This is not the time to point fingers and try to score political points and manipulate the emotions of the people by misleading and confusing them. This is the time for introspect, said Finance Minister Mangala Samaraweera.
Joining the Parliamentary debate on the current security situation yesterday, he said, “Our own citizens, Hon. Speaker, with external assistance and influence, have caused the death and destruction of their brothers and sisters. Though the violence unleashed on Easter Sunday is unprecedented in scale, this is not the first time that our own have killed our own. This is not the first time that our own have taken up arms against our own. This is not the first time that our own have caused the shedding of blood of our own. Our nation has seen cycles of violence ever since Independence.”
He said the incident must be investigated as to how and why there was a failure to act on the intelligence reports. Why was there a failure to inform churches and hotels in advance that there were reports of plans to carry out attacks.
“We must investigate why human beings were placed in harm’s way without making even a single attempt to prevent the attacks from being carried out. However, it is important that we act with responsibility. It is important to realize that not all problems can be solved with guns and bombs and by changing a few individuals. There is a sense of sophistication that is required to deal with sensitive issues of this nature – countering violent extremism and radicalization requires careful and intelligent approaches,” the Finance Minister noted.
He said that at a time when the country was emerging from conflict and is beginning to work together, it has been shaken to the core by this incident. 359 persons have been killed, 45 of them children. Over 500 have been injured,” he said offering his condolences to the families of those affected by this tragedy.
However, the minister commended those who had stepped in to assist in the midst of the tragedy.
“Parishioners and workers, who risked everything to rescue victims.
“People ran to help and rescue victims instead of running away to save their own lives. The ultimate sacrifice paid by brave policemen who acted to prevent more crimes and apprehend perpetrators. The devotion of health professionals, who faced the unimaginable and unexpected, providing the best support for each person at their most vulnerable, irrespective of race, ethnicity, gender or age. Goodhearted people who reached out to help those in need in numerous ways, cooperating with law enforcement authorities and conducting themselves with restraint, tolerance and patience. Media personnel and media organisations who reported the truth in a responsible manner without engaging in sensationalism; and those committed individuals who painfully went through information especially on social media to separate the truth from the fake and inform the public. The heartwarming gesture of many people flocking to donate their own precious blood to save the lives of others that were unknown to them – people they have never met or spoken to.”
He added, “Our economy was on a steady path of recovery following a series of natural disasters in the form of droughts and floods in 2016/2017, and a man-made disaster the political crisis of 2018. We had stabilized the economy as inflation was brought down to 2.9% by March 2019, the trade deficit declined to its lowest level in over 5 years in February, accordingly the rupee has appreciated by 4.5% – the 3rd best performing currency in the world in 2019. Our foreign reserves stand at US$ 7.7 billion – covering over 4 months of import requirements. Interest rates have declined by over 100 basis points this year as fiscal consolidation delivered results with a 0.6% primary budget surplus in 2018.”
He noted that no child is born, bearing the objective or ambition of becoming a killer in his or her mind. Therefore, if a child becomes a killer, society cannot claim it has nothing to do with the evolution of an innocent child into a mass murderer. In the globalized world we live in, the influences that one is exposed to are many. Therefore, the need for introspection, the need for collective action, and the need for each individual to act with responsibility becomes far greater.
Kiriella questions role of National Security Council
Did the National Security Council (NSC) and some intelligence officers follow a political agenda in the wake of the Easter Sunday terrorist attacks, Public Enterprise, Kandyan Heritage and Kandy Development Minister and Leader of the House Lakshman Kiriella queried yesterday.
Participating in the debate on the proclamation of a State of Emergency in Parliament, Minister Kiriella pointed out that the Head of National Intelligence Sisira Mendis had only written a letter to the Inspector General of Police on April 9 sharing information of an alleged planned attack, but had not informed the relevant authorities including the President, Prime Minister and State Defence Minister.
“You can’t escape by writing letters. Intelligence agencies are supposed to be hands-on. He could have picked up the phone and reached out to them,” the Minister further said.
