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Seeing is believing

Sept 1 (SO) There is no gainsaying the fact that protecting human rights is of utmost importance and it is the duty of one and all to do their best to protect human rights. Various international organisations have mushroomed at different levels, claiming that their sole aim is to protect human rights due to the global importance of protecting human rights. The principal body among them is the human rights wing of the UN. The UNHRC was set up on March 15, 2006 by the General Assembly of the UN more..

The commitment to the Truth

Sept 1 (SL) The Sunday Leader has continued to be at the centre of public attention for decades. Unbowed and unafraid in its practice of journalism; much of this attention has forced its journalists on a warpath with successive regimes. Its founder editor assassinated less than five years ago, the press set on fire and its lead investigative reporter Faraz Shaukatally shot and several others harassed, the predawn attack on its Associate Editor Mandana Ismail last Saturday has made its readers more..

'UPFA will romp home in Kandy district'

Sept 1 (SO) The days for the Provincial Council election for the three Provincial Councils is drawing near. The heat of the election campaign is also now at its peak as political parties are increasing their campaign. The situation in the Central Province is no exception. Sarath Ekanayake who acted as the Chief Minister of the Central Provincial Council thrice since 1999 is contesting this time also for the Central Provincial Council. more..

Due diligence on all fronts

Sept 1 (NS) There are rules forced on countries through covenants signed or arm-twisted into signing. There are rules forced on rulers through constitutions. There are rules forced on people by laws enacted by representative bodies. Then there are customs or sirith, those handed from generation to generation by way of cultural ethos that speak of propriety not necessarily right and wrong in the eyes of the law. Laws, if they are to work, need to be comprehensive and clear with more..

Shooting from the hip

Sept 1 (Island) Having failed to rein-in some of its supporters, or possibly having egged them on earlier, the govt obviously had no wish to permit any pre-departure ruckus over UN Human Rights Commissioner Navanetham Pillay’s week-long Sri Lanka visit, the longest such mission she had undertaken during her watch in Geneva. There weren’t all that many protestors trying to approach the UN compound in Colombo yesterday where Pillay hosted a news conference. more..

'UNP leadership, no issue for victory'

Sept 1 (SO) Mayantha Dissanayake, a son of the late Gamini Dissanayake, who was a prominent figure in the UNP and was assassinated in a ruthless suicide terror attack while engaging in an election campaign. Mayantha is contesting the Central Provincial Council (CPC) election from the Kandy district. Despite issues within the UNP, Mayantha Dissnayake is confident that the UNP will win the CPC election. more..

Dealing with the world’s dictator

Sept 1 (ST) The situation in Syria has brought the world once again to the brink of war. The United States, the self-appointed world policeman, says it has “credible evidence” that the Syrian regime used chemical weapons against its own people in what — whoever did it — was a despicable act and indeed a crime against humanity. Two factors, however, throw a big question mark over the claim by the US; one is historical i.e. the same country hoodwinked the whole world into believing that more..

5th Column: Fair Pillay?

Sept 1 (ST) My Dear Navi, I thought I too must write to you now that you are finally here after years of speculation and everybody who is somebody wants to meet you or write to you and tell you what they think you should do-or shouldn’t do-for our little country. I’m told, Navi, that despite all the hullabaloo surrounding your visit, they have allowed you to go wherever you want and do whatever you want. I am sure that is not what you expected but it does show that contrary to popular belief, more..

'Pillay’s report should be devoid of subjectivity'

Sept 1 (SL) Minister Mahinda Samarasinghe speaking on UN Human Rights Commissioner Navi Pillay’s visit to the country said that he does not think that Pillay’s visit will have any negative outcome if her view is objective and her report is unbiased and impartial. “If the report falls short of standards, then we will make every effort to set the record straight which is our right as a country,” Samarasinghe said. more..

This week belongs to Navaneetham ‘Navi’ Pillay

Sept 1 (NS) Navaneetham ‘Navi’ Pillay stole the week as far as news was concerned, as expected.  The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navaneetham Pillay took two years to decide upon an invitation extended to her by the Govt to ‘come see for yourself’, but finally she did accept it.  She arrived the day President Mahinda Rajapaksa left for Belarus, raising speculation whether the President had fled, left her to ‘investigate’ as she wished or had snubbed the lady. more..

