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Highways and Mass Media and Transport Minister Dr. Bandula Gunawardhana, joined in a special observation of the Lumala Bicycle Manufacturing Company, which has been a leading bicycle manufacturing company in Sri Lanka for over 35 years and 3 generations.

The Minister’s special attention was paid to the electric bicycles (e-bikes) produced by the Lumala company, which manufactures more than 500,000 units of bicycles annually for the domestic and foreign markets.

The Minister observed the work performed by each division of this bicycle factory where cycles are produced locally with the contribution of various sectors of the institution. Many models are produced by the Lumala Company including electric bicycles that can run for about 100 kilometres in one charge, at a cost of less than one rupee per kilometre. Under this technology, ordinary electric bicycles, specially designed double-seated electric bicycles for tourists, special electric bicycles that can collect light waste including discarded plastic bottles, electric wheelchairs, electric bicycles with seats for passenger transport, and has introduced many product models including electric bicycles manufactured for mobile sales activities such as those of ice cream, sweets and the company has the ability to produce such bicycles on a large scale according to demand.

The management of the institute informed the Minister that there is a high demand for these electric bicycles in this country as well as in many countries including the United Kingdom, Europe, India, the United Arab Emirates, and the Middle Eastern states.

“It is essential that the people continue to be widely aware of the role of such institutions that engage in immense manufacture of products for the country. The country should see the services provided by such institutions, as an industry. We worked towards attracting a lot of public attention to the services provided by innovative institutions such as Vega. It is necessary to prepare such a planned program. For this purpose, more people will be aware of this by making use of the contribution of media organizations.

The people will especially, be aware of the financial and fuel savings made by the officials of the organization through the use of electric bicycles and the advantageous benefits that exist as a result. Awareness is very useful. Being able to provide transportation facilities using electricity instead of fossil fuels at a minimum cost will become a very effective alternative programme for the country in the face of the current financial crisis.”

Lumala’s Director CEO Tariq Miflal, Managing Director Asim Miflal, General Manager Ranjith Siriwardena and others were present during this tour of observation by the Minister.

 

In a recent interview with Deutsche Welle, President Ranil Wickremesinghe addressed several critical topics, including the Berlin dialogues, economic challenges and allegations of human rights concerns.

President Wickremesinghe acknowledged the progress made during the Berlin dialogues, emphasizing improved understanding and cooperation between Sri Lanka and European countries, particularly France and Germany.

Regarding economic challenges, he clarified the situation with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and stated that they have reached an agreement, with discussions on alternative proposals to meet revenue targets on-going. He acknowledged historical taxation issues but expressed confidence in resolving them.

He highlighted that the Truth and Reconciliation Commission is a significant step toward addressing reconciliation and human rights issues.
When asked about calls for an international investigation into human rights abuses, President Wickremesinghe rejected the idea, asserting that Sri Lanka would handle investigations internally with the involvement of Sri Lankan personnel. He also dismissed the recent UN report on human rights, asserting that the government had rejected it.

The interview concluded with President Wickremesinghe defending his government’s efforts to address these challenges and its commitment to cooperating with the international community.

Following is the full interview President Wickremesinghe had with Deutsche Welle;

Interviewer: President Wickremesinghe, welcome to Deutsche Welle. Thank you for being with us. Any good news that you’re taking home from the two days of the Berlin dialogues?

President Wickremesinghe: What I can take back from here is that the gap between us is closing, and there’s more understanding, especially on the European side. I had the chance of attending the Paris climate summit, and I’m here in Berlin to say that within the European Union, both France and Germany know our thinking and are attuned to our thinking, and they are trying to find a way of resolving some of the issues.

Interviewer: It is the IMF that seems to be not completely attuned to your thinking, right? Over the last couple of days, the IMF has said that they will stop the second package, at least pending negotiations, because there has been a 15% failure to meet the expectations for revenue, which essentially means that you have a problem with taxation. This problem seems to be very pressing. Is there a particular plan to actually accelerate this process?