He pointed out that neither the PM nor the State Defence Minister had been invited to National Security Council meetings since last October and noted that even after the attacks took place, those of the NSC refused to attend a meeting of the council summoned by the PM.
“Who are they serving if they aren’t keeping the President, PM and State Defence Minister informed of such threats? The security establishment cannot play politics. We need to delve deep into this matter,” he said.
The Minister also said that about a 100 more suspects were being sought in relation to the Easter Sunday attacks, and produced a newspaper report from March, 2014 that conveyed warnings about the group authorities had fingered as being behind the attacks. “This is not an issue that just cropped up. It has been building for some time then.” he said.
Suitable persons should be appointed to key positions – Fonseka
MP Field Marshal Sarath Fonseka said it took him 48 hours to get an appointment to meet the Prime Minister after the recent explosions in the country. “I am the most senior military official in the country and the most experienced in defence matters, but no one sought my advice in this situation.”
He said in Parliament yesterday that in his opinion, the country was led in the wrong direction after the end of the 32 year war. The country became a carnival. That is not bad as we had suffered for many years. However, the politicians had a responsibility of ensuring the safety and security of this country instead of joining the carnival bandwagon themselves.
He said suitable persons should be appointed to key positions. There is no purpose in appointing a Defence Secretary who does not know anything about security and defence.
“Considering the things that happened during the recent past, it was evident that such a threat was present. However, no one took it seriously. In a country, security is the first priority, followed by the economy. Where there is no security, the economy cannot be strong.”
Speaking on the responsibility of the President, Sarath Fonseka noted that many have warned him not to rub the President on the wrong side as he might be given the post of Law and Order Minister. “Having criticised the terrorists, there is a possibility of them attacking me. I am not even given adequate security. I only have 17 Police personnel. However, I must speak the truth.
“The President sent a brief condolence message from Singapore where he was on vacation. He arrived in the country at mid night. But, throughout the day there were many flights from Singapore at 3.00pm and 9.00 pm. Hence, as the Defence Chief, he should have come back as soon as possible.”
He charged that the Defence Secretary and the Security Council have failed in their responsibilities. Irrespective of the excuses made, they cannot escape from their responsibilities. They should take the blame. It was the people who fell victim and the whole country was destabilised. In other countries if such a thing happened, the whole lot would have had to resign. But, in Sri Lanka usually it does not happen. But, everyone should take the blame.
Fonseka said that the authorities had failed to give as much prominence to this warning as they did to the information given by Namal Kumara.It was the same with Madhush. National security has been make a joke.
“The Prime Minister and the State Defence Minister claim that they were not invited to the Security Council meetings for six months. Is this a country? In what country does opposition MPs engage in Security Council meetings? If the Prime Minister was not invited to participate in the Security Council meetings, then he should have notified Parliament about it. Why did he and the State Defence Minister stay silent? This is not an acceptable excuse. They cannot escape from taking responsibility. If the State Defence Secretary was not allowed to participate in the Security Council meetings, then he should have resigned from his post without simply enjoying the perks of the post. What’s the point in holding that position if he cannot be part of this Security Council? However, in our country, as politicians cannot get many votes by promoting security measures, the attention they pay to ensuring security is far less. Sadly, this is the consequence for such negligence.”
Hence, he said no matter which side we are on, all politicians are responsible for this lapse which allowed for such an incident to occur. “Even during the 32 years of war in the country this magnitude of destruction did not take place. He said he was not talking on behalf of the country but from the side of the country. We have fought at the risk of our lives during the war to save this country. Even during that time of the war, it could have been ended in less than three decades had the proper decisions been taken by the politicians and security leaders and if not for the weakness of the commanders. This is a dangerous situation that cannot be taken lightly. The LTTE took a long time to get to the position they were in. The LTTE fought for their lands but these terrorists are only intent in causing the greatest damage. We are greatly saddened that these Muslim youths are engaging in such terror with the aim of creating a certain image of their religion. However, we have no animosity against them. Sadly, though irrespective of what the reasons are these terror acts only serve to disrupt the lives of the ordinary people and they have to live in fear. Security check points will once again have to be set up and body searches would again become a necessity. People will start viewing each other with suspicion and the country again is shrouded in uncertainty and fear.”
