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In Pictures: Jaffna Music Festival – Mar 25, Inaugural Day

Mar 27 (HA) The “Jaffna Music Festival” began at 10:30 AM on March 25th at the Jaffna Municipal Grounds, opposite Subramaniam Park. More than 20 folk music groups from Sri Lanka and 5 international folk groups from South Africa, Palestine, India, Nepal, and Norway will perform at the festival. USAID is a partner of the event while the Sewalanka Foundation with the support of Concerts Norway is organising the event. more..

Tamil Eelam in the Diaspora

Mar 27 (LG) Tamils living outside Sri Lanka are a dedicated people. They use a lot of their time to organize themselves and encourage others to help their kinsmen back home. It is my impression that most in the Diaspora feel close to those they left behind, realizing also the harassment and physical abuse they are forced to endure at the hands of many insensitive Sinhalese and their government. Many other Tamils, especially in Tamil Nadu, India, join hands in this humanitarian struggle. more..

Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka

Mar 27 (LG) The Friday Forum is an informal gathering of public spirited persons who are dedicated to promoting peace and development in Sri Lanka within a framework of democracy, social justice and pluralism. To that end, the Forum has, from time to time, made interventions regarding matters of public concern. This statement too is made in the spirit of democratic engagement through the articulation of our views on matters of vital importance to national life. more..

Sri Lankan Universities: Where we are heading?

Mar 27 (LG) “Standards are badly down from the once high standards we had, ”Prof. Mr. Ratnajeewan H. Hoole said in an interview with the Sri Lanka Guardian. S. Ratnajeevan H. Hoole, D.Sc. (Eng.) Lond., Ph.D. Carnegie Mellon, IEEE Fellow, DoB 15 Sept. 1952, is the UGC Coordinator for Engineering at University of Jaffna on assignment till further notice and is tasked with setting up an engineering faculty at University of Jaffna. more..

Editorial: Of investigations, and what is already known

Mar 27 (LB) That the United States Army has discovered that some of its soldiers killed Afghan civilians for sport came as news to us in this part of the world, weeks after the U.S Senate passed a resolution stating that the Sri Lankan government should investigate for war crimes, possibly committed during the last phase of the battle against the LTTE. Der Speigel, a German magazine, in the meanwhile published photographs of some US Army soldiers posing for more..

Editorial: Ranil – The ultimate survivor

Mar 27 (SL) Ranil Wickremesinghe is your ultimate survivor. He has delayed the inevitable for over a decade. Wickremesinghe has earned a reputation as a master manipulator for his own survival. Although a serial loser of elections he has cleverly manipulated party stalwarts and the rank and file after every election defeat to divert pressure for his removal as the leader. Sajith Premadasa for all his bravado simply lacks what it takes to turn his words into deed. more..

UNP divided over Sajith’s new post

Mar 27 (NS) The appointment of Parliamentarian Sajith Premadasa as one of the deputy leaders of the United National Party (UNP) has led to many debates in the country. While his opponents are content that the working committee of the UNP has managed to tame Premadasa by simply offering him a post, his loyalists are angry that Premadasa has not been offered what he deserves. Premadasa’s supporters were keen to see him as the leader of the party. more..

Editorial: Getting the UNP act together

Mar 27 (Island) Sajith Premadasa clearly did not wish to test his popularity in the UNP, or at least the electoral college, and has bowed out of the leadership stakes perhaps for the time being. The young man who said he would push for an election back-pedaled eventually and Ranil Wickremesinghe, the serial loser as government propagandists like to project him, has emerged unscathed. Whether this is good or bad for the UNP only time will tell. more..

Editorial: Without FIA, more sabhas will mean more crooks

Mar 27 (ST) Last week's story in this newspaper about the creation of 'Jana Sabhas' or People's Councils took many by surprise. From the little we know, these are councils the Government hopes to 'appoint' (as opposed to being elected) to monitor grassroots-level development activity. And even more significantly, they are to be given wide powers over the elected local councils and even the Provincial Councils, having veto powers as well over those elected councils. more..

Hitting a perfect pitch

Mar 27 (ST) It’s debated by cricket crazy fans that Anuruddha Polonowita could help win your team the match. A spinner might want from him a dry, dusty pitch that would allow the ball to careen in at an angle no batsmen could predict; a pacie a little moisture, a little grass, just enough to allow his fast balls to accelerate till they become a blur heading for the wickets. Sri Lanka’s genial National Curator will turn 73 this July, and more..

