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UN agency promises probe into LTTE maritime ops

Nov 17 (Island) The Sri Lanka Navy on Tuesday urged the UN agency, International Maritime Organisation (IMO), to investigate how the LTTE had operated a fleet of ships in spite of being a proscribed organisation. Rear Admiral J. S. K. Colombage raised the issue with Ms. Brenda Pimental, IMO’s Regional Coordinator, at the Galle Dialogue 2011, at the Light House Hotel, Galle. The SLN veteran pushed the IMO for a cohesive inquiry to identify shortcomings in more..

COPE wants TRC to trace missing luxury vehicle

Nov 17 (DM) The COPE yesterday instructed Telecommunications Regulatory Commission (TRC) Director General Anusha Palpita to inquire as to what happened to a Trc-owned super luxury vehicle worth some Rs.20 million, a parliamentary source said. He said the vehicle had gone missing during the term of office of a previous management and the present management had nothing to do with it. more..

Central bank pours oil on troubled waters

Nov 17 (LBO) Central bank said there may be room for former owners of seized assets to negotiate with competent authorities appointed by the state, after rating agencies raised fears of deteriorating property rights in the island. The govt expropriated land in 36 enterprises and ordinary shares of listed Hotel Developers, where Colombo Hilton is operated through a law which lawmakers said was deeply flawed and more..

Bargain-hunting bumps Sri Lanka bourse up in low volume

Nov 17 (Reuters) Stock market recovered on Thursday in bargain hunting after losing 4.9 percent in the last three sessions due to negative sentiment created by an expropriation bill and forced sales to clear margin debts. The main share index rose 1.16 percent firmer at 6,092.56, recovering from its lowest since Sept. 8, 2010. The govt on Wednesday after the market closed said it had no plans to target any other businesses for takeover aside from the 37 properties listed in more..

Sri Lanka expressway seen lacking space for emergency stops

Nov 17 (LBO) Sri Lanka's first high-speed expressway that is to be opened this month lacks adequate roadside space to park vehicles during emergency stops, journalists taken on a tour were able to observe. The southern expressway also has lights only on bridges and at intersections with ramps connecting the highway with other roads. The expressway designed for 100km an hour travel links the capital Colombo with the southern port town of Galle and will sharply reduce more..

Sri Lanka News Debrief - 17.11.2011

Undeclared gold jewellery seized from woman

Nov 17 (PTI) Customs officials today recovered Rs 4.25 lakh "undeclared" gold jewellery from a woman who arrived here from Colombo. The four 'crude bangles,' weighing 145 gm, were seized since she did not declare them, Sanjay Kumar Agarwal, Customs Commissioner, Chennai Airport, said in a release. In a separate incident, 510 ornamental fish were recovered from a man who arrived from Singapore on November 16. Import of such ornamental fish was restricted under relevant Indian laws, more..

Road accidents on the rise-police

Nov 17 (DM) Six people die daily in Sri Lanka from road accidents with a total of 1,750 people having lost their lives from 1,527 fatal road accidents reported up to September this year, the police said. The largest number killed was 680 pedestrians. Police said 28,625 accidents were reported up to September with 13,463 being injured and 13,590 properties damaged. They said most of these accidents had taken place in the third quarter of the year with a total of 632 fatal more..

Murdered Sri Lanka politician's family hail MP warrant

Nov 17 (DM) The daughter of a Sri Lankan politician shot dead last month has welcomed a court move to arrest an MP in connection with his killing. Speaking from an undisclosed location outside Sri Lanka, Hirunika Premachandra said that the news had restored her faith in the judiciary. Her father Bharatha Lakshman was killed during a shoot-out in Colombo. The court issued a warrant for the arrest of Duminda Silva MP who was present during the incident. more..

Editorial: Justice should prevail

Nov 17 (DM) In established democracies, impartial judiciary has been playing the role of people’s saviour since time immemorial. When looking at the rights and freedoms assured by the Constitution and the legal protection they are being provided with, Sri Lanka looks as good as any other country which runs on cemented democratic principles; yet, the real picture says otherwise. At a time when the executive is exhibiting a kind of obduracy that is not suitable for a democratically more..

Sensationalising attacks wont help

Nov 17 (IBN) In a jolt to the Tamil Nadu fishing community, the Indian Coast Guard has accused fishermen of sensationalising incidents of mid-sea attacks along the Indo-Sri Lankan International Maritime Boundary Line (IMBL). Besides, the premier coastal security agency has backed the view of Sri Lankan fishermen about their Tamil Nadu counterparts exploiting the marine resources in the troubled waters of Palk Bay. Inspector General VSR Murthy, Deputy Director General more..

