreign students and to allow them to apply for foreign scholarships. He added that the discussions on this matter will be attended by Minister Basil Rajapaksa and Secretary to the President Lalith Weeratunga too.

Dissanayake further stated that the money allocated for education in 2005 was around Rs. 10,000 million but the amount was gradually increased to Rs. 25,000 million by 2012.

The minister further stated that though Ranil Wickremesinghe requests to increase the amount allocated for education, it was during his two year government from 2002-2003, the allocation for education was not increased even by a single penny.

With reference to the Z-Score issue the minister stated that following the instructions by the President, Deans of faculties and Vice Chancellors have agreed to admit additional member of students have who faced an injustice.

He also stated that during the UNP regime at such occasion not a single student were admitted additionally.

Ranil Wickremesinghe (Opposition Leader):

The issue of the university lecturers is dragging on for over a period of a month by this stage. Also a number of agitation campaigns were held on this issue.

Still no solution has been given.

‘The entire university system has become inactive due to this problem.


New method for Farmers’ Pensions Scheme

International Monetary Cooperation Senior Minister Dr Sarath Amunugama said in Parliament yesterday that a new method which would be fair by all the contributors to the Farmers Pensions Scheme is be presented to Parliament soon.

This government has allocated Rs 40,000 million every year to pay fertilizer subsidies and capital expenditure allocated to the Irrigation Department stands around Rs 30,000 million.

The Rs 200 pension payment to farmers had been increased to Rs 1,000 but their contribution to the fund remained same at Rs 50. We have paid pensions amounting to Rs 6.4 billion.

Minister Dr. Amunugama was responding to a special statement made by JVP Parliamentary group leader Anura Kumara Dissanayake.

He said that it’s laughable matter that the government which spends billions of rupees for tamashas and carnivals saying that it cannot find Rs one million to pay farmers’ pensions.


Pension scheme for CSD

Irrigation and Water Resources Management Minister Nimal Siripala de Silva told Parliament yesterday that arrangements have been made to grant a pension scheme to members of Civil Security Department (CSD) and this proposal has already been forwarded to the Cabinet Sub Committee. In 2006, it was recognised formally as a Department which was known as a Civil Defence Force earlier.

The minister was responding to a special statement made by DNA MP Anura Kumara Dissanayake.

Now the CSD members could work with dignity and self esteem of their profession. The Department has provided all the facilities including uniforms, proper training and other facilities to fulfil their needs.

The government has given due recognition for the commitment made by CSD members during the war.

The CSD personnel have been deployed on various development projects targeting to increase the national income.

The government has not spent a cent on these projects. These are run with monitory and labour contribution of the CSD members. The income generated from these projects have been systematically deposited in bank accounts by the Finance Director of the CSD. The balance of the account will be transferred to the Treasury.

The minister said that an income of Rs. 135 million had been earned through farming, brick making, diary and other projects run by the CSD members.


Sub-Committee to look into water availability - Keheliya

The government has appointed a Sub - Committee to produce a report to the Cabinet on the water available for drinking and generation of electricity with the extended drought in the country, Mass Media and Information Minister and Cabinet Spokesman Keheliya Rambukwella said.

Addressing the Cabinet press briefing at the ministry yesterday, the minister said Senor Minister Dr Sarath Amunugama and Ministers Dinesh Gunawardena and Nimal Siripala de Silva were appointed to this Sub Committee.

The minister said according to weather predictions, heavy rains are not likely until the end of September.

He said under this backdrop, the government has to decide on the priorities to release water.

The minister reminding the government has no control over the weather, said it has been controlling the situation and supplying uninterrupted power for a considerable time.

He said it would be difficult, if the severe drought extended further more.

He said drought related matters were discussed extensively at the Cabinet meeting on Wednesday.

DM


Website registration fees slashed by 75 pc

The government reduced the registration fee of news casting websites to Rs 25,000, Mass Media and Information Minister and Cabinet Spokesman Keheliya Rambukwella said.

He said Cabinet approval was granted on Wednesday to the reduction of registration fees by 75 percent.

Addressing the Cabinet press briefing at the ministry yesterday, the minister said the annual renewal fee was also reduced to Rs 10,000.

He said the registration of news casting websites was made compulsory from January 1.

The minister said the decision to reduce the fees was taken considering the fact there are non - commercial websites.


Life imprisonment or capital punishment for child abuse

Child Development and Women’s Affairs Minister Tissa Karaliyadda yesterday stated that he has sent a message to the Justice Minister to take measures to implement laws enabling life imprisonment or death penalty to child abuse convicts to arrest child abuse.

He made this observation in response to an adjournment motion moved by UNP MP Rosy Senanayake.

The minister stated that he suggested to implement laws banning mothers who have children below five years going abroad for employment.

He also stated that he had suggested earlier to ban mothers who have children below 18 years going abroad for employment. However, there were many objections against that suggestion. He further stated that the media too should act responsibly not to reveal facts in a manner that the children victimized could be identified. He said he has talked to media in that regard.

Rosy Senanayake (UNP): There is a very pathetic situation as far as women and children are concerned. The government must ensure the safety of children. Rape cases and violence against women have also increased in the recent past. The number of cases pertaining to child abuse recorded 3-4 per day. I propose the death penalty should be imposed against the culprits.

This is a very regrettable situation.

Action must be taken to strengthen laws. A separate unit should be established to expedite legal advice and providing legal assistance to victims.

Buddhika Pathirana (UNP): The disorganized boardings and alcohol also have become a cause of child abuse. The police’s role against these crimes is not commendable.

S. Sumanthiran (TNA): According to the statistics it is obvious the child abuse rate increases day-by-day. Sternly legal action should be taken against the culprits.


Foreign reps’ advice not relevant to us - Keheliya

The government will not adhere to the advice of representatives from foreign countries even though they are invited to visit Sri Lanka to witness post - war development of the present regime, Mass Media and Information Minister and Cabinet Spokesman Keheliya Rambukwella said.

Addressing the Cabinet press briefing at the ministry yesterday, the minister said the government allows any foreign diplomat to visit the country, adding this has been the government policy throughout.

He said even Tamil Nadu politicians like Vaiko, Jayalalitha and UNHRC representatives including UN Human Rights Commissioner Navaneetham Pillay are invited to the country to witness the progress of the country by themselves.

The minister said the government is not bound to accept advice given by them.


T20 will bring massive foreign

Sports Minister Mahindananda Aluthgamage yesterday stated that 35,000 hotel rooms have already been booked by foreigners for the T-20 cricket World Cup which will bring massive foreign currency to Sri Lanka.

He made this observation in parliament in response to an question raised by UNP parliamentarian Ravi Karunanayake. The Sports Minister stated that this could be achieved by the construction of Pallekelle and Suriyawewa stadiums.

He stated that the government’s vision is to make sports popular among rural communities. He added that stadia will be constructed in Jaffna and Kilinochchi very soon.

The minister further stated that unlike the UNP, this government takes steps to develop rural areas. At this stage Karunanayake stated that not only this government but also the UNP too initiated projects like Kotmale and Victoria in rural areas.

Minister Aluthgamage: Lucky that we did not have waterfalls and such water resources in Colombo.


Fish shortage in Jaffna

A shortage of fish is witnessed at the Jaffna fish market. During last four days, the prices of sea foods shot up and the fish market was closed at 10 am. Sudden change of weather combined with intense heat has been attributed to the shortage. A representative of the Jaffna Fishermen’s Cooperative Society said that fishermen have stopped going to the sea for the last four days and their families have been put to hardships.

 

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