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SAARC safe, but heavy battles loom

Aug 3 (ST) Sri Lanka's most fortified event in the new millennium, the summit of South Asian leaders in Colombo, ends today. Not only 12,000 police officers and 7,000 troops crowded the City of Colombo and the immediate suburbs to ensure security. There were additional measures from participating countries too. Preventing possible attacks by Tiger guerrillas was the primary aim though other threat perceptions figured to a much lesser degree. more..

After SAARC, whither goes Lanka?

Aug 3 (ST) Bi-lateral issues on the sidelines, more than regional issues within the conference hall, dominated the South Asian leaders' summit that ends today in Colombo. Yet, the 15th SAARC conference that began last Sunday was both a scintillating spectacle and a frightening fallacy. Some of the streets in Colombo and Kotte were spruced up for the event with most buildings there receiving a new coat of paint. more..

Sri Lankan expatriates in a fix as budget airline goes bust

Aug 3 (KT) Several Lankan expatriates planning to go home for the summer vacation have been forced to re-think their travel plans following the indefinite suspension of their country's budget airline. The grounding of Mihin Lanka in May this year has given a big blow to the island nation's migrant population in the UAE since the airline tickets were nearly half the cost of other carriers. more..

Sri Lanka military enters rebel capital, captures town

Aug 3 (Reuters) Sri Lanka's military has entered the rebels' de-facto capital in the north of the island, killing 20 Tamil Tiger rebels after fierce fighting, the Defence Ministry said on Saturday. The rebel capital in the island's northern district of Kilinochchi is where the elusive rebel leader Veluppillai Prabhakaran is believed to be hiding. "Troops crossed the district borders between Mannar and Kilinochchi districts at an undisclosed location," more..

Lapses in summit security arrangements embarrass host

Aug 3 (ST) India’s National Security Advisor M. K. Narayanan was in for a rude shock yesterday. He was chauffeur driven from his hotel, the Taj Samudra, at Galle Face, to the BMICH for the opening sessions of the SAARC summit. There were security escorts to accompany the senior official, who is widely regarded, by virtue of his official position, as a high-profile target. He arrived at the main entrance to the conference hall, and was received and ushered to his seat. more..

BEIJING: 36 bosses for 8 athletes

Aug 3 (LB) With the opening ceremony for the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games just days away, 28 officials and six politicos are packing their baggage for a dream holiday in the ‘Forbidden City’. LAKBIMAnEWS reliably learns that in addition to the eight approved officials that include six coaches, chef-de-mission and masseur, nearly 28 other officials will represent Sri Lanka in various capacities, even though only eight athletes are competing. more..

Can SAARC take a new road to prosperity?

Aug 4 (LG) This political and media hype now on about SAARC was driving us nuts. Morning, noon and night radio and TV have been droning and drooling about SAARC. Newspapers with their technicoloured headlines are screaming SAARC, SAARC. To getaway from this SAARC cacophony, we took refuge in our hansiputuwa by a window to ruminate about far more pleasant things and enjoy the invigorating monsoon breezes blowing in. more..

The first Sri Lankan Career Lady Diplomat

Aug 4 (LG) It is easy for anyone who has met Manel Abeysekera to understand how she rose to become the first woman to join the Foreign Service of Sri Lanka. Erudite, charming, hospitable and articulate, she seems to possess all the quintessential qualities of a diplomat. Yet, she remains simple, with her feet on the ground. In an era where the role of women in society was largely confined to the home, the gregarious personality boldly applied to the Foreign Service and was recruited in 1958. more..

The quacks!

Aug 4 (LG) There are reports that there are more than 40,000 quacks in Sri Lanka, who fraudulently practice, prescribe medicines without even basic qualifications, and 1000's of patients risk their lives every day. A spokesperson of the Ministry of Health has observed that several patients have become worse and even died following treatment by these quacks. Four years ago, we remember that the Government Medical Officers' Association raised this issue and stated that there are quacks on the basis of 1 to 4 in the country. more..

What will be Dr.Manmohan's message?

Aug 4 (LG) Sri Lanka is more interested in a military solution to the ethnic problem rather than a political solution. Sri Lanka expects that India should accept its military solution and should provide necessary help. At the same time, it is clear that if India does not support, Sri Lanka is not going to hesitate to get military equipments from the countries which are against India. more..