Ranil does it again!

Mar 27 (NS) Sri Lanka’s political Houdini, Ranil Wickremesinghe has done it again. This week saw him emerge as the leader of the UNP for a renewed term, surviving an acrimonious leadership struggle that dragged on for more than a year. On Thursday, the Working Committee and the UNP Parliamentary group ‘unanimously’ endorsed Wickremasinghe’s leadership albeit appointing his potential rival, Sajith Premadasa as a deputy leader, a designation he now shares with the veteran Karu Jayasuriya. more..

Consensus reached at stormy UNP sessions

Mar 27 (NS) There is hurry, and a flurry of activity, in some quarters and newspapers, to analyse the election results and come out with various theories as to why the UNP suffered a humiliating defeat at the Local Government elections. A superficial look at the election results will certainly give that impression and writers who sing hosannas to the government find it convenient to bash the UNP, the main opposition party, and praise the government for the achievement. more..

Tax reforms from April 1, taxing public servants after 33 years

Mar 27 (ST) Sri Lanka’s cash-strapped Government is implementing far reaching tax reforms from April 1 in a move towards simplification of the tax system while also improving the effectiveness of tax administration, in keeping with Budget 2011. Several new changes have been introduced to finance, tax and investment related legislation in the form of amendments to the existing 14 Acts and with one new legislation in keeping with the budget proposal, more..

Rajapaksas were 'not fully aware' of war - India

Mar 27 (BBC) India believed that President Mahinda Rajapaksa and his brother, the Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa did not know about the real situation in the war front during the last phase of the war, according to the latest revelations by Wikileaks. In separate visits to Sri Lanka in 2009, Foreign Minister Pranab Mukherjee and Foreign Secretary Shiv Shankar Menon have repeatedly expressed India’s deep concern over mounting civilian casualties at the war front. more..

The gamble that failed

Mar 27 (Island) The UNP leadership struggle ended up as a damp squib. Two weeks ago, we published in this column a breakdown of the loyalties of the UNP working committee which had been prepared by an electoral organizer of the UNP who wishes to remain anonymous. The break down published in this column was as follows. Pro-Ranil Group: Ranil Wickremesinghe, Karu Jayasuriya, Senarath Kapukotuwa, John Amaratunga, Daya Pelpola, Milroy Fernando, Ravi Karunanayake, more..

I don’t mind an independent commission – New Polls Chief

Mar 27 (NS) The new Elections Commissioner Mahinda Deshapriya while expressing his commitment to work under an independent elections commission has said he plans to put out soon the 2010 electoral register. He said that if an independent elections commission is established he will be comfortable working under such a commission. “But I do not find the present environment uneasy either. My predecessors have been quite comfortably more..

Lake House To Fight Rajapakse

Mar 27 (SL) Lake House has filed objections against the order delivered by the Colombo District Court last week requiring the institution to pay a sum of Rs. 500 million in damages to UNP Parliamentarian Wijedasa Rajapakse in a defamation case filed by him. The order to pay Rs. 500 million is an ex parte verdict delivered by the Court, enabling Lake House to file objections within a period of 14 days. Rajapakse said that once Lake House forwards its application, more..

SLPA checks Japanese cargo for radiation

Mar 27 (SL) Sri Lanka Ports Authority (SLPA) has taken immediate action to subject all cargo arriving from Japan, in and around the affected areas, to radiation checks at the Port of Colombo. Along with Sri Lanka Customs (SLC) and the Atomic Energy Authority (AEA), the SLPA is taking precautionary measures to mitigate the radiation risk to the country after the recent explosions at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. The plant was badly damaged by the 9.0 magnitude earthquake, more..

SC directs Commercial HC to terminate cases against Harry J.

Mar 27 (ST) The Supreme Court this week directed the Commercial High Court (Colombo) to terminate proceedings in two cases pending before it in the contentious ongoing legal battles between the Directors of the multi-million turnover company, Milford Exports (Ceylon) Ltd., Directors R.K. Obeysekera and Z. Alif together with Ms. Sonia Williams had filed action in the Commercial High Court against fellow Director Harry Jayawardene for more..

