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Off-screen theatrics puts Mervyn in the limelight

Sept 25 (ST) “If foreign websites and channels such as Channel 4 highlight the animal sacrifice at the Munneswaram Kali Kovil, they would call Sri Lanka a land of barbarians. That’s why I prevented it,” says minister Mervyn Silva. From disrupting a century-old tradition at the Sri Bhadra Kali Amman Kovil by removing the animals meant for sacrifice, raiding a warehouse stacked with low quality sugar, accompanying tax officers to collect revenue taxes, raiding motels in and more..

The JVP on the verge of a major split

Sept 25 (SL) The JVP is in turmoil. The only political party, which has a rural base and is committed to left wing policies, is facing the second biggest conflict in its political journey. The JVP is imploding. Politics in Sri lanka is all about being in power. Policies have been relegated to lower rungs and the dilemma the JVP is facing is no better than what the United National Party has been going through, when out of power. Sri Lanka’s political system has evolved into a “winner takes all” practice more..

UNP, now JVP, what next?

Sept 25 (LB) In the final analysis Mahinda Rajapaksa’s internalization of the Sinhala political forces is an ongoing operation which is successful in the main. Almost everybody knows how he has ‘internalized’ UNP opposition, making use of the UNP’s problems to make the party one of his own — whether it is by carpeting roads, or by any other means. This week he seemed to be taking one further step towards a monolithic pan-Sinhala political force, by at least according to some accounts, more..

PMB in paddy tug o’ war

Sept 25 (LB) Paddy farmers continue to protest that the government has failed to initiate any serious programme via the Paddy Marketing Board (PMB) to buy stocks of paddy from them even though the govt media claims otherwise. They said that this has led to them having to encounter difficulties regards their capacity to earn. Most farmers who spoke to this newspaper said that as the govt has so far failed to implement a programme to buy stocks of paddy through the PMB, private traders more..

Puttalam politico clearing large lagoon area illegally

Sept 25 (LB) Environmentalists warn that the Puttalam lagoon could be severely damaged due to a decision taken by a powerful politico of the area to clear 75 acres of land on the eastern side of the lagoon. It is alleged that the area concerned is currently being cleared using bulldozers to build a saltern. Environmentalists charge that a powerful politician has cleared an area measuring a distance of 1.5 kilometres by using two bulldozers, without any concern for the bio-diversity of the famed lagoon. more..

Ranil favours chosen few

Sept 25 (LB) UNP candidates for the October 8 lg elections complain that party leader Ranil Wickremesinghe has given funds to Colombo Central candidates only. They also allege that the Wickremesinghe faction is trying to prevent candidates receiving financial aid from Sajith Premadasa. “With just a few weeks before the LG elections we have yet to receive any financial support from the party, but candidates contesting in Colombo Central have been given party funds. I don't know why this is happening but more..

Five anxious days for Lanka at UNHRC

Sept 25 (ST) With only five more days to go for the 18th sessions of the UN Human Rights Council to end, the Sri Lanka delegation is waiting in anxiety to prevent any resolution against the country. This is despite the deadline for resolutions ending last Thursday. Concerns over a possible resolution being moved by Canada set alarm bells ringing. So much so, delegation leader Mahinda Samarasinghe, who returned to Colombo last Monday hurriedly departed for Geneva the next day. more..

Indian computers for eastern Sri Lankan schools

Sept 25 (Hindu) Students in 261 schools in the Tamil-dominated Eastern Province in Sri Lanka will begin their first lessons in computers in a few days. On Saturday, India gifted 1,250 computers and peripherals to the schools in the area. Indian High Commissioner Ashok K. Kantha handed over a few of these to selected school principals at a function here. He requested the provincial govt to provide internet facility for all schools so that the students could learn better with the support of online content. more..

Shadow cast over Bandaranaike day

Sept 25 (ST) Tomorrow is S.W.R.D. Bandaranaike commemoration day. Once it was a public holiday but with the Bandaranaike era now largely confined to history books, passersby were wondering what was happening around the giant SWRD statue at Galle Face with workmen clearing the surroundings. Questions were raised when they saw the huge Shangri-La board in the background with the Chinese company planning to set up a hotel-and-shopping mall complex in the vicinity. The Govt has denied rumours that more..

Protesters storm Japanese Mahayana Temple at Liberty Plaza

Sept 25 (Island) A large group of Buddhist monks and laymen stormed the Vichiren Shosu Mahayana Buddhist Temple situated on the third floor of Liberty Plaza around 6 am yesterday forcing devotees engaged in religious activities to remain behind closed doors for more than three hours. Police said that around 100 monks and supporters of the Sinhala Ravaya attempted to forcibly enter the premises charging that this Japanese temple was "fleecing devotees". more..

