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Sri Lanka: Rs 14 billion worth Financial Assistance from the Netherlands

Financial Assistance from the Netherlands for Construction of Rural Bridges and Establishment of National Vocational Training Institute at Hingurakgoda, Polonnaruwa

Two agreements were signed, on Thursday 10th October 2019, between the Government of Sri Lanka and Rabobank of the Netherlandsamounting to EUR 70.7 million (Approximately Rs. 14.1 billion) for construction of rural bridges and Establishment of National Vocational Training Institute at Hingurakgoda, Polonnaruwa.

The financing agreement was signed by Secretary to the Ministry of Finance, Dr. R. H. S. Samaratunga and Director- Rabobank,Mr. Han Bartelds, in the presence of H.E the Ambassador of theNetherlands, Ms. Tanja Gonggrijp, at the Ministry of Finance.

Government has accorded high priority for connectivity improvement within the country with a view to providing full benefits from mainstream development activities in the country to the remote villages as well. ‘Construction of Rural Bridges Project’ aiming at connecting rural areas to the developed regions by constructing rural bridges have been initiated by the Government few years ago. A large number of lagging villages will be facilitated with transport facilities through this programme. The Ministry of Internal & Home Affairs and Provincial Councils & Local Government has identified around 200 rural bridges to be constructed with the concessional financial assistance of the Netherlands as a part of the above programme.

With the government’s recognition that provision of quality vocational education and training to the youth in order to create productive employment opportunities is very essential for the social and economic development of the country. One of the most priorities of the Government of Sri Lanka is to make competent people who will be participating in the national development of the country. In this regard the Government is willing to introduce knowledge mechanisms to provide required knowledge competencies

The Rabobank of the Netherlands will provide two Export Credit Facilities to cover 75% of the each contract cost. The Balance 25% of the eachcontract cost will be financed by two grants extended by the Development Related Infrastructure Investment Vehicle (DRIVE) of the Dutch Government.

Mossad chief comments on policy of assassinations

Cohen admitted that the Mossad has been behind a string of assassinations of Hamas officials around the world in recent years

Yossi Cohen, the chief of the Mossad —Israel’s main external intelligence agency— said he has authorized “more than a few” assassinations during his tenure and warned that more may be on the way. Cohen, 57, who took command of the Mossad in 2016, spoke last week to Mishpacha, a magazine aimed at ultra-orthodox Jews. His comments were covered widely by Israeli media over the weekend.

Cohen was asked to respond to recent allegations made by the Iranian government that Israel worked with “Arab countries” to assassinate General Qassem Suleimani, the head of the Quds Force, an elite paramilitary unit in Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC). Suleimani claimed that several individuals were arrested last month in connection with the alleged plot. He also said that Israel tried to kill him and Hassan Nasrallah, leader of the Lebanese Hezbollah group, in 2006.

Yossi Cohen
The head of the Mossad told Mishpacha that Suleimani had not “necessarily committed the mistake yet that would place him on the prestigious list of Mossad’s assassination targets”. However, “he knows very well that his assassination is not impossible” because “the infrastructure he built presents a serious challenge for Israel”, said Cohen. Regarding Nasrallah, Cohen said that the Hezbollah strongman “knows we have the option of eliminating him”. When asked why the Mossad had not exercised that option, Cohen said he preferred not to answer.

In regards to Hamas, the Palestinian militant group that controls the Gaza Strip, Cohen admitted that the Mossad has been behind a string of assassinations of Hamas officials around the world in recent years. “If there is one target that we eliminate without hesitation, it is Hamas officials abroad. [These range] from local agents to those who manage acquisitions of weapons pointed towards Israel”, said Cohen. He added that there had been “more than a few assassinations” in recent years, but not all were admitted to by Hamas. “The enemy has changed tactics. It is not quick to attribute assassination to us, for its own reasons”, said the Mossad chief.

This article was originally published by "Intelnews"

Sri Lanka: Court publishes the reasons about writ on Gotabaya ( Full Text)

The Court of Appeal, today (15), published the reasons for dismissing the petition filed challenging the citizenship of SLPP presidential candidate Gotabaya Rajapaksa.

