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Moving towards a necessary balance

Jan 7 (CT) As the new year dawns the govt appears to be moving in the direction of more inclusivity in both domestic and foreign policy. The most contentious domestic political issue over the past nine months, and growing in intensity to include public demonstrations, has been that of the disposal of bodies of persons who succumb to the coronavirus. The Sri Lankan claim to be exceptional in the world in respect of the practice of enforced cremation has been met with the opposition more..

Will Gota mess around with 13A?

Jan 7 (CT) A brand new constitution is being drafted. It is certain that an attempt will be made to strengthen the President’s repressive powers and provide for forceful use the military jackboot to crush increasing protests feared in the wake of multiplying economic hardship and an advancing epidemic. Gota will have a fight on his hands and the outcome is not certain and I touched on this in last Wed (23) column. Among the challenges facing Lanka in this setting is what to do about 13A. more..

Is Sri Lanka being turned into a waste dump?

Jan 7 (CT) The importation of Agricultural waste from Ukraine in Dec 2020, under the pretext of bringing coriander into the country, has raised concerns on SL being a waste dumping hotspot, despite steps taken to re-export waste illegally imported into the country from the UK, nearly two months prior to this incident. Following several legal battles and environmental concerns, over the importation of containers, more..

Death’s doorstep dilemma

Jan 7 (CT) Death is a common certainty. Last rites and rituals differ in each country, depending on location and religion. During natural and man-made disasters circumstances warrant that last rites and rituals be dispensed with owing to the advanced state of decomposition and eventual difficulties in identification. The dead are then buried in mass graves. For centuries the poor in many countries have also been buried in mass graves. Creepy as it may sound another common practice is more..

Burial, cremation dilemma needs a re-think

Jan 7 (DM) The controversy over whether the bodies of those, who die of the COVID-19 infection, should be buried or cremated is continuing unabated with some groups urging the govt to stick to its policy of mandatory cremation irrespective of the dead person’s religious persuasion. They fear that the burial of infected bodies could pollute ground-water resources and be a source of spreading the infection. Other groups are urging the govt to allow bodies of Muslims, who die of viral infection, more..

'I am the Godfather of Russian tourists'

Jan 7 (DM) Former SL Ambassador to Russia Udayanga Weeratunga is back in the scene in a controversial way once again. He is blamed for tarnishing the govt’s pilot project by bringing in tourists from Ukraine and then making his own decisions without consulting the authorities. A feud has also erupted between Weeratunga and SLTDA Chairperson Kimarli Fernando, with the latter blaming him for taking tourists more..

Subramanyam Jaishankar & pounds of flesh

Jan 7 (DM) Indian Foreign Minister arrived in Sri Lanka on Tuesday. His schedule includes discussions with the President, PM and the Foreign Minister. Any visit by any Indian minister or senior official is important, this is undebatable. Not because we are old friends or have a long, shared history (the friendship is debatable and the history has been by and large sordid). That said things can change (very slowly, yes). PM Modi is not exactly a clone of the late PM Rajiv Gandhi who thought more..

Editorial: ECT and PM’s assurance

Jan 7 (Island) Port workers protesting against what they call a proposed joint venture between Sri Lanka and an Indian company to operate the East Container Terminal (ECT) of the Colombo Port have succeeded in making the government beat a hasty retreat. PM Rajapaksa yesterday told Parliament the govt had not decided to hand over the ECT, a part of it, or its management to a foreign company. He said so in answer to a question raised by JJB MP and JVP leader Anura Kumara Dissanayake. more..

Basil Rajapaksa

With diluted powers, the Election Commission faces a daunting task

Jan 7 (GV) Universal franchise is the right of all qualified citizens irrespective of their race, religion, language, ethnicity, caste, education, ownership of wealth, birth, the place of birth, gender or any other difference to participate in the administration of the country and to elect their representatives. Universal franchise confers sovereignty in the people; the right of taking decisions about himself or herself and about the county is vested with the citizen. The foundation of the republics based on more..

