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The beginning of a new era in South Asia

June 1 (SO) India has always maintained close historical and political ties with Sri Lanka, its closest neighbour, from time immemorial. Mahavamsa, written around 400 AD by Bhikkhu Mahanama, using the Dipavamsa and Sinhala Attakatha as sources, correlates well with Indian history of the period. Prior to the colonisation by Prince Vijaya, the eldest son of King Sinhabahu and Queen Sinhasivali of Bhurishrestha Kingdom, SL was earlier inhabited by ancient tribes known as Yakkhas and Nagas. more..

Playing the ‘Modi Card’

June 1 (NS) It’s seasonal. Devolutionists have their ‘on’ days and ‘off’ days. There was a time way back in the early 1990s when Paikiasothy Saravanamuttu was scared to use the word ‘federal’. He called it ‘The F Word’. Then there came a time when those who were not impressed by the ‘F-Word’ were called war-mongers, hawks, Sinhala Buddhist extremists and other such names. After May 2009, when the biggest objectors to the Unitary State, the LTTE that is, were defeated, reduced circumstances more..

'Rural development programs in full swing'

June 1 (SO) Villages are the gateway of development. A country can achieve sustainable development only when the villages are developed because sufficient resources are available in villages including human resource, Minister Athauda Seneviratne said. Villages are the gateway of development. A country can achieve sustainable development only when the villages are developed because sufficient resources are available in more..

Cigarette health warnings

June 1 (Island) We run a reader’s letter today making some valid points on the pictorial health warnings on cigarette packaging demanded of manufacturers. Given the vast volume of evidence accumulated over the years on the dangers of smoking and the efforts of the World Health Organization among others to educate smokers and would-be smokers on the risks, massive awareness has already been created. While it is only the stupid and addicts who can’t help themselves who more..

Tobacco industrialists don't seem to care

June 1 (CT) Every year, smoking kills 22,000 Sri Lankans; that is one third of the death toll in the 27 years of ethnic conflict or two thirds of the Sri Lankan death toll during the devastating Boxing Day 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami. Smoking itself is a silent tsunami. It ravages our lives, kills more people than any other deadly weapon ever did and burdens public health services with patients fighting for their lives due to tobacco related complications. 20% of beds in govt hospitals have been occupied by more..

'Police did not assault students'

June 1 (CT) Police Media Spokesman and SSP, Ajith Rohana, said in an interview that 'necessary force' is used to quell protesters, as 'minimum force' is an outdated concept. Q: Have you ever participated in a protest after you completed your school education? A: No, I didn't have such an opportunity. Q: That means you have no firsthand experience in taking part in a protest? A: No. Although after completing my more..

The mini SAARC summit

June 1 (ST) Much has been said over the week since India’s new PM Shri Narendra Modi pulled a rabbit out of the hat and invited the leaders of all South Asian nations for his swearing-in ceremony last Monday. The move has been widely hailed as ground-breaking; a new beginning in good neighbourliness and an effort to repair India’s fractured relations with its neighbours, including Sri Lanka. It was also read as a push-start for the SAARC vehicle that has stalled on the road more..

Modi Chinthanaya for a stable India

June 1 (ST) My Dear Narendra Modi, I didn’t think I would have to write to you so soon after sending you a letter a few weeks ago but I think I should, after hearing of what you have done in your first few days in office because I am worried that you may be committing some serious mistakes which might affect you in the long run. I heard that you announced your Cabinet — and it consisted of only twenty five ministers. Now, that is a big mistake, Modi. How could India, a country with more..

'Govt. doesn't seriously apply itself to tackling N-E problem'

June 1 (CT) Five years after the end of the armed conflict in the North and East, legitimate political aspirations of the Tamil speaking people in Sri Lanka still remain to be fulfilled. The newly-elected Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi, during his impromptu talks with Lankan President, Mahinda Rajapaksa, has insisted on the full implementation of the 13th Amendment to the Constitution as an acceptable solution to the issue. more..

Susantha mum on casino controversy in JKH annual report

June 1 (Island) John Keells Chairman Susantha Ratnayake has made no reference to the casino controversy in his chairman’s message published in the JKH annual report released on Friday. But he has said that the group is very confident that based on expectations of its current portfolio and the Waterfront Project "we will achieve higher rates on our capital employed in the medium to long term on the back of the investments we are making to date." JKH has posted a 5% increase in revenue more..