Removal of SJGH items causes uproar: Police wants property returned

Sept 25 (Island) The removal of a stock of items valued at more than Rs. 3 million from the Sri Jayewardenepura General Hospital (SJGH) caused an uproar last week with the police called in to investigate how state property had been allegedly siphoned off in broad daylight. A member of the SJGH Board of Management had alerted the authorities about the disappearance and it was later discovered that parts from the old air handling unit catering to the main operating theatre, more..

Archaeologists object to pulling down of National Museum boundary wall

Sept 25 (ST) The Sri Lanka Council of Archaeologists has objected to a decision to pull down the short boundary wall fronting the Colombo National Museum. In a letter to Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa, the council says damage done to the wall would affect the beauty and grandeur of the museum. “The Colombo Museum’s architecture is one of the best in South Asia. The museum was designed by famous architect J.P. Smither and opened in 1877,” the letter said. more..

Maj. Gen. Silva ready to face US court battle

Sept 25 (ST) Sri Lanka’s Deputy Permanent Representative at the United Nations in New York, Ambassador Major General Shavendra Silva, has been asked to appear before a New York District Court to answer charges related to alleged war crimes and the war veteran said he was willing to challenge any charges made against him or troops under his command in any court anywhere in the world. The summons was served at Ambassador Major General Silva’s private apartment when more..

BASL to help govt on war crimes charges

Sept 25 (NS) The Bar Association of Sri Lanka (BASL) yesterday, while expressing serious concerns as to diabolic overtures by the West to destabilise Sri Lanka on the instigation of the Tamil Diaspora, appointed a high powered committee headed by J. de Z. Gunasekera, PC, to advise the government on matters that should be raised before the United Nations Human Rights Commission in Geneva. The six-member committee which include the likes of Razick Zarook PC, Jeff Alagaratnam PC, more..

JVP does it again: joins Govt.

Sept 25 (LB) The govt has begun discussions with several members of the JVP Somawansa Amarasinghe faction who are willing to crossover to the ruling alliance. A top govt minister claimed that during the on-going talks, both sides will try to agree on terms to facilitate the JVPers to join the UPFA. “Following these talks, we plan to get them into the UPFA as a group or make the JVP join as a constituent political party. The groundwork for the talks between the two parties had been laid by a powerful govt minister and more..

JVP on brink of internal war

Sept 25 (ST) Last week's exclusive disclosures in the Sunday Times about the worsening internecine battles in the JVP were to have their immediate sequel. JVP leader Somawansa Amerasinghe summoned a meeting of the party's 24 member Central Committee (CC) to examine, among other matters, the revelations made in the political commentary. "It is they (the extremist group) who are seen in bad light from this report," observed Amerasinghe, easily among the less than handful whose more..

TNA with Mano, Wickramabahu in local polls

Sept 25 (NS) The Tamil National Alliance (TNA) has decided to extend their support to the Democratic National Front (DNF) headed by Mano Ganeshan at the forthcoming municipal elections for Colombo and Dehiwala Mount Lavinia. The DNF is contesting both these municipalities independently. This decision was taken by the TNA at a meeting held in Colombo on Thursday headed by TNA leader R. Sampanthan, MP, with the participation of other Tamil political parties. more..

MR, Manmohan discuss Tamil issue

Sept 25 (SL) Indian Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh has told President Mahinda Rajapaksa that there was no need for outside intervention in Sri Lanka if the govt successfully addresses the Tamil issue, the Indian Prime Minister’s office said. The Indian Premier had said this when he met President Rajapaksa in New York on Friday on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly meeting. “Our Prime Minister noted that successful conclusion of the problems of the Tamil people more..

Talk at the Cafe Spectator

Sept 25 (ST) Parliament recently approved Rs. 60 million by way of supplementary expenditure for the Ministry of External Affairs. The official reason given was that it was to "account for the parity variation losses occurred in accounting process of the Overseas Mission (sic) in other words, to off-set the fluctuation of the Sri Lanka Rupee viz-a-viz foreign currencies. This put paid to the Central Bank's continuing claims that the Sri Lanka Rupee is holding strong viz-a-viz foreign currencies; so then, who is telling the truth. more..

