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Even though the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) says that a person accused of a crime is deemed innocent until proven guilty according to law, this principle does not seem to apply to Sri Lanka’s Army Commander or even to his family members, Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa said.

The Prime Minister issuing a statement yesterday, strongly criticized the US decision to impose a travel ban on Army Commander Lt. Gen. Shavendra Silva and his family members based on unfounded allegations.

He also stressed that his Government had decided to withdraw from the process of co-sponsorship in relation to Resolution 30/1.

The full statement of Prime Minister Rajapaksa: “The United States of America has prohibited the Commander of the Sri Lanka Army Lt. Gen. Shavendra Silva or members of his family from entering that country. Even though we are now in the 21st Century, even members of his family who have not been accused of any wrongdoing, have been subjected to a collective punishment reminiscent of the practice in medieval Europe. The people should be the judge of how fair this is. Even though this collective punishment has been meted out on the grounds that the Army Commander had committed violations of human rights, no one knows what these allegations are.

“From the discussion that has taken place with regard to the collective punishment imposed on the Army Commander and his family, it becomes clear that the political divide in this country is between the patriotic camp which puts the country first, on the one hand, and born traitors who are waiting for the first opportunity to betray the country, on the other hand,” the statement said.

Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa said the contribution by the Honganji Foundation led by the Most Ven. Ohtani Chohjun towards strengthening the relations between Sri Lanka and Japan over the decades has been monumental.

The Prime Minister was attending the ceremony of awarding the Great

Sasana Ratna Award and the presenting of the Sannaspathra to the Most Ven. Ohtani Chohjun Thera at the Parliamentary Complex yesterday (18) morning, a press release from the Parliament Communication Deparment said.

The Honganji Foundation Cultural Promotion Foundation of Japan has a long history. It has contributed immensely to improve the socio-economic and cultural ties of the Buddhist community worldwide.

Whilst emphasizing that Japan and Sri Lanka have stood by each other during difficult times, President Mahinda Rajapaksa thanked the Honganji Foundation for opening a Japanese gallery at the New International Buddhist Museum in Sri Lanka.

The Prime Minister also added that the most Ven. Ohtani Chohjun is the cousin brother of the previous Emperor of Japan and is an elite academic of the University of Tokyo and the University of Sorbonne in

The most Ven. Ohtani Chohjun was recognised for his contributions in developing interconnections between the Mahayana Buddhism and the Theravada Buddhism.

Speaker Karu Jayasuriya, Deputy Speaker Ananda Kumarasiri, Leader of the House Dinesh Gunawardena, Chief Government Whip Johnston Fernando, State Minister Vasudeva Nanayakkara, Lasantha Alagiyawanna, Nimal Lanza, Dullas Alahapperuma and Thilanga Sumathipala along with MPs parliament staff and many invitees participated.

President Gotabaya Rajapaksa stated that his resolution is to transform Sri Lanka as the most favourable country for investments.

The President addressing a meeting at the Presidential Secretariat with officials attached to the Ministry of Environment and Wildlife yesterday morning, declared that Sri Lanka needs to form a legal framework that would safeguard the environment and lead to the development of the country simultaneously, the President Media Division issuing a communiqué said.

President Rajapaksa advised all institutions to cooperate with each other in order to amend the acts, rules and regulations that would address the needs of the present day.

President Rajapaksa added that it was the responsibility of all the state officials to preserve the environment and propose convenient procedures and methodologies for the general public.

The President instructed the officials to be efficient in the issuance of licenses which in return would motivate both local and foreign entrepreneurs and investors.

President Rajapaksa reflected that license sought several years ago for aqua parks in the Northern Province had not been approved even for today.

The President stated that the implementation of those aqua parks would create employment opportunities for many and assist in promoting reconciliation among communities.

The President emphasized the importance of establishing laws which would equally preserve the environment and promote the living standards of the people.

The Japanese Government will ensure that President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s scheduled visit to Japan will be successful and productive, assured Japanese Ambassador Akira Sugiyama.

