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Imbroglio over Quartz exports

Mar 21 (SL) Government has been turning a blind eye by allowing for the export of vein quartz needed by the micro-chip industry overseas, in lump or chip form, as opposed to exporting the same in the more value added powdered form, a charge it denies. Rex Stewart, Managing Director Ceylon Quartz Industries (Pvt.) Ltd., an exporter of quartz in powdered form told The Sunday Leader that more..

It is time to reduce the number of checkpoints

Mar 21 (SL) The policewoman peers at us, unsmiling. “Get out of the car,” she orders. Mutely, I point to my recently broken and heavily bandaged leg. She stares, uncomprehending, before turning to the passenger in the back. This sort of scene is perfectly normal in Sri Lanka. The pulling over of vehicles at random, the ID checks, and more recently, the probing questions: “Where are you going? Where do you live?” more..

Opposition is loyalty

Mar 21 (SL) If you lie long enough does it become the truth? Or do people just fall asleep? The new charge (like the old charge) is that opposition is treason. Well, it’s not. Loyal opposition is a vital service to the country. The lie is conflating opposition to Mahinda with opposition to Sri Lanka. The two are not the same. The slanders being thrown against the opposition are based on a lie, but there is so much that it acquires a weight of its own. more..

Trapped in legal limbo

Mar 21 (SL) Sri Lanka has outright rebuffed shocking allegations that some 11,000 suspected rebel cadres allegedly being held ‘incommunicado’ by the government are at risk of being tortured and are subjected to enforced disappearance apart from various other forms of harassment. The government’s denial comes as thousands of men and women with suspected LTTE links continue to be trapped in legal limbo with little freedom, more..

Garbage bins for all householders in the city

Mar 21 (SO) The Colombo Municipal Council (CMC) will launch a massive garbage bin distribution program tomorrow for the benefit of 3,000 householders in the city of Colombo. According to the program, which is conducted for the first time in CMC history, another stock of 7,000 garbage bins will be distributed to families living in 47 wards in the Colombo Municipal Council from next week. more..

Most varsity students filled application forms improperly

Mar 21 (SO) Senior Assistant Secretary, University Admissions of the UGC Priyantha Premakumara said that most of the students who had applied for university admission had not filled their application forms properly. The UGC Secretary told the Sunday Observer that the names of students selected to the universities will be released in June. He said it takes three months to complete the selection process from the closing date of applications, February 26. more..

Ten local observers to monitor general election

Mar 21 (SO) Elections Commissioner Dayananda Dissanayake has given approval for 10 local election observers to monitor the forthcoming general election whilst giving approval for two of the 10 organisations to have their agents in polling stations, a spokesman for the Elections Department told the Sunday Observer. Two organisations, PAFFREL and the CMEV have been given clearance to enter the polling stations and more..

Geetha pledges rightful place for women

Mar 21 (SO) Geetha Kumarasinghe needs no introduction as she has been an award-winning actress for over 35 years. She is now gearing to play a different role, this time in the political arena. A veteran actress who was twice voted as the Most Popular Actress and was adjudged seven times as the Best Actress. Geetha will be contesting the forthcoming general elections under the UPFA banner from Galle District. more..

Who killed Sinhala literature and language?

Mar 21 (SO) In one chilly morning whilst watching "Mulpituwa" presented on Swarnavahini by senior media guru Bandula Padmakumara, a thought provoking comments were made on Prof. Sucharitha Gamlath's views on literary awards carried out in Sinhala newspapers. It was questioned why English newspapers should not carry his views since they are also relevant to literary awards for writings in English. more..

People stood by me at all times - President

Mar 21 (SO) President Mahinda Rajapaksa pointed out that the United People’s Freedom Alliance will win with a two-third majority, in order to form a strong government to spearhead the development process without any hindrance. President Rajapaksa was addressing a mammoth gathering at the Nuwara Eliya race course grounds yesterday. In his address he said that the people of this country stood by him always and more..

Mahindanada – Kehekliya cold war in uplands!

