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They call it ‘the voyage of the damned’. But thousands still want to try it

May 28 (Tehelka) In the 1980s, Sri Lankan Tamils escaped to India from the ravages of a bitter war in the island nation. Now they are fleeing India for a better life in the West, undertaking a mindnumbing 3,000 nautical mile journey into a watery void so perilous that many call it the “voyage of the damned”. “I was hoping to get on the last ship but the agent says the seas are rough and I can go only after the rains are over,” more..

LTTE denies KP’s allegation on Jayalalithaa’s life

May 28 (EB) A statement purportedly originating from the defunct LTTE has rubbished jailed ex-LTTE leader K Padmanathan's recent claim that the Tamil Tigers had once planned to assassinate Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa. "KP's claim in a television interview that LTTE had once planned to assassinate Jayalalithaa was far from the truth and we perceive the act as a ploy to create fissures among Tamils," more..

Lecturers strike: Students go to court

May 28 (DM) Three undergraduates have filed separate writ applications in the Court of Appeal asking that the letters of resignation submitted by the university heads of department be rejected. They are seeking a writ of prohibition restraining the Vice Chancellors of the Wayamba, Ruhunu and Sri Jayawardenapura Universities, members of the Senates of these universities, the UGC, Deans of Faculties and Higher Education Minister more..

Delegates from University of Colombo visits Gulf Medical University for academic collaboration

May 29 (AME) A team of delegates from Postgraduate Institute of Medicine (PGIM), University of Colombo, Sri Lanka led by Prof. Mohamed Hussain Rezvi Sheriff, Director visited the Gulf Medical University (GMU), Ajman, U.A.E. for possible collaboration to develop Short Term Certificate Program in Family Medicine and other short term courses including opportunities for GMU postgraduate research students to pursue research and project work were broadly discussed. more..

Tata Motors launches Nano in Sri Lanka

May 29 (PTI) Tata Motors today launched its small car Nano in Sri Lanka and plans to market the ultra-cheap car in other countries also. Sri Lanka is the first country where the company has launched its product, apart from India, and there are plans to market the car in other countries too, the company said in a statement. "We have already formulated plans for its (Nano's) introduction in several countries, to be implemented over the next few years," more..

Ex–Trincomalee LTTE commander ‘Col' Paduman charged under PTA in Trinco

May 29 (DBS) Senior tiger leader & ex-LTTE trincomalee district military commander Sivasubramaniam varathanathan alias “Col” Paduman was produced in courts. “Col”Paduman was charged in the Trincomalee High court for offences under the Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA) was remanded until July 26th. Varathanathan a.k.a Paduman was indicted under the PTA for offences such as attacks on security installations & killing security personnel. more..

Punishing Sri Lanka: Myth or Reality?

May 29 (LG) Prof. Rohan Gunaratne- international terrorism expert- addressing the business community last week convincingly and openly cautioned that “India might ‘punish’ Sri Lanka”, if Sri Lanka leans elsewhere to India’s detriment. This is a very serious statement, especially if Indians do not intend doing so. To prove his point, he quoted a meeting with the first Research and Analysis Wing Chief who had told Gunaratne their concerns over President JR Jayewardene more..

Spotlight again on universities and university administrators

May 29 (LG) Europe was recovering after the defeat of Napoleon at Waterloo when in 1820, King George III died in England after years of blindness and insanity. Robert Southey, whom the King had made Poet Laureate of England wrote a ‘loathsomely flattering poem’ about the King. Byron responded with a satirical masterpiece from which the above verse is taken. Byron’s long satirical poem has been described as more than a demolition of Southey’s flattery; it demonstrates more..

'All political parties should defend motherland'

May 29 (SO) Minister Navin Dissanayake said the UNP as one of the largest political parties that has been in the forefront of national development, has a responsibility entrusted by the people to fight against any international conspiracy against the country. He said if any foreign manipulations are made against the country, it is the responsibility of political parties to safeguard the motherland irrespective of political differences. more..

Tiger flags in Trafalgar square

May 29 (TC) It is truly a pity that the Sri Lankan media did not feature the photographs of the demonstrations by sections of the Tamil Diaspora staged over the week of May 12-19 in variety of western capitals, as protest and in mourning for the final week of the war which was also the last week of Mr Prabhakaran’s destructive life. I saw the demonstration in Paris and the subsequent gathering in the Trocadero which was at a vantage point in line with the Eiffel Tower. more..

