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Editorial: Booze, fags and other bad habits

Sept 4 (Island) A short news item tucked away in an inside page of yesterday’s issue of The Island reporting that a Gold Leaf cigarette manufactured by the Ceylon Tobacco Company should be priced at Rs. 29 rather than Rs. 20 at present had inflation over the last 20 years been part of the pricing formula, once again raises the issue of government revenue versus the larger interests of the people vis-à-vis alcohol and tobacco. The evidence today is overwhelming that smoking kills but people more..

Editorial: Law enforcement gone to the Grease Demons

Sept 4 (ST) It began in the rural villages, but now it is the 'talk of the town'. Even foreign television channels felt it worthy of reporting -- the 'Grease Yaka' or Grease Demon phenomenon gripping the attention of many throughout the country. Dismissed earlier as one of those weird rumours in a country now bored without war-related news, the incidents that followed, however, took a frightening and even deadly twist. The situation was so serious that in some towns like Puttalam, Batticaloa, more..

Suntel saga: Now SLT in the running with $200 mln deal

Sept 4 (ST) Sri Lanka Telecom (SLT) is set to spend an estimated US$200 million on acquiring Sri Lanka's second-largest land-based telephone company Suntel which has been looking for a buyer for the past 12 to 18 months. Saddled with debt and legal issues, Suntel has attracted offers from India’s Tata Group, a Malaysian party, Etisalat and Dialog among others. The last named company was in serious negotiations which led Suntel to resort to major staff cuts across the board, more..

Divided UNP facing extinction

Sept 4 (NS) Campaigning for the local govt elections in October has begun in earnest with the two major parties, the ruling United Peoples’ Freedom Alliance (UPFA) and the opposition United National Party fighting it out for the major honours. The UNP is banking on the fact that the majority of councils on offer are municipalities, urban electorates that have traditionally sided with the grand old party. Their hope is that its vote base in these areas is intact, no matter what. more..

India responds negatively to North-East self-rule

Sept 4 (NS) A seminar on the North-East problem organised by Sudarshan Nachchiappan, a senior MP of the Indian Congress Party was held in New Delhi on August 23 and 24. Representatives of eight Sri Lanka Tamil political parties including TNA, ACTC, EPRLF and PLOTE participated in this seminar. The main objective of this seminar was to work out a set of proposals aimed at a solution to Sri Lanka’s problem to be handed over to the New Delhi govt. At this seminar, Tamil political parties presented a series of demands. more..

Power cost to escalate!

Sept 4 (NS) The prevailing drought may affect the supply of electricity to the consumers due to water levels receding in the main hydro-power supply reservoirs in the hilly country if the monsoonal rains fail in the next two or three weeks. The CEB will have to spend billions a month to operate thermal power plants raising the cost of producing electricity. At normal times when the hydropower stations are operating at full capacity CEB spends 600 – 800 millions of rupees for fuel to run more..

To hang or not to hang?

Sept 4 (Island) Last week there was panic in the UNP due to the realisation that the internal problems in the party may impact negatively on the party at the forthcoming LG polls. Most of the LG institutions that will be going to the polls this time are in the urban areas where UNP voters have a natural numerical advantage. However, with an increasing tendency for UNP voters to keep away from the polling booth, the fear is that the very preponderance of the UNP in urban areas may end up more..

UNP stumbles towards inevitable wins

Sept 4 (LB) That the UNP cannot get its act together with regard to one potty set of local govt elections should be a grand indictment on the state of the party in general, a fact of course that is now well known to all and sundry. But even so, the coming elections are not the worst ones for the UNP, as it would be very difficult to prevent the party from coming to power in Colombo, Kandy, Galle and Dehiwala-Mount Lavinia. That the govt is having just these elections and and a few more this time, more..

Going to study in London town? Where dreams come tumbling down

Sept 4 (LB) The Secretary to the Ministry of Higher Education, Sunil Navarathna said that the ministry was in the process of formulating the Private University Act that is to be introduced in Parliament shortly, with a view to regularizing the manner in which private institutes send students to universities overseas. Recently, there were reports of a group of students who had gone to Britain for higher studies, being stranded there. more..

Mrs. Yamuna Ganeshalingam contests CMC on UPFA ticket

Sept 4 (Island) Leading social activist and longstanding committee member of Colombo Hindu Congress Mrs. Yamuna Ganeshalingam contesting the October 8 local elections to the Colombo Municipal Council under the UPFA banner and betel symbol said that, as a woman, she is taking up the challenge to be a bridge between the Colombo ratepayers and the CMC to solve any problems they may encounter. She said that President Mahinda Rajapaksa is committed to developing the Colombo City into one of the more..

