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The elusive New Year messenger

Apr 13 (ST) Today is Avurudu but have you heard the messenger of the New Year, the koha? The song of the koha, or the Asian Koel, is a special part of the Avurudu season, like the Western cuckoo is termed the first harbinger of Spring. But do we hear the koha’s melodious song as frequently as in the past or is it fading away like other Avurudu symbols such as erabadu flowers and cadju puhulam? Some readers reported hearing more..

Dissent under siege

Apr 13 (SL) Since its inception in 1985, the Uthayan newspaper in Jaffna has come under attack on many occasions, which had shown an increase during and after the war in the North. Opposition political parties, media organizations and civil society movements have condemned the attack as another incident where the country’s freedom of expression and media freedom has come under attack. more..

Sri Lanka trip exposes MPs to complexities of Tamil issue

Apr 13 (ENS) The 5-member team of Indian MPs, which interacted with a cross section of political leaders, civil society personalities and govt functionaries both in Colombo and Jaffna over the last 4 days, returned to India on Friday, fully sensitised to the complexities of the Lankan Tamil question. Given the complexity of the issue, the MPs decided not to speak to the media in Lanka, including resident Indian correspondents. more..

Electricity consumption hits peak; CEB appeals for New Year restraint

Apr 13 (ST) The CEB has appealed to the people to use electricity sparingly during the National New Year season to avoid sudden power failures due to overloading or high consumption. CEB Chairman said technical staff had been put on standby and arrangements made to buy additional power from private suppliers if there was a shortfall. “However we are appealing to the people to assist us by reducing the use of electricity. more..

Anti SL govt. protest by Muslims in UK: Lankan Muslims opt out

Apr 13 (Island) The Sri Lankan Muslim community in the UK did not participate in a demonstration staged by a group of Muslims opposite the Sri Lankan High Commission in London last week. The protesters warned of Jihad (holy war) if Buddhists and the Sri Lankan govt continued "to oppress Muslims". However, they said that if the Sri Lankan govt wants peace, they will be happy to have a dialogue. more..

Sri Lankan govt says attack on newspaper orchestrated

Apr 13 (Xinhua) The Sri Lankan govt said that the attack on a Tamil newspaper office in northern Sri Lanka was orchestrated and carried out to tarnish the image of the govt. The Uthayan office in Jaffna was attacked and the printing office set on fire by an unidentified group on Saturday morning causing extensive damage, the newspaper's editor said. The staff was preparing to distribute the newspapers when an armed more..

INTERPOL help sought in VAT case

Apr 13 (CG) The police have sought the assistance of the international police INTERPOL, to track down and arrest 8 suspects wanted in connection with a multi million Rupee VAT fraud. The police media unit said that an open warrant has been issued to arrest the suspects who are overseas and INTERPOL assistance has also been sought. A statement by the police media unit today said that another 6 suspects who more..

Uthayan office in Jaffna set on fire

Apr 13 (OU) Early morning incident – printing machine scorched, press set on fire by unknown group this morning. An attack is again executed against the "Udayan" daily newspaper published from Jaffna today in the early morning hours. Unidentified armed group stormed into the printing press point blankly carried out shooting. Shooting was executed towards the print machine, doused the printing machines with petrol and more..

Do the police represent the law or are they the law itself?

Apr 13 (DM) The son of a friend of mine was arrested during a clash between schoolboys from two Colombo schools. This boy, an A-level student, was caught by the police while the rest ran away. As the clash had resulted in a damaged bus and three injured students, the situation looked serious. Desperate to get their son out of police custody for the night, my friend and his wife went to the police station with a lawyer, and a curious ‘third party’ who turned out to be a retired more..

Fonseka’s political journey: Strewn with thorns than with roses

Apr 13 (DM) The indefatigable solider, former Army Commander Sarath Fonseka is in the news once again. His newly formed Democratic Party (DP) was formally recognised by the Commissioner of Elections last week and assigned the symbol of a burning torch. The entry of the DP into the political arena does alter the parameters of domestic politics slightly. However, whether it willbe a force to be reckoned with and be accepted by the masses as an alternative government is a moot point. more..

Religion, reconciliation and the future

Apr 13 (DM) A thought provoking panel discussion on the topic ‘Religion, Reconciliation and the Future’, organised by the Young Journalists’ Movement, was held at the Sri Lanka Press Institute on April 8. The panel consisted of former Diplomat and Academic Dr. Dayan Jayatilleka, Bishop Duleep De Chickera Leftist Politician Pubudu Jagoda, Newspaper Editor Malinda Seneviratne and Senior lecturer in Political Science more..