He met with President Rajapaksa yesterday afternoon (17) at the Presidential Secretariat, the President’s Media Division in a communiqué said.

President Rajapaksa would be participating at the global conference “The future of Asia”, which is to be held in Tokyo from May 28-29.

This two-day event where government leaders, business executives and academics from the Asia Pacific region share their visions for a better region is an annual event since 1995.

In the past, this conference had largely focused on North-East Asia and South-East Asia. President Rajapaksa would be one of the first leaders from the South Asia to bring a fresh insight to this conference.

The projects that are in the pipeline such as the digitalizing of National Television, the Colombo Port East Terminal and the proposed LNG projects were also discussed. 

President Gotabaya Rajapaksa instructed officials to take measures to uplift local industries and encourage investors by removing obstructions.

Issues related to the commencement of industries and their sustainability should be identified. President Rajapaksa also highlighted the importance of exploring unique potentials in each area during a discussion with the members of Inter-Ministerial Task Force on Industries and Entrepreneur Development held at the Presidential Secretariat.

Various industrialists and manufacturers engaged in motor vehicle assembling, metal, footwear and leather, apparel, medicine, spices, electrical equipment, timber and cosmetics were present at the meeting.

The representatives and investors expressed their concerns on tax and issues they face at the Custom as well as environmental obligations. Environmental and other issues posed by various parties even at the proper commencement of industries are major hindrance to the development of the country. It is the responsibility of every section to support investment opportunities for the betterment of the country, President said.

Minister Wimal Weerawansa, State Minister Dayasiri Jayasekara, Secretary to the President Dr. P. B. Jayasundara and several other Ministry officials were present at the discussion.

First ever TV channel dedicated to propagate Buddhist teachings and philosophy, Buddhist TV adopted digital technology today (February 15) under the patronage of the president Gotabaya Rajapaksa.

Concurrently, a medicinal pooja offering was held in order to bless the President Rajapaksa.

The President paid homage to the sacred relic shrine.

Thereafter, the president engaged in religious observances which were held under the guidance of Venerable Boralande Vajiragnana thero, Chief incumbent of the Sri Sambodhi Maha Vihara and the Director of the Buddhist TV network.

President Rajapaksa took part in the discussions focused on the development of the vihara premises followed by an event to offer presents for students who displayed distinctive performances in Dhamma school.

Ministers Bandula Gunawardana, Susil Premajayantha, Gamini Lokuge, State Minister Thilanga Sumathipala, former speaker M. Lokubandara, former minister Wijayadasa Rajapaksa, former Chief Justice Sarath N De Silva were also present at the occasion.

President Gotabaya Rajapaksa emphasised that time has come for all stakeholders including the judiciary and legal fraternity to make the justice system more people friendly, efficient and effective.

Addressing the annual National Law Conference 2020 as Chief Guest at the Jetwing Blue Hotel in Negombo last Friday (14), the President said the system of justice should provide meaningful avenue for ordinary citizens of the country to resolve their disputes expeditiously and in a convenient manner.

The annual National Law Conference 2020 was organized by the Bar Association of Sri Lanka.

The theme of this year’s conference was “Sri Lanka, a Financial and Commerce Hub-Vistas, Challenges and Opportunities.”

“The time has come for all stakeholders including the judiciary, government, legal fraternity and all other citizens concerned to work together and make the system of justice more people friendly, efficient and effective’, President Rajapaksa said.

The President further stated that rule of law will inevitably fail in the absence of an independent judiciary.

“The Independence of the judiciary is the cornerstone of the rule of law. Without the independence of the judiciary, the rule of law will inevitably fail. The system of justice has to be complementary with an efficient, effective and affordable process which will provide meaningful avenue for ordinary citizens of the country to resolve their disputes expeditiously and in a convenient manner,” the President said.

President Gotabaya Rajapaksa also requested the members of legal profession to assist in promoting local and foreign investment by eliminating unnecessary bureaucracy and excessive regulations. The President highlighted the necessity of providing facilities and human resources for more efficient and effective methods of dispute resolution such as adjudication and arbitration.