Minister takes chopper ride to inspect arrangements for proposed Pro Surf 2011

Sept 4 (Island) Deputy Minister of Economic Development Lakshman Yapa Abeywardena, accompanied by a team from Sri Lanka Tourism, flew to Arugam Bay recently to inspect arrangements for the proposed Pro Surf 2011 and attend a coordination meeting. The Deputy Minister, who arrived in a helicopter belonging to Deccan Aviation was joined by Mohamed Jauffer, Managing Director of the Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau and Dileep Mudadeniya of the Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority. more..

One elephant for every 3,300 persons in Lanka

Sept 4 (ST) The numbers are out - there are 5,879 wild elephants including 1,107 babies in the country, the first-ever National Survey of jumbos has found. This figure is more or less correct, but you cannot count elephants siyayata siyayak (100%) like you would do in a population census where you go and knock on doors, Agrarian Services and Wildlife Minister S.M. Chandrasena told a crowded press conference on Friday at the Department of Wildlife Conservation (DWC) more..

Novel form of extortion bared in Negombo

Sept 4 (NS) Negombo Police arrested an extortionist who resorted to a novel method to compel his victims to part with large sums of money. He invites rich men home on the guise of some business deal and lures them to have sex with his fiancée, an attractive young woman and secretly photographs the couple. His victims had always been rich businessmen who have a weakness for women. One such rich businessmen was invited to the suspect’s Thimbirigakattuwa residence and the man attracted by the young woman more..

PSC to rule on Sarath Silva’s underworld appointments, etc

Sept 4 (LB) A Parliamentary Select Committee is to be appointed to investigate the conduct of former Chief Justice Sarath Nandasiri de Silva during his tenure from 1999 to 2009, after a delegation of 14 former judges, who met President Mahinda Rajapaksa, complained about abuse of power by the then chief justice. The former judges, who met the president at a meeting arranged by Minister Janaka Bandara Tennakoon, had spoken about arbitrary retirements, etc., and unlawful influence more..

Paper mill, sugar factory all given to Aussies, etc.

Sept 4 (LB) The govt plans to divest 14 loss making public ventures to the private sector on 30-year lease agreements. The Embilipitya paper mill, the Kantale sugar factory, eight factories of the Ceramic Corporation and four rubber factories belonging to the Rubber Corporation will soon be released on a 30-year lease each, sources said. Under the leasing scheme, the Embilipitiya paper mill valued at Rs.400 million has been taken over by Perth Engineering and more..

Reaching 2016 tourism target,a huge challenge

Sept 4 (BL) Sri Lanka’s target of attracting 2.5 million tourist arrivals by the year 2016 will be very challenging unless drastic steps are taken in the short term while achieving the same target in 2020 will be possible but would also not be easy, suggests a recent industry research report. This report prepared by Capital Alliance says that attracting tourist arrivals with Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 15% from years 2011 to 2020 is possible, but will not be easy since more..

‘Majority of firms not ready for IFRS’

Sept 4 (BL) Majority of non-established listed firms excluding those in the banking sector are presently not ready for convergence to the International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) in 2012 having not done much homework on the new process, according to top officials of leading listed firms. From January 2012, listed Sri Lankan companies will have to report the first comparative financial statements based on the international accounting standards. A cross-section of industry leaders to more..

Moragoda vs Muzammil – A No Contest

Sept 4 (SL) For the first time in its history the UNP which won the Colombo Municipality even in 1956 when the rest of the country voted the UNP out, is today facing the distinct possibility of loosing Colombo. This is not only because the leaders have almost destroyed the Grand Old Party but also because of the fact that the opposing candidate is a formidable opponent who is said to be the nominee of the Defence Secretary himself. This by itself raises an interesting possibility, more..

‘Choices – 2011’, a Seminar on Education and Career Guidance for students

Sept 4 (Island) ‘Choices – 2011’, an Education and Career Guidance Seminar organized by OpenArc School of Business and Technology in collaboration with the University of Colombo School of Computing (UCSC) and the Institute of Certified Management Accountants (CMA), will be held on September 10th, at the University of Colombo. The biggest challenge facing parents of students who had sat for the GCE (A/L) examination is how best they could guide their children along a viable career path where productive employment opportunities are in abundance. more..

Elections! Oh, it’s déjà vu all over again

Sept 4 (ST) “Thaaththa,” Bindu Udagedera asked, “what is all this excitement about the big match?” “What big match are you referring to?” Bindu’s father Percy was puzzled, “I thought big matches were played at the beginning of the year…” “No, thaaththa,” Bindu said, “there are these other matches that are being played now…” “Which matches are those?” Percy wanted to know, “are you thinking about the matches with the Australians?” “No, thaaththa,” Bindu said, “I am thinking of these latest round of elections…” more..