Mar 21 (LT) The supporters of Mahindananda Aluthgamage hooted President Mahinda Rajapakse when he addressed a meeting at Gatambe grounds in Kandy on the 19th. This was to protest against mentioning only the name of Minister Sarath Amunugama in his speech. Minister Keheliya Rambukwell has informed the President regarding the incident and had said it was supporters of Aluthgamage who hooted at the President. more..

Fonseka faces new probe on smuggled letter

Mar 21 (LB) General Sarath Fonseka is in trouble with authorities once again over the letter he had smuggled out to the controversial British TV “Channel 4” last week. He will now face a fresh inquiry as to how he smuggled the letter to Channel 4, with “intent to defame President Mahinda Rajapaksa." Director General of the MCNS Lakshman Hulugalle said that there will be an inquiry as to how he had dispatched a letter while being in custody. more..

President virtually acknowledges Fonseka would go to jail

Mar 21 (LB) A discernible change in gear was visible in the UNP/UNF general election campaign last week. The point of pressure would be the economy - and Ranil Wickremesinghe was repeating what General Sarath Fonseka, the presidential candidate, promised government servants at the presidential election: that he would within a short time of coming into power, raise government servants’ salaries to 10,000 rupees. more..

'Opposition at cross-roads, crumbling'

Mar 21 (LB) Actor turned politician Buddadasa Withanarachchi who is set to contest the forthcoming general election from the National Freedom Front (NFF) and the UPFA ticket in the Kegalle District says that the opposition is currently at cross-roads and fast crumbling in the current political landscape. Withanarachchi, who is contesting parliamentary polls for the first time in his life in an interview with LAKBIMAnEWS, more..

The hit list is cooked-up by NGOs, or is it..?

Mar 21 (LB) The A4 size computer printout was posted to my rented residence in a brown-paper envelope with no return address. It was folded twice, neatly. The title read: ‘Media Activists/institutional heads/international outreach’. At the end, it said: “Mode: Movements, telephone, interaction with networks (local and foreign), travel overseas (India, China, Russia, Isreal (sic), US and EU nations specifically), and to specified areas within the country and more..

SPC negotiates with drug suppliers to curtail loss

Mar 21 (LB) The State Pharmaceutical Corporation (SPC) is in the process of recovering its staggering loss of nearly 50.805 billion on account of the 17 Indian drugs suppliers, who were blacklisted last year for poor quality drugs and avoiding paying dues, sources revealed. There were several allegations that SPC had not taken prompt action to recover the said loss from Indian suppliers. more..

Editorial: Our constitution may be a periodical, but...

Mar 21 (LB) The most curious aspect of this government’s general election campaign is that president Mahinda Rajapaksa and his government are asking for a two-thirds majority to change the constitution, neglecting to state what the future constitution would look like. This is akin to asking a lady to agree to a contract of marriage without having seen or spoken to the prospective groom. more..

‘Political Hero’ who dreams of becoming PM comes in for President’s censure

Mar 21 (LeN) It is reported that a Colombo District candidate and a UPFA party leader’s actions at the up coming General elections who is enjoying fanciful dreams of becoming the Prime Minister and is engaged in a massive election campaign spending colossal amounts of money has engaged the attention of the President. This politico hails from a family of members who have had not done any jobs in their lives, and neither his wife had any assets. more..

New geological developments to rock Sri Lanka

Mar 21 (NS) With an increased number of earthquakes occurring in the Indian Ocean and Geological Department observing a possibility of a new earth plate being created 1,000km south of Sri Lanka, geologists warn of possible adverse natural disasters occurring in the country. Senior Geologist Prof. Kapila Dahanayake said irrespective of the fact that some continue to argue about the development stage of the earth plate, more..

THROWING caution to the wind

Mar 21 (NS) For as long as I could remember, I’ve always believed that inside each and every one of us lives a silent hero; a hero who will only spring into action when spurred. A hero that keeps us honest, gives us strength and makes us noble. Often times, fear takes over, and enough of it drowns out the hero we once thought we knew. But, there comes a moment in time, when circumstances awaken him and we are left with no choice but to follow our instinct. more..