Japanese Assistance to Strengthen Northern Health Care Services

Nov 17 (GDI) The Govt of Japan has allocated around Rs. 149 million from its Non-Project Grant Aid counterpart funds to “Strengthen Essential Health Care Services in Northern Province” as requested by the Govt of Sri Lanka. The revival of health care services in the once conflict affected Northern areas is of utmost importance for ensuring the overall welfare of the people in these areas. The funds are provided to promote the effective functioning of more..

Sri Lanka seized assets to be offered private managers: minister

Nov 17 (LBO) Former owners of expropriated assets may be given a chance to manage the companies again if a competent authority appointed by the state finds them acceptable, a minister said. Cabinet spokesman and information minister Keheliya Rambukwelle said the government will shortly appoint competent authorities to the seized firms and they will be given back to the private managers. Earlier owners of the assets will be given first refusal, he said. more..

Tributes to doctor who died on trip to Sri Lanka

Nov 17 (TTE) Lecturing to crowds of junior doctors in Sri Lanka, nobody there could have expected it would be Dr Ravi Sockanathan's last speech. But a fatal heart attack was just hours away. Sri Lankan-born Dr Sockanathan had only just arrived for his annual visit to Colombo, to teach at the College of Venereologists, when he suffered a sudden shortness of breath and passed away at the age of 61. In the early hours of the morning, colleagues of the well-known Brentwood GP called more..

Websites blocked 'without a court order'

Nov 17 (BBC) Sri Lankan govt has confirmed that it has taken down several websites without a court order. Minister Keheliya Rambukwella said that govt took the decision to ban websites without legal recourse. According to the minister, the govt is unable to find who is behind the several websites that operate with pornographic, false and malicious contents. “We have a right to intervene on behalf of the country, people and national security” more..

Kambli claims India-Sri Lanka WC 1996 semifinal may have been fixed

Nov 17 (Nation) Former Indian cricketer Vinod Kambli on Thursday made the shocking allegation that he suspected that the 1996 World Cup Semi Final played between India and Sri Lanka may have been fixed. A visibly emotional Kambli made the statement while participating in a STAR News debate on ex-chief of ICC anti-corruption unit Paul Condon's statement that in the 90s and in the following years all of cricket's leading countries were involved in fixing major matches. more..

South African deputy minister Ebrahim visit to Sri Lanka

Nov 17 (DFA) International Relations and Cooperation Deputy Minister Ebrahim I Ebrahim is currently on a working visit to the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka. Deputy Minister Ebrahim's visit is at the invitation of the Sri Lankan Govt. The visit takes place within the context of recent political developments in Sri Lanka. South Africa continues to encourage all Sri Lankans to pursue an inclusive political settlement for national reconciliation and more..

WikiLeaks: 'Keep the pressure on' – Ranil Wikremesinghe

Nov 17 (CT) “UNP leader Ranil Wikremasinghe believed that the U.S. was on the right track in publishing the ‘Incidents Report’ and should ‘keep the pressure on the GSL’” the US Embassy wrote to Washington. A leaked US diplomatic cable, recounts details of meetings the US Senate Foreign Relations staff members has had with the senior govt officials, international organizations, political leaders, civil-society activists, and journalists more..

Sri Lanka telcos to invest amid tighter margins, regulatory risk: Fitch

Nov 17 (LBO) Sri Lanka telecom operators are likely continue spend on fiber optics and network upgrades next year to meet post-war demand, though the sector is facing tighter margins and regulatory risk, Fitch Ratings said. Fitch said large operators would be stable but the outlook for smaller operators was negative and regulatory risk remained. "Although positive decisions have been made in the last two years, Fitch believes that regulatory risk remains high, and more..

Brazilian VICUNHA opens warehouse in Colombo

Nov 17 (F2F) With the opening of a warehouse in Colombo, Sri Lanka, VICUNHA reinforces their strong presence in Asia. Ten of the best denim lines are now available, and the new warehouse has a total capacity of approximately 500,000 meters of denim ready to be shipped. The branch is managed from company headquarters in Switzerland, under the leadership of the European Director Thomas Dislich. "This strategic and very advantageous positioning makes us more..