President Wickremesinghe: It’s not that they are stopping the second package; we have come to an agreement. We have the view that we will have the results of what we’ve done this year will be shown next year. In regard to the targets, it was always felt that some of the targets may not be achieved, and they were told of it. And now we are talking about how we can fill that gap. And in regard to it, there are some proposals to which we have not agreed because we feel it might add to the burdens of the ordinary people. The IMF has asked us to come up with alternate proposals. Before I left, the alternate proposals were given to them, but they were leaving the next day.

Interviewer: Sorry for interrupting, but you do have a historical and serious problem with taxation, and this cannot be news to you since you’ve been in power six times.

President Wickremesinghe: Look, I am the first one to admit that. And we say that we need a new revenue authority. I brought it up in 2003, and I lost the election in 2004. But it’s not only a question of revenue evasion, which we have agreed. It is from where are you going to take that money in? Revenue evasion cannot be overcome in one year. We are already talking, and they’ve already given us, we’ve agreed with many of it. It’s just where do we find the money at the present time. It will be resolved.

Interviewer: How long do you think it will take?

President Wickremesinghe: I think by next week it will be resolved.

Interviewer: There is actually a very pressing question about poverty. Save the Children International is talking about a full-blown hunger crisis in Sri Lanka.

President Wickremesinghe: There was a pretty bad hunger crisis last year. We’ve reduced it. No one is saying no. But once this package is done, we’ll take the next step. When the economy collapses, it has to be. People didn’t have food, people are out of jobs, industries are collapsing. Now we are getting along, for instance, as far as the tourism is concerned, the whole sector is picking up.

Interviewer: The report from Save the Children International is less than a couple of weeks old.

President Wickremesinghe: So I read that report. I read the report. I am not saying no. We may not agree on the figures, the amount, percentages. There is hunger. I am not saying no to it. Obviously, when the economy collapses, there has to be. I am trying to get out of it. And there is a new report of proposals on childcare, which is not merely a question of hunger. There are a large number of children who are not receiving proper childcare. And that report is given to me next week.

Interviewer: Education is also suffering severely.

President Wickremesinghe: Education broke down. Now we are trying to get back into the normal regime, which is 2024 or 2025. We have now met and decided on far-reaching reforms to education. There is no need to accuse us.

Interviewer: No, no, it’s not an accusation. There is a difference in the times that a state has to solve its problems and the time that a parent has to feed a child.

President Wickremesinghe: Can you fulfill it within one year? We know the economy collapsed. Only this year it started moving, not even one year. And hunger is down. Poverty is down. More people are getting jobs. It’s a transition period. We are not saying there is no hunger. We say there is hunger. That’s why I took over. I finished the hunger.

Interviewer: Okay, let’s go to what has become probably one of the biggest stories in Sri Lanka over the last couple of weeks, which is the Channel 4 report on the presumed collusion of members of the state with a terrorist group in what is the worst terrorist episode in the history of Sri Lanka.

President Wickremesinghe: Why do you treat Channel 4 as sacred?

Interviewer: I don’t. I actually don’t.

President Wickremesinghe: A lot of people in Britain don’t. So is this just, I mean, Why are you only asking Channel 4?

Interviewer: you flatly deny it?

Interviewer: I’m not asking Channel 4. What I’m saying is that there is a very concrete accusation. When there is an accusation of this size.

President Wickremesinghe: Well, I mean, just because the media gives the accusation, why should I do this?…The former Attorney General has made accusations. The former director of CID has made accusations. Why do you need to ask me on all four?

Interviewer: It’s really not just Channel 4. It’s a Catholic Church that is asking for an investigation. It’s actually a former president under whom you served.

President Wickremesinghe: Look, I’m asking you that. You didn’t ask me that. When I pressed you, only you said that, that former president asked for it. You came with the Channel 4 report as gospel truth. Their point of the story is not gospel truth. Can you let me answer?

Interviewer: By all means, please. Please do.

President Wickremesinghe: Firstly, in regard to the Channel 4, I’ve appointed a committee with a judge who’s heading the committee, a former commander of the Air Force, and a well-known lawyer, to go into it. Secondly, in regard to the…

Interviewer: There is nobody that believes that this commission has teeth enough to do anything other than the Federal Republic Commission.

President Wickremesinghe: That is your view, not mine.

Interviewer: No, no, it’s not mine.

President Wickremesinghe: As far as I am concerned, I am dealing with the Bishops Conference, not with the cardinals, and they come and meet me, and the Bishops Conference wanted all the proceedings, and I gave it to them.

