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Crisis brewing in tea sector

June 4 (DM) A major crisis looms on the plantation sector as workers in some estates had begun to refuse loading tea to vehicles demanding a wage hike. All Ceylon Estate Workers Union President Ramalingam Chandrasekar said that some estate labourers in a few estates had begun to refrain from loading tea onto trucks demanding a wage hike. He said the workers have begun this action on their own without the influence of trade unions. more..

‘Clash at Katunayake FTZ politically motivated’

June 4 (DN) President Mahinda Rajapaksa said the clash that erupted at the Katunayake Free Trade Zone (FTZ) was instigated by certain political elements with vested interests even after the govt had informed of its decision to the employees. He said that it was an unfortunate incident spurred by a handful of persons with political motives. President Rajapaksa added that a certain group of persons attempted to gain more..

Fewer MPs from Jaffna district

June 4 (DM) The number of members of parliament from the Jaffna district is likely to be reduced at the next general election because as many as 331,214 voters who left the district during the war have been removed from the electoral register. The 2009 electoral register contains the names of 816,005 registered voters in the Jaffna district but the Elections Department has decided to do away with the names of those who left the district during the war and more..

Sri Lanka tightens security ahead of funeral

June 4 (AFP) Sri Lanka's military tightened security ahead of the funeral of a protester killed while demonstrating against a controversial pensions bill earlier in the week, officials said. Authorities Saturday blocked large gatherings of mourners at the home of slain factory worker Roshen Ratnasekera, witnesses said, adding that troops had also shifted his coffin to a church to speed up the funeral service. more..

US govt. distances itself from Defense Attaché's comments on Sri Lanka war

June 4 (NN) The US government has distanced itself from remarks made by the Defense Attaché of the US Embassy in Colombo during a defense symposium in Colombo. US State Department Deputy Spokesperson Mark C. Toner, in a statement today, said that the remarks earlier this week by the U.S. Embassy’s Defense Attaché Lieutenant Col. Lawrence Smith, at a conference in Colombo reflected his “personal” opinions. more..

Senior ministers in the govt are dejected with 'no work'

June 5 (NN) Senior Ministers in the government are dejected as they don’t have a responsibility or role to play in the cabinet of President Mahinda Rajapaksa. Senior Minister of Consumer Welfare S.B. Navinna said that except for Prime Minister D.M Jayaratne who is also a Senior Minister, the other seniors have not put forward any cabinet paper since their appointment. Former Prime Minister Rathnasiri Wickremanayake, Athauda Senevirathne, D.E.W. Gunasekara, more..

Bus strike called off as suspects arrested

June 5 (AD) The private bus strike has been called off with immediate affect, the President of the Private Bus Owners’ Association confirmed. According to Gemunu Wijeratne the strike was called off due to police apprehending the suspects involved in the assault of the private bus operator. Private buses operating from Panadura had commenced the strike this week alleging that two employees of the Sri Lanka Transport Board (SLTB) had assaulted a private bus operator and more..

Son of UNP MP arrested for assaulting policeman

June 5 (AD) Police have arrested the son of a prominent UNP MP charged with assaulting and injuring a police officer while under the influence of alcohol, wilful obstruction of a police officer and use of criminal force. Police media spokesman SP Prishantha Jayakody stated that a car had met with an accident today (4) morning at Colpetty junction. Police and army personnel on duty at the nearby checkpoint had rescued the passengers of the vehicle, more..

JVP activists continually harassed

June 5 (LT) The police and the Army are harassing its members who are putting up posters that express sympathy at the death of Roshen Chanaka, who laid down his life at the struggle to oppose the government’s attempt to bring in a fraudulent ‘pensions bill’ for private sector employees states the media unit of the JVP. In an announcement the media unit of the JVP states several members of the JVP who were putting up posters yesterday (3) night were assaulted and arrested by the police. more..

TN fishermen remanded in Sri Lanka

June 5 (ENS) A court in Sri Lanka has remanded to 14 days judicial custody four Tamil Nadu fishermen, who swam to the island nation after their mechanised boat capsized midsea off this coastal town on June 1, a top fisheries welfare association official said here today. Speaking to reporters, U Arulanandam, president of Alliance for Release of Innocent Fishermen (ARIF) said the four swam to Naina Island off Sri Lanka after their boat sank and more..