Academics object to state-appointed security service at universities

Sept 25 (ST) Faculty members of state universities are protesting over a Ministry order that campuses use the services of Defence Ministry security service, Rakna Arakshaka Lanka Ltd. They say the Ministry of Higher Education directive contravenes university regulations. Rakna Arakshaka Lanka is a govt-owned commercial security venture that comes under the Ministry of Defence. The members say the letter from the Secretary to the Ministry of Higher Education bypasses more..

Govt. to ship controversial Fiat plant for renovations

Sept 25 (SL) The Ceylon Electricity Board (CEB) is expected to spend between 3.7 million to 5 million Euros to renovate the controversial 115MW Fiat Avio gas turbine GT7 at the Kelanitissa power plant. The plant is to be shipped to Italy by the CEB to be refurbished and re-commissioned at Kelanitissa in order to use it as a standby plant for power generation during emergency situations. The dispatch schedule of the plant received by more..

Municipal tax on businesses to go up

Sept 25 (ST) The govt in its 2012 Budget plans to increase business tax and licence fees levied on all business enterprises and hotels within municipal council limits. Currently all business enterprises, and trade stalls pay a fixed tax rate of Rs. 5,000 to municipal councils irrespective of whether they are large, medium or small scale trade and businesses. The govt. is planning to increase this tax to a maximum of Rs.50,000 from Rs. 5,000 onwards a year, more..

Race course grounds being readied for international rugby

Sept 25 (ST) The race-course grounds along Reid Avenue, Colombo 7, will soon be designated turf for international rugby encounters, when the Urban Development Authority, under the Ministry of Defence, completes work on the premises. The ground is expected to be ready for use within the next eight months. The premises will be equipped with the latest facilities for international rugby, including a state-of-the art gymnasium, changing rooms and media rooms. more..

'Hundreds of Tamil rebels likely to be indicted'

Sept 25 (AP) Hundreds of hardcore Tamil rebels are likely to be prosecuted on charges including mass murder for crimes committed during the island's quarter-century civil war that ended in 2009. The rebels are among some 11,500 Tamil fighters who were captured or surrendered after the war's bloody end. Foreign Minister G.L. Peiris said all but about 3,000 of them had already been released from military-run rehabilitation camps and were reintegrating more..

Embilipitiya Paper Corporation given to Australian company

Sept 25 (SL) The govt has made arrangements to hand over the Embilipitiya Paper Corporation to an Australian company, M/s Perth Engineering and Maintenance Private Limited for Rs. 600 million. After claiming a policy that involved the non-privatisation of public enterprises, the govt has now identified 23 state institutions to be restructured and leased out to private investors. Although the govt retained the management of the state enterprises during the previous restructuring programmes more..

LTTE rump files case against Mahinda in New York

Sept 25 (Island) The LTTE in the US has filed a case against President Mahinda Rajapaksa for killing ‘Colonel’ Thambirajah Ramesh during the final phase of Sri Lanka’s successful war against the LTTE. Sri Lankan govt received information regarding the LTTE move shortly after President Rajapaksa addressed the 66th UNGA in New York. Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa said that the move on the part of the LTTE and those who couldn’t stomach Sri Lanka’s victory wasn’t surprising. more..

Govt keeps close watch on JVP split

Sept 25 (SL) The govt is keeping a close watch on the JVP’s internal crisis due to the fear that some of the JVP cadres might go underground and prepare for another armed struggle. The dissident extremist group of the JVP led by elusive JVP senior Premakumar Gunarathnam known as Kumar is to form a separate political movement to carry out what they claim the true policies of the revolutionary movement. Kumar played a key role during the 1988-89 insurgency more..

Ban stresses need for accountability process over end to civil war

Sept 25 (UN) Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today stressed the need for a “credible national accountability process” over actions in the final stages of the civil war in Sri Lanka during a meeting with president Mahinda Rajapaksa. Mr. Ban reiterated the need for such a process as envisaged in the joint statement he signed with Mr. Rajapaksa in May 2009, when the long-running conflict between Govt forces and the rebel LTTE ended. more..

3 Indian fishermen return with internal injuries

Sept 26 (Hindu) In a week that saw a slew of incidents of fishermen being looted at sea, three fishermen were attacked, allegedly by the Sri Lankan Navy along Kodiakkarai in Vedaranyam on Friday night. Three Vedaranyam-based fishermen returned here late on Saturday afternoon with internal injuries allegedly caused by blows with iron rods by Sri Lankan Naval personnel. The three fishermen – Jayapal (30), Veeramani (35), and Sundaramurthy (30) —had their boat intercepted more..