Sri Lanka to scrap 100% tax on foreign land buys

Nov 17 (IBT) Sri Lankan govt is scrapping the 100% tax levied on foreigners buying land, in favour of a new special land tax to be unveiled in the 2012 budget. The new tax will remove restrictions on foreigners buying and developing land anywhere in the country, and will also close loopholes which have allowed many foreigners to buy land in Sri Lanka tax free. It is also thought that removing the tax will increase tourism and property sales to foreigners. more..

Death threats to Yohindra Premachandra

Nov 17 (DM) Sumana Premachandra the wife of the slain presidential advisor Bharatha Lakshman Premachandra lodged a complaint with the Cinnamon Garden police regarding anonymous calls she has being receiving threatening her son, Yohindra with death. Police media spokesman Ajith Rohana confirmed that she had lodged a complaint this evening in this regard. Mrs. Premachandra said that she has being receiving number of calls to her land line upon the death of her husband. more..

Protest over Galle Fort entrance fee

Nov 17 (DM) The residents and businessmen of the Galle Fort vehemently opposed the decision of Galle Heritage Foundation to levy a fee from foreigners visiting the historical Galle Fort which is also a world heritage site. Traders inside Galle Fort say that this may result in reduction of the number of foreigners coming to the Fort and in return losses in their trades. A protester M. S .A. Chandrasiri said he was a chairman of the Gall Heritage in 1994. It was not reasonable to charge a fee from foreigners. more..

Govt offers 'structured dialogue' to TNA

Nov 17 (PTI) Sri Lankan govt has offered a "structured dialogue" to the country's main Tamil party TNA to find a solution to the political aspirations of the minority ethnic community. Rajiva Wijesingha, a govt legislator who was part of the talks, said that talks would be carried forward during three separate days in December. Commenting on the latest round of talks held yesterday, Suresh Premachandran, the senior TNA legislator said, more..

‘The murderer of Rajiv Gandhi is dead, but the Chinese are in and the Tamil issue is unaddressed’

Nov 18 (TC) In this section, the evaluation team appointed by the Norwegian government to examine why their peace mediation effort in Sri Lanka failed, seeks to explain why things finally turned out the way they did: Norway was chosen as a facilitator, not only for its expertise, but also because it was a small power without geo-strategic interests and colonial baggage. Being a less powerful player, Norway felt it had to consult the US and India, more..

Opinion of the Supreme Court Regarding the Expropriation Bill was a disappointment

Nov 18 (TC) President Barack Obama has a new slogan – ‘We Can’t Wait’. Delayed by a divided Congress, he has resorted to issuing executive orders to get things moving. Although not having such difficulties in Parliament, President Rajapaksa’s government is in an equal hurry. Thus certain legislative proposals are being pushed through Parliament as ‘urgent bills’. Around a year ago, the 18th Amendment to the Constitution was presented as an urgent bill. more..

SLBFE cautions Korean job seekers to be vigilant

Nov 18 (SO) The Government is trying to secure more employment for Sri Lankans in Italy, the Sri Lanka Bureau of Foreign Employment (SLBFE) Chairman Kingsley Ranawaka said in an exclusive interview with Sunday Observer. Q: The Sri Lankan Govt is paying close attention regarding employment in South Korea in addition to the Middle East. What is the progress of this program? A: Nearly 10,000 candidates has passed the South Korean language test. more..

Thwarting the Machiavellian use of human shields

Nov 18 (SO) The nature of contemporary conflicts has posed new challenges to the concept of the protection of civilians. The LTTE terrorist group, for example, made the Tamil civilian population under its control a part of their military strategy. During almost three decades of combating LTTE terrorism in our country, the Government took utmost care to draw a clear distinction between civilians and terrorists while the terrorists callously used the civilians more..

Is Sri Lanka a Sinhala Buddhist Theocracy?

Nov 18 (Island) The question is occasionally heard whether a member of a minority group can become the President or Prime Minister of Sri Lanka given the Sinhala Buddhist majority of its electorate. I don’t think that this question has ever been publicly articulated or seriously discussed to date, probably because it is taken for granted that there is no bar to a Sri Lankan of any racial or religious background getting to occupy the highest post in the land. more..

Met Dept gears for perfect forecast

Nov 18 (SO) The increasing number of deaths due to lightning which destroys vital equipment worth millions of rupees and displacement of people due to floods are issues that concern people and caused by changing weather patterns. An accurate weather forecast is vital for people to engage in their day-to-day activities and minimise the damage caused due to adverse weather conditions. But the question is whether we get accurate weather forecasts to plan activities, more..