Touchwood office opens while Mahogany plantation trees chopped

June 1 (ST) Touchwood investors and depositors have lodged complaints with the police relating to moves by the company’s present management to felling trees, which the latter insists was carried out as part of its maintenance strategy. Investors said that on Tuesday morning a group of persons arrived in a cab at Touchwood’s Matale Selani Estate comprising mahogany trees and felled a number of them. The group said they had been authorised, showing a letter, by CEO of Touchwood more..

'13 A should be implemented as early as possible'

June 1 (CT) An ardent supporter of the present Sri Lankan Govt and President Rajapaksa, India's former Union Cabinet Minister, Harvard PhD in Economics, Dr. Subramanian Swamy, who believes in the motto, "I give as good as I get," says India can only urge Sri Lanka as a friend and cultural sibling to implement the 13A as early as possible, so that the 1983–2009 memories become a distant nightmare and the chapter is closed. more..

Modi and the aspirations of Tamils

June 1 (Island) It was reported that new PM of India Narendra Modi in his first meeting with Sri Lanka’s president after his swearing in, had asked the latter to "expedite the process of national reconciliation in a manner that meets the aspirations of the Tamil community by fully implementing the 13th Amendment to the constitution and going beyond". Why are we not surprised? As this writer pointed out even before Modi assumed office, Sri Lanka is just a file in the Indian foreign office. more..

Why blame Farbrace?

June 1 (CT) The departure of Paul Farbrace, the national head coach only three months into his contract for new cricketing pastures in the green and pleasant cricket fields of his beloved England has caused concern and chaos within the board; frustration among the national cricketers and disappointment amongst the fans. Observers are naturally bemused, the national cricketers are affected by the uncertainty in their preparation and planning of the current English tour and SLC, more..

Sri Lanka's other power couple

June 1 (CI) Through the course of life, people move in and out of each others' grasp. They forge alliances, break them, move together and then drift apart. Lifelong bonds are most rewarding, but rare. More often, people make temporary associations, built on a coincidence of interests or desires. In SL team, Sangakkara and Mahela share an elemental connection. On the field, on tour and in public imagination, they are inseparable. more..

Root thinks differently to down Dilshan

June 1 (CI) Maybe Joe Root's motto should be if you can't get them out take them out. His flooring of Dilshan was entirely accidental - Root was going for the ball and got into a tangle with Dilshan's legs - but it could well have played a part in Dilshan's dismissal. He needed treatment to his ankle after being crunched by Root, his legs getting trapped under Root's body as they both ended up in a heap at the crease. It also cost Sri Lanka a single and an over later Dilshan fell to James Anderson. more..

Refreshing winds across palk strait

June 1 (SL) A fresh outlook for Indo-Sri Lanka relations opened with the visit of President Mahinda Rajapaksa to New Delhi on the invitation of Indian PM Narendra Modi. This should be considered a welcome change for relations between the countries that had commenced souring after the continuous rule of the decade-old regime of Congress in India and an equally senior the Rajapaksa govt of Sri Lanka. The Indian PM in his talks with President Rajapaksa had expressed interest more..

Sri Lanka needs to deliver on its promises

June 1 (SL) As President Mahinda Rajapaksa participated in the swearing-in ceremony of Indian PM Narendra Modi, President Rajapaksa had given certain assurances and welcomed the views of the new PM. Modi had in depth talks with Rajapaksa on expediting “the process of national reconciliation in a manner that meets the aspirations of the Tamil community for a life of equality, justice, peace and dignity in a united Sri Lanka” more..

When Sri Lankans whitewashed England

June 1 (Island) When one reminisces Sri Lanka’s cricket tours to England, the 1998 tour stands out. On that occasion, the tourists recorded their maiden Test win after winning the Emirates tri-nation tournament that involved the hosts and South Africa. But equally productive was the tour of 2006. On that occasion, the Sri Lankans squared the three match Test series before thrashing England 5-0 in the ODIs that followed. There wasn’t much optimism when the Sri Lankans landed in London in May 2006 more..

Parliament experiences break with tradition

June 1 (NS) It is the usual practice in the House to allocate a specific date to pass votes of condolences on the demise of MPs. This has been the tradition since its beginning. There is no specific time limit for votes of condolences. Usually the family members of the late MP are invited to Parliament, hosted at the Members’ canteen and then taken to the Speaker’s guests gallery from where they hear the House praising the dead. This practice was broken or rather we could say was interrupted last week. more..