Tamil Nadu's solidarity with Lankan Tamils swells

Aug 4 (LG) Ananda vikatan, a prestigious Tamil weekly, has revealed the results of an opinion poll, which spells out that the solidarity of the Tamil nadu people with Sri Lankan Tamils is increasing. But New Delhi ignores the aspirations and the feelings of the Tamil Nadu people and has proposed a motion at the Colombo SARRC Summit for a mutual Legal Aid agreement under which there can be exchange of suspects arrested for acts of terrorism. more..

Kachchativu issue not discussed

Aug 4 (LG) Prime Minister Manmohan Singh avoided the controversial issue of Kachchativu island in his bilateral talks with Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa on the sidelines of the SAARC summit here on Friday. Asked if the issue was discussed, a top Sri Lankan official told Express, “No it was not.” Even External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee did not raise it in his talks with his Sri Lankan counterpart Rohitha Bogollagama on Thursday. more..

SAARC 2008: Concluding remarks by President Rajapaksa

Aug 4 (GDI) Your Excellencies, Distinguished Guests, I believe that as the 15th SAARC Summit in Colombo draws to a close, all of us who have participated in the deliberations can draw satisfaction from a most productive and fruitful outcome. In the final analysis, all regional cooperation efforts including in South Asia, have as their objective, prosperity and equitable development. more..

‘Neighbours’, but so what?

Aug 4 (LG) On 25th Anniversary of Black July, the article examines Sri Lankan inter-ethnic relations and the potential for a repeat of Black July. One oft-asserted claim in reference to Sri Lanka’s ethnic crisis and especially the Tamil demand for independence on the grounds of persecution by the Sinhala-dominated is that most Tamils live outside the Northeast, i.e. “amongst” the Sinhalese. more..

The government beyond November 2008?

Aug 4 (LG) Last years budgetary process in Sri Lanka exposed the difficulties the government had to face to muster a simple majority to approve its Finance Bill. With extensive political manoeuvring and with the help of the ducking and diving JVP, the budget was approved by the parliament and it gave the respite of life for the present parliament for another year. What is stored for this year? Unlike last year, the parliamentary JVP is spilt in the middle and more..

Resurgent India level series

Aug 4 (CI) On a pitch and in a series where the fast bowlers have only been making up the numbers, a hostile and quick Ishant Sharma helped India seal an incredible comeback after they had slumped to their third-worst defeat ever in the first Test. In the first session of the day, Muttiah Muralitharan and Ajantha Mendis had made sure India didn't take their lead into the realms of the impregnable, but with Ishant bowling the way he did, the target of 307 stayed secure. more..

Dr. Nesiah: President wanted me to quit the commission

Aug 4 (FI) Devanesan Nesiah - veteran public servant and activist - controversially quit the Presidential Commission of Inquiry to Investigate and Inquire into Serious Violations of Human Rights after counsel for the army and STF, Gomin Dayasiri and S L Gunesekera, claimed a conflict of interest due to his involvement in the Centre for Policy Alternatives. The CPA had obtained the CoI’s permission to intervene on behalf of the victims and of civil society. more..

India haul themselves from the precipice

Aug 4 (CI) The great escape artists have done it again. As has so often been the case in recent times, India finished the first Test of a series like a man holding on to the edge of a cliff by his fingernails. A week later, they once again looked like world-beaters, riding on a wave of momentum created by sensational batting from Virender Sehwag, canny bowling from Harbhajan Singh and a devastating new-ball burst from Ishant Sharma. more..

Comeback doesn't surprise Kumble

Aug 4 (CI) Anil Kumble wore the look of a man who had just lost a match, not one who had captained India to a memorable away win at a Sri Lankan fortress and set up a mouth-watering series finale in less than a week's time. But as he continued to address the media after India's 170-run win in Galle it became evident Kumble was not in the least surprised by what had just transpired. "I was confident we would come back," he said without batting an eyelid or smiling smugly. more..

Be judicious before branding crooks - COPE chief

Aug 4 (SO) With the appointment of a Minister as the new Chairman of the Committee on Public Enterprises (COPE), some parties are now speculating whether the COPE would be able to act with the same ‘vigour’ in bringing those who misused billions of public funds to the limelight or is it just an attempt by the government to sweep corruption under the carpet. more..