Interviewer: They are looking for an independent investigation into what had transpired.

President Wickremesinghe: This is the independent Commission that they agreed to. As far as I am concerned, you don’t deal with the bishops’ conference, I do. They come and meet me, not you. You sit here with a piece of paper, I talk to them when I go back again. The second one is a Parliamentary Committee. So if there is something that has not been done in this committee, the Parliamentary Committee will again go into it. It’s the Parliament that has to finally decide. As far as President Sirisena’s matter is concerned, He will meet me when I come back because, since he appointed one commission, I want to ask him whether he wants to. I have done nothing. I am not involved in it.

I am trying to resolve it. And you take a piece of paper by the cardinal, and you are reading it out there. Have you spoken to the bishops’ conference? Have you spoken to the Catholic bishops?

Interviewer: No, no, I have not.

President Wickremesinghe: Then you have no right to ask me this question.

Interviewer: Well, I think that’s an exaggeration. I think that it’s in the public interest to ask a question.

President Wickremesinghe: No, no. In the public interest, I am answering. Who are you?

Interviewer: So, can I move on to the next question?

President Wickremesinghe: No, no, you didn’t come here to ask questions. You tried to corner me. The government is not doing anything.

Interviewer: I have certainly not claimed that you are not doing anything.

President Wickremesinghe: No, no, you will take this western attitude out. I said, you are, you are doing it.

Interviewer: I think it’s actually the case that you have several people that have requested an international aided independent investigation of the eastern bombings.

President Wickremesinghe: Sri Lanka government doesn’t have international inquiries. Full stop. It’s the, a few people may have asked, but parliament doesn’t. And there is, I forgot to tell you, the FBI reports, which says that no one outside was involved. We had the FBI, we had the, it’s called the British police, we had the Australians, we had the Indians, we had the Chinese, all there, and the Pakistanis.

Interviewer: You do realize that this makes it look like you are paying lip service to the question. I am not saying that you are. – I am not saying that it makes it look… – No, no, sorry, sorry.

President Wickremesinghe: If the FBI has come in, if the Indians have come in, if the English have come in, if the Australians have come in, if the Chinese have come in, and if those secret service agencies have given reports, then what are you saying? – Well, What I am saying is you are talking nonsense. –

Interviewer: It might well be, but you have a long history.

President Wickremesinghe: No, no,

Interviewer: May I ask a question? – No, my… – You can answer whatever way you want, but if you would let me ask the question, then at least we will get to that.

President Wickremesinghe: I am telling you, don’t come and accuse me. That is not the way you run. Look, I have been doing this game long before you. I have been involved in television, I have been involved in media. I am telling you, we have a thing that the western media thinks we are bad. The way we have enquiries, we are by using Sri Lankan personnel. Now, you are saying, look, that is out. We will not have international enquiries on any issue. UK hasn’t got. Germany hasn’t got. What have you got? What are the international enquiries you have gone into? What are the ones that UK has gone into? Why these poor Sri Lankan Asians? You think we are second class?

Interviewer: No, I don’t. Not at all

President Wickremesinghe: Then why are you asking that?

Interviewer: Because you have a history of commissions since 2008, at least, till today, that have essentially produced nothing. I can list them for you. Udala Gama, Lessons Learned…

President Wickremesinghe: Can I tell you? This was the commission about the Easter blast. and, and, and, there have been enough of those. We have acted on all that. On, reconciliation is a different matter. There are commissions we have acted on, there are those we haven’t.

If you think that we are a third-rate country you have got it wrong.

Interviewer: It’s not the claim and it’s not what I said.

Here is the next question. As a matter of fact, I mean, there is now the last report of the UN on Human Rights in Sri Lanka remains dismal. So much so that now the American Congress has 12 people from across the aisle that are actually asking the Biden administration to put pressure on your government to figure out how you’re going to actually curb what are abuses. You have just announced a couple of months ago a new Truth and Reconciliation Commission after the ones I just listed had essentially no teeth.