IFS Kandy hosts International Symposium on natural products

Sept 26 (Island) The International Symposium on Natural Products and their Applications in Health and Agriculture (NPAHA2011), organized by the Institute of Fundamental Studies (IFS), Hantana Road, Kandy in collaboration with the Coordinating Group in Natural Product Research, AFASSA (Africa, Asia and South America) will be held at the IFS from October 3 to 8, the organizers announced. Dr. Sarath Amunugama, Senior Minister for International Monetary Cooperation will more..

Indian trawlers threaten Sri Lanka fisheries

ICC Test Championship in the balance

Sept 26 (NS) The much awaited and talked about ICC Test Championship which is scheduled for 2013 is still in the balance. ICC chief executive Haroon Lorgat said that the 2013 Test Championship has “not been completely finalized”. “Let me put it this way. The preference is to have a Test Championship because you might recall we had a very unusual sequence of events in the past,” said Lorgat. “What would be good is to have one premier event in Test cricket – the Test Championship, more..

Sri Lanka to shut down its coal power plant for a “performance test”

Sept 26 (N360) Sri Lanka is planning to “shut down” its only coal power plant for 10 days to conduct a “performance test” and also to reinstall the “Flue gas desulphurization unit” which was disrupted by the fire erupted in the plant. Accordingly the 300 Megawatt coal power plant in Norochcholai will stop power generation for ten days from the 28th of this month. Minister Champika Ranawaka said conducting the “performance test” is essential to ensure the future performance of the plant. more..

Single women begin to rebuild

Sept 26 (IPS) For Magei Kasai the battle against hardships did not end when the guns fell silent two years ago in the Sri Lankan civil war. New battles began for survival, for herself and for what was left of her family. The 45-year-old mother of two lost her husband and a son to the war. Since the war ended in May 2009, more than 300,000 survivors like Kasai have returned to their native villages. Kasai returned to almost nothing in her village Allankulam, more..

Sri Lanka Telecom streamlines tender procedures

Sept 26 (ST) Sri Lanka Telecom (SLT) is streamlining its procurement system and has entrusted the task of handling tenders to three high-powered committees. CEO SLT Greg Young told the Business Times that, a technical evaluation committee, commercial evaluation committee and tender awarding committee comprising four board members of SLT will evaluate tenders in an initiative aimed at increasing transparency, reducing cost of doing business, reducing duplicity, bringing out more more..

CEB on Rantambe reservoir drain report

Sept 26 (Island) Referring to the ‘Sunday Island’ news story Rantambe reservoir drain cost CEB whopping Rs. 700 mn published on September 11, 2011, the CEB says on the request of Mahaweli Authority of Sri Lanka for an inspection of the Rantambe regulating pond below the level power plant could operate, Water Management Secretariat has accordingly arranged lowering the pond on 02nd September 2011 when irrigation water releases for Yala season concluded. This has been more..

Ayurveda committee to be dissolved?

Sept 26 (SL) The Ayurveda Drugs Formulary Committee is to be dissolved as they have opposed moves to import and distribute drugs manufactured in Japan which claim to cure cancer, despite them not being certified by the Japanese government. A Sunday Leader exposé last week revealed that Minister Salinda Dissanayake has approved the move to import the drugs from the Japanese manufacturer despite opposition from the Ayurveda Drugs Formulary Committee. more..

Destroy larva breeding sites: Lankan experts

Sept 26 (Dawn) Nine towns of Lahore and district coordination officers across the province have been directed to focus on eliminating the breeding of mosquito-larva in the accumulated rainwater of a large number of empty residential and commercial plots. Sources told Dawn on Saturday that a team of Sri Lankan doctors and experts had advised the Punjab govt to effectively control further spread of dengue virus after it got several samples of dengue larvae from various open places in Lahore. more..

Sri Lanka Navy denies attacking Indian fishermen

Sept 26 (Xinhua) The Sri Lankan navy on Sunday rejected claims they had attacked a group of Indian fishermen last week. The Indian media reported that the fishermen were attacked on two separate occasions last week, injuring at least three of them. However, Sri Lankan Navy spokesman Commander Kosala Warnakulasuriya said both incidents had occurred inside Indian territorial waters and the Sri Lankan navy was not involved. "We strongly deny these claims. more..

Sri Lanka IMF talks continuing on stalled review

Sept 26 (LBO) Discussions are continuing with Sri Lanka on a periodic review under an IMF bailout program which has supported the island's policies aimed at restoring stability and growth, a top IMF official said. IMF's Asia Pacific chief Anoop Singh told reporters in Washington during the lender's annual meetings that Sri Lanka's economy was expected to grow by a "remarkable" 7.5 percent in 2011 amid global turmoil, inflation was moderating and more..