Strengthen democracy in North and East

Aug 4 (SO) Tamil and Muslim political parties from the North and the East briefed extensively the Indian Premier Dr. Manmohan Singh and his senior officials who are here in Colombo to attend the SAARC Summit on the ground realities in the North and the East and called upon India to help find a early political solution to the Lankan crisis. The discussions began on Friday at 6.30 pm and continued till 8.30 pm at the Taj Samudra Hotel. more..

Kingpin in deadly import racket missing

Aug 4 (SO) The kingpin of the deadly chemical import racket has gone missing, said a spokesman for the police Criminal Investigations Department, (CID). He said that the company where the kingpin worked had imported the same chemical “Thyonyl Chloride”, a few months ago and the chemical was released by the Sri Lanka Customs. A Chinese national and four Sri Lankans were detained when they attempted to import ‘Thyonyl Chloride’ on the pretext of importing toys from South India. more..

Sri Lanka Dialog Telekom offers discounts

Aug 4 (LBO) Sri Lank'a dominant mobile phone operator Dialog Telekom said it will offer discounts from August 1 to attract more customers. A company statement said Dialog has launched a 'Lifetime Discount' programme bringing all its packages under a new tariff platform. This entitles the entire Dialog customer base – 4.5 million post-paid and pre-paid customers – a range of discount offers, it said. more..

JVP programme for Pollonnaruwa launched

Aug 4 (LT) The wrong economic policies, thievery, inefficiency, indiscipline and unlawfulness have contributed to the plight Sri Lanka was in today says Leader of the Group of Parliamentarians of the JVP Anura Kumara Dissanayake. Mr. Disssanayake states the country could be salvaged from the situation it has been dragged into only by directing the economy of the country to a production economy. more..

SAARC summit concludes with accords on food, security

Aug 4 (IANS) The 15th summit of the SAARC successfully concluded its two-day proceedings Sunday evening, where leaders of the eight member countries agreed to adopt four major agreements on food security, trade and terrorism related issues. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who held several bilateral meetings with Sri Lankan and other leaders here, after handing over the SAARC chair to the host country President Mahinda Rajapaksa, left for New Delhi by a special aircraft Sunday evening. more..

U.S. urges Sri Lanka to act on rights abuses

Aug 4 (Reuters) Sri Lanka must act to prevent human rights abuses including abductions, the intimidation of media personnel and the recruitment of child soldiers as it fights a 25-year civil war against Tamil Tiger rebels, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Richard Boucher said on Sunday. "We have been concerned about the continuing reports of abductions, disappearances, the detention of some people and reports of intimidation against the media," Boucher said. more..

South Asian SAARC summit to conclude amid regional rivalry

Aug 4 (AFP) South Asian leaders will push for anti-terror measures and greater food security as they wrap up a summit Sunday, but efforts to boost cooperation remain hampered by tensions between India and Pakistan. The prime ministers of the two countries met on the sidelines of the eight-nation regional summit, grabbing headlines with talks that sought to ease a crisis in their peace process. more..

Sri Lanka expects China to play more important role as SAARC observer

Aug 4 (Xinhua) President Mahinda Rajapaksa has said that he expected China to play a more important role as a observer of SAARC. He made the remarks when meeting with Wu Dawei, Deputy Foreign Minister of China who was attending the 15th SAARC Summit here on Saturday. Sri Lanka will stick to the "One China policy" as always, Rajapaksa said. As the most important regional entity in South Asia, SAARC has achieved a lot in promoting cooperation among its member countries and more..

Disappointed Jayawardene hints at pace boost

Aug 3 (CI) Mahela Jayawardene, the Sri Lankan captain, blamed the batsmen for his side's defeat in Galle. Sri Lanka, who conceded a lead of 37 on the first innings after restricting India to 329, managed to last only 47.3 overs in their second as they were bundled out for 136. Speaking after the 170-run loss, which levelled the three-Test series 1-1, Jayawardene suggested his team might consider "a quick bowler" like Ishant Sharma for the series-decider. more..

Tamil separatism survives on the strength of Sinhala nationalism

Aug 4 (FI) Reminiscing “Black July” is almost over. There were plenty of articles in most of our print media and in web portals with differing points of view on “Black July”. Yet what was missing in most of that discussion was a reading about the LTTE psyche, 25 years after the Black July. Does the LTTE work towards achieving any justification or sympathy from the South for their struggle, liberation or separatist war or what ever label one may wish to stick on it in the South? more..