Further, he said due to this incident tourism will be badly affected together with the country’s economy. This would not only affect the government but the people as well.
He said foreign intelligence services had notified the authorities and they should have reacted to it immediately. In this instance, the Chief of National Intelligence had sent a letter regarding this warning to the IGP.
“As we know in many countries, the CNI reports to the Defence Secretary and the Defence Minister. Therefore, if the CNI had sent this letter to the IGP, then invariably, it would have been sent to the President and the Defence Secretary as well.
Hence, there is no point in trying to palm the whole blame on the IGP. At the time the IGP was appointed, I told them to appoint someone else. But they did not heed my advice and now there is no point in trying to palm the whole blame on him. I met the President and told him on four occasions. Hence, having ignored the letter by the CNI is a huge mistake which has cost the country dearly. With the aim of restructuring the intelligence services, there is no point in sending the intelligence chiefs home. They did their job, but they were not taken seriously by the lawmakers. After the end of the war, the government at the time and the current government did not take measures to strengthen security,” he said, adding that this attack would have been planned for years and was not done suddenly. Hence, we need to correct our mistakes.
All 225 MPs responsible for carnage – Welgama
UPFA MP Kumara Welgama told Parliament yesterday that all 225 Members of Parliament should take full responsibility for the negligence in taking cognizance of the intelligence warning of the Easter Sunday carnage.
“We do not think of the country and we only think of ourselves. The Archbishop of Colombo appealed to the people to unite and act with patience, but he should say that to the 225 Parliamentarians,” MP Welgama said in Parliament yesterday.
Participating in the debate on Emergency regulations, MP Welgama said that it was wrong to point fingers at each other and such an attitude would never help this nation to move forward from its present plight.
“We should all take the responsibility for these tragic incidents. The intelligence units have sent the warning, which the Police had forwarded to the Personal Security Officers of all MPs. So they knew. Now there is no point in playing the blame game and doing politics using this tragedy. All 225 MPs should face the reality and accept the blame for their mistakes,” MP Welgama said.
He said that the government and opposition members and their supporters should forget their political differences and work together to eliminate the latest threat against national security.
“I call upon members of this House to put aside party colours and see the reality as members of a single nation. Together we can overcome this. For example, the most suitable person in the government to bring about the necessary assistance from the international community is the Prime Minister. Similarly, the best person to handle the security problem and command the Security Forces is Field Marshal Sarath Fonseka. We should accept these facts. On our side we have the best person to chair the National Security Council. That is former President Rajapaksa. If he heads the National Security Council, he would make decisions which could help save this nation from the problems similar to this,” MP Welgama said.
He said that all MPs should refrain from trying to capitalize on the tragedy to score political mileage by engaging in the blame-game and instead should think of ways and means of rebuilding this nation. “You cannot do that by attacking the nearest Muslim.
“We all should unite to eradicate the terrorist problem and save the nation,” he said.
People hate politicians now – Herath
The entire nation is of the opinion that all Parliamentarians were aware about the recent Islamic terror attack beforehand but did nothing to warn the people about it, the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna yesterday pointed out.
Participating in the special Parliamentary debate on the prevailing terror situation in the country, JVP MP Vijith Herath pointed out that the citizenry now loathes all the Parliamentarians.
“People believe that Parliamentarians were aware of this terror attack beforehand and did not do anything to prevent it. They think we let their loved ones die. They totally hate us now,” he said.
Herath also said the government should seek forgiveness from the nation for not being able to prevent the terror attack although it had all the intelligence report regarding it.
Herath also clarified the party’s position regarding an arrested suspect of the terror attack named Ebrahim Hajjiar who was in the JVP National List in 2015.
“This person is not a member of our party. We chose him for our National List because he was a top level exporter in the country who had received many awards. We wanted to provide a diverse National List to the country. We did not have any connection with him other than that.Now he has been arrested in connection with the recent terror attack. We have no problem with either. But we do not know for sure that he was a part of the terror attack. It was a few of his children who had allegedly carried out the attack.