A Tamil spring?

Apr 13 (CT) The spark which has ignited the students’ rage in Tamil Nadu against the United States-sponsored UNHRC resolution on Sri Lanka and India’s eventual support to it began in one of the most unlikely places, the Loyola College at Chennai. The academic excellence of the college, most believe, is a result of its depoliticised student body. Shattering the myth convincingly, on 8 March, eight young students from the college – Dileepan (18), Britto (20), Anthony George (20), Ramesh more..

Dialog Sri Lanka mobile broadband base grows 44%

Apr 13 (LBO) Dialog Axiata, a unit of Malaysia's Axiata group said its mobile broadband subscribers grew 44% to 455,000 in 2012. The group has a mobile subscriber base of 7.7 million. Last month the company launched fourth general mobile broadband with FD-LTE technology, which it said was the first such service in South Asia. Its fixed arm has also launched fourth generation mobile services using TD-LTE technology. Dialog said its pay TV subscriber base grew 23% to 264,000. more..

Dudley Senanayake: The incomparable statesman

Apr 13 (DM) As the country sinks more and more into a labyrinth from which there seems no escape, one is reminded of the late Dudley, to whom Democracy, Freedom and the rule of law meant so much. All this and more have eroded today, beyond repair, and it seems that none of them exists in our country anymore. It is sad that so many years after his death, a reference was made to attempt to sling mud at him, by one who more..

A new religio-political order for Sri Lanka

Apr 13 (SL) As no contributor to any of the English-language media has taken this particular bull by the horns, letme try to formulate a plan that not only recognizes the current ‘Sri Lankan Reality’ but which might lend itself to enhancing the reputation of the Debacle of Asia (DoA) or the land where democracy is DoA (Dead on Arrival). We have recently seen the emergence of the Bodhu Bala Sena (BBS), Sinhala Ravaya, etc. as clear examples of govt policy implementation, notwithstanding the more..

Import of vehicles down by 50% last year

Apr 13 (LT) The Central Bank report for 2012 shows there was a 50% reduction in import of motor vehicles last year. The report indicates when compared with the previous year the import expenditure for vehicles came down to US$495 million or was reduced by 43.8% in 2012. Imposing high taxes for imports and the devaluation of the rupee caused the reduction of import expenditure for vehicles point out the report. It is also stated the total import expenditure came down to 5.4% during 2012.

What intolerant Buddhist monks are doing to Sri Lanka

Apr 13 (DB) Mahinda Rajapaksa, the president of Sri Lanka, is easily incensed by campaigns for political autonomy on the basis of ethnic self-determination. Rejecting “different administrations based on ethnicity,” he recently asserted: “The solution is to live together in this country with equal rights for all communities.” It’s an admirable sentiment, contradicted only by the fact that, since his election in 2005, Sri Lanka has more..

For those who pooh-pooh the anti-BBS protestors

Apr 13 (CT) The streets of Colombo have seen worse sights. That sentence deserves to stand on its own. It is an epitaph on a city where too much violence has been vented by too many. It is a sentence on a people who rarely get on the streets and make a fuss. But on Friday 12 April a mixed bunch of people gathered to hold a candle-lit vigil outside the venue of the hate-speech BBS. For strategic reasons they may have chosen the venue in order to provoke a response from the BBS more..

In remembrance of Lakshman Kadirgamar

Apr 13 (CT) Given the shrillness of the nature of public debate in recent times, especially postwar, most Sri Lankans I know have avoided getting involved in them. The latter have resorted to ‘quiet discussion’ with fellow citizens who are not uncomfortable with points of view that are not in harmony with their own and who indeed are looking for such carefully articulated alternatives. The late Lakshman Kadirgamar was one such Sri Lankan with whom I could trade ideas and more..

New Year auspicious times

Apr 13 (GDI) The entire nation is geared to greet the New Year which marks the transit of the sun from the house of Pisces that is Meena Rashiya to the house of Aries, the Mesha Rashiya.This is a reminder for all those who are geared to make the New Year more meaningful by adhering to the auspicious times for the traditional New Year. The Punya kalaya begins at 7.05 p.m. today and will last until 7.53 a.m. more..