JVP still towing Sinala petty-bourgeoise line

May 29 (TC) In an interview last week, JVP General Secretary Tilvin Silva said steps should be taken to release all Tamil detainees adding that though the armed separatist struggle had ended, the attempts by some neo-colonialist elements to divide this country were continuing. “These forces have not given up their attempts to interfere in the internal affairs of the country,” he said. “With the end of the war, the govt should have taken steps not to leave any room for more..

Dr. Shirani Bandaranayake, first woman Chief Justice

May 29 (SO) Of the several thousands of advocates, proctors and attorneys-at-law who were fortunate to enter the portals of the legal profession in Sri Lanka, it is only a chosen few, just 42 in number, who had the supreme privilege of adorning the coveted office of Chief Justice of this country. Despite the enactment of the Sex Disqualification Removal (Legal Profession) Ordinance as far back as in 1933, not one of them was from the fairer sex. more..

Editorial : Use Lanka's expertise to crush global terrorism

May 29 (SO) Sri Lanka celebrated the second anniversary of its victory in the humanitarian operation which rescued over half a million people from the jaws of LTTE terror and eradicated terrorism. President Mahinda Rajapaksa, who was the chief guest at Friday's Victory Day celebrations, emblazoned that we, as a nation, could solve our internal problems and that Sri Lanka has demonstrated this in no uncertain terms to the entire world. more..

Editorial : Challenges before the new Chief Justice

May 29 (SL) Dr. Shirani Bandaranayake’s appointment as the Chief Justice is significant not only because she is the first woman to be in the list of 33 male Chief Justices who had preceded her but also because her appointment comes at a crucial time when the breakdown of law and order in the country has reached a critical point and Sri Lankan democracy itself is being threatened. No better example can be cited than reports of an alleged assault on a District Judge by a more..

Amidst beauty and emotion

May 29 (ST) As the Sri Pada pilgrimage season ended on Vesak, Ian Lockwood’s exhibition of photographs - a personal overview of the sacred mountain opened at the Barefoot Gallery in Colombo. As a 15-time Sri Pada climber, I had my doubts whether anyone could capture the mystical beauty of this sacred mountain and the special culture involved with the pilgrimage through a lens. I’ve seen people pushed to the brink of exhaustion by the marathon climb; more..

Editorial : Panel of judges, a step in the right direction

May 29 (NS) The announcement that the government would appoint a five-member panel of judges to probe alleged human rights and fundamental rights violations in the North and East must come as welcome news, in the wake of the recent hullabaloo over various calls for an international probe for the same purpose. It will be recalled that the panel of so-called ‘experts’ appointed by United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon sparked off this conspiracy by stating more..

Editorial : Victory, and then what?

May 29 (LB) What could be called the billion rupee hard-core hardware show of military appendages which was called the celebration of the war victory now being over, people can presumably get back to the task of establishing what really has gone on since those exciting days in May 2009 in which terrorism was put down decisively by the Nandikadal. While there would be thousands at hand to raise their hands and say that the country is well on course in looking to the more..

'Devolution must be at grassroots level'

May 29 (NS) UNP’s senior deputy leader Karu Jayasuriya says Sri Lanka lost a golden opportunity of uniting all the communities under one umbrella after crushing the LTTE in 2009. Paying tribute to the present govt for taking the LTTE by their horns, he said that short-sighted policies with determination to suppress the opposition have divided the country that could have been very well united after the end of the conflict. more..

Govt moves to clear its reputation

May 29 (NS) There were signs this week that the govt was moving to consolidate itself in the face of tough opposition both on the domestic and international fronts, with a series of measures aimed at clearing its reputation as well as enhancing its stranglehold on the domestic political agenda. On the international front, the most encouraging news was the appointment of a panel of judges to probe alleged human rights and fundamental rights violations in the North and East, more..

Govt. moving towards more controversies

May 29 (NS) The govt is gradually moving towards more controversial areas of governance amidst protests by the people and the country’s work force. The latest is the proposed pension scheme for the private sector, which the workers have rejected with contempt and as a sell-out of their rights. However, Minister Gamini Lokuge has defended the govt’s stand on the matter and is on record stating that the amended version of the private sector pension bill will be presented in Parliament by July. more..