President Wickremesinghe: You got it wrong. That is not a normal Presidential Commission. The Truth and Reconciliation Commission will be agreed with these countries that we have established a Truth and Reconciliation Commission. At the moment discussions are on with the parties plus the government, and we are talking with the western governments. The senators may put this in. We are talking with the western governments, and the Truth and Reconciliation Bill will come to Parliament before the end of the year. Since I took over there has been no major issue.

Interviewer: You can actually go yourself and I am sure you have seen the UN report for less than a month ago that is still talking about. May I finish the question?

President Wickremesinghe: No, no. I’m telling you that UN report has been rejected.

Interviewer: By whom?

President Wickremesinghe: The government of Sri Lanka has rejected it.

Interviewer: Okay, the government of Sri Lanka has rejected it.

President Wickremesinghe: Who has given it? I am not accepting that UN report.

Interviewer: So the UN is wrong about this?

President Wickremesinghe: Not the UN. The Human Rights Commission is wrong.

Interviewer: The Human Rights Commission is wrong. Clearly Amnesty and Human Rights Watch are wrong as well.

President Wickremesinghe: Human Rights Commission is wrong. The report is given by Human Rights Commission. If Amnesty International says there is something new, let them come.

Interviewer: Will you commit to having a criminal investigation? I mean the ministers in your own government that are requesting.

President Wickremesinghe: Who are the ministers? Look, the question is would you agree to have the criminal investigation department?

President Wickremesinghe: You tell me that I have two ministers. Minister of Commerce is Fernando. Minister of Tourism is Fernando. Neither of them have asked for it. You have made a serious accusation. You tell me the Fernando.

Interviewer: What is the serious accusation?

President Wickremesinghe: That two ministers of my cabinet wanted investigation.

Interviewer: It’s not an accusation. It’s actually public domain.

President Wickremesinghe: But that means you are wrong. As far as I am concerned there is only one. Under the law only the police can investigate like in your country. Right. And then if the police reports to the magistrate, the magistrate can order further inquiry.

Interviewer: Would you bring the criminal investigation department to investigate?

President Wickremesinghe: Certainly. Certainly, they are investigating. They are already there.

Interviewer: Okay, and there will be absolutely no question of international observers or collaboration to guarantee transparency.

President Wickremesinghe: Do you have international observers in your cases?

Interviewer: Between 60,000 and 100,000 people disappeared in Sri Lanka, and you still have no…

President Wickremesinghe: At the end, we have to still work. I think the numbers are supposed to be less.

Interviewer: So, it’s basically something that can be cavalierly dismissed.

President Wickremesinghe: We have a missing persons commission that’s going into it.

Interviewer: That has been going into it for a while.

President Wickremesinghe: I became president only one year ago.

Interviewer: Well, you’ve been prime minister. You’ve been in power six times. Yes, sir. So, this is actually part of the country that you inherited but you have also built.

President Wickremesinghe: I’ve been prime minister. You stop it, I stop it, we go off. Right? You know, you are shouting I am being bad.

Interviewer: Why can’t you answer?

President Wickremesinghe: Look, you haven’t done this your homework properly. You come to come and shout here saying that we are violating human rights. We are not.

Interviewer: There is a very strong case.

President Wickremesinghe: I disagree.

Interviewer: Can I ask you a last question, perhaps? Obviously, you can completely disagree with this. But in fact, there are like a lot of people in centres of power around the world that you actually are now reliant on that believe this to be a very serious issue and believe to be Sri Lanka. Let me please finish this question. Believe actually Sri Lanka to have not delivered on accountability, not delivered on justice. What you are promising for many of these people is essentially moot. Are you concerned that this kind of attitude will compromise what actually you now need from the international community? Is this a concern at all?

President Wickremesinghe: I am working with the international community on putting this right. We are working together with them. They know we are doing it. We are discussing everything. My foreign minister is discussing with them all the time. And they know all that. So what you have got is a lot of bunkum. Well, it’s just fine for that. You know, you ask the question. I gave a reply. It’s all right.

Interviewer: This is not a concern at all.

President Wickremesinghe: I don’t think we are doing it with the country. I respect human rights as the best record. You just come here and shout.

Thank you very much. Thank you.

Transport, Highways and Mass Media Minister Dr. Bandula Gunawardhana, who represented Sri Lanka at the “2023 Global Sustainable Transport Forum” held in Beijing, China, participated in a special visit to Beijing Foreign Studies University, after the conference.