“We also need to ensure better patent protection and more representation in the global intellectual property rights so that our inventors, creators and entrepreneurs can be encouraged. It will also increase investor confidence,” the President said.

 “The primary focus of my government is to rapidly develop the country, eradicate poverty and uplift the living standards of the people. There are a number of significant opportunities that Sri Lanka can exploit in today’s context to achieve the rapid development we expect. The 21st century is widely acknowledged as the knowledge century,” President Rajapaksa said.

“New technology and innovations are now changing the way the world works at a rapid pace. Technological advances in areas such as Artificial Intelligence, Big data, robotics, 3D printing, bio-engineering the internet of things and nanotechnology that can bring about sweeping transformation across global commerce and industry. Sri Lanka must not be left behind with these changes. We must instead try to make use of the opportunities. In our quest for rapid economic development, we must realise that the centre of gravity of the global economy and politics has been shifting significantly towards Asia during recent decades, the President further said.

The President also observed that his government will implement systematic strategies to attract Asia, which not only home to largest population segment of the globe but also has the fastest growing middle class population.

“The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) has estimated 2030 Asia will be home to 64% of the global middle class and account for well over 40% of middle class consumption. This fast growing middle class with considerable spending power in countries such as India, China, Japan and regions such as ASEAN, the Middle East represent the tremendous opportunity for Sri Lanka given its unique strategic location in the middle of the Indian Ocean. Achieving rapid economic development through the broad opportunities afforded to us by true trends of this rapid technological change and the emergence of Asia as a whole, most significant marketplace demands novel technology,’ the President further said.

“We need short term, medium term and long term strategies at national level as well as sector specific levels to make maximum use of these opportunities. These strategies need to be supported by significant changes to underline the enables such as education, legal and regular framework, financial system and infrastructure.

The President further said his government is committed to assisting the development of the country’s IT industry to take advantage of increasing opportunities.

“We have already granted significant tax benefits to companies in the IT sector and welcome the support of local and foreign companies to invest in this field by creating more jobs, the President further said.

In his address, the President also highlighted the importance of developing highly potential areas like the tourism sector.

The President emphasised the importance of attracting more countries to develop Sri Lanka’s tourism sector.

“We must make use of our abundant natural and cultural attractions. The quality of the workforce engaging in the tourism sector is required for development,” he said.

The President further said his government would take necessary action to become Sri Lanka self sufficient in agriculture by introducing new technologies, water management, high quality seeds, increase of use of organic fertilizer and enhancing storage and transport facilities.

“We must also introduce a suitable digital platform to assist the farmers so that they do not have to depend on third parties. The digital platform will enable the farmer to decide what crop he grows during what season. But he also enable to get a good price for his production, scientific information on appropriate pesticide and weedicide,” President Rajapaksa said.

The National Law Conference 2020 was officially declared opened by BASL President Kalinga Indatissa PC. The welcome address was delivered by Co-Chairman of National Law Conference 2020 President’s Counsel Razik Zarook. The Convener of the National Law Conference 2020 Attorney-at-Law Isuru Balapatabendi and the Secretary of this year conference Attorney-at-Law Vishwa de Livera Tennekoon also addressed the gathering.

Speaker Karu Jayasuriya, Justice Minister Nimal Siripala de Silva, Attorney General Dappula de Livera and former Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe were also present at the inaugural ceremony.

The National Law Conference 2020 was held from February 14 to 16. 

Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa at Thursday’s State Radio Awards ceremony at Elphinstone Theatre said that the duty of a radio station was to enrich the language and provide a quality broadcast of programmes.

He pointed out that radio stations in the past had achieved this mission with so much success and it was high time everybody took a lesson from the past.

He said there is fierce competition in the field of radio broadcasting with so many radio channels in service, and the best way to win this competition is to increase the quality of the programmes rather than increase their quantity.