Vehicle assembly plants for Maruti Suzuki India and Land Rover Defenders stalled

June 1 (ST) Sri Lanka has restricted the setting up of vehicle assembly plants by local companies in joint ventures with foreign automobile manufacturers shattering the plans of Maruti Suzuki India and the local agent of Land Rover Defenders. The govt will not give permits to open vehicle assembly plants in the country as the local inputs for such projects are minimal, senior official said. A directive has been issued to the BOI to more..

View from Ritigala - by mahasona

June 1 (NS) The bald-headed Regie of Kalutara - who was at one time a close ally of CBK- has now taken cue from Champika and Lemon Puff Wansa and declared war on the govt saying the present UPFA regime - formed by the power of ‘pancha maha balawegaya’ - is now going astray. “Although the roots of the UPFA tree are formed by common masses belonging to the grassroots level, its flowers emanate an “alien smell”, Reggie said addressing a public meeting in Kalutara. more..

Tug of war starts between Modi and SL govt

June 1 (SL) A day after Indian PM Narendra Modi’s swearing-in ceremony, at around 10.30 a.m. President Rajapaksa walked into ‘Hyderabad House’ in New Delhi for a 30 minute meeting between the two heads of state. Although the Indian PM met Pakistani Head of State Nawaz Sheriff on the same day, that did not steal the limelight from the Modi- Rajapaksa meeting – which was obviously a hot topic for Indian media. Ministers G.L. Peiris, Arumugam Thondaman, Monitoring MP of more..

FUTA ready for token strike on June 3

June 1 (Island) "Everything is now ready for our token strike with all unions attached to the Federation of University Teachers’ Association confirming their participation on June 3," said Dr. Nirmal Ranjith Dewasiri, Past President of FUTA. "We are now ready to resume our trade union action to seek our demands", said Chandragupta Thenuwara, President, FUTA at a press conference last week. more..

Uva PC to be dissolved after June 12?

June 1 (Island) The govt is expected to dissolve the Uva PC after June 12 to seek a fresh mandate from the people, senior SLFP sources said. The poll will be concluded before the budget 2015 scheduled for early November. The incumbent Uva Chief Minister Shasheendra Rajapaksa, the eldest son of Speaker Chamal Rajapaksa and a nephew of the President, who received a record 136,697 preferential votes in 2009, is the most popular UPFA choice for a second term, the sources said. more..

PB: Too valuable to be dropped

June 1 (ST) The corridors of the hallowed Ministry of Finance and Planning, the most powerful ministry in Sri Lanka, was buzzing with speculation this week as to whether Treasury Secretary Dr. P.B. Jayasundera would step down and take up a foreign assignment – either in the diplomatic service or with an international lending agency. The under-pressure Secretary, easily the most powerful and influential public official ever, so much so that he was brought back to the post even after resigning more..

Customs take over vehicle valuation, prices soar

June 1 (ST) In a bid to curb a major tax fraud, the Customs Department is to decide on the value of brand new vehicles instead of accepting the declaration by the importer, Customs Director General Jagath Wijeweera said. The move comes after investigations revealed that vehicle importers, including leading companies, were undervaluing the vehicles to get a lower tax. “Under the new scheme, Customs has set up a Valuation Committee more..

Customs Port Control Unit begins operations today

June 1 (SO) The new Customs Port Control Unit set up to combat the narcotics menace and illicit goods trafficking will commence operations from today, the sources said. Having completed the second phase of a four-week training program on Friday, the selected group of 15 officials will commence operations at the new Port Control Unit at the Customs Headquarters in Fort. The new Port Control Unit set up on May 19 under the supervision of the World Customs Organisation (WCO) more..

Time to scrap the Constitution – Ranil

June 1 (NS) UNP National Leader Ranil Wickremesinghe has called for the scrapping of the Second Republican Constitution of 1977 along with the amendments that were made and for its replacement by a brand new document. Wickremesinghe made this call at an event in Monaragala yesterday to felicitate UNP MP Ranjith Maddumabandara who celebrated 25 years in politics. 1977 Constitution was the brainchild of Wickremesinghe’s uncle J.R. Jayewardene. more..

Lankan maid alleges sponsor poisoned her

June 1 (AN) A Sri Lankan maid claimed that she was not paid, beaten and poisoned by her sponsor during her stay in Riyadh. Amitha Kumari, a mother of two and resident of Iranawila, arrived home on a stretcher and had to undergo several operations on her stomach. Kumari claimed that her sponsor tried to kill her with poison and that she now cannot eat solid food and only have liquids fed through a tube to her stomach. more..