Microsoft partners fuel economic recovery

Jan 7 (Island) Microsoft held a free digital-only event for business executives and govt officials in Sri Lanka to share how the Microsoft Partner Network has helped businesses adjust and solve the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic. “Our partner ecosystem is working hard to ensure that our customers can respond and recover from the impact the pandemic has had across business processes, industries and organizations in SL,” said Hasitha Abeywardena, Country Manager, Microsoft more..

Covid-19 curative tonics: Truth or myth?

Jan 7 (TM) With the series of media appearances made by the creator of a curative indegenius potion for Covid-19, and ayurvedic recipes by experts and practitioners to cure the disease shared on social media, the past couple of weeks have been a confusing time for many Sri Lankans. Several other such curative tonics have also made their way to the public domain. However we saw swarms of people flocking over to these more..

Geological explanation of the recent Earth tremors near Victoria Dam

Jan 7 (Island) Geologically the crust of Sri Lanka consists mainly of metamorphic rocks and to a lesser degree sedimentary and igneous rocks. Rocks in Sri Lanka are subdivided into High Land, Vijayan, Wanni complexes and some sedimentary rocks. However, around the Kandy region there are classical rock types. These can be found in Syncline form in Gadaladeniya, Dumbara and Teldeniya Arena. I like to name these rocks, Arena rocks (also known as Kadugannawa Rocks). more..

Is Colombo ready to face new Covid-19 strain from UK?

Jan 7 (Island) It is inevitable that the new Covid-19 strain VUI 202012/01 now spreading like wildfire in the southern parts of the UK will arrive in the country sooner than later. We are still battling with the mutant European strain in the so-called second wave of the pandemic at the moment. What would happen if a new outbreak takes place in the country before we control the present one? That would be catastrophic in the most vulnerable place in the country, the city of Colombo. more..

Ministry of Education delivers another blow to endurance events

Jan 7 (Island) The Ministry of Education has scrapped the distance medley relay which was reintroduced to the programme of the All Island Schools Relay Carnival at its last edition. The relay is not in the All Island Schools Relay Carnival agenda of the recently issued circular outlining the programmes pertaining to school sports. Sports authorities of the ministry have also disregarded numerous requests to include 4×800 metres more..

Zak Crawley out to prove he is no one-hit wonder in SL after epic 267 against Pakistan

Jan 7 (CI) Zak Crawley isn't really the sort to go in for tubthumping, nor would he ever claim to be the one and only. But he has insisted he doesn't want to be remembered as a one-hit wonder as he heads into England's series in SL looking to build on his breakthrough as a Test cricketer. Crawley's most recent Test innings was a monumental 267 against Pakistan, his maiden international hundred. It was an innings of both class and enormity that seemed to announce him, at 22, as a major new talent more..

MAS recognised as one of South, Southeast Asia’s Most Influential Innovators

Jan 7 (FT) Twinery, Innovations by MAS, was a recipient of the South and South East Asia Innovation Awards held recently. Awards are organised annually by Clarivate PLC (formerly Thompson Reuters) one of the global leaders in the intellectual property and innovation fraternity. This year the top 28 out of 235 organisations received the award. This is the first time a SL entity has won such an award. MAS Holdings is also the first apparel manufacturing entity to receive more..

Covid-19 Situation Report

Namal strives for sports resumption

Jan 7 (CT) A discussion had taken place between officials from the Ministry of Youth and Sports and the Ministry of Health at the Ministry of Health on 5 January, concerning the resumption of training activities of all sports in the country, since such activities had been put on hold due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Ministry of Youth and Sports said in a Media release. During the discussion the officials from both Ministries had exchanged views regarding the importance more..