On a scholarship awarded under the Confucius Chinese Education Plan, the Minister completed his Doctor of Philosophy degree at the Beijing University of Foreign Studies.

Former Head of the Department of Sinhala Studies, University of Kelaniya, Professor Malwane Chandarathana Thera, University President, Committee Deputy Secretary, Professor Yang Dan, Vice President and Committee Deputy Secretary Prof. Jia Wenjian, Charg‚ d’Affaires of the Sri Lankan Embassy in China, Yogananda, Counselor at Sri Lankan Embassy in China, Purnima Gunasekara, China Harbor Engineering Co. Ltd. Regional Deputy General Manager Xu Liqiang, and a group of students studying at the Faculty of Sinhala Language Studies of Beijing Foreign Studies University, also participated in a discussion held with the Minister.

“His Excellency Anagarika Siri Devamitta Dharmapala sacrificed his life for the perpetuation of Buddhism. He restored and saved Buddhism in Sri Lanka as well as India. In an article published with the purpose of appreciating his contribution, I mentioned that Anagarika Dharmapala is the father of national education in this country. Based on a long-term deep study, I can say that the Father of Free Education is Mr. C.W.W. Kannangara, and the father of national education is Anagarika Dharmapala,” Minister of Transport, Highways and Mass Media Dr. Bandula Gunawardhana said.

On the occasion of the 159th birth anniversary of Anagarika Dharmapala on the 17th of September, a commemorative programme was held before the statue of Sir Anagarika Dharmapala in the Homagama Mahinda Rajapaksa College, under the patronage of the Minister of Transport, Highways and Mass Media.

Addressing the event, the Minister expressed the following views as well.

,”Anagarika Dharmapala called the then church-based missionary education system not inclusive of local heritage. He selected the talented youth of the country and offered them scholarships to receive education in countries like America, England, France, Germany, Japan, etc.

“Education is the only way to save our nation. Sri Lanka has an illegitimate education system. We have to send Sinhalese youths on scholarships to countries like America, England, France, Germany, Japan, Hong Kong, etc. and start building the nation with them. To develop and become self-sufficient, consumption of foreign goods must be avoided. Every commodity that can be made in the country must be produced and used. By restarting industries in the country, wealth and employment generation can be increased.

Wealth creation, circulation. and exchange should be based on an understanding of the basic principles. Only administrative officers with competent expertise should be appointed to high positions of responsibility. Since acquiring knowledge of foreign languages is a national need, a program should be prepared for that.

“Mentioning this statement, my book ‘Mysterious Investment and Money Laundering’ was dedicated to His Excellency Anagarika Dharmapala.

“I believe that when I was the Minister of Education who has given the highest respect to Anagarika Dharmapala’s national education principle in recent history. I introduced the technology stream to the education system of this country where only science, art and commerce streams were available for the Advanced Level. I faced countless obstacles and insults during this endeavour and the JVP put up a poster campaign urging the Minister of Education who they claimed destroyed education immediately resign. Recently, they burnt down my house.

“In the Mahindhodaya Technical Laboratories built by devoting all my time at that time, a computer lab with 40 computers, a language lab with 20 computers for acquiring foreign language knowledge, a math lab, and a classroom for distance education have been installed. Two hundred fifty-one Mahindhodaya Technology Faculties were established for technical education. The ground floor of the building has been designed with the necessary machinery and equipment for engineering technology. The first floor has been allocated for learning modern agriculture, irrigation technology and bio-system technology. The third floor consists of classrooms for children. Around 1,000 Mahindodaya technology laboratories have been created in this way, all over Sri Lanka.

The thought of Anagarika Dharmapala lives in the 251 Mahindodaya Technical Faculties and in the Technology stream. So far, 13 technology faculties have been established in universities. More than 5,000 students are enrolled in those faculties every year and they obtain the knowledge to bring out the innovations needed in the world tomorrow.

“Anagarika Dharmapala, the father of national education, sacrificed his sweat, labour and wealth to raise the national education of the country together with many contemporary scholars. Therefore, he must be named the father of national education. The current generation must follow him and think beyond ordinary thinking. They must look more than they see. They must practise peace and harmony. We should be determined to serve the country for the good of the people.”

