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Sri Lanka Police marked its 156th Police Day in grandeur manner last Saturday at the Bambalapitiya Police Field Force Headquarters, where President Ranil Wickremesinghe, as the chief guest presented the ‘Presidential Police Valour Medal’ for Officer Jayantha Gunawardena, who died while on duty and symbolically presented certificates of appreciation to 30 Police officers who were on parliamentary security duty.

Marking the day, the President emphasised that the rule of law cannot be preserved without the Police and an independent Judiciary. He also stressed that the two institutions should be protected while moving forward.

The President also pointed out that the country’s democracy and the rule of law must be established in order to succeed in the country’s economic recovery programme.

Interestingly, the inception of Police duties in the country marks the deployment of four soldiers to control trade in the City of Colombo and to guard the city at night following a resolution passed by the Colombo Municipal Council as far back as 10 June 1650 after the conquest of the coastal areas by the Dutch.

However, 3 September is marked as the Police Day by considering the day Sir G. W. R. Campbell was first appointed to the position of Inspector General of Police 3 September, 1866, after Police Service was constitutionally established.

The Sri Lanka Police repeatedly insist  it is committed to discharging the significant responsibility of establishing and maintaining the law and order of the country. It is vested with the responsibility of establishing social security by affirming the security of every aspect of public life. Control and prevention of crimes, prevention of drug menace, controlling corruption, traffic control, protection of the environment, giving relief to people in disaster situations, and providing VIP security are the main tasks included in the scope of the Police.

As per the progress report submitted to the Parliament in 2019, Sri Lanka Police was able to reduce grave crimes by 5% in 2019, compared to those in 2018, homicides considered under grave crimes had declined by 10% in 2019 compared to 2018, felony murder under grave crimes had decreased by 14% in 2019 compared to 2018, rape of women had been reduced by 27% compared to 2018, overall road accidents had declined by 15% in 2019 compared to 2018. Furthermore, fatal accidents had reduced by 11% and accidents causing severe injuries by 12%. The number of people apprehended in connection with narcotics in 2019 was 109,941. The percentage of prosecution against offences committed under statutory acts was 94% in 2019.  More importantly, promotions have been offered to a large number of officers, i.e. 6,166 in 2019 compared to 2018.

Nevertheless, the country is bound to see different numbers when Sri Lanka subsequently submits its ‘progress report’ of 2022 in the future. Even though, Police are expected to protect the people and maintain law and order, the situation is such, these two targets clash when executing. Often when Police attempts to protect people they are often accused by some party of failing in law and order and vice versa. What we have so far witnessed is whenever Police take maintaining law and order seriously they are being accused of violating human rights. This raises the salient point of whether Sri Lanka Police is still sticking to its colonial methods of implementing law and order. We are yet to hear that there is no torture or deaths reported while in Police custody. We are yet to hear Police officers maintaining absolute transparency when executing law or taking action against suspects. In fact, after 156 years, we are yet to hear Police Department is not among the most corrupt institutions. 

 

2022, certainly was not the best year for the Sri Lanka Police and by looking at recent developments, the coming months will not make any difference. With escalating economic crisis and its ripple effects, Police were subsequently deviated from their usual duties. They were deployed at fuel stations to maintain order when public ran out of patience and often had to endure the wrath of the people. Then they were in the fore when public marched towards politicians and political establishments and often were squashed between their role as a men in uniform and as father, brother or a son when protestors chose to deliver sermons on whose side they should stand.

At the beginning, the Police acted in a more respectable manner garnering respect like they did during Covid pandemic by reducing the gap between Police and civilians. The rest was history. 

Moving forward, we are hoping Sri Lanka Police will be equipped with better training and facilities to carry out their duties respectfully. Let’s hope the Police service will be depoliticised or at least less politicised in future and be entitled to better salary structures and promotions like their counterparts in the military, so that they do not have to solicit bribes from people to carry out their duties.  Let’s hope they will be able to celebrate the 160th Police Day with dignity and stay true to their role of protecting the people while the military is protecting the State!

On the occasion of 150 years since the first postcard was issued in Sri Lanka, the Stamp Bureau of the Department of Posts has arranged to issue a commemorative postcard on 01 September 2022 at the Parliament of Sri Lanka.