JVP Student Wing woos varsity students in North-East

Mar 21 (NS) The Inter-university Students Federation (IUSF) affiliated to the JVP enjoyed the `monopoly’ of running the Students’ Councils in the universities in the South until recent times. They captured this dominant position among university students after the JVP-inspired - insurrection in1972. Before the advent of the IUSF juggernaut, it was the representatives of student organisations affiliated to the LSSP, CP and the SLFP who dominated the Students Councils. more..

'Election is not a tamasha'

Mar 21 (NS) The Colombo District will be one of the most hotly contested districts in the upcoming election. The competitiveness within the district has made candidates from both the government and the opposition put up posters and cut-outs around the city, while disregarding countless objections from the Elections Commissioner. However, amidst all the chaos spreading across the city walls, one face that is missing in the action is that of more..

Bandula rubbishes price hike claims

Mar 21 (NS) Essential goods are not being sold at unfairly high prices, according to the Minister of Trade and Consumer Affairs, Bandula Gunawardena. “The United National Front has been spreading false rumours since the day they put out their manifesto, claiming that the government is selling essential goods at very high prices. This is just not true,” said the minister at a press briefing yesterday. more..

‘Manaapa’ wars cloud quest for two-thirds

Mar 21 (NS) With less than a month to go for the April elections, the ruling UPFA appears to have emerged a clear frontrunner in the race, but interest in the contest remains through a variety of mini-battles that are being staged. For the UPFA, there are two prime concerns: Obtaining a two-thirds majority for the party and, as far as individual candidates are concerned, getting re-elected against a backdrop of an intense contest for the preferential votes, more..

Defence Ministry stands firm: No soldiers for VIP security

Mar 21 (Island) The Defence Ministry says security forces will not be deployed for VIP protection, though some ruling party politicians are seeking the return of their military security contingents. The decision to discontinue the involvement of security forces in VIP security is final and there will be no change. The Defence Ministry recently withdrew security forces, including elite commandos deployed for VIP protection, from this assignment. more..

'17,000 more graduates to be given employment within next few months'

Mar 21 (Island) President Mahinda Rajapaksa, during his period in office, has provided employment to 60,000 graduates in teaching and other spheres, even against World Bank advice and 14,000 more graduates were expected to be given employment as Jana Sabah Secretaries and another 3,000 as aesthetic teachers during the next few months, said Minister Prof. G. L. Peiris. more..

Bribery Com. winds up amidst salary row

Mar 21 (ST) While bribery and corruption are widely reported to be rampant in the country, the term of the Commission to investigate such allegations ends on Friday -- amidst a battle over non-payment of salary arrears to commission members for more than four years and a dispute over fuel allowances. The Sunday Times learns that the dispute has risen after the Commission’s Director General, Lakshmi Jayawardena, had refused to pay the three members of the commission their arrears and more..

Kind words from abroad

Mar 21 (Island) In his last Independence Day address on February 4, President Mahinda Rajapaksa, with a thumping re-election victory under his belt, signaled that Sri Lanka would mend fences with many countries of the world with which relations had been far from cordial, especially during the closing stages of the war. ``The state of war is now over. We are entering into an era of co-existence after finishing the period of some controversy. more..

Governor reveals state funds will be more aggressive investors

Mar 21 (Island) State sector retirement funds like the Employees Provident Fund (EPF) and the Employees Trust Fund (ETF) as well as the Sri Lanka Insurance Corporation (SLIC) now back under government controlled plans more aggressive equity investment in privately run firms without participating in their management, Central Bank Governor Nivard Cabraal said yesterday. more..

Minister allows chicken price hike to ‘prevent farmers from committing suicide’

Mar 21 (Island) It is the predictable trend of governments to resist price revisions sought by producers when an election is around the corner, but in a surprise move, Trade and Commerce Minister Bandula Gunawardena has granted a thirty rupee increase on the price of a kilo of chicken. The increase has pushed up the maximum retail price of frozen Broiler chicken meat with skin to 350 rupee per kilo from 320 rupees, industry officials said last week. more..