Ruling family want to transform university students into regimented enforcers of the Rajapaksa-project

May 29 (TC) First they came for new university entrants. Next is the turn of school principals. According to the Education Secretary, principals will have to undergo ‘Leadership training’ at the Rantambe camp: “If the Principal is weak that will be the end of the school. Therefore they should possess energy to drive the school forward. They should be able to jump over walls so that they could catch students who scoot… more..

Editorial : The campus rumpus

May 29 (Island) A few years before he died, Sir John Kotelawela, a former prime minister of this country, was entertaining some friends to breakfast at his Kandawela home. The conversation turned to what he would do with the property which he had once said he would like to see converted into a children’s home modeled on the famous Dr. Barnardo’s homes. That thought, apparently, had been abandoned in his twilight years and he told his guests that the only institutions he more..

Editorial : India destabilising Lanka again

May 29 (ST) The military parade to commemorate the second anniversary of our own 'V Day' was impressive, but coming as it did in the backdrop of protests by workers, university dons and a host of external compulsions, the Govt is being accused of 'milking the issue' and falling back on the defeat of terrorism in May 2009 to give impetus to its political longevity. There was also an element of hollowness to it when, at Hulftsdorp Hill, not far away from the parade, more..

'Moratuwa university the best'

May 29 (NS) Moratuwa University has been rated as one of the best universities in the country in terms of administration, maintenance of financial records and management, said Chairman of Parliamentary Committee on Public Enterprises, D.E.W. Gunesekara. He said, of the 15 universities in the country, 10 had already been summoned by COPE and their performances thoroughly assessed. Many universities had not been even able to submit proper internal audits and more..

Trade Unions on the warpath

May 29 (Island) Confusion reigns supreme over the govt’s proposed pension fund for the private sector and for expatriate workers. Nobody in the govt has yet explained the proposed pension scheme to the public. Various stories are floating around. Last week, there was a massive demonstration by workers in the Katunayake free trade zone. We were seeing something like that after a very long time. These workers who were involved in the Katunayake demonstration against more..

Govt. yet to decide on US, Indian conditions

May 29 (SL) The govt of Sri Lanka is yet to decide on the conditions and measures presented by the govts of US and India to External Affairs Minister Prof. G.L. Peiris. However, the Rajapaksa administration is under pressure to make its move fast to build its relations with the international community. US Assistant Secretary for South and Central Asian Affairs Robert O Blake during his visit to Sri Lanka recently has informed Peiris along with the US ambassador in more..

President didn’t allow Devasiri to talk

May 29 (Island) The agitation by university dons for higher salaries is another issue that threatens to upset the applecart. The president of the Federation of University Teacher’s Associations Nirmal Ranjith Devasiri complains that at the discussion held last week with the president, he was not allowed to express his views freely with the president interjecting every time he tried to open his mouth. The president had even told Devasiri not to be a ‘Shylock’ more..

Dengue rises again with 6,077 cases, 54 deaths in 2011 so far

May 29 (ST) Dengue is on the rise again with 6,077 cases and 54 deaths in five months. Colombo with 1,976 cases was identified as one of the most vulnerable districts followed by Gampaha with 709 cases, Batticaloa with 465 cases, Kalutara with 361 cases, Ratnapura with 289 cases and Kurunegala with 253. This month a total of 1,235 cases was reported. The Colombo Municipal area recorded 833 cases, while only 310 cases were reported from outside the municipal limits in the district. more..

Minister denounces TNA MP’s statement

May 29 (SO) Minister of Media and Information and Cabinet spokesman Keheliya Rambukwella expressed displeasure at TNA parliamentarian Suresh Premachandren’s recent media statement that they would meet Chinese and Russian ambassadors in Colombo and also visit the two countries to seek their assistance for a political solution and explain ‘other matters’. The report on Premachandran’s statement appeared in an English-language daily. more..

Victory Day celebrations: Some say: a must / others: money wasted

May 29 (LB) A cross section of intellectuals expressing their views said that no right thinking person can find fault with the govt on its decision to mark Victory Day with celebrations but others differed vehemently. Dr. Gunadasa Amarasekera: •The second anniversary of the Victory Day commemorating the heroic deeds of the war heroes is a must.The Americans are known to commemorate the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Centre launched by more..