On 4 October the three-judge bench of the Appeal Court led by Court Justice Yasantha Kodagoda dismissed the petition against Rajapaksa’s Sri Lankan Citizenship.

The petition was filed by two social activists Gamini Viyangoda and Prof. Chandraguptha Thenuwara.

Accordingly, the court states that President Mahinda Rajapaksa, as the repository of the Executive power of the people, had the legal authority in terms of the Constitution to sign the ‘Dual Citizenship Certificate’ on 21st November 2005.

The Court is in the view that a newly elected President could have exercised powers conferred on a Minister by any written law until the Cabinet of Ministers was appointed.

Here are the reasons why the Court of Appeal dismissed the case;

Sri Lanka: Gotabaya Rajapaksa addresses the press ( Video)

Gotabya Rajapaksa, Presidential hopeful for Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna held a media conference in Colombo, today morning, along with the participation of Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna leader Mahinda Rajapaksa and the fellow party leaders.

Click here to see the interview.

Buddhism and Politics in Sri Lanka

This country is reeling in misinterpretation, misinformation, convoluted facts, rigged narratives on anything and everything these days. 

by Mass L. Usuf

The public opinion is that the politicians in general, have almost sucked the life out of this country. In doing so, among other things, some of them have not spared even harnessing the noble buddha Sasana to their selfish ends.

This country is reeling in misinterpretation, misinformation, convoluted facts, rigged narratives on anything and everything these days. Rarely do we see in this unfortunate period of time politicians who are sincere in expressing their true opinions. Uttering falsehood, making hypocritical statements and deceptively reshapingthe abnormal to look normal abounds in this little island which boasts to be a nation representing the world’s greatest religions.However, a majority of them are careful not to lose their vote bank and not to antagonize the Buddhist monks. The Sinhalese politicians know well that they need to keep the robed Order in their good books. It is, therefore, not surprising to note the show of excessive obeisance to the monks. Maybe some of the respectable monks may be feeling embarrassed by this.

Media AndAuctioning

In an auction, all are aware that the highest bidder succeeds. There was once a reading to the effect that monks are also being auctioned by politicians. What this meant was that one politician wants to outdo his opponent in the public display of commitment towards the Sangha. The reason for this is because they themselves have created this situation by competing to venerate the monks. Apparently, subject to correction, with a dual purpose. Firstly, to curry favour with monks and, secondly, a public demonstration of the commitment to the Sangha and Sasana. These are indeed noble deedsprovided the intentions are pure and sincere. However, the JVP Leader Anura Kumara Dissanayake has a different opinion. In a TV programme he questioned, “why do politicians take the media with them when they go to visit the monks? Did Buddha in his sermon ever say that the people will have to be notified via the media, when paying homage to the monks? He said that these are television Buddhists. These are politicians deceptively exploiting the religious sentiments of the people.

By this unethical practise the position of the monks is blown out of proportion. This is an extremely dangerous development. The consequences of such unethical indulgence have been clearly demonstrated in the conduct of some of these monks. In the end, the innocent monk who was in relative oblivion has been thrown into the limelight not of his own volition but driven by circumstance. Many of the un-Buddhistic statements made recently by the higher clergy disturbed many a civic minded citizen especially, embarrassing those belonging to the Sinhala community. The younger monks are being misled by this drama and conduct themselves in a manner that tarnishes the image of Buddhism, not only locally but, internationally.

Buddha, Dhamma, and Sangha

For the matured and sincere among the monks, whose primary concern is treading the path to nibbana, these ephemeral attractions were not a distraction. In their wisdom, they understood the manipulations of the politicians and kept themselves at bay. At the same time, for the monk who was obscured from limelight, deprived since childhood and less known publicly except to the devotees around, the opportunity to be with politicians and on national television makes him forget why he donned the venerated robe in the beginning. Such a person justifies his boisterousnessnot by seeking refuge in the triple gem- Buddha, Dhamma, Sangha - but by seeking refuge under ethno-racial nationalism, spreading hate and victimising the ‘other’. Obviously, these are actions eons away from the pristine teachings of Master Gotama. Yet, these people would dishonourably take sanctuary by naming themselves as 'buddha putraya'.