Releasing stray dogs into the forest condemned

Mar 27 (NS) Environmentalists are up in arms against a decision by the Karapitiya Teaching hospital to release stray dogs into the Kottawa forest. The Nation learns based on a decision taken by the acting director Karapitiya Teaching Hospital the stray dogs were dumped in the forest. However according to the provision of the Forest Conservation Ordinance it is an offence to release animals into a reserve forest. more..

No plans to evacuate Lankans from Libya

Mar 27 (NS) Sri Lanka has no immediate plans to evacuate Sri Lankans in Libya who are continuing to live on their own volition. According to authorities, the Sri Lankans are living in Libya on their free will and there was no immediate need for them to be evacuated from Libya at the moment. There were around 1,200 Sri Lankans domiciled in the country when violence broke out in several parts of the country. There are less than 10 Sri Lankans at present more..

AG’s withdrawal of murder charges illegal says lawyer

Mar 27 (ST) Questioning the Attorney General’s withdrawal of murder charges and acquitting the accused in the Nampamunuwa murder case - former MP Chandana Kathriarachchi and three others - lawyer J.C. Weliamuna, watching the interests of the deceased said that the action was illegal. Former MP Kathriarachchi and three others were charged for murdering a UNP supporter at Nampamunuwa Salgaha Junction in more..

Fear grips 75,000 poultry farmer families

Mar 27 (LB) An estimated 75,000 poultry farmer families live in fear as corn which makes up over 40 percent of poultry feed is in short supply and stocks at hand may last only a month. Poonac, the residue from coconut oil production is no longer competitive in price or available in sufficient quantities to be used as forage food base; no other low priced feed ingredient is available in the country. The solution is the immediate importation of 125,000 metric tonnes of corn from India, more..

Amendments soon to seek maximum from LG bodies

Mar 27 (SO) The Local Government and Provincial Council Ministry is now in the process of making three legal enactments governing the local authorities to get the maximum contribution from the local authorities in the country for the massive development drive launched by the Government, Secretary to the Ministry of Local Government and Provincial Councils, Dr. Nihal Jayathilaka told the Sunday Observer. The Municipal Council Ordinance (No.16, enacted in 1947), more..

Who is important to Lanka Gaddafi or the Libyan people?

Mar 27 (LB) Last week, Sri Lanka took an exception to the growing international consensus. Debating an adjournment motion, rank and file of the government fired a barrage of criticism against the UN sanctioned military strikes launched against the Rajapaksa regime’s erstwhile ally, the beleaguered Libyan despot Colonel Muammer Gaddafi. Gaddafi, a tyrant in the league of many other Arab and African leaders, more..

Kongahage waiting for the sack?

Mar 27 (Island) Sarath Kongahage is still clinging on to the post of Rupavahini Chairman despite the government asking him to quit paving the way for one-time UN staffer and media personality, Mohan Samaranayake, to take over. Kongahage is believed to have indicated that he intends to remain until sacked. Sources told The Sunday Island that he earned the wrath of the government for giving an opportunity to his wife, Shanthini, a UNP member of the Central more..

Education institutes warned: Follow rules or face closure

Mar 27 (NS) The government is to come down hard on all higher education institutes and offer them licenses to operate according to a fresh set of regulations laid down by the government or face immediate closure. All higher education institutes in Sri Lanka will be scrutinised from July when they will have to register and undergo a stringent screening process to obtain a license from the Ministry of Higher Education. more..

Katchatheevu: A forbidden island opens its gates briefly

Mar 27 (DNA) The beaches of Katchatheevu have no sand. There are variously coloured corals, shells and skeletons of sea beings instead. Greenish-blue water, cool through the seasons, surround them. Every nook rings with the perpetual music of waves, only its rhythm changing with the tide. Forbidden to man — both Indian and Sri Lankan — this stunning 282-acre islet remains pristine. Last year, after a gap of nearly three decades, more..

Switch off your lights for an hour at 8.30 p.m.

Mar 27 (Island) Sri Lanka will celebrate Earth Hour 2011 one day late at 8.30 pm tonight with the lights switched off for one hour. Traditionally, Earth Hour is marked worldwide on the last Saturday in March. But this was not possible yesterday because the World Cup semi-final between Sri Lanka and India is being played at that time, Mr. Udaya Gamanpila, Minister of Agriculture, Agrarian Development, Minor Irrigation Industries and Environment of the Western Province explained. more..