US Congressman Grimm was misinformed about Sri Lanka

June 5 (USE) Opposition to the HR177 resolution on Sri Lanka sponsored by Congressman Michael Grimm has been building up in and outside the US congress and according to some congressional sources many US congressmen are willing to come forward to oppose the resolution if it gets through the subcommittee on Middle East and South Asia. On March 17 2011, US Congressman, Michael Grimm representing the 13th district of New York, more..

Professional Codes,Rule of Law and Political Sycophancy

June 5 (LG) The late Ian Goonetileke was a former University Librarian at Peradeniya and an internationally respected bibliographer. He wrote the above in 1981 as part of a tribute on the death of Professor H A de S Gunasekera, Professor of Economics at Peradeniya for many years and for a brief period, Secretary to the Ministry of Planning and Economic Affairs. What Ian Goonetileke saw, in his typically flamboyant prose, as the heady wine of academic freedom and more..

Sri Lankan Economic Development in absentia of Higher Education

June 5 (LG) Prospects of peace has given the country an opportunity with new economic development. Good potential for tourism industry, growth sectors like BPO, foreign direct investments. Massive drive for infrastructure development, country wide agricultural sector including North and East farmers, Sri Lanka and the ruling government could have seized the opportunity to become more productive and more competitive in the global economy. In the aftermath of of 30 years of more..

'Independence of judiciary maintained'

June 5 (SO) Justice Minister Rauff Hakeem said the Darusman Report itself is riddled with many inaccuracies and inexactitudes by reaching to conclusions without affording a proper opportunity to verify facts. He said Sri Lanka is a country which has acceded to various international conventions and has ratified a variety of protocols which show that we pride ourselves as a very keen and responsible member of the international community. more..

Editorial : JVP shows its true colours

June 5 (SO) The JVP has proved yet again that it has more faith in the bullet than in the ballot. Since its inception over three decades ago, the JVP had attempted to capture power through the bullet, knowing only too well that the masses would never vote for them to be the governing party. The first of the two JVP uprisings to topple the Sirimavo Bandaranaike-led Govt was way back in 1971. Thousands of innocent youth, mostly undergraduates and men and women from rural areas, more..

Editorial : Mouseland and big fat cats

June 5 (SL) Today, we are going to relate to our readers a story that in a nutshell is Sri Lanka. It’s a story of a place called Mouseland. Mouseland is a place where all the little mice lived and died and they lived much as you and I do. They even had a clock tower. As the numbers grew they needed some order. So, every four years they had an election. They used to walk to the polls and cast their ballots. Some of them even got a ride to the polls. They in fact got a ride for the next four years afterwards. more..

Chief Justice or her husband must resign to Avoid Conflict of Interest Situation

June 5 (TC) Dr. Shirani Bandaranayake was sworn in as the new Chief Justice of Sri Lanka. While some remained silent most local media outlets published news items and features supporting her appointment. Certainly none were willing to do their jobs as journalists. I phoned a couple of editors and inquired of them, “are you forgetting the past? Why do you ignore the blatant conflict of interest issue here because of her husband’s position in a govt job. more..

May 31-June 4 1981: Five days of state terror in Jaffna

June 5 (TC) Two years after the end of the war in Lanka, without a political solution in sight, it may be appropriate to look back at events that occurred 30 years ago. 31 May to 4 June 2011 marks the 30th anniversary of days of violence and arson in Jaffna that aggravated relations between the Tamils and Sinhalese majoritarian state and eventually led to prolonged warfare. Although mercifully loss of lives was minimal, the extensive damage to houses, shops and more..

Govt. slave of international masters

June 5 (LG) The leadership training programme of the govt for the fresh under graduates exposes the problem faced by the govt. Clearly, the excuses given by the regime to justify the use of military for this purpose, were lame; to tell the least. No clear reason was given about the specific use of military environment for this training. But the vehemence 17-4shown by the government to defend the scheme they have started indicates that there is a hidden agenda behind it. more..

Sinhalaisation of the Tamil North amidst increased militarisation

June 5 (TC) Omanthai, the former entry point to the then Tiger controlled areas of the Wanni has now been given new Sinhala terminology. The name board of the newly opened railway station there identifies the town as Omantha. Overwhelmingly Tamil residents in the area are not impressed. In the heart of Kilinochchi town, a name board identifies a street as the Mahinda Rajapaksa Mawatha. Another street is named Aluth mawatte (The new road). more..