The Maha Sangha led by the Chairman of the Homagama Shasanarakshaka Bala Mandalaya, the Assistant Director of the Piriven Division of the Ministry of Education Ven. Madowita Vajirabuddhi Nayaka Thero, the Ven. Maduluawe Dhammika Thero, the chief of Uttararama temple of Pitipana, the local government officials, public representatives, the Principal of Homagama Mahinda Rajapaksa College, Mr. Sarath Bandu Kumara, the Deputy Principal and the teaching staff of the college, parents and students were present for this event.

 
 
 
 

President Ranil Wickremesinghe urged greater South-South cooperation and proposed a scheme akin to the Colombo Plan to enhance collaboration, exchange best practices and develop policies that harness the transformational potential of science, technology and innovation. President Wickremesinghe delivered a compelling address at the Summit of the Heads of State and Government of the G77 and China in Havana, Cuba on Friday (15).

In his speech, President Wickremesinghe emphasized the crucial role of science, technology and innovation in overcoming the current development challenges faced by developing nations worldwide.

The President began by commending Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel Bermudez for convening the summit and acknowledging Cuba’s historic role as a champion for the concerns and aspirations of developing nations within various multilateral forums.

He noted the unprecedented challenges confronting the global South, including the pandemic, climate change, food, fertilizer and energy crises, which threaten the achievement of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and exacerbate the global debt crisis.

President Wickremesinghe then delved into the historical perspective of technological development, highlighting how Europe’s advancements in the 15th century, such as gunpowder, cannons and ocean-going ships, enabled it to conquer other parts of the world, resulting in the technological divide seen today. He underscored that a new technological divide is emerging in the 21st century, necessitating the adoption of digitalization and new technologies, such as Big Data, IoT, AI, Blockchain, Biotechnology and Genome Sequencing, to bridge the gap.

He emphasised the importance of an educated manpower well- equipped with knowledge and technological know-how essential for the smooth flow of the needed transformations which will lubricate the development and catching up process in developing nations.

The President outlined his Government’s initiatives, including the evaluation of underperforming Science and Technology Research Institutes and the establishment of a Technology and Innovation Council and a Digital Transformation Agency.

Additionally, Sri Lanka plans to create four new universities specializing in new technologies, with one being the result of technological co-operation between India and Sri Lanka. The International Climate University will be the fifth.

Addressing the digital divide, President Wickremesinghe cited challenges such as limited access to costly technology, insufficient digital skills and infrastructure, cultural and institutional barriers and financing constraints.

He called for effective co-operation mechanisms within the G77 and China, including the revitalization of the Consortium of Science and Technology and Innovation for the South (COSTIS) and the commitment of member countries to earmark 1% of their GDP for R&D over a decade.

President Wickremesinghe stressed the importance of collaboration between Governments and the private sector and proposed creating technological platforms in fields like digitalisation, health, medication, AI and renewable energy including green hydrogen, inspired by the European Union’s Technology and Innovation Platforms.

The brain drain from the South to the North and the resulting loss of educated manpower is another threat to the development of Science Technology and Innovation of the South, President Wickremesinghe said, adding that China, India, Japan and South Korea have developed Science Technology and Innovation by nurturing their manpower. “Therefore we must ask for compensation from the North for the loss of our manpower,” he added.

In conclusion, President Wickremesinghe reaffirmed Sri Lanka’s commitment to supporting the new Havana Declaration and called for the collective voice of G77 and China to be heard in international fora.

The President’s address underscored the significance of science, technology and innovation in shaping the future of developing nations, making it a pivotal moment at the G77 and China Summit.

 
 
 
 

A book written by Natalya Kulishenko, senior officer at the Russian Centre in Colombo, was presented to Transport, Highways and Mass Media Minister Dr. Bandula Gunawardhana yesterday (13).

Kulishenko presented the book An English Queen and Starlingrad written in Russian and a copy of its English translation to the Minister.

The presentation of the book took place after a discussion between the Minister and Kulishenko at the office of the Transport, Highways and Mass Media Ministry in Battaramulla.