Call for deterrent laws to curb traffic accidents

May 29 (LB) When the United Nation’s Global Road Accident Preventive Programme convened in Colombo recently, there were widespread calls for more deterrent punishments for traffic offenders. Conversely, there were cries that the island’s traffic laws on drunken driving were unspecific to danger; people who took Ayurveda medicine (arishta) with little content of alcohol were in danger of being nabbed. Worldwide, road traffic accidents take the lives of 1.3 million people, more..

Head of TV station killed in crash

May 29 (SL) Following a road accident on the Dehiwala flyover during the wee hours of May 24, Head of Station NTV Tushara Kodikara has succumbed to severe head injuries at the Colombo National Hospital. Kodikara, who was also a Director of Tharunyata Hetak, a youth organization of MP Namal Rajapaksa, met with the accident while on his way to Ratmalana with another Director of Tharunyata Hetak and Working Director of the National Lotteries Board (NLB), Janaka Sri Warnasinghe. more..

England v Sri Lanka: Cook and Trott hit hundreds in record stand

May 29 (CI) The Ashes series finished more than four months ago, but for Alastair Cook and Jonathan Trott it looked like only yesterday as the pair resumed their remarkable run-scoring combination with a century each in an unbroken stand of 240 in Cardiff. Cook reached his 17th Test hundred to continue his prolific form from Australia and Trott brought up number six to cement his mighty average as England moved to 287 for 2. more..

10,000 acres for mega projects in east

May 29 (ST) More than 10,000 acres of land in the Eastern Province are to be made available for five-star tourist hotels, agricultural projects and industries under a mega development plan drawn up by the govt, officials said. Lands Reforms Commission Chairman Nimal Punchihewa said the lands which included abandoned state lands had already been identified and the government was checking the ownership of the lands. “The lands will be made available to companies and investors on more..

Ten kg Ganja nabbed with ‘political gang’

May 29 (LB) A special police team confiscated 10 kilos of ‘Kerala ganja’, a banned narcotic, and arrested several individuals along the North Western coast Friday night, in an operation conducted after Police was tipped off about a group with political affiliations smuggling large quantities of drugs into the country. Police had been keeping an eye on drug smuggling in the area for some time and had been working on apprehending the culprits, with Indian assistance. more..

Controversial video to be presented

May 29 (ST) The video allegedly showing the execution of Tamil prisoners by Govt troops will figure at the 17th session of the UNHRC which begins in Geneva tomorrow. Reference to it is contained in the report of the Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary and arbitrary executions. This report will be presented to the HRC. Special Rapporteur Christof Heyns had conducted a technical assessment to establish the authenticity of the video and more..

'NAM has a critical role to play in tackling the scourge of terrorism'

May 29 (Island) Minister G.L. Peiris addressing the 16th Ministerial Conference and Commemorative Meeting marking the 50th Anniversary of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) said that the Non-Aligned Movement had a critical role to play, in a changed global scenario, in collectively addressing common challenges such as the scourge of terrorism, plaguing many countries of the world. Towards this end, he stressed on the need for NAM to build synergies with other organizations, more..

'Draft Bill in House only after amendments'

May 29 (SO) Amendments to the proposed Private Sector Pension Scheme will be made only after constructive proposals are submitted by trade unions, political parties and employers, said Minister Gamini Lokuge. He said that the Draft Bill with the amendments will be referred to the National Labour Advisory Council of the Ministry before it is presented in Parliament for the Second Reading. The proposed Private Sector Employees’ Pension Fund will be managed by the govt ensuring a more..

Lanka wins diplomatic battle at UNHRC

May 29 (ST) The United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's Panel of Experts report on Sri Lanka will not come up for discussion when the UN's Human Rights Council meets in Geneva tomorrow. Minister Mahinda Samarasinghe who was vested with the added subject of Human Rights earlier this year is leading the Sri Lanka delegation to the UNHRC's sessions. He and the rest of the Sri Lankan contingent which includes Irrigation Minister Nimal Siripala de Silva and more..

Lawyers for democracy speak out

May 29 (SL) Lawyers for Democracy (LfD) have spoken out against the govt response to the UN Panel’s report and advised the govt to protect the rights of citizens in the country. In a statement issued this week, LfD has poured scorn over government reaction to the Panel’s recommendations. “Their responses are generally marred by their political affiliations and emotions. We have watched the build-up of state sponsored moves at all levels to discredit the report without more..