Editorial : That was unnecessary

June 5 (LB) If it appears that the government played into the hands of the so-called saboteurs in the Katunayake Free Trade zone, it was because Law Enforcement acted in the manner of the traditional Sri Lankan police - obtuse, brutal and utterly cynical. The long arm of the law was doubtlessly provoked by the politically led FTZ trade union workers, who it is said, set upon the Seeduwa police chief and pummeled him mercilessly, while stamping down on his torso as he lay on the ground. more..

Editorial: Haste makes waste

June 5 (NS) An innocent young man lost his life and the IGP lost his job this week as the govt engaged in a showdown with the opposition over the proposed private sector pension bill which was eventually withdrawn by the Cabinet. The opposition may claim a moral victory and the ruling party may also justify its actions but in the long run we must ask whether all this fuss and bother could have been avoided, had a more meaningful approach been adopted on both sides of the political divide. more..

'Digging up past will only bring about hatred'

June 5 (NS) Former LTTE strongman now turned SLFP Vice President and Deputy Minister, V. Muralitharan says that digging up the past would only bring about hatred among the people. He pointed out that those who called for international investigations on alleged war crimes wanted another war in the country. He added that Sri Lanka should talk to the current Tamil Nadu Chief Minister, Jayalalithaa Jayaram and maintain a cordial relationship with the state. more..

UPFA facing harsh political reality

June 5 (NS) After weeks of preaching meththa, karuna, muditha and upeksha on account of the 2600th Sambudhdhathva Jayanthiya, politics took a violent turn this week when the government attempted to push through legislation for the private sector pension bill. At the end of the week, one worker in the Katunayake free trade zone had died, the Police Chief had retired prematurely and embarrassingly for the government, the proposed legislation was withdrawn, giving the opposition a more..

Pillay, FTZ put Lanka in limelight again

June 5 (NS) Sri Lanka was once again highlighted in the international media owing to twin events which are politically significant to the country. The opening remarks of Navi Pillay, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights had, in fact, caused ripples in the government circles in spite of heavy presence at the Geneva sessions representing Sri Lanka. Secondly, the brutal attack by the Police at the Katunayake Free Trade Zone had also been a cause for severe concern more..

Freedom of Information: Karu tries again

June 5 (Island) UNP Deputy Leader Karu Jayasuriya has presented a Private Member’s Bill on Freedom of Information, which has been issued as a supplement to the Govt Gazette. This Bill seeks "to provide for freedom of access to official information; specify grounds on which access may be denied: the establishment of the Freedom of Information Commission: the appointment of Information Officers: setting out the procedure for more..

Editorial : Egg on the face

June 5 (Island) The government has emerged from its stand-off with the unions on the proposed private sector employees pension Bill with a lot of egg on its face. The back-tracking is now complete with Labour Minister Gamini Lokuge, who seems to have had little to do with the legislation that is now being withdrawn, announcing the retreat. Along with the security of service that public sector employment provides, the non-contributory pension that those who more..

Dying to decline a pension

June 5 (Island) Before discussing the events of the past week, we should take a look at a working ‘provident fund cum pension scheme’ in this country. Many people appear to think this is an unusual arrangement, and that there is something improper in allocating a part of a worker’s provident fund to a pension scheme. And since the capital of the money that is so allocated to a pension fund will never be paid back to the worker, there are dark whisperings of more..

IT literacy 75% by 2016, says Weeratunga

June 5 (NS) Sri Lanka plans to achieve 75% IT literacy by the year 2016, Secretary to the President, Lalith Weeratunga said. He said that only one in ten people were IT literate in 2005, but this figure has more than tripled over the last five years. He made these remarks at an event organised by the Ministry of Defence to share Sri Lanka’s learning experiences during the final phases of the conflict against the LTTE. more..

Sri Lanka: war crimes and accountability

June 5 (LB) The report of an expert panel finds evidence of serious human-rights violations during Sri Lanka’s long civil war - but also that the political and legal environment conducive to investigating these is lacking. This situation presents all those who seek to develop a principled approach to post-war Sri Lanka with serious moral and political dilemmas, says Asanga Welikala. The panel’s report, published on April 26, 2011, finds “credible” many allegations of more..