He has 9 children. It is possible that he did not know his children were engaging in terror activities.
It is a common occurrence these days. However, if he also had connections with this terrible attack, he should be punished according to the law.
We have no problem with that,” Herath elaborated.
Terror attacks an act of fanatical fundamentalism – Sampanthan
TNA Leader R. Sampanthan strongly condemned the terror attacks targeting churches and hotels and said it was an act of fanatical fundamentalism deserving of the strongest condemnation. He said the perpetrators must be brought to book and punished.
He said this making a statement in Parliament yesterday during the debate on the passing of the Emergency regulations. The TNA leader urged that the victims be properly compensated and the damaged churches be renovated. “Measures should be taken to provide all possible relief to the persons who have been victimised.”
Raising several questions regarding these spate of incidents, Sampanthan asked, “It appears that some information was made available at least some days earlier with regard to this attack. If action had been taken, this tragedy could have been averted. The entire conspiracy could have been unravelled, but consequent to that not been done, innocent lives have been lost. An independent investigation needs to be done regarding this matter and the truth must be published. This attack has been carried out according to a well-planned plot and the Christian community has been the main target on their holy day. The tourist industry and the country’s economy have been dealt a severe a blow.”
He said the people of the country need to know that the enforcement of the law has been revamped. The country needs to be turned around from this disastrous situation. “Why was Sri Lanka chosen for this attack? Was it chosen because we are politically divided and our security was weakened? The attackers saw in Sri Lanka an easy target.
“They were right. We now know that not even the information passed on by other countries was not used in order to avert this attack,” he said.
MP Nimal Lanza makes emotional speech in House
The government will do everything possible to compensate those affected by this tragedy, but it is not possible to give back the lives that were lost, said UNP-MP Kavinda Jayawardena, in response to an emotional speech made by United People’s Freedom Alliance (UPFA) MP Nimal Lanza in Parliament yesterday.
In his speech during the debate on the Emergency regulations, Lanza broke down in tears during the special Parliamentary Sitting yesterday and pleaded to know from Minister Harin Fernando why he did not inform anyone when he received a warning from his father about a possible terror attack on Easter Sunday.
Parliament was summoned yesterday to pass the Emergency Regulations following the recent Islamic terror attack on several churches and hotels.
Lanza who lives in the vicinity of St. Sebastian Church, Katuwapitiya in Negambo which was attacked by a suicide bomber, questioned Christian Affairs Minister John Amaratunga as to why he did not attend any funeral in the area.
“You are the Christian Affairs Minister. You could have attended the funerals. Our people are devastated. Catholics have never hurt anybody in this country. Yet they were attacked in this brutal manner. Why didn’t you visit them as the Minister?”
Lanza then turned to Minister Harin Fernando who had earlier claimed that his father warned him not to attend the Easter service at St. Anthony’s Shrine, Kochchikade in Kotahena as there were rumours that the church would be attacked.
“Minister Harin Fernando told us his side of the story. I accept it. But dear Minister, what your father warned you is a personal matter between the two of you. But as a responsible Minister you have an obligation to the 21 million people in this country. After your father warned you, why didn’t you warn others? Why didn’t you inform some priest at least? Why did you let our people die?” an emotional Lanza asked.
Emergency Regulations passed without a division in Parliament
Emergency Regulations were passed without a vote in Parliament yesterday.
The debate on the Emergency regulations was held from 10.30 a.m. until 6.00 p.m. along with many government and opposition MPs expressing their views on the current situation in the country.
All the speakers who participated in the debate stressed the importance of fighting global terrorism as one strong nation and eradicating it from the roots. The speakers also said that there is a clear demarcation between the civil Muslim community in the country that has co-existed for a long time and the extremist Islamic terrorists who conducted the Easter Sunday terror attack.
The debate was initially scheduled until 4.30 p.m. but it was extended until 6.00p.m. since there was a long list of government and opposition MPs to deliver speeches.
The Speaker requested the MPs to limit the duration of their speeches and conclude the sitting within the extended time, given the emergency situation in the country.