Psyche Of The Sangha

Since the panchamahabalavegaya of the late S.W.R.D. Bandaranaike there was an exponential increase in the reengineering of the psyche of the sangha. Consecutive governments and politicians were racing to please this institution for their narrow political gains. The Sangha who have been thrusted to limelight are not able to handle this more than a handful of fortune falling on their laps. Generally, most of them start giving their opinions on political matters, economics, foreign policy, geo-politics etc.

In his research titled, ‘New Buddhist Extremism and the Challenges to Ethno-Religious Coexistence in Sri Lanka’, (ICES, October 2016), Nirmal Ranjith Dewasiri relates an incident which indicates the sad level this molly-coddlingbetween politicians and monks have led to.

“The confidence with which they displayed their violent behaviour in public spaces was remarkable. They grossly violated the law even in the presence of the police, who took no action. Apart from the political protection that they enjoyed with impunity under the Mahinda Rajapaksa government, they fully exploited the public respect for the robe and the authority that was commanded by those who wore it. Perhaps the most exemplary moment was when Rev. Gnanasara clashed with police and other officials at an expressway entrance when his vehicle was stopped from entering the expressway due to its poor technical condition. At one point of the heated argument, he shouted at expressway officials with the following words:

“ ….. Dena ganilla me ammage redden āṇḍuperaḷānnathpuluwan”
(Make note you bastard!!! This piece of cloth is capable of even toppling governments”.)

The author in his note mentions: It is not possible to translate “ammageredda” into English to render the actual meaning it carries. This is indeedconsidered to be an extremely indecent expression, not supposed to be used in public. By using the term “ammageredda” for the saffron robe he in fact ridiculed it.

Dewasiri further states that these aggressive monks had no problem with taking part inany event of the mainstream Sangha, and the high level of tolerance towards theirill behaviour is conspicuous.

Mangala Samaraweera

In this backdrop, for Finance Minister Mangala Samaraweera to say what he said without caring for his vote bank and not bothered about the sentiment whether he pleases the monks, distinguishes him as a person or a politician very different from the run of the mill.

The Minister was recently reported in the national newspapers to have said, “Sri Lanka was not a Sinhala Buddhist country but a country belonging to all those who had taken Sri Lanka as their motherland. The majority of Sri Lanka, which belongs to Sri Lankans, are Sinhala Buddhists. There are also people belonging to Christian, Catholic, Hindu, Islamic and other religions in that country. All of them have the same rights which the Sinhala Buddhists have. Simply because Sinhala Buddhists were in the majority, they can't impose their opinion on others.”

He went on to draw an analogy, in this way, “Most of us have gone abroad or had relatives abroad. If you go to Italy or the UK and if you become a citizen of one of these countries, there are no second-class citizens. The one who became a citizen today and the one became a citizen even thousands of years ago have the same rights.”

Monks Must Rethink

Now this is music to the ears of the minority folks but disturbing to many others within the Sinhala community especially, the hyped-up monks. The point that needs attention is the daring statement apart from being another sycophantic and insincere bidder in this auctioning game.

The positions taken by Mr. Anura Kumara Dissanayake and Mr. Mangala Samaraweera are insightful and lays down the foundation for a fresh impetus for the politicians to revisit their behaviour in politics involving monks and Buddhism. Also, on the part of the monks to re-evaluate their opinions, attitudes, principles and values in conformity with the pristine teachings of the Buddha.

The End.