Park rangers work to rule

Sept 4 (LB) Park rangers and field officers began a work to rule campaign on Friday and say they will continue it till they win their demands. “With the work to rule campaign the rangers will not respond to any emergency which may occur after 4.45pm. Usually we are on call 24 hours of a day because no one can say when elephants would maraud in villages, or when poachers will enter the protected areas, or when we will receive news of illegal timber merchants operating within the parks,” more..

Now internal battles in JVP

Sept 4 (ST) Internal strife is causing major divisions in the country’s opposition political parties. It was first the UNP, the main opposition group. Now, it is the second largest opposition group in the south, the JVP. The tussle is between a group of hitherto unknown radicals and the relative moderates like Tilvin Silva, Anura Kumara Dissanayake and K.D. Lal Kantha. Recently, four radicals with the support of another leading member now living in Australia, moved for a new politburo. more..

Attempt to re-name Bagatelle Road 'fatally flawed'

Sept 4 (Island) A former retired judge of the Supreme Court living on Bagatelle Road has told the Secretary of the CMC that the attempt to re-name this residential street in Kollupitiya `Dr. Vijayananda Dahanayake Mawatha,’ is "fatally flawed simply because it is in contravention of Section 3 of The Naming of Streets and the Control and Erection of Monuments Law No.4 of 1975.," "The conduct of the Special Commissioner is contrary to law and is therefore manifestly and demonstrably illegal," more..

Lapses in lifting of Emergency

Sept 4 (ST) A five-year long state of emergency, which saw the military defeat of Tiger guerrillas, ended midnight Tuesday closing a historic and sometimes controversial chapter in the country's history. However, another began at the same time heralding a new era where new laws replaced key provisions that were rescinded. In reality, most provisions in force under a state of emergency continue to remain under different laws. One such provision, easily the most visible, is the deployment of troops more..

TNA still hangs on to LTTE ideology: Douglas

Sept 4 (NS) Talks with the TNA alone would not solve the ethnic question, EPDP Leader and Minister Douglas Devananda said. Speaking to The Nation Devenanda said the TNA was unable to come to a common understanding with regard to a solution to the ethnic question. “The parties that went to New Delhi recently could not come to a common agreement,” he said. However, TNA MP, Suresh Premachandran refuted such claims and added that the TNA was clear in what the Tamils wanted. more..

Trinco Port Land Up For Grabs

Sept 4 (SL) The government is to lease out nearly 1000 acres of land at the Trincomalee port to private investors, the Ports Authority said. Ports Authority Chairman Priyath Wickrama said that cabinet approval has already been granted for this move. He said that open tenders will be called from prospective investors with the focus being on vehicle parts and electronics manufacturers. A cabinet sub-committee is currently studying the proposals and tenders are likely to be called for by the end of this year. more..

Out goes Emergency; in comes confusion!

Sept 4 (LB) The president’s announcement in parliament that he proposes not to extend the Emergency caused confusion last week with even ministers unaware of when the move would become effective. Shortly after his speech, Cabinet Spokesman, Minister Anura Priyadharshana Yapa said that the Emergency would lapse with immediate effect. A report on the official government website said the Emergency would be lifted on the same day as the speech. more..

Talk at the Cafe Spectator

Sept 4 (ST) A visit to the Law College in Hulftsdorp not only made President Mahinda Rajapaksa nostalgic but also recall his student days as a member of the 100th intake. After a brief ceremony where he was conferred the title "Voharadithipathi," he took a walk around the College. At one point he turned to Kumar Ekaratne, Additional Secretary to the Ministry of Justice, and remarked "this is the spot where I was ragged as a fresher." more..

Police vow legal action against those who deface Colombo

Sept 4 (ST) The government has declared that the Western Province be kept free of election posters, decorations, banners and cut-outs and directed the police to arrest those violating the orders, a senior police officer said. Deputy Inspector General Anura Senanayake told the Sunday Times the order had been issued by the Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa to ensure that Colombo and its suburbs were kept clean as there was an ongoing programme to beautify the area. more..

Singapore fuel dealer rejects charges of supplying dirty petrol

Sept 4 (ST) Speaking out for the first time in the controversial fuel issue, the Singapore unit of Dubai-based Emirates National Oil Company (ENOC) has rejected accusations that it supplied substandard petrol to Sri Lanka in April. ENOC’s claim came amidst a new crisis surfacing in the Ceylon Petroleum Corporation (CPC) where, despite the tender issue over ENOC fuel, new tenders continue to be called outside the proper procedures and guidelines. more..

