Responding to a question by a journalist at a press conference at the Information Department yesterday, the minister said since the LTTE is a banned terrorist organization commemoration of terrorists could not be approved. “However, the remembrance of people who had died is a long standing tradition and it can be done privately.
“When we visited the North and the East we saw the Tamil community is working closely with the soldiers. Our endeavour is to further link them and remove their fears and doubts” he noted.
The Minister said his Ministry has commenced a programme to improve Tamil Language Proficiency of the Army personnel. He said that it has been made compulsory for all public servants to learn both Sinhala and Tamil.
Meanwhile, responding to another question on the remarks by former President Mahinda Rajapaksa that the government was on a political witch-hunt against his family members and close associates, the minister said freedom of expression has been guaranteed under the good governance policy of the President. He noted that dissenting views were not suppressed anymore, adding that the former President was entitled to his own opinions.
“The white van culture is no more. The persons who hold dissenting views are not jailed on fabricated charges. However, I can state with responsibility that neither the President, Prime Minister nor any Minister of our government interfere in the affairs of the judiciary or Police. All the law implementing bodies are given the opportunity to work independently” he commented. The minister commenting on corruption and irregularities within his Ministry under the previous regime, stated that a Committee had been appointed to look into the irregularities that occurred during the last election period, adding that the report is due in the near future. He observed that the report would reveal shocking details on election law violations and irregularities.
Commenting on the Local Government Authorities, the Minister Jayasuriya said a final decision on the dissolution of the 234 local government bodies of which the term ends on May 15 would be taken at the Cabinet Meeting presided by the President(scheduled for last evening) . He said he would seek the opinions of the Cabinet of Ministers with regard to the appointment of Special Commissioners to carry out the work of the Local Government bodies.
He said the term of another 65 local government bodies is to end by July 31, while the term of another 21 local government bodies will end on October 16. The term of all 335 local government bodies comprising of 23 municipal councils, 41 urban councils and 271 Pradeshiya Sabhas would come to an end by October 31. (Daily News)