 

Dr. Bandula Gunawardena,Transport, Highways and Mass Media Minister who visited Jaffna to find out about the problems of the public transport service in the Jaffna region was welcomed there by the people. The minister travelled from Colombo Fort to Jaffna by train. Minister Douglas Devananda and Member of Parliament Angajan Ramanathan welcomed the minister and officials at Jaffna railway station.

 

The National Transport Commission (NTC) has initiated the pilot project introducing a pre-paid travel card that can be used to pay bus fares when traveling in buses.

The prepaid card system was initially implemented in private buses plying from the Makumbura Multimodal Transport Center in Kottawa to Galle on the Southern Expressway under the patronage of Transport, Highways, and Mass Media Minster, Dr. Bandula Gunawardane yesterday.

A prepaid credit card functions like a regular debit card and allows passengers to deposit the money required for the pre-payment method and thereby pay the money related to the journey. As a very secure payment method, this card is currently available through the People’s Bank. This payment facility is also available for existing cards.

The Minister instructed the relevant officials to take necessary measures to resolve the shortcomings and problems identified through this pilot project and to make necessary improvements to upgrade the system.

Initially, the card system would be introduced to the public and private buses and the project would be expanded

 

The President emphasized that steps will be taken to provide the drugs that are in short supply promptly, adding that he has a great responsibility pertaining to the lives of patients affected by the shortage of drugs across the country.

President Ranil Wickremesinghe made these remarks during the visit to the Colombo National Hospital today morning (19) to check on the well-being of actor, cinematographer and historian Jackson Anthony, who was seriously injured in an accident in Anuradhapura recently.

The President visited Anthony in his hospital room and inquired about his treatment and also spoke with the doctors regarding his condition.

President Wickremesinghe also met with the Hospital Director and inquired about the medication needed by other patients and the medicines that are currently in short supply.

The President emphasized that steps will be taken to provide the drugs that are in short supply promptly, adding that he has a great responsibility pertaining to the lives of patients affected by the shortage of drugs across the country.

President Wickremesinghe also met Jackson Anthony’s wife and extended sincere wishes for his speedy recovery. President Wickremesinghe also requested her to inform him immediately if there is any help required regarding Anthony’s treatment.

President Wickremesinghe told the family members of Jackson Anthony that as religious and spiritual blessings are important as well as medical treatment, they should organise a religious programme for him. On his way out of the hospital, the President did not fail to inquire into the well-being of the patients who had come to the hospital for treatment.

 

 

Decisions taken at the meeting of the Cabinet of Ministers held on 15.08.2022

Introduction of national guidelines and minimum standards for child development centers in Sri Lanka.

Child development services under the Department of Probation and Child Care Services are implemented island–wide in order to ensure the protection, security, physical and mental well-being of the children living within Sri Lanka and those who are orphans, abandoned, abused as well as encountering legal issues. Although the guidelines and conventions prepared in relation to the child development centers are already implemented at the provincial level, there are not recognized guidelines at the national level. Therefore, the Cabinet of Ministers granted approval to the national guidelines and minimum standards for child development centers in Sri Lanka prepared to represent the child protection field as well as all the stakeholders relevant to the field and under the supervision and guidance of the experts in the field and furnished by the Hon.President as the Minister of Women, Child Affairs and Social Empowerment

The 75th Independence Day celebrations fall on the 4th of February 2023.

Approval of the Cabinet of Ministers was granted to the resolution submitted by the Hon. Prime Minister as the Minister of Public Administration, Home Affairs, Provincial Councils and Provincial Government to appoint a Cabinet Sub Committee comprised of the following Ministers in order to organize and monitor the 75th Independence Day celebrations fall on the 4th February 2023:

Ranil Wickramasinghe,

President

Minister of Defense; and Finance, Economic Stabilization and National Policies

 

Dinesh Gunawardhana,

Prime Minister

Minister of Public Administration, Home Affairs, Provincial Councils and Provincial Government

 

Douglas Devananda,

Minister of Fisheries

 

Susil Premajayantha

Minister of Education

 

(Dr.) Bandula Gunawardhane

Minister of Transport and Highways and the Minister of Mass Media

 

Keheliya Rambukwella

Minister of Health and Minister of Water Supply

 

Ali Sabri

Minister of Foreign Affairs

 

Vidura Wickramanayaka

Minister of Buddha Sasana, Religious and Cultural Affairs

 

Kanchana Wijesekara

Minister of Electricity and Power

 

Tiran Alles

Minister of Public Security

Entering into a memorandum of understanding between the governments of Sri Lanka and the government of Nepal for the collaboration in the fields of science, technology and innovations.

