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'Need strong opposition'

May 11 (NN) The Mahanayake of the Malwatte Chapter the Most venerable Thibbatuwawe Sri Sumangala Thera has called on the new National organizer of the UNP, Ravi Karunannayake, to ensure there is a strong opposition in the country. The Mahanayake urged Karunannayake to maintain the unity of the main opposition UNP and keep the party together as the country needs a strong and vibrant opposition. He said this after Karunannayake called on the Mahanayake today to more..

New UN Sri Lanka head

May 11 (NN) The new UN Resident Coordinator / Humanitarian Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative to Sri Lanka, Subinay Nandy, presented his credentials to the Govt of Sri Lanka today at the Ministry of External Affairs. UN Secretary-General Mr. Ban Ki-moon has appointed Mr. Nandy his designated representative in Sri Lanka. As the most senior UN official in the country Mr. Nandy will lead the UN Country Team of 20 resident and non-resident UN agencies. more..

Despite government claims, civil society groups back UN report findings

May 11 (AN) Members of a number of civil society groups back the United Nations panel report on possible war crimes by government and Tamil rebel forces. According to human rights activists, the accusations in the report are a national issue; for one catholic priest, they are a lesson from which we can all learn. Human rights group ‘Platform for Freedom’ criticised the government at a recent meeting on the “Challenges and opportunities for civil society in Sri Lanka,” more..

TUs welcome retirement age extension

May 11 (GDI) Local trade unions of Sri Lanka have commended the government’s decision to increase the retirement age of employees engaged in services in Corporations and Statutory Boards. The Sri Lanka Independent Workers’ Union says this is a significant victory of the working class. General Secretary of the union Lesley Devendra said they discussed this issue with President Mahinda Rajapakse for over two years. He said that although government servants were permitted to more..

Sri Lanka News Debrief - 10.05.2011

Slow death by 'Hakka Pattas'

May 11 (LG) ‘Hakka Pattas’, - an improvised explosive device used to hunt animals is the latest to be used by hunters in the Trincomalee area. During the height of the fighting between the LTTE and security forces hunters had free access to firearms and ammunition and therefore frequently used them to hunt down animals. But, with the return of normalcy and the non availability of firearms hunters now use gun powder from fire crackers and use cycle ball bearings to turn out the device. more..

Great event for enhancing national solidarity

May 11 (LG) Whatever the extent of political turmoil created by the Darusman Report, the whole country is now getting ready to commemorate the great event of the 2600 Sambuddhatva Jayanthi next week. Various events and programmes have been planned by the Maha Sangha, the government and the general public to mark the event appropriately. As Buddhists play the lead role in these programmes, the leaders of the other three main religions in the country have exhorted more..

More lands in KKS HSZ released to public in Valikamam North

May 11 (Cimic) Under the govt’s resettlement project for northern civilians displaced due to the war, areas covering nine Gramaniladhari Divisions in Valikamam North were handed over to the public by the Sri Lanka Army today (9) during a ceremony held at famous Mavadipuram Kandaswami Temple. Nearly 12274 civilians of 3511 families will be resettled in their original homesteads after 21 years of their displacement. more..

Using UNSG’s panel report

May 11 (LG) The report of the Panel of Experts to advise the UN Secretary General on the issue of human rights violations in the last phase of Sri Lanka’s internal war has become the dominant political issue in the country. It became the main issue on May Day, a day traditionally respected as the day of the working class, when speaker after speaker at the government organized rally denounced the UN, imperialist powers and their local agents of a conspiracy to bring a more..

Will Ban Ki-Moon act on the recommendations of the war crimes panel?

May 11 (LG) DESPITE Sri Lankan foreign minister GL Peiris warning UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon against releasing the war crimes report compiled by a panel of experts which inquired into abuse of human rights and crimes against humanity during the final days of the 26-year genocidal war in the island nation, it was released last week and the reaction was along expected lines. Colombo has accused Ban of causing irreparable damage to the reconciliation efforts of President more..

'Ranil should first practice good governance in UNP'

May 11 (NS) UNP reformists are once again on the warpath over alleged flagrant violation of its constitution by Leader Ranil Wickremesinghe in the appointment of its National Organiser early this week. Reformist Leader Sajith Premadasa, while refusing to take the leader to courts, however insists they will not keep quiet and true to their word, they have been speaking to the media about the alleged injustice ever since despite warnings from more..