Work together to promote peace and co-operation – Speaker
Speaker Karu Jayasuriya yesterday told Parliament that the time has come for our nation to re-double its efforts to heal all past and present wounds with a view to providing, social stability and prosperity to all communities and citizens in an equal manner.
“For this purpose, we must work together for promoting co-operation and understanding over confrontation and division, among all political parties and civil society organizations on issues of national interest involving security and economic development,” Speaker Jayasuriya said commencing the debate on declaring the state of Emergency.
He said, “Today’s debate in Parliament is of immense national importance. Therefore, it is the duty of all Parliamentarians, in accordance with the fundamental Parliamentary traditions, to allow all speakers to express their views without being disturbed. Given that, all citizens of the country will observe this debate, I seek the co-operation of all Members of Parliament to conduct a productive debate without blaming each other.”
“Unfortunate and barbaric acts of terrorism that occurred last Sunday, make it clear that our motherland now requires a national socio-economic development strategy guaranteed by a security infrastructure based on sophisticated intelligence, policing and law enforcement for excellence in territorial surveillance and border management, but will ensure the fundamental freedom of all our citizens as well. Such efforts can be based on a web of strategic co-operation with friendly nations in the region and beyond who could support our national aspiration to be a peaceful, prosperous and democratic nation where rule of law and fundamental rights of all our citizens are ensured,” the Speaker said.
The Speaker urged all Parliamentarians, irrespective of their political party affiliations, to behave in a cordial manner and refrain from clashing with each other and disrupting the debate at a time when the whole world’s attention is focused on Sri Lanka.
Measures to form a Govt. supported care-giving establishment- John
Commending a proposal made by SLFP MP Nimal Siripala De Silva, Minister John Amaratunge said that he will take measures to form a government-supported establishment to provide care for those who have become destitute due to the terror attack.
Minister Amaratunga further said that the said care-giving establishment will operate under the headship of Archbishop of Colombo His Eminence Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith.
The Minister of Tourism, Wildlife and Christian Religious Affairs made these observations joining the debate on state of Emergency in Parliament yesterday.
Minister Amaratunga further said that he is trying his level best to rejuvenate tourism in the country, which was drastically affected by the Easter Sunday terror attack.
“There is no point in pointing fingers at each other. We all must work together as one nation. The Security Forces are doing a tremendous job to curb this brand of terrorism that has entered our country. World leaders stand head and shoulder in solidarity with us. Health service providers, the Security Forces and religious leaders have worked rigorously over the past few days and I would like to commend them for their great service,” Minister Amaratunga further said.
Strengthen country’s intelligence apparatus – Amaraweera
The Muslim political authority and the Islamic religious leaders have a huge responsibility in contributing to solving the prevailing tense situation in the country, United People’s Freedom Alliance General Secretary and Hambantota District MP Mahinda Amaraweera said.
Speaking at the Parliamentary debate yesterday, he said MPs representing the Muslim community should not appear on behalf of the suspects arrested in connection with those attacks despite any connections they may have with them.
“Muslim politicians, Muslim religious places of worship and Muslim organizations have the responsibility of providing support to the authorities to apprehend these extremists,” he added.
Amaraweera said it is important to ascertain whether the steps taken by the government to eliminate the drug menace and underworld activities from the country led to these attacks. He said measures should be taken to strengthen the country’s intelligence apparatus.
“President Maithripala Sirisena said that he plans to re-organize the security and intelligence units,” he said.
Pointing out that these terror attacks will have a negative impact on the country’s progress, especially on the economy and tourism sectors, Amaraweera requested those in power and those who are not in power to join hands in finding suitable solutions to overcome this difficult situation.
“We request that a collective programme be initiated by the Government and the Opposition to take the country forward,” Amaraweera said.
Probe Hisbullah’s alleged connections with NTJ – Sumanthiran
TNA MP M.A. Sumanthiran yesterday demanded that Eastern Province Governor M.L.A.M. Hizbullah’s alleged connections to the National Thowheed Jamaath (NTJ) must be investigated. Sumanthiran also said that all connections this terrorist group has had with various other politicians and previous defense officials must be investigated as well.