Although approval of the Cabinet of Ministers has been granted at their meeting held on 21.06.2021 to the State Ministry of Skills Development, Professional Education, Research and Innovations to enter into a memorandum of understanding between the governments of Sri Lanka and the government of Nepal for the collaboration in the fields of science, technology and innovations, so far the said memorandum of understanding has not been signed. Therefore, the Cabinet of Ministers granted approval for the proposal furnished by the Minister of Education to sign the aforementioned memorandum of understanding as per the concurrence between the two countries.

Allocation of the land of the Department of Railways to Al-Safa Primary School’Nawalapitiya

Nawalapitiya Al-Safa Primary School has established in 2013 under the 1000 secondary school reconstruction program. The building space required for this school was met by a warehouse belonging to the Nawalapitiya railway station of the Sri Lanka Railway Department. At present, due to the increase in the number of students in that school, the said building is not sufficient and the need to construct permanent buildings has been identified. Accordingly, the cabinet of Ministers approved the proposal presented by the Minister of  Transport and Minister Of Education to properly allocate a 2-acre  land in Godamuduna Karahandungala, Nawalapitiya, belonging to the  Department of Railway, for the said school.

Issuance of Stamps jointly by postal authorities of Sri Lanka and India to celebrate India's 75th Independence Da

In conjunction with the celebration of India's 75th Independence Day on August 15, 2022, it has been proposed to issue two stamps each based on the theme of "Democracy" to reflect the parliaments of the two countries.  From the stamps issued by the two countries, it is expected to exchange 5000 stamp sets 3000 souvenir cards and 2000 First Day Covers. Accordingly, the Cabinet of Ministers approved the proposal presented by the Minister of Mass Media to sign the Memorandum of Understanding between the postal departments of both countries for this purpose.

Preparing Bill to establish Chartered Institute of Journalists

With the intention of enhancing the professionalism of the journalists who are working in the field of Mass Media, Cabinet approval was granted on 05.10.2021 for the establishment of the Chartered Institute of Journalists. The committee chaired by the Secretary to the Ministry of Mass Media appointed for organizing activities related to the establishment of the said institution has prepared a draft. The cabinet of Ministers approved the proposal presented by the Minister of Mass Media to prepare a bill by the Department of Legal Draftsman, based on the report above and to revise the name of the proposed institute from “Sri Lanka Chartered Institute for Journalists” to “Sri Lanka Chartered Institute for Professional Journalists”

Establishment of Sri Lanka National Eye Bank Trust

On 29.08.2013, the Cabinet of Ministers approved the establishment of Sri Lanka National Eye Bank Trust. Attorney General’s clearance has been given for the Sri Lanka National Eye Bank Trust bill prepared by the Legal draftsman accordingly.  The Cabinet of Ministers approved the proposal presented by the Minister of Health to publish the said bill in Govt. Gazette and to table for the Parliamentary approval.

 

The latest tourist-oriented Intercity Express (ICE) train ‘Ella Odyssey’ (Train No.1041/1042) will re-operate from Colombo Fort and Badulla every weekend from Saturday 13.

It will be running to Badulla on Saturdays and returning to Colombo Fort on Sundays. Earlier, this train operated from Kandy to Ella on a one-day return trip.

The main line from Colombo Fort to Badulla is the most scenic train route in Sri Lanka which runs through the upcountry.

It has a great local and foreign tourist attraction throughout the year. The Railways Department has taken the decision to re-operate this train on the instructions of Transport and Media Minister Dr. Bandula Gunawardane.

Under the new schedule, the train will leave Colombo Fort at 5.30 a.m. and reach Badulla via Kandy at 3.55 p.m. on Saturday. It will leave Badulla at 9.50 a.m. and reach Colombo Fort via Kandy at 7.20 p.m on Sunday.

During its journey to and from Badulla, the train will stop at several selected tourist attractions allowing passengers to alight for snaps at these stops.

The train will stop only at Gampaha, Veyangoda, Polgahawela, Rambukkana, Peradeniya, Kandy, Nawalapitiya, Nanu-Oya, Haputale, Diyatalawa, Bandarawela and Ella railway stations.

A first-class reserved ticket between Colombo Fort and Badulla on this special train is Rs.5,000, a second-class reserved ticket is Rs.4,000 and a third-class reserved ticket is Rs.3,000.