When tittle-tattle tops the agenda

Sept 1 (NS) Parliament meets only two days for this month. It is scheduled to meet on coming Tuesday and Wednesday, and thereafter there are no sittings this month. The recess is expected to provide for repairs in Parliament complex, which did not have time for major refurbishing after it had been flooded by torrential rains in mid-November in 2010. This interval provides ample time for members to engage in PC elections. Some officials will use this time to prepare for the upcoming CHOGM. more..

'Truth will precede reconciliation'

Sept 1 (SL) TNA MP Suresh Premachandran said that during the meeting the TNA had with Navi Pillay, the party had conveyed its belief Sri Lanka needs a strong international investigation mechanism in order to unearth the truth as to the missing and dead during the war, as it is only once the truth is asserted that true reconciliation can take place. “We told her that we need a strong international investigation more..

Navi Pillay will perform true to her form

Sept 1 (NS) Finally, Navi Pillay is here. After much wrangling over whether she should come at all, and what she should do if she did come, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights is in the country to observe Sri Lanka’s “human rights situation”.It is a sequel to the two Unites States sponsored resolutions against Sri Lanka over two successive years at the UNHRC, where Minister Mahinda Samarasinghe had made unflattering remarks against Pillay. more..

A Tamil Bishop and the Tamil Cause

Sept 1 (Island) The Anglican Bishop of Kurunegala, the Rt Reverend Shantha Francis, has raised much controversy by enunciating what is seen by many to be an overtly pro-govt political stand in a situation where many had come to expect Anglican Bishops to be critical of whatever govt that may happen to be in power. One of his distinguished predecessors in the Diocese of Kurunegala,  Bishop Lakshman Wickremesinghe was a critic of the authoritarianism of the J.R. Jayewardene led UNP govt more..

Sanga questions Nishantha’s integrity

Sept 1 (Island) Star batsman Kumar Sangakkara in a strong e-mail reply has questioned the integrity of Sri Lanka Cricket Secretary Nishantha Ranatunga. In a lengthy e-mail, the former captain hits out at the cricket board secretary’s conduct and alleges a plot against him to tarnish his image. Sanga also goes onto mention that he had been harassed by the cricket board and alleges Nishantha’s hand in it. more..

Loyalty card boomerangs on SLC

Sept 1 (Island) For quite some time now, there has been an attempt to sideline star batsman Kumar Sangakkara and calls for his removal from the shorter version of the game have come from top Sports Ministry officials in the name of blooding in young players. The Sports Ministry officials are spurred up by those running SLC, but the selectors to their credit have picked teams on merit. The recent controversy regarding which franchise Sanga should chose for the Champions League more..

Nishantha Ranatunga’s e-mail to Sangakkara (28/08/13)

Sept 1 (Island) Dear Kumar, As you are aware that SLC is managed by office bearers and Executive Committee elected by member clubs/associations and we are answerable to public in every aspect of cricket. We are, as guardians of Sri Lanka Cricket, are of the firm opinion that we must select the best team for any cricket match or tournament. With this duty in our mind, for the best interest of Sri Lanka Cricket, at the discussion had with you, we indicated that you should play for Kandurata more..

Migrant worker challenges Govt. over restrictive rule

Sept 1 (ST) A courageous Sri Lankan migrant worker is challenging the Govt over a new rule where women must apparently be permitted by their husbands or other officials to work abroad as domestic workers, saying it is not only a gender bias but also violates her fundamental rights to equality under the Constitution. Filing a petition in the Supreme Court through her attorney and migrant rights activist Lakshan Dias, more..

Jayantha Dharmadasa’s e-mail to Kumar Sangakkara (30/08/2013)

Sept 1 (Island) Dear Kumar, Your letter dated 29th August sent via e-mail to Nishantha Ranatunga (Secretary SLC) and copied to all members of the Executive Committee has been referred to me for reply. All of us at SLC in unison accept the fact that your commitment and performance at cricket stands out with the best in the world and that you have achieved the highest award for such performance at ICC. It is therefore quite natural and obvious that we at SLC would want you to represent more..

Kumar Sangakkara’s e-mail to Nishantha Ranatunga (29/08/2013)

Sept 1 (Island) Dear Nishantha, I too as a player have for over 13 years now given my all for Sri Lanka Cricket both on and off the field. As a professional player I have done my best to perform at the highest level consistently on the field and to carry myself as a role model and ambassador for the country off it. I do not have the luxury of standing for election, but have to prove my worth to selectors day in and day out in order to retain my place in the team and safeguard my job and livelihood. more..