Training for University entrants in Army camps and at district level

May 11 (GV) The Ministry of Higher Education has decided to make compulsory for all university entrants a 3-week training in army camps (supposedly because they are the only places that can accommodate all the entrants) and then give them 3 months of training in English and Information Technology (IT) at District level. While the intentions may be laudable, I wish to argue that the drawbacks outweigh the benefits. I hope Vice Chancellors and others in academic leadership will support me. more..

Guns in, body out but sea does not swallow all

May 11 (NS) Osama Bin Laden is dead. If there was even a shadow of doubt about this, President Barack Obama would not have announced the fact. The risk of being proven wrong is far too great to be frivolous about something like this. The man is dead. What remains are the questions surrounding his death. First, did he die as Obama claims he did or was it all show, the man having died or having been killed a long time ago? If indeed he had indeed been killed (as Obama claims he was), then more..

'UN should help Lanka heal wounds'

May 11 (SO) Senior Minister for Human Resources D.E.W. Gunasekera said the Darusman panel appointed by the United Nations Secretary General has gone beyond its mandate. The Minister in an interview said the mission of the Darusman panel was to be a fact-finding panel. But they have gone beyond their mandate and played the role of an investigative panel and further turned into a prosecuting panel by framing charges against Sri Lanka. more..

Editorial: University dispute: Self-defeating moves

May 11 (Island) The university crisis is worsening but the government and the warring dons stick to their extreme positions like limpets, oblivious to the fallout of their brinkmanship. Unless the dispute is settled urgently, the university system will be paralysed before long. Intelligent as the university teachers may be, they have made a fundamental mistake in dealing with a crafty government, whose forte is to give every problem a political twist and justify its refusal or failure to solve it. more..

Editorial: Minister bowled for a duck

May 11 (DM) The May 5 deadline for Sri Lanka’s cricketers to comply with the demand by new Sports Minister Mahindananda Aluthgamage and cut short their stay with the money-spinning Indian Premier League and return to the country ahead of the important tour of England has passed. The players, apart from one or two who have not had a happy IPL and returned, are continuing their business across the Palk Straits. So the new minister has been bowled for a duck in his first outing at the crease. more..

When croc and man lived a ‘charmed’ life

May 11 (ST) Four-legged or no legged, big or small, ambling or slithering, whatever forms the natural dangers took, our ancestors seemed to have known how to deal with them. Not only did they deal with them effectively, be it elephant, snake or crocodile, they also passed down their knowledge, sometimes ingrained in stone to posterity. Setting his sights on the much-reviled and maligned crocodile, which are among the few survivors of the dinosaur age, more..

Post-conflict tourism boom - Hotel development: Lanka gets 99 proposals for US$ 784mn

May 11 (Island) Land prices in several tourism development zones would be re-valued to attract more investments while the Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority’s one-stop-shop received 99 project applications with an estimated investment of US$ 784 million during the five months concluded April 30, officials said. Deputy Minister Lakshman Yapa Abeywardena said that the govt will re-value land prices in several identified tourism development zones, more..

Dheevish Arulmani (15) is one of 20 young Canadians competing against the world’s smartest teens

May 11 (TC) There are eight syllables in the first word of the title of Dheevesh Arulmani’s science project. The word is “photoelectrochemical.” It doesn’t get any easier from there. But the 15-year-old Mississauga student patiently explains what his year’s worth of research is all about: “Polymer electrolyte membrane fuel cells, known as hydrogen fuel cells, offer commercial and economic feasibility as well as environmental sustainability for more..

'I possess the open warrant issued by Interpol against KP'

May 11 (NF) UNP MP Dr. Jayalath Jayawardene has stated that he possesses the open warrant that wasissued by Interpol against Kumaran Pathpanatha. Speaking at the event UNP MP Dr. Jayalath Jayawardene inquired from the government as to why the law is not being meted out against KP. “I possess the open warrant that was issued by Interpol against KP. What are the charges that have been leveled against him? The constitution of this country applies to KP, more..

Why Basil leads the charge

May 11 (LB) As it has been well-documented, the UPFA government got themselves tangled in a confusing web in the wake of the Marzuki Darusman report commissioned by the United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to look into alleged war crimes committed by the government security forces during the last stage of its war against the LTTE. The ‘contract’ or the task of rescuing the government from its predicament or the situation that has arisen after the release of more..