Sri Lanka to charge special fee for internet porn: report

Aug 4 (LBO) Sri Lanka has ordered internet firms to filter pornographic content, but adults could buy unrestricted access for special fee with password protection, a media report said. The Sunday Island newspaper quoting a Telecommunications Regulatory Commission of Sri Lanka (TRCSL) statement said President Mahinda Rajapaksa has ordered filtering sexually explicit content to protect children. more..

Heightening political and dynamic tensions within Sri Lanka, Tamil Eelam and SAARC triangle

Aug 4 (IL) The SAARC was established when its Charter was formally adopted on December 8, 1985, by the heads of state or governments of Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. Since its inception, the SAARC has provided a platform for the peoples of South Asia to work together in a spirit of friendship, trust and understanding. It aims to accelerate the process of economic and social development in member states. more..

Fundraising ballet held for Colombo Hindu Girls’ School

Aug 4 (TW) The students of the Fine Arts Society of the Saiva Mangaiyar Vidyalayam known for their talents and commitment presented the unique story of “Kaaraikaal Ammaiyaar” as a ballet, at Kathiresan hall in Bambalapitty on July 26th 2008 at dusk. For Saiva Mangaiyar Vidyalayam, as a girls’ school, it is ideal to perform Kaaraikkaal Ammaiyaar’s story, and set her as a role model for the growing young generation. more..

'SL cricket is more important than individuals’

Aug 4 (IBN) Cricket board chief and former skipper Arjuna Ranatunga has lashed out at teams considering to boycott the Champions Trophy due to security concerns and believes they should be penalised. Ranatunga also told CNN-IBN's Meha Bhardwaj in an exclusive interview, he wants the Sri Lankan players to pick the England tour over IPL. "We should play in Pakistan and as far as we are concerned we have no problems playing in Pakistan". more..

10,000 IDP families in Kilinochchi

Aug 4 (TW) In the district of Kilinochchi alone, 10,000 families have taken refuge reports Tamil daily Virakesari on its website, quoting Nagalingam Devanayagan, Sri Lanka Government Agent (GA) there. The report adds, starting from the Sri Lanka Army (SLA) campaign against Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) in the Madhu area of Mannar district, internally displaced persons (IDPs) have been seeking refuge in Kilinochchi. more..

Mastermind Behind LTTE Smuggling Operations Arrested

Aug 4 (CO) The mastermind behind smuggling operations for the LTTE and a senior political activist of the organisation, Krishnaneethan, was arrested on sunday at Uchapatti refugee camp in Madurai district, police said. He is the brother of Vijayaneethan, arrested at Uppur near Keezhakarai with three others on Jul 30 for allegedly trying to smuggle sensitive equipment like Swiss made walkie talkies, 10 global positioning systems, batteries, lifejackets and multitester meters. more..

‘Killing Rajiv was a mistake, real conspirators still at large’

Aug 4 (PTI) Nalini Sriharan, serving a life sentence for her involvement in the assassination of former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi, said she “regretted” killing him and claimed that the real conspirators had not been booked yet. Calling Rajiv Gandhi a “great leader” and a “loss” to the country, Nalini, the lone surviving member of the five-member squad behind the assassination, said, “I regret the assassination of Rajiv Gandhi.” more..

Sri Lanka political parties in joint call for media safeguards

Aug 4 (LBO) Sri Lanka's major opposition political parties have backed calls for an end to government intimidation of the media and demanded it ensure the safety of journalists. Eleven political parties have signed a joint statement defending media freedom in Sri Lanka and requesting the authorities to safeguard media freedom and guarantee the safety and security of journalists. more..

Sri Lanka firm starts online store of ebooks by local authors

Aug 4 (LBO) A Sri Lankan firm has started selling books by local authors on the internet with soft copies available for download, the company, Z-World said in a statement. The company said copies of books were available in pdf, a popular document compression format developed by the software firm Adobe. Buyers could also order hard copies online from its website more..

Two LTTE militants arrested in Tamil Nadu

Aug 4 (PTI) Efforts by Tamil rebels to re-establish its supply chain in Tamil Nadu have suffered a setback as seven of their activists were arrested recently, police said on Monday. While the head of LTTE's procurement module Thambianna alias Daniel was arrested in Chennai on July 30, another mastermind behind smuggling operations from the state coast Krishnaneethan was taken into custody from a refugee camp at Uchapattin in Madurai district on Sunday. more..