Drawing the battle lines

Apr 13 (GV) The growing anti-Muslim sentiment in Sri Lanka is pushing us to respond in numerous ways: we are talking, flustered, hopeless and helpless, shouting in outrage (when no one will listen), holding our knees to chests, trying to pull ourselves inside, into some sense of comfort and safety, whispers of more war, more conflict on our lips. The annoyance has turned to fear; the irritating din of the crowd has turned to the cries of a mob. In a matter of months, we have grown from more..

Tourism Promotion in Indonesia

Apr 13 (GDI) The Embassy of Sri Lanka in Jakarta conducted a Tourism Promotion Campaign at the Embassy premises in conjunction with the General Sales Agent of Mihin Lanka. Leading travel agents and tour operators based in Jakarta attended the event. The main focus of the event was to raise awareness among leading travel agents and tour operators of Indonesia on places of interest in Sri Lanka. During the discussion, the Ambassador covered famous tourists and religious more..

'LTTE terrorism replaced with state terrorism'

Apr 13 (AD) Condemning the alleged attack on the Uthayan newspaper office in Jaffna, the UNP today demanded that the government take full responsibility for the outrageous act, the fourth attack on the newspaper in recent times. UNG General Secretary Tissa Attanayake stated that the attack, which occurred a day before the Sinhala And Hindu New year, which signifies peace and unity, was carried out in fury and low mentality. more..

Six fishermen attacked by Lankan Navy

Apr 13 (PTI) In the third such attack in as many days, six fishermen, who ventured into the sea from Karaikal, got injured when they were attacked allegedly by Sri Lankan naval men off Kodiakarai coast, fisheries department officials said today. The fishermen of Kilinjalmedu fishing hamlet were fishing in Indian waters a few knots South East off Kodiakarai last night when the Lankan Navy personnel arrived there on a fast craft and allegedly attacked them with iron rods. more..

'Anti-hate protesters have terrorist links'

Apr 13 (PTI) Sri Lanka's Bodu Bala Sena (BBS, or Buddhist Force) on Saturday claimed a group of protesters who had staged a candle-light vigil against it denouncing religious extremism and hate speech could have terrorist links. "We ask the govt to identify those responsible and investigate their terrorist links," Dilantha Withanage, a top BBS official, said. "No one knows who they are. They were carrying leaflets which carried words of a distorted national anthem," he said. more..

'Uthayan attack investigated within 5 hours'

Apr 13 (AD) TNA MP and owner of Uthayan newspaper, E. Saravanapavan today rejected accusation claiming the torching of the newspaper’s main office in Jaffna was an ‘inside job’ staged to ‘tarnish the image of the govt’. Three gunmen stormed into the newspaper office this morning, threatened the employees and fired four shots, one narrowly missed a worker’s head. The assailants opened fire at the computers more..

Editorial : A New Year with renewed hope

Apr 14 (SO) Another Sinhala and Hindu New Year has dawned. Each time a New Year approaches, we make our own resolutions. Expectations are high, but not all come true. A New Year gives us an opportunity to take stock of our achievements and failures to face the future with greater courage and determination. Unlike earlier, people today pay more attention to the age-old customs and traditions. Sinhalese and Tamils have been given equal prominence in their New Year customs more..

Editorial : Where is the Avurudhu spirit?

Apr 14 (SL) Some will say it is still alive and buzzing. Go to the Fort Railway Station and Pettah bus stand and see the people with polythene bags packed with presents longing to get back to the ancestral homes and fall at the feet of their elders. That is true but is it the same old spirit that this ancient ritual used to revive among all and sundry? It’s hard to call for celebrations in the style of the spacious days when incomes were small but went a long way. But when those city slickers of today are trying to more..

'No change in imperialist tactics even today'

Apr 14 (SO) A medical expert by profession who ventured into politics at a late stage in life, perhaps to carry forward the vision of his illustrious, kinsman Dr. N.M. Perera, Senior Minister Prof. Tissa Vitarana is no doctrinaire politician. He would certainly evaluate the merits and demerits of each case and then make his final decision according to his conscience. He said the policy of “divide and rule” is a part of imperialist more..

Editorial : A vasa visaless Avurudda

Apr 14 (NS) It is customary to wish each other a happy and prosperous new year, typically, in Sinhala, ‘an Aluth Avurudda overflowing in kiri and peni’. Overflowing abundance is a perennially valid wish, however harsh the circumstances. Years ago, the Chief (and sole) Incumbent of the Muhudu Maha Viharaya, Ven. Katharagama Sirirathana Thera, resisting encroachment by Muslim residents and neglected so thoroughly by a nation and a community, said with a wry smile more..