State Bank faces semi privatisation

Sept 1 (ST) Semi-privatisation and a share issue either through the public or private entities to divest nearly half the bank’s capital, are on the cards for the debt-ridden People’s Bank, the 52-year-old state bank, amidst dire warnings from employees to the management against privatising the bank under the cover of restructuring. A senior bank official, however, denied there were moves to privatise the institution. more..

Pillay’s report: A crucial factor for govt

Sept 1 (SL) The response received by the head of the UN Human Rights Commission Navi Pillay during her visit to Sri Lanka last week indicate the importance of the outcome of her tour to the country. As Pillay arrived in Colombo last Sunday, President Rajapaksa took off to Belarus on a three-day official visit, which the govt said had nothing to do with the UN Human Rights Commissioner’s visit to the country. The irony in this, however, is that the President undertook a visit to Belarus, more..

Commercial Bank adjudged Sri Lanka’s ‘Best Trade Bank’ for 4th time

Sept 1 (Island) The Commercial Bank has been adjudged the ‘Best Trade Bank’ in Sri Lanka by Trade Finance magazine of the UK, following an independent poll of services provided by banks. The 2013 Award won by Commercial Bank is its fourth Best Trade Bank Award since Trade Finance began presenting such an award in 2009. According to Trade Finance, which is published by Euromoney, London, there was a revamp of the country categories in this year’s Asia Pacific awards more..

Another effluent discharging factory in Kurunegala

Sept 1 (NS) In the wake of the Rathupaswala incident, where a factory was alleged to have polluted ground water, another such claim is being raised about a factory in Kobeigane in Kurunegala. Residents of the area say that Jiffy Products Sri Lanka (JPSL) is using a chemical, calcium nitrate, to treat their coconut fiber products. It is alleged that this chemical is affecting ground water in the area. more..

Rajapaksa open to TN fishermen fishing in Lankan waters 15 days a month: Alagiri

Sept 1 (Hindu) President Mahinda Rajapaksa is not averse to the idea of allowing fishermen of Tamil Nadu to fish in the Lankan waters for 15 days in a month, but he wants any such proposal to be routed through the Indian govt, according to Congress Member of Parliament K. S. Alagiri. He told The Hindu over phone from Colombo on Saturday that he met the President in the morning and he raised the issue of recent arrest of 31 fishermen, now lodged at Trincomalee prison, more..

'LTTE duo' lobbied for SL Tamils' cause with leaders

Sept 1 (ENS) Two suspected members of the LTTE, who were apprehended by ‘Q’ Branch sleuths in the city on Friday, were reportedly in the process of devising IEDs to trigger blasts in Sri Lanka. While Sivaneshwaran alias Nesan (34) was formerly an important functionary in the political recruitment wing of the LTTE, Gopi alias Manoharan (37) had completed his training and was a member of the outfit’s cadre, police said. Police have reason to believe that the duo has links with ‘eelam’ more..

Army relaxes checking at Omanthai

Sept 1 (SL) The Military announced yesterday that it had relaxed checking at the Omanthai checkpoint in the North. Following the end of the war, the army continued to have troop presence and checking of vehicles in Omanthai – the entry exit point during the LTTE’s hay days. Military spokesman said that the checking of persons at the road block would be relaxed to facilitate free north south movement. more..

No new places of worship

Sept 1 (SL) Kotte Mayor Janaka Ranawaka has issued instructions not to permit the construction of new churches, temples, mosques or Hindu temples in the Kotte area. Ranawaka said he issued the instructions in order to ensure the city plan remains intact. He also said that instructions were issued against permitting the opening of new meat stalls and taverns in the area. The Mayor said that he will obtain approval for his plan from the Kotte Municipal Council. more..

SLBFE urges SL workers in Saudi to return

Sept 1 (CT) Sri Lanka Foreign Bureau of Employment (SLFBE) called on all migrants workers in Saudi Arabia, who are now in that country as illegal migrants, following a new law introduced by the Saudi Govt prohibiting them to change sponsors, to come back to Sri Lanka before the amnesty period expires on 4 November 2013. General Manager of the SLFBE, Mangala Randeniya, said although around 8,000 Exit Permits have been issued to Sri Lankan migrant workers more..

Nandikadal: Govt. blocks Pillay’s move

Sept 1 (ST) There was panic in the corridors of power that Navi Pillay, the UN Human Commissioner for Human Rights, was going to scatter flowers on the Nandikadal lagoon in memory of those who had lost their lives in the last stages of the war against the LTTE. The reports were to cause a flurry of activity, both at the External Affairs Ministry and the Ministry of Defence. Officials sought clarification from the UN office in Colombo. more..

