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Committee to seek how best to integrate Hill Country Tamils into society

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The government will appoint a committee to seek how best to integrate the Tamils of Hill Country Origin further into the Sri Lankan Society, said President Ranil Wickremesinghe.

He said further that although some of the Tamils of Hill Country Origin had integrated successfully into the Sri Lankan society, some have failed and measures would be taken to assist them to do so.  

President Ranil Wickremesinghe made these observations addressing at the occasion of accepting a consignment of medicines donated by the Pondicherry Union Territory and people of India on the request of Ceylon Worker’s Congress (CWC) at the Presidential Secretariat this morning (30).  

The consignment of medicines was officially handed over to the President by Secretary General of the Ceylon Worker’s Congress (CWC) and Parliamentarian Jeewan Thondaman in memory of the late Mr. Saumyamoorthi Thondaman who passed away 23 years ago on October 30th. The consignment of medicines was subsequently handed over to Health Minister Keheliya Rambukwella.

The President said that he would attend to ensure the development of schools in the plantation sector while the Ministry of Health would take over the hospitals in the plantation sector. He assured development in both these areas very soon.

Now the government is also encouraging building of houses and issuing lands to the people of Tamil origin in the Hill Country because they must have their own lands and a place to live in just like other groups in the hill country, the President added.

He said further, steps would be taken to review the plantation economy that could be affected by people leaving the plantation areas after being educated.  As people are being educated, more and more are leaving the plantation sector.  The government has to find jobs for them as well as for other Sinhalese and Muslims who leave their areas to settle elsewhere. So, the government has to look at the future of the groups that would continue to live in the plantation sector and on how to improve the plantation economy as they cannot be allowed to live in a subsistence level.

He said further that these issues would be gradually resolved in the coming years as the government resolves the whole ethnic problem in Sri Lanka.

He assured that the government would take further measures to ensure that Tamil people of Hill Country Origin would have the same facilities as other people in the country as realized and worked on under late President J R Jayawardena’s tenure.  

He also requested all leaders of the Hill Country Tamils to join in this endeavor to ensure that all benefits of Sri Lankan citizenship is enjoyed by the people in the Hill Country of Tamil Origin.

The President also appreciated the service rendered by late Thondaman and said he was one of the most outstanding leaders of the 20th century in Sri Lanka as through nonviolence he achieved citizenship for all the people of Indian Origin who stayed back after the Srima-Shasthri Pact. The President said that he got citizenship for some people who should have gone under Srima-Shastri Pact but decided to stay back in Sri Lanka.

Secretary to the President Saman Ekanayake, a representative from the Indian High Commission, several members of CWC including Senthil Thondaman were present at the occasion.

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EU refutes claims of conducting election polls survey in SL

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The European Union mission in Sri Lanka has refuted claims stating that they had conducted an election poll survey in Sri Lanka.

The diplomatic mission had stated this on a X post.

Social media posts based on such a report had claimed that the National People’s Power (NPP) was leading the polls.

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Have no any fear about the constitutional amendment – President

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President Ranil Wickremesinghe urged that there should be no fear regarding the constitutional amendment.

He emphasized that when making constitutional amendments, he entrusts the responsibility to experienced professionals. He mentioned that in the past, lawyers like K. N. Choksi were involved in such matters.

However, since Mr. Choksi had passed away by the time of the new constitutional amendment in 2015, the task was assigned to lawyer Jayampathi Wickramaratne.

President Ranil Wickremesinghe acknowledged that the current issues have resulted from an oversight on his part and expressed his apology to the public for it. 

He made this statement today (19) during the opening of the new court complex in Beligaha, Galle.

To enhance the efficiency of justice administration for the people of Galle, a new court complex was constructed at a cost of LKR 1600 million. The complex houses a Civil Appeal High Court, two High Courts, three District Courts, two Magistrate Courts, a Legal Aid Centre, a Community Corrections Office, a Probation Office, and a Debt Relief Board. It is fully equipped with necessary facilities for court proceedings, including administrative offices.

After unveiling the plaque and officially opening the new court complex, the President took an observation tour of the premises. 

The Galle Bar Association also presented a commemorative gift to the President.

President Ranil Wickremesinghe further stated:“I would like to extend my gratitude to Minister Wijayadasa Rajapakshe for overseeing the completion of this Judicial Complex. With plans to develop the area as a tourist destination, it was crucial to relocate the existing Court Complex, and I am pleased to say that this has been accomplished.

As we work to transform the Galle area into a tourist hub, we have identified locations outside the province for large hotel developments. Additionally, there are plans to move the Transport Board, Timber Corporation, Mahamodara Hospital, Nursing College, Prison and Post Office to the city centre. We also plan to build a similar court complex in the Hikkaduwa area.

The Galle District Court Complex holds historical significance. After Dutch rule, the Batavian Statutes introduced Roman-Dutch law to Ceylon, making Galle a jurisdictional centre with a judicial board, a civil board, and a land board. This marked the beginning of our judicial system. While the Galle judicial area was originally divided into the Matara and Galle districts, only the Galle district continues to operate as a judicial region.