No plans to pull Lankans out of Ukraine

June 1 (ST) Sri Lanka is monitoring the unrest in Ukraine where about 200 Sri Lankans live but there are no plans to ask them to leave, according to Udayanga Weeratunga, who is Ambassador to Russia with concurrent accreditation to Ukraine. He said that of the 200 Sri Lankans in Ukraine, about 60 are students but the situation did not warrant an official travel advisory for Sri Lankans. However, India has asked its citizens in Ukraine to leave and advised Indians to avoid non-essential travel more..

Modi may appoint a special envoy

June 1 (SL) Indian PM Narendra Modi may appoint a special envoy on the Sri Lankan issue, a Tamil media report in India stated. The ‘One India’ Tamil publication quoted sources as saying that the special envoy, if appointed, will communicate between India and Sri Lanka. Last week President Mahinda Rajapaksa and Modi met for bilateral talk, a day after the latter took oaths as the new Premier. The two leaders had an in-depth discussion of issues of mutual concern. more..

NFF, JHU against full implementation of 13A

June 1 (CT) The JHU and the NFF, strongly oppose the full implementation of the 13th Amendment to the Constitution, as is being insisted by India. JHU Leader, Ven. Omalpe Sobhitha Thera, said Sri Lankan Govt has already put itself in a difficult position as a result of acting on the instructions of India, and warn if the govt continues to take instructions from India, it will push the govt towards a worse position. more..

CEB records Rs. 5 billion surplus

June 1 (SL) The CEB has reportedly recorded a surplus of Rs. 5 billion in the last financial year with the use of coal in Phase 1 and 2 of the Norochcholai power plant. CEB was targeting a Rs 6 billion surplus in the coming commercial year. ‘If you take the average price for diesel power at Rs 25 and the average price of coal (Including loan repayment) would be Rs 9.41- a Rs. 15.59 saving, which, calculated with the total units from Phase 1 and 2 which are 4,829,362,200, more..

TNA, SLMC to jointly work on N&E issues

June 1 (CT) TNA and the SLMC have decided to join hands and work towards finding a solution to the problems faced by the people of the North and East. MPs of the two Parties met at the Kalmunai Municipal Council on Friday to discuss the possibility of working together. SLMC was represented by it's Leader Rauff Hakeem, and General Secretary, Hasen Ali, while the TNA was represented by MPs, Mavai Senathiraja, M.A. Sumanthiran, C. Yogeswaran and P. Ariyanenthiran. more..

Govt. wrong-footed at Modi meeting

June 1 (ST) Message was delivered last Tuesday, the very first day he was in office as the 15th PM of India. Premier Modi asked President Rajapaksa for the “early and full implementation of the 13th Amendment to the Constitution.” He said the Govt “should expedite the process of national reconciliation in a manner that meets the aspirations of the Tamil community for a life of equality, justice, peace and dignity in a united Sri Lanka.” more..

Health education, the main focus to control Dengue epidemic

June 1 (SO) Minister Prof. Tissa Vitarana said that health education should be the main focus to control the Dengue epidemic and there should be a more sensible approach to combat it. “I have been doing research on Dengue and I have been a member of the WHO Dengue Task Force since it was set up and also participated in the program to control Dengue throughout the world.” As such, I have the expertise in this area. If my opinion is sought at any time, I am ready to offer it,” Minister said. more..

After 22 years, suspects own up to crime

June 1 (ST) Two policemen pleaded guilty after 22 years to a charge of culpable homicide not amounting to murder before Kandy High Court Judge, who sentenced them to two years rigorous imprisonment. The two accused Nandini Katugastota and Matalpuragedera Nilaraja who were Reserve Police Constables had committed the offence in or around October 2, 1992 at Thiranagama, Wahakotte. Halfway through the trial, they pleaded guilty to culpable homicide more..

Talk at the Cafe Spectator

June 1 (ST) Northern Provincial Chief Minister C.V. Wigneswaran is a man of many parts. He was once a lawyer, then a magistrate and retired later as a Supreme Court judge. When he turned politician by becoming the TNA chief minister candidate at last September’s NPC elections, he courted the media. Many were the interviews and media conferences he gave. He became CM and continued his public relations drive meeting more..

Controversy rocks historic Dambulla temple

June 1 (ST) One of Sri Lanka’s most ancient and valuable archaeological monuments is at the centre of a worsening dispute that could imperil its status as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The UNESCO World Heritage Committee that meets this month in the Qatari capital, Doha, will consider reports that activities in the environs of the Rangiri Dambulla Raja Maha Viharaya are endangering the 1st Century BC temple. more..