Kashmir - A Weeping Star

The world around us is frightened of our abilities, talents, skills and courage as well as of our determination and because of this fear, our ‘friends’ always remain busy in knitting a web of conspiracies around us.

by Ali Sukhanver

Our natural innocence could never die if we are in association with the Nursery Rhymes even when we are old and mature enough to narrate these rhymes to our grand-children. I still remember a beautifully innocent poem, our class-teacher used to sing us about fifty years back; “Twinkle twinkle little star-How I wonder what you are-Up above the world so high-Like a diamond in the sky”. Though, I couldn’t grasp the meanings of this poem that time but now I realize the profundity and depth hidden in those simple lines; the message buried in those musical words. Certainly rising up so high and dispelling the darkness around with our glimmering brilliance is never an easy job particularly when nothing around us is favourable and supportive; same is the story of Pakistan. In spite of so many odds and evils, so many hurdles and hindrances, Pakistan is always twinkling like a diamond in the sky.

The world around us is frightened of our abilities, talents, skills and courage as well as of our determination and because of this fear, our ‘friends’ always remain busy in knitting a web of conspiracies around us. For the last three decades we have been trying to convince the world that we have nothing to do with those who promote terrorism, who sponsor militancy and who support extremism but nobody is there to believe in what we claim. From the Mumbai blasts to the Pulwama Attacks, we were always forcibly dragged into the scenario which never belonged to us. It is yet not clear either the world is frightened of us because we are the Muslims or because we are the Pakistanis. Both of our identities seem ‘pain in the neck’ for the world around us.

The fact of the matter is that Pakistan’s continuous moral support to Kashmir’s freedom-movement is the root-cause of India’s hostility against Pakistan. It is not only with the people of Kashmir, Pakistan is always standing with all the crushed ones. Be it Sri Lanka, Nepal, Iraq, Palestine or even Afghanistan, Pakistan has never remained silent over atrocities against any nation, any country. As far as the issue of the Indian-Held Kashmir is concerned, Pakistan has always been doing all best possible to draw the attention of the world peace-keepers towards the grave human rights violations in the valley of Kashmir by the Indian security forces. The result of this support is that some think-tanks in India have started holding Pakistan responsible for the cancellation of articles 370 and 35-A in the Indian Held Kashmir. They are of the opinion that this situation must not have occurred if Prime Minister Imran Khan had not discussed the Kashmir issue with President Trump during his meeting last July. They say whatever happened there in form of cancellation of articles 370 and 35-A is in fact a reaction of Mr. Modi to Mr. Khan’s attempt of bringing Kashmir issue to lime-light. It means, they are of the opinion that Pakistan and Imran Khan must remain indifferent to the atrocities, the helpless people of Kashmir have been facing for the last many decades.

Things are getting worse and worse with every passing day in the Indian Occupied Kashmir. According to the Kashmir Media Service just in the month of August 2019, the Indian security forces brutally murdered more than 18 Kashmiris whereas 467 were brutally injured with air-guns commonly known as the pallet-guns. Over 10,000 arrested have been booked under draconian law, Public Safety Act since the repeal of the special status of territory by the Indian government on 5th August. Those detained under PSA include Hurriyat leaders, political workers, traders, lawyers, social activists, and youth. This all is very much horrible and criminal silence of the international peace-keepers is simply adding a lot of misery to the situation. All over the world, there is no one but Pakistan standing in support of the helpless Kashmiris. Recently the Prime Minister of Pakistan Mr. Imran Khan and the Chief of the Army Staff General Qamar Bajwa paid an official visit to China. During the visit the Kashmir issue remained the focus of all discussions. The Prime Minister of Pakistan successfully tried to convince China that it should do more efforts and try to seek some way out for the betterment of the wretched Kashmiris.

The recent visit of Pakistani hi-ups to China and the way Chinese authorities warmly welcomed them is being bitterly criticized by different so-called think-tanks in India. They are of the opinion that Kashmir is an internal issue of India and no one from outside India must be worried about it. In other words these think-tanks are suggesting a Modi-like attitude to Pakistan? They are expecting from Pakistan that it would keep the eyes closed to the burning houses of Kashmiris and to their blood spilling in the streets? Pakistan and Kashmir are the two sides of the same coin; they could never be separated. Though by scrapping Article 370 and 35 A, Mr. Modi has tried to deprive the Kashmiris of their personal identity and snatch their basic rights but this shot is not going to be effective and useful there in the long run.