During the Dutch period, the majority of the Land Board members were Dutch, while the minority were Sri Lankans from Ruhuna. The Sri Lankans learned the law from the Dutch and later emerged as lawyers during the English colonial period.

Over time, many Sri Lankans pursued careers in law and entered the Legislative Assembly. Lawyers became a cornerstone of the legislative system. Under the Donoughmore Constitution, they served in the State Council with significant voting power. The English system of governance was established through the Soulbury Constitution, and when India adopted a republican constitution, Sri Lanka followed suit with the English system. 

Colvin R. de Silva introduced the first Republican Constitution, while J.R. Jayewardene presented the Second Republican Constitution. Sri Lanka has a rich constitutional history and a strong commitment to the rule of law.

In 1931, Sri Lanka became the first country in Asia and Africa to grant universal suffrage. Unlike in the United States, where some states did not extend voting rights to Black people, Sri Lanka is unique for maintaining democracy continuously since then. We should take pride in this achievement. Despite facing wars and rebellions, Sri Lanka has preserved its democratic system, and democracy has remained intact despite numerous challenges.

In Sri Lanka, power transitions smoothly and without conflict after elections, a testament to the strength of our democratic process. Despite various debates and issues, democracy has never been compromised.

Some critics argue that democracy is at risk during certain crises. However, our constitution, judiciary, and political system have worked to advance and protect it. The most significant threat to our democracy occurred in 2022, yet we have continued to progress through consensus.

While Parliament remains a venue for debate, protecting democracy is crucial. The upcoming election is on schedule, with the Chief Justice and the Supreme Court confirming that it should be held within the specified timeframe, and we support this directive.

In 2015, we proposed a new constitutional amendment. Typically, I would have assigned this task to K. N. Choksi, a lawyer. However, since he had passed away, the responsibility fell to lawyer Jayampathi Wickramaratne. He was unable to make the necessary revisions. This oversight is regrettable, and I apologize to the nation for it. There is no need for further discussion on this matter; our country has upheld democracy since 1931.

Additionally, the government will fund the compilation of a book on the heritage of Galle’s history”.

Mr. Wijayadasa Rajapakshe, Minister of Justice, Prison Affairs and Constitutional Reform;

As a citizen of Ruhuna, I am very pleased to celebrate the opening of the new modern court complex in the southern province. The lawyers in the Galle area have faced many challenges, and it took approximately 12 years to complete this project due to various obstacles. Thanks to the President’s intervention, we have successfully built this impressive facility.

Despite the national crisis over the past two years, the President ensured that the judicial process continued smoothly. The new court complex has faced some political accusations, but it is important to clarify that this facility was not constructed for political purposes. Our goal is to provide better access to justice and relief to the people, as we view the court as a temple of the people.

Minister of Health and Industries Dr. Ramesh Pathirana;
Thank you to everyone who contributed to making this court complex a reality. During the country’s economic crisis, continuing the construction was challenging, but President Ranil Wickremesinghe provided the necessary financial support to complete the project. Without his assistance, this achievement would not have been possible.

State Ministers Anuradha Jayaratne, Geetha Kumarasinghe, and Mohan Priyadarshana Silva, along with Members of Parliament Vajira Abeywardena and Sampath Athukorala, attended the event. Also present were Chief Justice Jayantha Jayasuriya, Attorney General Parinda Ranasinghe, Galle District Secretary W. Dharmasiri, Additional Secretary of the Ministry of Justice R. S. Hapugaswatta, High Court Judges, District Judges, Magistrates, Galle Bar Association President Ruwan Asiri De Silva, and other lawyers and government officials.

(President’s Media Division)

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Lanka Sathosa reduces prices of six essentials

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The prices of some essential consumer goods sold by Lanka Sathosa have been reduced.

Lanka Sathosa, the only state owned supermarket chain in the country, has reduced prices of six essential food items effective 19 July in order to provide relief to the public on the directives by the Ministry of Trade, Commerce and Food Security.

Accordingly, 1 Kg of Undu (bulk) which was sold at Rs. 1,500 has been brought down to Rs. 1,400 with a saving of Rs. 100. The new price of Sathosa milk powder 400 gram pack has been reduced to Rs. 910 from its previous price of Rs. 950 providing a saving of Rs. 40.

Wheat flour 1 Kg (bulk) is now sold at Rs. 180 with a price reduction of Rs. 10 from its previous price of Rs. 190. Price of White Sugar (bulk) 1 Kg has been reduced by Rs. 5 from its previous price of Rs. 265 and is now sold at Rs. 260.

The new price of 1 Kg of White Kekulu Rice (bulk) is Rs. 200 reduced from its previous price of Rs. 204 with a saving of Rs. 4. Keeri Samba Rice (bulk) 1 Kg which was sold at Rs. 260 has been reduced by Rs. 2 and now sold at Rs. 258.

(dailynews.lk)

 (This story, originally published by dailynews.lk has not been edited by SLM staff)

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