 
 
 
 

President Ranil Wickremesinghe is set to take the helm of the Sri Lankan delegation at the 78th session of the United Nations General Assembly in New York. President Wickremesinghe will address the General Assembly on September 21. His speech will revolve around the theme ‘Rebuilding trust and reigniting global solidarity: accelerating action on the 2030 Agenda and its Sustainable Development Goals towards peace, prosperity, progress and sustainability for all.’

Notably, President Wickremesinghe is slated to participate in a Heads of State/Government Leaders Dialogue during the 2023 SDG Summit. Here, world leaders will come together to provide crucial guidance on transformative and accelerated actions leading up to 2030. Furthermore, the President will lend his voice to the Climate Ambition Summit, convened by the UN Secretary-General, where a collective global will to hasten the transition to a more equitable renewable energy-based, climate-resilient global economy will be the central focus.

Adding to his packed agenda, President Wickremesinghe will deliver a keynote address at the High-Level Meeting on Financing for Development, highlighting the imperative of fostering debt sustainability and strengthening the global financial safety net.

During his stay in New York, President Wickremesinghe will seize the opportunity to meet with Mr. António Guterres, the Secretary-General of the United Nations and engage in discussions with leaders of member countries.

Moreover, the President’s visit will extend beyond diplomatic engagements. He is set to participate in a Roundtable Discussion on Economic Opportunities in Sri Lanka, joined by over 40 prominent private companies from the United States. In addition, he will take centre stage at the Ocean Nations: The 3rd Annual Indo-Pacific Islands Dialogue, an event organized by Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and Sasakawa Foundation in New York.

President Wickremesinghe will be accompanied by Foreign Minister Mr. Ali Sabry P.C., Secretary to the President Mr. E. M. S. B. Ekanayake, Foreign Secretary Ms. Aruni Wijewardane and other senior officials from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

The annual “Asidisi Media Scholarship Programme” aimed at improving the professionalism of the Sri Lankan journalists has been organized this year too by the Ministry of Mass Media.

Accordingly, applications has been called for “Asidisi Media Scholarship Programme 2023” and the deadline is 11th October 2023.

The journalist between the age of 18-55 who are employed in recognized Media institutions having completed three years of service on permanent or part time basis, freelance journalists, provincial journalists, web Journalists and media technicians are eligible for applying to this Scholarship programme. Moreover, the intended course should directly be related to the field of mass media and the applicants should possess the media identity issued for the Journalists by the Department of Information for the year 2023.

The journalists can be benefited by this scheme of scholarships twice. After the first Scholarship is awarded, they can once again apply for the second opportunity in five years after successful completion of the course.

Under this Scholarship Programme, two hundred thousand rupees (Rs.200,000.00) would be offered for a graduate or postgraduate programme and one hundred thousand rupees (Rs.100,000.00) would be offered for a long term or short term certificate course conduced by recognized institutions. The journalists who are eligible for this Scholarship Programme will receive 50% of the total course fee at the beginning of the course as the 1st installment, next 25% as the 2nd Installment and the balance when submitting the certificate after the successful completion of the course.

The beneficiaries will be selected after an interview conducted by a committee nominated by the Secretary, Ministry of Mass Media.

All the applications should be sent via registered post to the Director (Media), Ministry of Mass Media, No. 163. Kirulapone Avenue, Polhengoda. Colombo 05 on or before 11th October 2023.

Further details of "Asidisi Media Scholarship Programme 2023" can be obtained by contacting 0112513645 / 0112514632 and the application can be downloaded by visiting the website (http://www.media.gov.lk)

 

President Ranil Wickremesinghe is set to depart for Cuba to address the G77 + China Leaders’ Summit next week. This summit, themed “Current Development Challenges: Role of Science, Technology and Innovation,” is scheduled for September 15 and 16, 2023, in Havana, Cuba.

President Wickremesinghe’s participation in the summit comes as a result of an official invitation from Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel. Alongside the summit, there are plans for bilateral discussions between President Wickremesinghe and the Cuban President to further strengthen the cooperation between Sri Lanka and Cuba.

The G77 + China Leaders’ Summit represents the largest intergovernmental coalition of 134 developing nations, as recognized by the United Nations. It serves as a platform for Southern countries to voice and promote their shared economic interests while enhancing their collaborative negotiating capabilities.