White collar jobs for Ex-LTTE combatants

Sept 1 (Island) In a unique public and private sector partnership, white collar employment opportunities have been provided for rehabilitated ex-LTTE combatants. Rehabilitated youth with higher level educational qualifications have been trained and employed in an information technology based IT/BPO (Business Process Outsourcing) operation facility which started operations recently in Stanley Road, Jaffna. The Presidential Task Force on English and IT has spearheaded the project more..

Mervyn summoned to Bribery Commission

Sept 1 (SL) Minister Mervyn Silva has been summoned to the Bribery and Corruption Commission to respond to a complaint lodged over his assets. An official at the Commission, said that the complaint relates to the luxury vehicles used by his son Malaka Silva. However, the Commission official refused to name the person who made the complaint and the date the Minister was expected to appear. According to the complaint the Minister does not possess huge assets which allow him more..

Rathupaswala simmers as factory opens for maintenance

Sept 1 (NS) The tense situation that arose once again at Rathupaswala in Weliweriya eased by last evening, as hundreds workers who had been trapped inside the factory, accused of being responsible for groundwater pollution, finally left under police protection after an agreement was reached not to recommence production activities. The tense situation arose on Friday after nearly 300 workers moved back into the latex more..

Body of Pottu Amman's brother flown to Germany

Sept 1 (CT) German authorities in Colombo have managed to secure the release of the body of Shanmugalingam Sivagnanakumar, the elder brother of the former intelligence chief of the LTTE, Pottu Amman, who died on 21 August in Jaffna, and had flown the remains to Germany last Wednesday (28). Sivagnanakumar, a German citizen, had been on a long visit to Jaffna, his place of origin, and was found dead near the famous Nallur Kandaswamy Temple in Jaffna on 21 August. more..

Sri Lanka’s largest heroin haul of 250kg from Pakistan police tip-off

Sept 1 (ST) Information provided by Pakistan’s Police Narcotics Division led to the detection of this country’s single largest heroin haul of 250 kg on Friday, and the arrests of the main suspects, Customs investigations revealed. Customs Revenue Task Force (CRTF) Director Mali Piyasena said the container used to ship the drug into the country arrived on June 6, and later shifted to the Customs Yard, Urugodawatte, when the consignee failed to show up despite several reminders. more..

Govt. caught in Hurricane Pillay as she ends whirlwind tour

Sept 1 (ST) It was Minister Nimal Siripala de Silva, the UPFA Govt’s point man for many issues who hosted the cocktail reception on Thursday night for a select crowd of politicians, diplomats and officials at the Colombo Hilton. That was in honour of Navanethem Pillay, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights. He took it upon himself to protect the honour and integrity of the cabinet of ministers. more..

SLMC claims all is well with party and Dawood

Sept 1 (NS) SLMC has denied reports of internal rifts within the party and of attempts to oust its President, Basheer Segu Dawood. SLMC General Secretary Hassen Ali said that there was no truth in reports of the party ousting Dawood. “The party has no intention of removing Dawood. There is no reason for us to take such an action,” he said. Dawood refuted claims that the SLMC intended to have him expelled from the party and the post, as earlier cited by SLMC National Organizer more..

President to caution PC candidates on intra-party clashes

Sept 1 (Island) President Rajapaksa is expected to caution party candidates against getting involved in intra-party clashes in seeking for preferential votes at the forthcoming PC poll and exhort them to work together for the greater victory of the party, during his address at tomorrow’s ceremony to mark the 62nd anniversary of the SLFP at Maligapitiya grounds in Kurunegala, senior party sources said. Intra-party clashes which broke out between UPFA, especially SLFP candidates, more..

Rupee plunge may send prices soaring

Sept 1 (ST) Import costs could rise on items like petroleum products and other essentials after Sri Lanka’s rupee took another beating against the US dollar this week. The US currency hit an all-time high of Rs. 135 (per US$) on Thursday, more than 7% gain against the rupee since January this year when the dollar was pegged at Rs 126. On the other hand, the Central Bank introduced restrictive motor vehicle import terms as a strong more..

Talk at the cafe spectator

Sept 1 (ST) Sajin Vaas Gunawardena, Monitoring MP for the Ministry of External Affairs and master of ceremonies for the upcoming CHOGM, hosted a conducted tour of representatives of countries attending the summit in Colombo. These were persons who would be associated with security arrangements for their respective heads of delegations including Presidents and Prime Ministers. They were taken on a tour of more..