The Prime Minister also said that the Elphinstone and Tower Hall Theatres in Colombo will be made available to artistes at a lower price for their practices in line with the decision taken by the government.

“Our country’s radio broadcasting services is 95 years old and is about to reach 100 years . In the Language of the sports commentators, the radio is about to hit a century,” Prime Minister Rajapaksa said.

He said it was the radio service that created the tradition of music in Sri Lanka. “The radio made the singers and great gadharvas of our nation,” he said.

“Before the advent of television and the computer, the radio was the primary news carrier to the people,” he said.

“Radio had a profound impact on the country’s politics that whenever a new government comes it would change the theme music of the radio news broadcast prior to announcing the government change,” he said.

He remembered how there were attempts to arrest Bandaranaike during the 1971 uprising and take over the radio, since radio is of such strategic importance.

The Prime Minister said, “Most felt that with the advent of television the radio would be shut down. Yet there were no media capable of removing the radio. There was only one radio station there until the 1980’s. Despite the advent of television, almost 50 radio channels have been opened to this date.” 

The Government has decided to pay royalties to artistes from March 1.
 
According to Information and Media, Higher Education, Technology and innovations Minister Dr. Bandula Gunawardena, all radio stations should pay Rs.20 and TV stations should pay Rs.100 as royalties to artistes when their compilations are used.
 
The Minister made this statement during a meeting with Editors at the Information Department yesterday in order to implement the government’s media policies and to collect information to provide greater concessions for journalists.
 
“The royalty payments would be made for songs under the Intellectual Property Rights, whereas the payments would be divided among the singer, song writer and music composer,” the minister said.
 
Artistes commended the government for having taken this measure which none of the previous governments were able to do.

The minister of Information and Mass Media Hon. Bandula Gunawardena met all the media heads today (12) at the ministerial auditorium to have a discussion on the implementation of the media policy as stated in the manifesto “Vistas of Prosperity and Splendour”. The possible measures that can be brought to create an ethical media culture of the country and the benefits to be provided to the journalists were the focal points at the discussion. The secretary to the Minister Mr. W.A. Chulananda, Director General of Information Mr. Nalaka Kaluwewa and the media heads of both state and private media had been present at this moment.

The Hon. Minister disclosed that more educational opportunities would be created for the skillful media personnel who have been disqualified for the university entrance due to the z-score by initiating higher educational courses and diplomas attached to the state universities under the preview of the Ministry of Higher Education. It is expected that these courses which would be designed in collaboration with the media scholars and heads will add to the paper qualifications of the journalists. Moreover, 10 subsidiary institutions will be established under the University of the Visual and Performing Arts and the experts of various fields will be recruited as the lecturers. The Minister Gunawardena requested the assistance of the media heads in this task.

Drawing attention to the media policy stated in the national policy, Mr. Chulananda Perera said that journalists will be provided with the concessions such as houses, vehicles, land and so on.  He further explained the procedure that the journalists should follow to be eligible for these benefits.

The government has put the environmental preservation on high priority and under this green policy, 40,000,000 trees will be planted in on 19th April at the same time marking a world record. The Secretary explained that this project will be carried out based on 14,028 divisions as a cost free task with the involvement of the school children under the slogan, “Ada wawamu pelayak, heta nelamu palayak”. An app called Thuru will be launched simultaneously to monitor the status of these trees tri-monthly provoking a new culture and a new trend in the country.

Giving copy rights to the artists in terms of intellectual property was also subject to the discussion and thereby it was decided to pay 30 rupees for each song played in the radio and 100 rupees for every song telecast on TV.

President Gotabaya Rajapaksa says that the present education system should be reformed in order to achieve a rapid growth in economy.During the meeting at the Presidential Secretariat today (10) the president advised the vice-chancellors and the officials of the University Grants Commission to revise the university course system in accordance with the local and international job market demand.