'SAARC provided opportunity to portray real situation in Sri Lanka'

Aug 4 (GDI) Anusha Palpita, Director of Government Information, in an interview with the Rupavahini Corporation this morning (August 4), said that the recently concluded SAARC Summit which attracted hundreds of journalists from the region was an excellent opportunity to portray the real situation in the country and in particular the freedoms that media personnel enjoy. more..

Sri Lanka team leaves for Beijing Olympics

Aug 4 (GDI) Sri Lanka's Olympic team left the island for Beijing, China to take part in the 2008 Olympics scheduled to kick off on the 8th of August. They were accompanied by several officials of the Ministry of Sports and the relevant sports bodies as per the disciplines they are cometing in. Eight Sri Lankan athletes will compete in six sports in the 29th 2008 Summer Olympics. more..

US reaffirms support to combat terrorism -- Boucher

Aug 4 (GDI) The Government of United States has reaffirmed its commitment to support the Government of Sri Lanka in combating terrorism. This position of the US Government towards Sri Lanka was expressed by the United States Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs, Richard A. Boucher who visited Sri Lanka recently. Boucher, the official observer to the SAARC Summit representing the USA, told media yesterday (August 3) that more..

Iran proposes Asian Parliament

Aug 4 (GDI) The Government of Iran has proposed the establishment of an Asian parliament to play a more active an a vital role in the international community, Iranian news agencies reported. "The Asian unions including the ASEAN, the Economic Cooperation Organization (ECO) and the SAARC should strengthen convergence within the framework of an Asian Parliament with the aim of playing a greater international role," more..

SAARC seeks more from Observer States

Aug 4 (SAMN) The SAARC has decided to embark on mutually beneficial projects with its Observer States (OS) and also interact with inter-governmental organisations, President Mahinda Rajapaksa said Sunday. Addressing the media at the BMICH shortly after the concluding session of the 15th SAARC Summit, he said that the increasing number of Observer States signified a growing enthusiasm in SAARC, which was expanding both economically and in terms of human resources. more..

Vasu in hot water

Aug 4 (SAMN) Presidential Advisor and Opposition Leader of the Colombo Municipal Council (CMC) is in hot water over his dissent against the forcible eviction of residents in Slave Island, political sources said Sunday. The sources said he may be under fire against his decision to walk out of the CMC sessions protesting against the eviction of occupants of unauthorized structures in Slave Island recently. more..

HIV detections show decline

Aug 4 (SAMN) The number of HIV/AIDS cases detected in Sri Lanka has shown a comparative decline with fewer case reported this year when compared to the same period last year. According Dr. Sriya Kanthi Benaragama, specialist medical officer of HIV/sex related diseases prevention programme, Sri Lanka has 996 HIV patients, of who 410 are females and 563 are males. HIV transferred from mother to child remains at 31, she said. more..

UNP-JVP to complain of poll malpractices

Aug 4 (SAMN) The UNP and JVP will complain to the Elections Commissioner Dayananda Dissanayake today about what they cited as ‘gross election malpractices’ in the run up to the provincial council election to be conducted on August 23. The chief among them is the partiality of state media in election reporting and the increase in violence against the opposition parties in the fray. more..

Troops liberate entire Mannar district

Aug 4 (DN) Troops attached to the 58 Division yesterday advanced further northwards on the Mannar-Pooneryn road after completing the liberation of the entire Mannar district by Saturday afternoon with the capture of Vellankulam, the northern most town in the Mannar district, Military sources told the Daily News yesterday. Troops attached to the 58 Division have advanced up to 29th mile post on the Mannar Pooneryn road after shifting the entire 58 Division into the Kilinochchi district amidst stiff resistance from the LTTE. more..

SAARC consensus on key issues

Aug 4 (DN) A productive and fruitful 15th ‘Heads of State’ SAARC summit was concluded at the BMICH in Colombo yesterday, with high priority and strong focus laid on taking collective action to confront Food and Energy Hikes in the region as well as the scourge of terrorism. The Colombo Declaration on the basis of ‘Partnership for Growth for Our People’ was also considered and adopted. more..