SLFP ‘non-speaking’ top guns to be punished

Mar 27 (LB) The Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) is preparing a list of names of ministers and MPs for possible disciplinary action for their failure to canvass for the UPFA candidates’ victory at the recently concluded Local Government polls, an authoritative party source said. He added that several members who were entrusted with tasks as main speakers failed to turn up at many rallies and meetings organized at various areas which were disadvantageous to the UPFA. more..

How the revolt within the Grand Old Party ended

Mar 27 (ST) Come the National New Year, he may have expected to partake the traditional sweetmeats of kevun and kokis as the new leader of the main opposition UNP. For months, he campaigned on his own, visiting Buddhist temples countrywide. That was part of his efforts to become leader of his party. His images filled TV screens, which projected him the new leader of not just the south but also the entire nation. During the campaign for the March 17 local polls, more..

SAARC sanitation meet in Colombo

Mar 27 (Hindu) As many as 500 experts from SAARC countries will meet here from April 4 to 7 to discuss the complex sanitation needs of south Asian countries and methods to improve sanitation. More than 700 million people in south Asia practice open defecation. India has among the lowest sanitation coverage in the region, 31 per cent. South Asian Conference on Sanitation (SACOSAN) IV will have representatives of Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, more..

UNP national organiser to be appointed tomorrow

Mar 27 (NS) The UNP working committee will hold a crucial meeting tomorrow to elect a National Organiser. According to senior deputy leader Karu Jayasuriya, it is the only post that is vacant and the party will consider filling it by tomorrow. Asked who the aspirant candidate would be for the post, Jayasuriya said he had seen names of parliamentarians Ravi Karunanayake and Dayasiri Jayasekara in the media but added it is up to the working committee to decide. more..

Talk at the Cafe Spectator

Mar 27 (ST) South Africa's Vice President, Kgalema Petrus Motlanthe has told the country's National Assembly that a Sri Lanka delegation met the three-member United Nations Panel probing alleged war crimes issues in Sri Lanka. The meeting between the two sides in New York was exclusively reported in the Sunday Times of March 6. Both the UN and the Sri Lankan side have kept this meeting a secret. more..

Ranil, Karu or Sajith next UNP presidential candidate?

Mar 27 (Island) Who will be UNP’s presidential election candidate at the next presidential election scheduled for 2017? Twice PM Ranil Wickremesinghe, who celebrated his 62 birthday on March 24 or one of his deputies, Karu Jayasuriya or Sajith Premadasa? Political sources say the UNP’s failure to decide on the next leader could jeopardize its build-up for the next parliamentary polls scheduled for 2016. more..

TNA seeks police and land powers for North

Mar 27 (ST) The TNA wants the Government to grant the Northern Province police powers besides the right to manage land and forest reservations. This request will be placed before President Mahinda Rajapaksa through a government committee in the course of periodic consultations. The TNA points out that these subjects are already listed in the Concurrent List of the 13th Amendment to the Constitution. more..

Fuel price to be increased

Mar 27 (ST) Rising tensions in oil rich West Asia and North Africa and losses due to reduction of taxes will lead to hikes in fuel prices, but the government is yet to decide whether it would be on petrol only or diesel as well. Petroleum Resources Minister Susil Premajayantha told the Sunday Times, “We are studying the prices in view of the losses suffered,” but he declined to give any more details. more..

Peradeniya scientists predict quakes

Mar 27 (NS) Scientists at the University of Peradeniya who have been studying the occurrences of earthquakes around the world could possibly hold the key to predicting the next big quake. The scientists have been able to find a significant relationship with the planetary configuration and some of the major earthquakes that have taken place, including the recent 6.3 earthquake that rocked Christchurch in New Zealand. more..

University lecturers harden stance

Mar 27 (NS) University lecturers, threatening to step down from the administrative level if the government fails to increase their salaries are planning to seek President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s intervention for a salary hike. After their attempt to press the government for an increment failed, the irate lecturers last week decided to inform President Rajapaksa in writing, urging for his immediate involvement. more..

Sangakkara hails attack-minded Sri Lanka

Mar 27 (AFP) Sri Lanka skipper Kumar Sangakkara credited his bowlers for keeping up the pressure on England right from the first ball in the World Cup quarter-final on Saturday. The Sri Lankans restricted Andrew Strauss’s men to 229-6 before cruising to the target in the 40th over for an emphatic 10-wicket victory in the day-night clash at the R. Premadasa stadium. Tillakaratne Dilshan (108) and Upal Tharanga (102) struck unbeaten centuries to more..