President added that Sri Lanka possesses an educated, technology-savvy labour force which is more than capable in aiding and pushing Sri Lanka towards development.President Rajapaksa went on to note that employment generation centered around Tourism, Cultivation and Plantations could jump-start the economy. He highlighted that despite the number of job vacancies in the areas of Medicine, Engineering, Nursing and Information technology the university system had failed to address the issue over the time.

President pointed out that it is absolutely necessary to consider these grave issues when forming policies relating to tertiary education.President further added that the addition of Information Technology and a language as a subject for Arts degrees would pave the way for an expedited development process within the next three years.“University course contents should serve the job market demand and political pressures and other interference should be ignored in this matter. We can never compromise our nation. Take right decisions to make this country strong again”. President requested the Vice Chancellors.

The President stated that it is important to establish a national education policy so that no future government can deviate from the national education policy. President added that for this purpose he would go for a referendum if needed.“The universities should possess the right to select students in accordance with the course content they offer at the university. Building new universities and addressing issues pertaining to other facilities is the responsibility of the University Grants Commission. For student guidance programs in relation to newly implemented courses Ministry of Education can use premises such as the BMICH.” President added.

The president advised the University Grants Commission to relax some of the regulations imposed on law students in the Kothalawala Defence University.President Rajapakasa highlighted the need for the University Grants Commission to oversee the entire education system without confining itself to the administration of universities.

President advised it was wise and appropriate to apply resources into research and technological equipment as it would lead to a more qualitative education framework.President finally advised the officials present to introduce faster internet technology as current university students require speedy access to Information for their researches and experiments.

Minister of Higher Education, Bandula Gunawardana, Secretary to the president, P.B Jayasundara, Senior President’s Counsellor, Lalith Weeratunga, Secretary to the Ministry of Higher Education, Anura Dissanayake, Chairman of the University Grants Commission, Professor Sampath Amaratunga and Vice-Chancellors of all the universities were present at the discussion.

President Gotabaya Rajapaksa says that the present education system should be reformed in order to achieve a rapid growth in economy.During the meeting at the Presidential Secretariat today (10) the president advised the vice-chancellors and the officials of the University Grants Commission to revise the university course system in accordance with the local and international job market demand.

President added that Sri Lanka possesses an educated, technology-savvy labour force which is more than capable in aiding and pushing Sri Lanka towards development.President Rajapaksa went on to note that employment generation centered around Tourism, Cultivation and Plantations could jump-start the economy. He highlighted that despite the number of job vacancies in the areas of Medicine, Engineering, Nursing and Information technology the university system had failed to address the issue over the time.

President pointed out that it is absolutely necessary to consider these grave issues when forming policies relating to tertiary education.President further added that the addition of Information Technology and a language as a subject for Arts degrees would pave the way for an expedited development process within the next three years.“University course contents should serve the job market demand and political pressures and other interference should be ignored in this matter. We can never compromise our nation. Take right decisions to make this country strong again”. President requested the Vice Chancellors.

The President stated that it is important to establish a national education policy so that no future government can deviate from the national education policy. President added that for this purpose he would go for a referendum if needed.“The universities should possess the right to select students in accordance with the course content they offer at the university. Building new universities and addressing issues pertaining to other facilities is the responsibility of the University Grants Commission. For student guidance programs in relation to newly implemented courses Ministry of Education can use premises such as the BMICH.” President added.

The president advised the University Grants Commission to relax some of the regulations imposed on law students in the Kothalawala Defence University.President Rajapakasa highlighted the need for the University Grants Commission to oversee the entire education system without confining itself to the administration of universities.

President advised it was wise and appropriate to apply resources into research and technological equipment as it would lead to a more qualitative education framework.President finally advised the officials present to introduce faster internet technology as current university students require speedy access to Information for their researches and experiments.

Minister of Higher Education, Bandula Gunawardana, Secretary to the president, P.B Jayasundara, Senior President’s Counsellor, Lalith Weeratunga, Secretary to the Ministry of Higher Education, Anura Dissanayake, Chairman of the University Grants Commission, Professor Sampath Amaratunga and Vice-Chancellors of all the universities were present at the discussion.

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