Malinga is a masterclass

Nov 18 (National) After his man-of-the-match performance in Sri Lanka's series-levelling win in the second one-day international against Pakistan in Dubai on Monday, Lasith Malinga has been hailed by his captain for the example the paceman is setting the team's younger bowlers. "His energy in the field, he runs around, he gives me advice, too," Dilshan said ahead of the third ODI today. "As a leader he's giving advice to youngsters, sometimes to us also during the game. more..

Top cop who kept his cool

Nov 18 (ST) “It is all about quick thinking and being firm and assertive while keeping a cool head,” reflects former Senior DIG (Deputy Inspector General) of Police, looking back on roughly 35 years of service in the Police Force. When in 1965, Merril Gunaratne joined the Police Force as a young Probationary Assistant Superintendent of Police, Sri Lanka had yet to face some of the upheavals which have had an impact on its contemporary political scenario today. more..

Lessons learnt by Norway

Nov 18 (Island) In this concluding section, we publish verbatim extracts from the Norwegian govt commissioned evaluation of their peace efforts in Sri Lanka, on the lessons learnt from their experience in Sri Lanka. We attempt to bring together the strands of a recurring theme in this evaluation, namely the primacy of domestic politics in the story of war-making and peacemaking in Sri Lanka. The narrative of chapters 4 to 6 is to a large extent a narrative of more..

The story of a drunken Tamil man’s diary

Nov 18 (GV) Assume, like me, you are one of those expatriate Sri Lankans, living far away from home, often feeling the remorse of a guilty thief. You took a lot from there, particularly in the form of free education, but never gave anything back. Say your daily rituals include reading,,, etc., and getting depressed by the barrage of unfortunate happenings back home: amendments to the constitution, deaths in police custody, legislation rushed through, more..

How the well-born have been failing to ennoble our national character

Nov 18 (GV) Democracies are unabashedly commercial and practical. This is probably as it should be. It is futile to demand that creative curiosity be the hallmark of democracies, or to imagine that the modern life has reached a level of rationality in both thinking and practice adequate to allow the transformation of society into an intelligently organized community of active thinkers living in illustration of a natural fellowship ennobled by friendship. more..

Central Bank a late backer of Revival Bill; issues statement a week after

Nov 18 (FT) Usually proactive but reactive this time around, the Central Bank in a much-delayed move issued a statement backing the Revival Bill, listing its benefits as well as dispelling some of the misconceptions. It was not clear on what mandate the Central Bank issued the statement a week after the bill was passed in Parliament, but analysts believe the monetary authority’s act was to allay unfounded fears over the new legislation, more..

From Nugegoda to the hot seat at IMF

Nov 18 (ST) The “Queen” has left the castle. The announcement is not about Queen Elizabeth II of England leaving Balmoral Castle, but a Sri Lankan leaving the International Monetary Fund (IMF) Headquarters in Washington DC, United States of America, and fondly made by her own colleagues. The “Sri Lankan Queen” who has left the “IMF castle” having served several of the IMF’s Managing Directors (MDs) as Senior Assistant is Delrene Boyd who retired in September. more..

Dilshan happy faith on Dilhara has paid back

Nov 18 (Island) Despite intense criticism back home on the surprise selection of Dilhara Fernando for the five match ODI series against Pakistan here in the UAE, captain Tillakaratne Dilshan says the inconsistent fast bowler is an important cog in the wheel. Fernando’s ability to earn recalls to the national side despite proving himself in the domestic scene has been a topic of much debate. His latest recall came five months after he had limped off the more..

JVP clash spreads to branch office

Nov 18 (Island) The ongoing clash between the JVP Somawansa faction and the dissident group spread to their office at 54A, Colombo Road, Jaliyagoda, Piliyandala yesterday morning with both sides staking claim to the office. The clash over the office left at least one injured from each side. Lakshman Nipunaarachchi, speaking on behalf of the Somawansa faction said that one of their cadres working in the office, identified as Pushpa Tharanga, had been assaulted more..

Editorial: A birthday gift for MR

Nov 18 (Island) There seems to be no end in sight to the UNP rebels’ campaign to get rid of the party leader Ranil Wickremesinghe. In a fresh bid to oust him, they have handed over a 20-point charge sheet against him. That may be considered a precious gift for President Mahinda Rajapaksa, who celebrates his birthday as well as the completion of the first year of his second term today. Nothing makes a politician happier than a debilitating crisis in the rival camp. more..