Can curtailing car imports reduce trade deficit?

May 11 (NS) The increase in import tariffs on motor vehicles came as a surprise to many. This was due to the assurances given at the time import duties were reduced that it would not be a short-term measure. Vehicle imports increased substantially in the months after the duty reduction either due to that assurance not being taken seriously or the pent up demand for vehicles owing to the earlier high duties. The rush to import vehicles has resulted in a large import expenditure since then. more..

Hambantota makes crucial pitch for Commonwealth Games today in KL

May 11 (FT) Sri Lanka candidate City of Hambantota will today make a crucial pitch for its bid to host the 2018 Commonwealth Games in Kuala Lumpur. The pitch or the bid lodgment by the candidate cities is a vital step in their hopes of securing the 2018 Commonwealth Games. Apart from Hambantota, Australia’s Gold Coast is the other contender. Sri Lanka’s official bid book was presented to President Mahinda Rajapaksa last week. more..

Govt losing a sense of moderation

May 11 (LB) Sri Lanka cannot be called a failed state, but the xenophobia of May Day if repeated will establish a pattern that will push the country to isolation, and gradually to shipwreck. The sharp rise of the NFF (Weerawansa) marks the first ever emergence of large fascistic mob mobilization on the streets of Colombo; it will soon run out of the control of the Rajapaksas. The Failed State Index published each year jointly by a magazine called Foreign Policy and an institution known as more..

On Sinhalese Nationalists, Tamil Diaspora and the War Crimes Saga

May 11 (GV) A couple of days ago I was watching a political talk show in the Derana TV Channel attended by prominent nationalists including Professor Nalin de Silva of the Sinhalatva School of thinking. One needs no special introduction to this nationalist ideologue cum academic. The focus of discussion was Report by the UN Experts Panel baptized by the government as the “Darusman Report”. I was curious when Nalin de Silva said something along following lines more..

Dr. Wickrema squashes rumours on Hambantota

May 11 (BL) There is no truth whatsoever to the criticism and claims by various quarters to the effect that a rock blocks the entrance to the port; rock blasting could damage infrastructure; no proper studies had been done; new port not viable, etc., etc., says Dr. Priyath Bandu Wickrema, Chairman of the Sri Lanka Ports Authority (SLPA). In an exclusive interview, the SLPA chief provides answers to many questions raised on the new Hambantota port project. more..

Sujith Prasanna case postponed

May 11 (DM) Colombo High Court postponed to September 14 the case to consider the ownership of the jewellery and other items recovered by the CID during a raid conducted at Dickwella during an operation conducted to arrest the suspects involved in the murder of Assistant Custom Superintendent Sujith Prasanna. Assistant Superintendent of the CID Shani Abeysekera recovered the bag containing jewellery worth around Rs. 2,000,000, Rs 200,000 cash, a cell phone, a National identity card and more..

Three Ruhuna undergrads saved by SLCG

May 11 (Island) The Sri Lanka Coast Guard (SLCG) last Sunday rescued three undergraduates, of the Ruhuna University, when they were on the verge of being drowned at sea in Polhena. A spokesperson for the SLCG said that they had established a life saving unit at Polhena, Matara just the previous day. The official said that the undergraduates had been bathing when high currents had dragged them away at about 10.30 a.m. Those on the beach had alerted the CG personal on duty and more..

Ferry to India 'delayed'

May 11 (BBC) Ferry services between South India and Sri Lanka will not be resumed on Tuesday as planned. The ferry that sailed between Tutucorin and Colombo was suspended decades ago due to the war in Sri Lanka. A. Subbiah, Chairman of Tuticorin Port Trust told the BBC Tamil Service that the arrangements for the start of the ferry service have not yet been finalised. He says the port would not be ready for another two weeks. more..

Mahanayaka Theras, President, PM to participate in State Vesak Festival

May 11 (DN) The State Vesak Festival and Sambuddhathva Jayanthi celebrations will be held on May 14 at Jaya Sri Maha Bodhi Premises in Anuradhapura to mark the 2600th year of the Enlightenment of The Buddha. The Mahanayaka Theras of Asgiri, Malwatte and Amarapura Chapters will officiate at the Sambuddhathva Jayanthi celebrations. President Mahinda Rajapaksa and Prime Minister D M Jayaratne will participate in the event in Anuradhpapura. more..