A few steps back For MR

June 5 (SL) The withdrawal of the proposed private sector pension scheme by the govt proved to be a major blow to the Rajapaksa administration. Senior govt members are still trying to counter the negative impact the proposed scheme has had on the administration. The Rajapaksa administration that claimed it would implement the Bill regardless of the opposition has been forced to eat humble pie before the working community in the country. The protests against the scheme that resulted in more..

'Don’t worry … very soon you will be a Diplomat'

June 5 (ST) The needless death of 22 year old Free Trade Zone worker Roshen Chanaka when police opened fire during a demonstration in Katunayake, has jolted the conscience of the nation. Angry reactions have erupted at street level not only among the young man’s co-workers in the FTZ but across the board in demonstrations by numerous trade unions, political parties, university students and sections of the clergy. more..

Dilshan's vivid riposte to the sceptics

June 5 (CI) With the sun on their backs and their brains on the game, Sri Lanka's batsmen proved a formidable proposition at Lord's today. At Cardiff, distraction had given way to panic as England, in Andrew Strauss's words, "burgled" a victory on the final rain-affected day. Five days later, and with all manner of points to prove to a sceptical press and public, they restored their credibility, and more, with a day of relentless batting. more..

Is leadership training a must? Yes and No, says Ministry Secretary

June 5 (NS) Parents, university entrants and the IUSF say that students have been informed of the leadership training programme as being mandatory for university entrance. This was contrary to statements made to The Nation by Secretary to the Ministry of Higher Education, Dr. Sunil Jayantha Navaratne. Navaratne told The Nation last week, that contrary to popular belief, the leadership programme was not compulsory for students. more..

‘Eliyantha White is dangerous as he deals with spirits’

June 5 (SL) Despite President Mahinda Rajapaksa distributing countless letters of referral for his personal shaman Eliyantha White, he told a friend the controversial healer was a dangerous man as he dabbled in the spirit world. In a recent conversation with a Colombo businessman and a close friend of slain editor Lasantha Wickrematunge, Rajapaksa confided that even he (Rajapaksa) felt White was dangerous as his brand of healing required a more..

Slain FTZ worker laid to rest amidst controversy over funeral arrangements

June 5 (ST) The funeral of the slain Free Trade Zone (FTZ) worker, 22-year-old Roshen Shanaka was held amidst a large gathering and under tight security at the Gal Oluwa, St. Augustines Church in Minuwangoda yesterday evening. Thousands of mourners ranging from factory hands, schoolchildren to friends, relatives and others flocked to the tiny church from early yesterday to pay their last respects as armed soldiers kept close watch. However, there was a little tension as more..

GK repayment plan stalled as appointment of directors remain deadlocked

June 5 (Island) The protracted Golden Key (GK) repayment process has nose-dived with the anticipated appointment of five directors virtually deadlocked following objections raised by the Attorney General (AG) on accommodating two former top GK executives on the proposed holding company, senior officials said. Under the first phase of the repayment scheme, an initial capital infusion of around three billion rupees by the directors was expected to be used to more..

Sri Lankan buys world’s most expensive book

June 5 (Island) A Sri Lankan has become the first in the world to buy the world’s most expensive book currently in print - an astounding Rs.30.8 million worth tome on carmaker Ferrari encrusted with 1,500 diamonds. In comparison, a Ferrari 458 Italia car costs only around US$ 225,000. Only 300 copies of the 37 Kg, 872 page book will ever be published, at the rate of just one copy per country. The Sri Lankan Ferrari aficionado identified only as Arjun Wickramasinghe, more..

Principals to face courts, fine

June 5 (NS) Health Ministry is mulling over issuing a new circular to warn all heads of schools to either clean school grounds – and immediate vicinity – or go to courts. One school head in Colombo is already facing court charges for not keeping the school ground clean. A fine of approximately Rs.2,000 and/or a jail sentence is under consideration for the offence. “We summoned principals of all the schools (over 150) in the Colombo city, as we have the highest number of more..

Colombo: Coconut prices drop to Rs.25-Rs.35

June 5 (LB) Colombo’s coconut prices took a dip to Rs.30-Rs.35 per nut from the mid-April high of Rs.50-Rs.60 per similar sized nut. Prices are expected to drop further in the coming weeks, traders from the Mariyakade market, Colombo 10, said. At the traditional Thotalanga Market, lying concealed under the “Old” Kelaniya Bridge, coconuts retailed last week at Rs.20-Rs.40 per large nut -- while the best of the nuts were traded between Rs.25-Rs.30 each. more..