“There are many serious questions that are being asked about the Governor and his alleged connections to the National Thowheed Jamaath. This must be investigated,” Sumanthiran pointed out.
Participating in the debate on the Emergency regulations in Parliament yesterday, MP Sumanthiran said that “The Muslim people have repeatedly complained about these extremist activities. Years ago, Muslim groups raised the issue of radicalization with government intelligence officials and appealed that steps be taken to halt this process. Further, in 2017 they even held a demonstration in Kattankudy and asked that Zaharan be arrested. I must commend the brave conduct of Parliamentarian Kabir Hashim, who has set a great example to all of us,” Sumanthiran said.
MP Sumanthiran also questioned as to why preventive action was not taken when information was available.
“Those responsible for this must at the very least resign. I raised the issue of the President keeping the Police Department under his charge, during the Budget debate. This is clearly unconstitutional. The Police came under a separate Ministry called Law and Order when the 19th Amendment was passed. The Constitution identifies only three subjects that the President can hold: Defence, Mahaweli and Environment. Law and Order is not one of those. By unlawfully holding on to this portfolio, the President has now become the first person who should take responsibility for these attacks that could have been prevented,” Sumanthiran also said.
Security Forces will effectively deal with extremist terror groups – Rajitha
The Security Forces will effectively deal with the extremist terror group that carried out the Easter Sunday attacks, Health and Nutrition and Indigenous Medicine Minister Rajitha Senaratne yesterday said.
“The Security Forces are efficiently conducting the investigations. They arrested 24 suspects within 24 hours,” he pointed out.
The Minister made these observations participating in the debate on the proclamation of a State of Emergency in Parliament. Minister Senaratne also said that the nation comes out strong to face global terrorism that is destroying the country. He pointed out that global terrorism has recently killed over 15,000 civilians.
“Islamic extremist global terrorism has no specific cause. It have become a major problem to the world,” Minister Senaratne said.
I never cursed MP Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe – MP Mujibur Rahman
United National Party (UNP) MP Mujibur Rahman responding to a remark made by UNP MP in the Opposition Dr. Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe (PC) yesterday, denied that he had cursed him when he had said Islamic State (IS) members were present in the country.
Rajapakshe said that the government including UNP MP Mujibur Rahman should bear the responsibility for the series of Islamic terrorist attacks that occurred on Easter Sunday (21).
Dr. Rajapakshe said that when he revealed that there were 32 IS members in the country in 2016 as then Justice Minister, several ministers and MP Mujibur Rahman denied that and cursed him. Therefore, the blood of the victims of this terror attack is on their hands, he added.
Rahman participating in the special Parliamentary debate yesterday on the security situation in the country said in response that he never cursed Rajapakshe for making such a claim.
“Dr. Rajapakshe is lying about me. I never cursed him for making that remark. I never asked him not to make such remarks. I do not know why he is making false allegations against me,” he added.
“Muslim people had informed the relevant authorities about this terror group, the National Thawheed Jamaath years ago. I do not know why anyone did not take those complaints seriously,” he said.
Meanwhile, in his speech in Parliament yesterday, Minister of Higher Education and Water Supply and Sri Lanka Muslim Congress (SLMC) Leader Rauff Hakeem said that those who carried out the barbaric terror attacks on Sunday (21) are a bunch of mentally retarded people.
“As Parliamentarians we should accept that we did not do enough to prevent this terror attack. So we should not try to take political advantage in this tragic scenario. Instead of talking politics, what we should do is to take measures to eradicate this group from our country,” he said.
Speaking further, Hakeem said that there are two specific facts regarding this attack.
“As we know, terrorists use maximum force like this as their final step. But this group did it as their first step. We have not experienced something like this before. That is my first point. The second is, these people never made any demand prior to the attack like other terror groups. We should look into these facts. These people are barbaric and mentally retarded. Anyone in his right mind would not do such sickening acts. If we all unite we can wipe them out from our motherland,” he stressed.