Editorial : Garbage for ‘New Year’

Apr 14 (CT) In Sri Lanka, the people are experts when it comes to functions or occasions. When a child is born, experts are consulted, the stars are gazed at, the Sun and the weather patterns are followed until an alphabetical letter is found, so a name can be given. The same goes for a wedding when every second is precise to meet what is called auspicious times and every ritual is followed to the end only for the marriage to break-up in a few years and the children often end up in orphanages more..

'Justice for Matale murdered'

Apr 14 (CT) With the unearthing of 154 skeletal remains from the Matale Hospital compound, various theories have sprung up, ranging from a mass grave from 1988-1990 being unearthed to the possibility of a mass burial by the hospital authorities following an epidemic. As for the JVP members of the past and the present, there is no mystery surrounding the Matale mass grave, but a persistent and stubborn fact about gross more..

Editorial : New Year reflections for religious harmony

Apr 14 (ST) The National New Year that dawned this weekend is an opportune moment to reflect on the racial tensions of the times. It’s already late, but better late than never as silence may be taken for acquiescence of what is taking place. The post-Iran revolution (1979) saw an increased manifestation of the Islamic identity around the world. There were more and more Muslims strictly following the different schools of thought like Tabligh, Tawheed, Salafi etc. more..

Tough battle ahead for Fonseka

Apr 14 (NS) The political party formed by former Army Commander Sarath Fonseka styled the Democratic Party (DP) was granted recognition by the Commissioner of Elections last week. While it may be a step forward for Fonseka, it also raises a gamut of issues that the Opposition will have to contend with. Hindsight should teach Fonseka that he was thrust into the role of presidential candidate in 2010 against President Rajapaksa, especially by the UNP leadership only because more..

There’s a time for everything

Apr 14 (ST) The erabadu flowers put on their best shade of red, and the kavum dance happily in the frying pan. Astrologers all around the country flip through the pages of the Panchanga Litha, seeking to learn how the planets have positioned themselves this year around. The New Year has dawned, opening up vistas of new possibilities, and even those who would not usually conform to auspicious times keep a watchful more..

Why Northern PC election must NOT be held

Apr 14 (Island) In the short term, the most important issue before the govt is the holding of the Northern Provincial Council election. This should be held within the next four to five months according to announcements made by the govt. The reason why the NPC election has not been held up to now, is clearly because the govt has been having misgivings about having a provincial govt in the Northern Province. The recent events in Tamil Nadu and the inability of the Indian Central govt to more..

Selective justice for Uthayan

Apr 14 (CT) “Last year, there had been 19 killings in Jaffna, but, police were keen about only one murder (of a suspected military informant),” recalls V. Premanath, Editor of Uthayan. When it came to that particular case, police really meant business; they arrested four men and obtained a court order for their prolonged detention under the Prevention of Terrorism Act – though the case was remotely related to terrorism. In the meantime, the other 18 cases were put on the backburner. more..

Image building Rajapaksa govt continues to irk intl community

Apr 14 (SL) The international community continues to emphasize the need for the Rajapaksa govt to get its act together and address issues of reconciliation and accountability. The Rajapaksa govt’s statement in parliament on Tuesday that it rejected the resolution brought against the country at the UNHRC in Geneva last month and there has been no change in the govt’s stance on the proposal since its inception more..

Malaria specialists leave Lanka due to lack of appreciation

Apr 14 (SO) Sri Lanka is in danger of losing the handful of malaria specialists in the country, due to lack of appreciation by the Health Ministry for their contribution towards eliminating malaria, and bringing the malaria burden down to almost zero level. "The dramatic reduction, which has helped the country to achieve a 99% reduction in the malaria case load, is due entirely to the efforts of the malaria specialists of the Anti Malaria Campaign. more..

Talks to iron out religious differences

Apr 14 (SO) Representatives of Bodu Bala Sena and All Ceylon Jammiyaathul Ulama, on an initiative by Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa recently, had a wide range of discussions and decided to have regular meetings from next month to iron out differences, if any. “We will meet and discuss issues, topic by topic, so that any misunderstandings or misconceptions between us could be overcome, ”spokesman for Jammiyaathul Ulama Ash Shaik Fazil Farook said. more..