'Naming and shaming is the way to go'

Sept 4 (Island) Outspoken UNP MP Harsha de Silva said the UPFA would never humiliate those crooks near and dear to the leadership as long as they remained faithful to the incumbent administration. The consultant economist said: "‘Name and shame’ is a way of discouraging certain wrong activity and has been used for a long time in many countries. "Recently the law enforcement agencies contemplated releasing photographs of some women, including more..

LTTE looks for Commonwealth sanction on Sri Lanka

Sept 4 (Island) The LTTE, which is still a proscribed organization in over 30 countries, including India, UK, USA, Malaysia and Canada, wants CHOGM to support an independent international investigation on the basis of UN Panel of Experts (POE) report on accountability issues released in last April. External Affairs Ministry sources said that the LTTE was pushing for a resolution suspending Sri Lanka from the Councils of the Commonwealth until more..

'Armed forces must be thanked for doing civilian work for free'

Sept 4 (TC) The lapsing of the emergency does not mean ‘anybody can do anything he or she wants’, warned Mohan Pieris, outgoing attorney general, in an exclusive interview with LAKBMIMAnEWS. Excerpts: Q:Has the emergency lapsed and if so what happens to detainees, surrendees and the proscription of the LTTE? A: The emergency regulations have lapsed. Therefore, certain consequential provisions have to be made for the above purposes. more..

US GSP benefits to be restored

Sept 4 (ST) The United States is expected to restore the suspended US GSP scheme, which has affected many countries including Sri Lanka, anytime between September and December this year, a visiting US trade official has said. During meetings with local trade unions this week, Michael O. Donovan, International Economist of the Trade Policy and Negotiation Division of the US Trade Office, said the benefits, suspended in December 2010 due to technical reasons, more..

Revised Galle Face deal offered to Chinese firm

Sept 4 (ST) The Cabinet has now given approval for a 99-year lease of seven acres of prime land near Galle Face Green to China National Aero Technology and Export Corporation (CATIC). This is after reversing an earlier decision for the outright sale of the land for around US dollars 125 million (or about Rs 13.7 billion). It is not immediately clear whether CATIC — China’s aircraft manufacturing and marketing firm — would accept the offer or demand that its money be refunded. more..

West’s criticism of Lankan human rights record concerned India

Sept 4 (TOI) In what might prove to be a political embarrassment for Congress in Tamil Nadu, a Wikileaks cable has revealed that India viewed Western criticism of Sri Lanka's human rights record with concern as it felt shunning the island nation would drive it towards China. An Indian official in the external affairs ministry told US diplomats that the West - by shunning a victorious Sri Lanka (after its defeat of the LTTE) over human rights issues more..

10 acres of forest land destroyed

Sept 5 (DM) An area extending up to 10 acres in the Imaduwa State Timber Reserve in Laggala was completely destroyed due to a wild fire, police media spokesman Prishantha Jayakody said. The fire was doused after a long operation. Authorities are conducting investigations into the fire to probe the cause of the fire. The fire started on Saturday evening. The value of the timber that was destroyed due to the fire is yet to be established. No injuries or casualties were reported during the fire. more..

Mobile prostitution ring: Suspects get bail

Sept 5 (DM) Six women and two men who were allegedly involved in a mobile prostitution ring at the Galle Face Green were released on bail after being produced before the Colombo Fort Magistrate Ms. Lanka Jayaratne. The suspects arrested by the Fort police were released on a cash bail of Rs. 5,000 and surety bail of Rs.50,000 each. The police told Court that one of the women had charged Rs.5,000 from the decoy who carried out the raid and subsequently arrested the other suspects. more..

Sri Lanka seeks a batting revival

Sept 5 (AFP) Sri Lanka is searching for solutions to its batting woes after Australia hammered them by 125 runs in the first Test in Galle. The hosts lost on a dusty wicket, apparently tailor-made for their spinners, on Saturday after being shot out for 105 in the first innings in reply to Australia's 273. Sri Lanka managed 253 in its second knock on in the back of a classy century from Mahela Jayawardene and 95 from young Angelo Mathews, but the target of 379 never looked more..

Wrong Drug issued to Health Minister

Sept 5 (LP) A pharmacy at Borella which issued a wrong drug on a correct prescription to Health Minister Maithripala Sirisena is to be prosecuted by the National Drugs Authority, Health Ministry sources disclosed. A doctor who took the prescription to the pharmacy was issued with the wrong drug and upon realizing the error, the doctor had questioned the pharmacist. The correct drug was issued later. Minister Sirisena had made the complaint to the National Drugs Authority on the issue. more..