Fonseka's legal war overshadows polls

Mar 21 (ST) The two war heroes marched in shoulder-to-shoulder. Alas, they were not going to receive their medals for valour, but one of them was to face a Military Court Martial; the other was only accompanying him to his seat as is customary in such matters. Then, General (retd.) Sarath Fonseka turned to his onetime comrade-in-arms, Major General Shavendra de Silva and told him "Thama neda mata kivve sir mata thaththakenekwage kiyala". more..

"Are you jeering or cheering?" asks President

Mar 21 (Island) President Mahinda Rajapaksa warned a group of UPFA supporters to maintain discipline after they started to shout and disturb proceedings during the party’s propaganda rally he presided at Getambe playground in Kandy on Friday. "Are you jeering or cheering?", he asked, as a group of persons amongst the crowd created a disturbance when the meeting was in progress. more..

Blank cheques and no balances

Mar 21 (ST) Our news pages report today that President Mahinda Rajapaksa lost his composure on Friday while addressing a ruling coalition rally in the central highlands of Kandy. It was understandable, for which leader of a nation would like to have party workers boo him while he was addressing the public. The 'booing' was organised; aimed at jeering at a fellow candidate on the coalition's list, in an attempt to show that he is unpopular. more..

The “Duchess of Colombo” had done it all and seen it all

Mar 21 (ST) Whenever I asked Ira Fernando whether I could write about her again, her response invariably was: "Wait until I am gone." Sadly this has now come to pass. Ira, whose story I told in this newspaper four years ago, passed away in London on March 2, aged 92. As Iranganee Lynette Dias, daughter of Mr. and Mrs Lambert Dias of Panadura, she was born to great wealth and status. more..

Candidates get a rapping after Kandy booing incident

Mar 21 (ST) President Mahinda Rajapaksa says he will take stern disciplinary action against any candidate in his United People’s Freedom Alliance (UPFA) who behaves inappropriately or badly in the days leading up to the April 8 Parliamentary election. The President’s comment came when booing broke out at the UPFA’s inaugural election campaign on Friday, in Getambe, Kandy. more..

Whodunnit is known, but why we’ll never know

Mar 21 (ST) The story hit headlines in both print and electronic media and viewers watched with shock and relief as TV footage showed Amila Sandaruwan being rescued from drowning by a brave young man. He jumped into the Kalu Ganga to save a young life, after the little boy’s mother had reportedly thrown him into the waters. Tragically, Amila who was in a critical condition for the past week, having sustained serious injuries following the fall, breathed his last yesterday. more..

Ban going ahead with Lanka probe

Mar 21 (ST) United Nations Secretary General Ban ki-Moon this week contradicted his spokespersons and declared that a panel would be appointed to advise him on accountability issues during the final stages of the separatist war in Sri Lanka in May last year. UN spokesman Martin Nesirky and his assistant Farhan Haq had earlier declared that such a panel would not be named “very soon.” more..

CID to question Anoma today, Anura Kumara later

Mar 21 (AD) Detained general (retired) Sarath Fonseka’s wife Anoma Fonseka has confirmed that the CID is to question her this evening (Sunday). However she has not stated on what the CID is to question her on. Meanwhile the JVP’s Vijitha Herath said that the partys’ Anura Kumara Dissanayake, who is also the spokesman for Gen. Fonseka’s DNA is also to be questioned by the CID. more..

Politicos sabotage country’s largest heroin bust

Mar 21 (LB) The investigations into the largest stock of heroine, 70 Kg , recovered in Sri Lanka have been scuttled as a result of political influence. It’s as a result of a coordinating secretary to the minister, Jude Tissera, being apprehended with the stock of heroin. The police arrested the suspect at the airport while he was trying to flee the country. more..

‘A leader is a leader whether in uniform or swimming trunk’

Mar 21 (Island) The "Leaders of Tomorrow", a leadership training programme organized by the Leo Club of Colombo Wekanda, originated with the intention of training emerging young leaders to become great personalities in the future. The initial step for this programme was successfully taken on March 12 with a seminar on leadership qualities and skills. more..