Govt. responsible for failure to prevent terror attacks – Dinesh
Mahajana Eksath Peramuna Leader MP Dinesh Gunawardena yesterday held the Government responsible for its failure to prevent the Easter Sunday terrorist attacks, while pointing out that the present government has become “a government that does not know anything.”
He was also critical of the leaders “who claim” that they were unaware of intelligence reports in the days leading up to the attacks. MP Gunawardena demanded that the government step down and allow those who are capable of establishing stability and fighting terrorism to take over.
Speaking in Parliament during the debate on the state of Emergency, MP Gunawardena noted that before the commencement of a debate on a state of Emergency, the Government would usually presents all available information that led to the need to declare a state of Emergency. “Yet, this Government is incapable of preparing such a report,” he pointed out.
Commenting on claims that both the Prime Minister and State Minister of Defence were unaware of intelligence reports warning of an impending attack, MP Gunawardena pointed out that both claim to be leaders of the Government, and could not claim ignorance.
“We have never in our history, ever had a Prime Minister who claimed he did not know. How can he say he did not know? You admitted that information was available from April 4. There was information about this group from 2016, when the PM did attend the National Security Council,” MP Gunawardena remarked.
MP Gunawardena said he was saddened to see his classmate, the PM, reduced to such a bankrupt situation. “A Royalist should stand up, not just dodge away and run,” Gunawardena quipped.
Programme for welfare of victimized families needed – Nimal Siripala
Former Minister and Badulla District MP Nimal Siripala De Silva yesterday proposed to the government to make arrangements to launch a programme for the welfare of the victimized families of the recent terror attacks, which took place in eight places on Easter Sunday.
Participating in the Parliamentary debate, he praised the government for taking immediate steps to pay compensation of rupees one million to the families of deceased.
“The government must take over the responsibility of looking after those families. We should not leave them behind and launching a welfare programme such as the Ranawiru Authority Project is important,” he added.
He also said the government should take steps to launch a programme to aid the mental health of the kin of the victims.
He thanked the Security Forces and the intelligence units for swiftly responding to the situation and also appreciated the peaceful conduct and guidance of all the religious leaders including the Archbishop of Colombo His Eminence Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith during the critical situation.
MP Siripala De Silva was also of the view that empowering the Executive Presidency is essential for the country to face the impact of terrorism.
All should join hands to defeat terrorism – Patali
All the pro-democratic political forces including the President, Prime Minister and the Opposition should join hands together to wipe out terrorism from the country, Megapaolis and Western Development Minister Patali Champika Ranawaka said.
Speaking in Parliament yesterday, he said that they are keen to support any political alliance which functions to defeat terrorism and are ready to work for those alliances.
“Finding answers to the problem is more important than looking as to who is reponsible for the problem. It is also essential to make changes to the present security system of the country and give the Security Forces the required strength without any external interference to address this issue,” he pointed out.
Ranawaka also said those terrorists attached to the ISIS targeted foreigners within the island not to damage the country’s tourism industry but to convey a message to the world. “Their purpose is to create mass destruction in the world. We have to understand it”, he added.
“Anyone can debate about various religious teachings, killing people in the name of religion must be condemned. We have to use all the armed, legal and social equipment at our disposal against such crimes,” the Minister added.
Poor security,intelligence led to attacks – Johnston
The Easter Sunday carnage is the result of weakening the country’s security and intelligence, UPFA MP Johnston Fernando told Parliament yesterday.
Participating in the debate on Emergency regulations, the MP said the country’s entire security mechanism had been demoralized by the government during the last couple of years.
“This is what happens when you weaken the security of a country. This government put the intelligence officers behind bars. They jailed the members of the Maha Sangha. They made use of the security mechanism to frame their political enemies. The security establishment had been forced to shift their focus from national security in order to engage in a political witch hunt. The security establishment had been weakened and its members were demoralized,” he said.
“The fact is evident that this attack had targeted the Catholics and while the first round of attacks took place around 8.45 a.m. The government waited until 3.00 pm to impose a curfew and bring the situation under control. If they imposed curfew around 10 a.m., some attacks could have been prevented,” he said, adding that this is what happens when the country is being run by ignorant persons.