GNOA seeks President’s intervention to stop nursing council convening

May 11 (Island) The Govt Nursing Officers’ Association has urged the President to stop the Nursing Council from officially convening tomorrow (12) due to malpractices that occurred during its election. In a letter to the President, the GNOA said the Public Service United Nurses Union was preparing to officially commence the affairs of the Nursing Council tomorrow (12) – ‘Nurses’ Day’. GNOA President Saman Ratnapriya said that the Council election had been held on April 9 more..

Boston Lanka News: May 10, 2011

UNP denies seeking Nat. list MP’s resignation – Tissa

May 11 (Island) The UNP yesterday denied that it had sought the resignation of a National List MP to accommodate a candidate from the South, who had lost at the last parliamentary elections. UNP General Secretary Tissa Attanayake, responding to media reports that Vajira Abeywardena, who had contested on the UNP ticket from Galle District and lost, was to replace the National List MP, told journalists in Colombo that there was no truth in the story. more..

Nothing will happen by some welcoming UN report: Basil Rajapaksa

May 11 (TN) Sri Lanka President’s brother and SL Economic Development Minister Basil Rajapaksa made an unannounced sudden visit to Jaffna Monday. Nothing will happen by some welcoming the UN panel report and ‘Tamils should not play treachery by betraying the country for a few thousand dollars,’ Basil Rajapaksa who was carrying a ‘special message’ from Mahinda Rajapaksa to the people of Jaffna said, while addressing a meeting at Maaviddapuram. more..

'People of Jaffna will be given all facilities'

May 11 (DN) Economic Development Minister Basil Rajapaksa promised all facilities to the people of Jaffna to lead their lives peacefully in their original plots of land and homes. He said this at the Mavadipuram Kandaswami Temple at a ceremony where nine Gramaniladhari Divisions in Valikamam North which were under the High Security Zone were handed over to the people by the Army on Monday, after clearing mines planted by terrorists. more..

Boots for farmers to prevent rat fever spread

May 11 (Island) The Health Ministry is looking at the possibility of promoting the wearing of boots amongst the farming community to prevent the spread of leptospyrosis, better known as rat fever. The spokesman for the Health Ministry said on Tuesday (10) that the Ministry would bring down a couple of special boots manufactured with a type of rubber similar to those used for surgical gloves from Thailand and distribute them among the farming community. more..

Stakeholders want more time on Pension Bill

May 11 (FT) Private sector stakeholders believe that more discussion is needed on the controversial Pension Bill before it is presented to parliament on 24 May. Labour Minister Gamini Lokuge has said that a new draft of the Pension Bill will be tabled before parliament on 24 May, but the Joint Business Forum (JBIZ) feels that this would be premature. JBIZ Chairman Lal de Alwis said that even though steps by the Finance Ministry to address the concerns of the trade unions and more..

President’s meeting with media heads

May 11 (Island) Not signing Rome Statute no defence: President Rajapaksa, when asked to comment on UNP and Opposition Leader Ranil Wickremesinghe’s claim that the UNP-led UNF government’s decision against signing the Rome Statute of the International criminal Court had stood Sri Lanka in good stead, said that simply because a country was no signatory to that statute, it was not safe. He stressed that he did not want to hide behind technicalities or more..

Proposed private sector pension scheme no threat to EPF – President

May 11 (Island) President Mahinda Rajapaksa says the proposed private sector pension scheme will have no adverse impact on the Employee’s Provident Fund (EPF). It will only be an added benefit for the workers, he opines. Addressing newspaper editors and electronic media representatives at Temple Trees yesterday, the President said there was no truth in the allegation that the government was trying to deny workers EPF benefits by introducing the private sector pension scheme. more..

PAFFREL wants remaining LG polls on same day

May 11 (DM) Local Government and Provincial Council Minister A.L.M. Athaullah was yesterday requested by a leading election monitoring group to consider holding the elections to the remaining 90 local councils on the same day. Elections have been held for 234 of the 335 local councils. Out of the balance 101 local councils, elections to 65 local councils were put off due to pending court cases; elections to two local councils were postponed due to ongoing landmine clearing more..