This conference offers an opportunity to address contemporary challenges in the realms of science, technology and innovation, exploring cooperative solutions, particularly through inter-Southern collaboration. The leaders of these nations are expected to adopt the ‘Havana Declaration’ during the summit, which will outline guidelines for reforms and new approaches to enhance cooperation among Southern countries in the fields of science, technology and innovation.

Ms. Aruni Wijewardena, Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, along with a delegation of senior officials from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, will also accompany the President for this significant conference.

President Ranil Wickremesinghe outlined an ambitious vision for Sri Lanka’s economic future during his address at the centenary celebration of Al-Mubarak Central College in Malwana.

He emphasised the replication of the Biyagama Free Trade Zone’s success as a blueprint for modern commercial industrialization to be implemented nationwide.

This strategy aims to propel the country towards rapid development within the next 15 to 20 years.

President Wickremesinghe noted the significant progress made in the Biyagama region since the establishment of the trade zone and highlighted the nation’s potential to become a thriving investment hub. He unveiled plans to open up several new investment opportunities on a global scale, paving the way for Sri Lanka to emerge as a prominent investment destination.

The President’s remarks were delivered during the centenary celebration ceremony, where he also revealed that several areas, including Bingiriya, Hambantota, Kandy, Trincomalee and the Northern Province, have been earmarked for the establishment of industrial estates. These areas are set to undergo rapid development, transforming into vibrant commercial cities.

Furthermore, President Wickremesinghe stressed the commitment of local representatives to attract investment opportunities for the advancement of their respective districts. He cited the example of the Biyagama investment zone, which has evolved into the premier trade zone in South Asia. President Wickremesinghe asserted that replicating the success of industrialization seen in Biyagama and Katunayake across all provinces is crucial for alleviating economic pressures.

President Wickremesinghe also highlighted the Government’s dedication to strengthening the country’s economy while simultaneously creating employment opportunities for the nation’s youth.

During his visit to Al-Mubarak Central College, President Wickremesinghe was warmly welcomed by students. He inaugurated a new three-storied building at the college and issued a commemorative stamp to mark the centenary celebration. This historic visit marked the first time a sitting President had visited Al-Mubarak Central College. The President also left a commemorative note in the special guest book and inaugurated the college’s centenary memorial. Additionally, he recognized students who exhibited exceptional skills with awards and certificates.

Education State Minister Aravinda Kumar also addressed the ceremony, while State Ministers Prasanna Ranaweera and Kader Masthan, along with Principal of Al-Mubarak Central College Malwana S.H.M.Naim, staff, students past and present and other officials were present to mark this significant occasion.

A collection of Russian books was donated to the Homagama Mahinda Rajapaksa College Library on a request made by Transport, Highways and Mass Media Minister Dr. Bandula Gunawardhana.

Colombo Russian Centre’s senior officer Natalia Kulishenko donated the collection that included a number of works used by her in Sri Lanka before returning after her tenure in Sri Lanka.

Kulishenko planted two Naa saplings in the college premises to commemorate her visit to the school. Tatiana Panditha, Russian Language Instructor of the Colombo Russian Centre, Sarath Bandu Kumara, Principal of the Homagama Mahinda Rajapaksa College, the teaching staff of the college and students were present on this occasion.

Kulishenko said that the Russian House in Colombo provides 60 scholarships for Sri Lankan students to pursue their higher education in Russian Universities free of charge.

She said that the students of the Mahinda Rajapaksa College will immensely benefit through the partnership between Mahinda Rajapaksa College and the Russian Cultural Centre.

“The Russian language is a very special one. It is poeticized by many talented writers. It is the language of the world’s greatest literature, which is known and admired throughout the world”, she said.

Kulishenko said that the first words in outer space were pronounced in Russian by Yury Gagarin. “During my travelling to the central part of the island, to the tea fields, I am surprised to hear fluent Russian there from Sri Lankans”, she said. She added that knowledge of the Russian language for a foreigner means a competitive advantage in the area of life success.

“As far as I know there are about 5, 000 Sri Lankan people who speak Russian Language. Most of them are members of the Association of Sri Lankan graduates from Socialist countries. Kelaniya University is the university in the country which offers bachelor’s degree in teaching Russian language,” Natalia Kulishenko said.

 
 
 
 

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