 

The traditional ceremony to inform the Head of State on the successful completion of the historic Kandy Esala Perahera Festival took place at the President’s House in Kandy in the presence of President Ranil Wickremesinghe yesterday evening. Picture shows Diyawadana Nilame Pradeep Nilanga Dela handing over the Perahera Sandeshaya (Sannasa) to the President informing him of the successful completion of the perahera festival.

 

 

With the blessings of the Sacred Tooth Relic and the Gods:

“I will get country out of present crisis”

President Ranil Wickremesinghe yesterday said that despite facing a huge economic crisis, he will definitely get the country out of the crisis with the blessings of the Sacred Tooth Relic and the Gods.

The President also said that everyone should move forward with new hopes for a new economy that will ensure a better life for all.

The President added that the country has faced an unprecedented economic downturn and people from all walks of life have felt it. He stressed the importance of ending this situation in the country soon.

The President was speaking at a ceremony held at the President’s House in Kandy yesterday afternoon to mark the successful completion of the historic Kandy Esala Perahera Festival.

The President was received by Diyawadana Nilame Nilanga Dela, Nilames of the Satharamaha Devalayasa and Pitisara Devalayas at the entrance of the President’s House. Thereafter, the Diyawadana Nilame handed over the scroll containing the Sandeshaya informing the President of the successful completion of the Perahera.

The President commended the Diyawadana Nilame for fulfilling the noble responsibility of conducting the festival successfully. “The Kandy Esala Perahera festival was organized with pomp after a lapse of two years,” the President said.

 

The final Randoli Perahera of the Kandy Esala festival paraded the streets today (11) night with the gaily decorated Sri Dalada Maligawa tusker Indi Raja carrying the golden casket of the sacred relics. The picture shows the Indi Raja tusker with the sacred casket of relics leaving the Temple of the Tooth for the final day.

Meanwhile, the official closing ceremony of the Kandy Esala Perahera will be held under the patronage of President Ranil Wickremesinghe at the President’s House in Kandy tomorrow (12).

President Ranil Wickremesinghe viewed the final Randoli Perahera of the historical Kandy Esala Festival today night.

Justice, Prisons Affairs and Constitutional Reforms Minister Dr. Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe, Chief of Presidential Staff and Senior Advisor to the President Sagala Rathnayake and former Central Province Governor Sarath Ekanayake were also present.

Following tomorrow’s perahera, Diyawadana Nilame of the Sri Dalada Maligawa Pradeep Nilanga Dela accompanied by the Basnayake Nilames of the Devales will hand over the traditional Sannas Pathra to the President informing him that the Pehahera festival was concluded successfully.

 

 

Transport, Highways and Mass Media Minister Hon.Dr. Bandula Gunawardane had a discussion

with the representatives from the film industry at the Ministry of Mass Media yesterday (10).

This discussion was held with the objective of obtaining the ideas for drafting a national cinema

policy in order to develop the Sri Lankan cinema industry.  Newly appointed chairman of the National film corporation Deepal Chandraratne, with expertise in the film industry, artists, producers and many others related to the field also took part in this discussion.

 Minister Dr.Gunawardane stated, that the young generation hardly goes to cinema halls and immediate measures should be put in place to develop the cinema industry in a way that will more youths.

 

He made these remarks when the All Ceylon Makkal Congress led by MP Rishard Bathiudeen, Sri Lanka Muslim Congress led by MP Rauff Hakeem, Thamil Makkal Thesiya Kuttani led by MP C.V. Vigneswaran and the Tamil Progressive Alliance led by MP Mano Ganesan met him for a discussion on the proposed All-Party Government at the President’s Office yesterday (10).

The group of MPs of the Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna, who became independent in parliament a few months ago also met the President to discuss the same matter yesterday.

The President informed the MPs that the appointment of the Sectoral Oversight Committee is taking place these days while he has understood the necessity of appointing several other sub-committees as well.

He also said that it is the main aim to form the National Council and it needs the representation of all the political parties and the affiliated parties of the already formed political alliances.

President Wickremesinghe also explained to the participants the importance of granting the Chairmen of Parliamentary Committees the powers similar to Cabinet Ministers and their participation in the Cabinet meetings when needed.

At this meeting which was also participated by Prime Minister Dinesh Gunawardane and the Secretary to the President Saman Ekanayake, the President requested the participated groups to inform him of their decision on whether they are willing to take part in the committee system or to join the government following internal discussions within their respective Parties.

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