Friday, May 31, 2024

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Sri Lanka Original Narrative Summary: 12/05

  1. President Ranil Wickremesinghe allocates Rs. 1 bn for research at the intersection of Buddha’s teachings and Artificial Intelligence (AI): The initiative, initially planned for this year, awaits AI regulation legislation: also pledges support for the restoration of the Moratuwa Buddhist Society Hall, celebrating its centenary emphasises aligning efforts against climate change with Buddhist teachings and exploring AI’s implications through Buddhist philosophy.
  2. Opposition Leader Sajith Premadasa says Sri Lanka needs a plan to produce seeds as the price of seeds needed for the country’s agriculture has increased: reminds 2.4 million hectares of the country’s land-area, which is one-thirds of the island, is devoted to crop cultivation: adds, a future SJB-led government, therefore, will bring the country’s land, land development, agriculture, irrigation and etc. under one ministry to create a national agricultural policy.
  3. Ven. Omalpe Sobitha Thera calls for the removal of MPs with dual citizenship before elections, citing recent Supreme Court ruling on former State Minister Diana Gamage: claims there are more than 10 MPs in Parliament with dual citizenship: urges party leaders to disclose such members: emphasises their lack of allegiance to the country: adds if not voluntarily removed, legal action may be pursued.
  4. The Army declares a general amnesty period until May 20, 2024, for AWOL personnel: So far, 11,985 individuals who were AWOL have been temporarily discharged, and arrangements have been made for 81 others currently overseas to legally discharge during this amnesty.
  5. The Sri Lanka Transport Board ramps up efforts to combat ticket fraud by deploying additional officials for targeted raids: These teams, supported by security forces, aim to address unfair ticket pricing and catch offenders: Chairman Lalith de Alwis emphasises adherence to ticket prices displayed for public transport services.
  6. World Bank’s International Debt Statistics (IDS) suggest Sri Lanka, among other South Asian countries, sees a significant rise in its debt owed to China, largely due to loans for infrastructure projects: The debt owed to China by low-and-middle-income countries reached $180 billion by the end of 2022, surpassing their debt to the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development: China’s lending has focused more on neighbouring countries in recent years: However, its overall lending has reduced due to economic challenges and defaults by some borrowing nations: Sri Lanka’s interest payments, forming 54% of its revenue, highlight the strain caused by debt.
  7. The count of Sri Lankan Retired Military Personnel casualties in the Russia-Ukraine conflict reached over 14: 134 complaints have been lodged concerning human trafficking of retired military personnel for the conflict: CID is probing this syndicate: A hotline (0112 441 146) has been set up for reporting: A suspect involved in trafficking was remanded until May 16: Seven suspects, including a retired major general and sergeant major, have been apprehended.
  8. Concerns mount over the “Yukthiya” operation, targeting organised crime and narcotics trafficking, due to alleged human rights abuses: Human rights defenders point out while combating crime is essential for public safety and security, it must be done with full respect for human rights and the rule of law: The operation so far has led to the arrest of 111,074 suspects, with 4,472 individuals under detention orders for further questioning: Significant narcotics seizures include 41 kg of heroin, 43 kg of ‘Ice’, and 300,000 narcotic pills: Authorities also confiscate illegal assets worth approximately Rs. 1,500 mn.
  9. Tharshan Selvarajah, a Paris-based baker from Sri Lanka, joins 10,000 torchbearers for the Olympic flame relay in France: Known for his award-winning baguettes, Selvarajah made history as Sri Lanka’s first torchbearer: His accolades include winning the “Grand Prize of the Traditional French Baguette” in 2023 and supplying baguettes to the French presidential palace.
  10. Moose Clothing Company unveils Sri Lanka’s new T20 cricket jersey design at a grand event attended by national team players and dignitaries: Inspired by the country’s cultural heritage and landmarks, the design features symbols like the Blue Water Lily and the Royal Lion: The CEO expresses pride in the partnership, aiming to promote Sri Lankan pride globally and expand the company’s reach beyond national borders.

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