No Lankan national party promises federalism

Mar 22 (EB) In the run up to the April 8 Sri Lankan parliamentary elections, no national political party has promised a federal system, a demand Tamils have been struggling for since Independence in 1948. Strangely, Gen Sarath Fonseka, who got most of the Tamil votes in the last Presidential election, has explicitly rejected federalism. His outfit, the Democratic National Alliance’s manifesto said, it would defeat attempts to impose federalism on Lanka. more..

Women quota in parliament urged

Mar 22 (BBC) Women politicians from the ruling and opposition political parties in Sri Lanka, in an unusual move, have called on authorities to take measures to reserve a quota for women in the parliament. Women affairs minister, Sumedha Jayasena told BBC Sinhala service that she intends to introduce a bill similar to Indian one seeking 25 percent of all parliamentary seats for women, if elected to office in April. more..

Special polling centers for detained LTTE suspects to vote

Mar 22 (NS) LTTE suspects, who are being held in rehabilitation camps in Jaffna, will be able to vote at the forthcoming Parliamentary election. According to a spokesman of the Elections Commissioner’s Department, the decision has been made to set up special polling booths for the voting process to take place. “The Elections Commissioner has already discussed what needs to be done with the officials in Jaffna. more..

Bring them before justice without undue delay

Mar 22 (LG) Human rights violations concerning General Sarath Fonseka have become a common issue for all opposition campaigns. Even the Tamil people, who suffered under this military leader, have shown sympathy for his wife Anoma who incidentally is crying for justice. The authorities have violated all norms of justice in the arrest and subsequently brought him before a military tribunal. If that is the way the Mahinda regime treats a war hero of the Sinhala nation, what better treatment can one expect for Tamil suspects? more..

On those botched relations with foreign friends...

Mar 22 (LG) Some people have been recommending latterly that we subscribe to western liberal values because there is a lot to learn from them, and because good governance and the Rule of Law began because of the Magna Carta, and such. Personally I have not heard such a great deal of gobbledygook in a very long time. The western liberal values that I know have all been values of coercion, never mind what the Magna Carta envisaged for Englishmen in the 13th century. more..

Govt. 'on a witch hunt' against opposition

Mar 22 (BBC) Opposition politicians in Sri Lanka have accused authorities of launching a witch hunt against opposition activists seen as a challenge to the administration. The Democratic National Alliance (DNA), headed by former military chief Sarath Fonseka, says that its spokesman Anura Kumara Dissanayake was asked to report to the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) on 23 and 24 March. more..

Diversifying a business

Mar 22 (LG) The end of Sri Lanka’s bloody decades-long conflict has led to many (delayed) opportunities opening up once again and this time with more vigour, vitality and a sense of positivism. While tourism is taking off at unbelievable levels though sections of the public believe Sri Lanka is yet to exploit its full potential in the absence of proper infrastructure, lack of a sustainable policy and a halt to the musical chairs that takes place at the Tourism Ministry more..

My lawless motherland (part 2)

Mar 22 (LG) The child talks about the butterflies that await innocently. When they are caught, they make no noise. They don't bite either. They don't struggle much, even. They wither away like the flowers. These deaths of flowers and butterflies symbolize the many deaths that were to become a part of the common of experience of Sri Lanka, for so many who were to die without much resistance. The sheer powerlessness of people, particularly the young, more..

President Rajapaksa Inaugurates Mahinda Rajapaksa IT Centre at Gatambe, Kandy

Mar 22 (IL) Mahinda Rajapaksa IT Centre was inaugurated by President Mahinda Rajapaksa at Gatambe, Kandy on 19th March. A new IT Computer Training Centre was built under the ‘Mahinda Chinthana Idiri Dekma (Brighter Future) programme’ and it will have facilities to train local children to gain computer knowledge which is not highly available outside the urban centres. more..

Why I see telltale signs of confrontation in the TNA manifesto

Mar 22 (LG) Doing the same thing and expecting a different result is a sign of insanity according to Einstein. However some think differently. TNA is unfortunately following the same process followed by the ACTC, ITAK and TULF that ultimately ended up in war. No surprise, TNA is made up of politicians from these parties. Even 34 years of war has not taught them anything and they are restarting the same events that led to war even before a year had passed since the end of the war. more..