Controversy over MTD Walkers AGM

Jan 7 (CT) MTD Walkers PLC’s second largest minority shareholder Udaya Thuduwewatte accused MTD Walkers Malaysian ownership of conducting their AGM online yesterday illegally, with no notice being issued to its minor shareholders. In a letter drafted to the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) Director General, Thuduwewatte, also the third largest shareholder of the company, complained, that he and many other minority shareholders were not informed of nor more..

No new positive tests for England gives boost to Sri Lanka series prospects

Jan 7 (CI) England's tour of Sri Lanka will continue - for now, at least - after the latest round of Covid-19 tests showed no new positive results. The squad will hold their first training session of the tour in Hambantota on Wednesday afternoon, where Moeen Ali has now returned to stay in separate accommodation, after an aborted plan to relocate him to Galle following his positive Covid test. more..

Ceramic manufacturers call for equal terms against imports

Jan 7 (FT) SL Ceramic Council this week called on the govt to correct the book value of the Dept of Customs for ceramic ware to $ 100, in order to encourage existing manufacturers and promote new entrepreneurs. Council observed the current rate of $ 35 was unrealistically low, and the flood of cheap imports was undermining the local industry. SL Ceramic Council President Mahendra Jayasekera, remarked that whilst domestic production was inadequate to cater to local demand, more..

British Tamil organizations unite to bring a resolution to create IIIM on SL at UNHRC

Jan 7 (CT) More than 250 Tamil Organizations based in the UK have come together in a bid to push the British Govt to sponsor a Resolution in relation to Sri Lanka at the 46th UNHRC session in March 2021. Following a series of discussions with senior diplomats, intellectuals, prominent human rights experts, and international lawyers, it was unanimously agreed and decided by all major diaspora organizations in the UK to make a request to the UK Govt to sponsor a resolution more..

Migrant worker repatriation: Health Ministry vetoing home quarantine

Jan 7 (TM) A proposal made by the SL Bureau of Foreign Employment (SLBFE) to permit migrant workers to undergo home-based self-quarantine following repatriation has been effectively vetoed by the Ministry of Health, claiming that workers lack discipline. SLBFE Deputy General Manager – Training Mangala Randeniya said that the proposal was made in December (2020) and that the health authorities had expressed more..

'Women, children not a priority for Govt'

Jan 7 (TM) SJB MP Rohini Wijeratne Kavirathna has charged that women and children are not a priority for the Government, as they are not represented at the level of the Cabinet of Ministers. “The most important categories of the population are no longer a priority, as the subject of women’s affairs is placed under the Ministry of Education, along with pre and primary schools, school infrastructure, and education services. It is disappointing, indeed, that women who make up more than 13 mil (52%) more..

Two COVID-19 deaths bring total to 219

Jan 7 (FT) The deaths of two persons due to COVID-19 yesterday brought the country’s total COVID-19 death count to 219. A 60-year-old individual from Dehiwala passed away at the National Institute of Infectious Diseases (NIID). He was transferred to the NIID after testing positive for COVID-19 at the Colombo South Teaching Hospital. The cause of death is blood poisoning, kidney disease and COVID-pneumonia. A 78-year-old resident of Alauwwa passed away yesterday more..

'We have to be thankful for Ukraine for sending tourists'

Jan 7 (DM) Former SL Ambassador to Russia Udayanga Weeratunga who is involved in bringing tourists from Ukraine said he would bring in more tourists from the countries belonging to the former Russian federation if others did not stand in his way. He said he could bring more tourists from Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan. Weeratunga said that he chose Ukraine to attract tourists for SL under the pilot project because of several reasons. more..

Govt to amend 37 existing laws including MMDA

Jan 7 (FT) Justice Minister Ali Sabry said the Govt is looking to amend 37 pieces of legislation, including the Muslim Marriage and Divorce Act (MMDA) to make the age of marriage 18 for all. “One should remember that some extremists use religion and ethnicity to fulfil their own interests. Our govt will fulfil its pledge of introducing one law for the entire nation. Our intention is to liberate both the oppressor and the oppressed,” he said. Minister also said the foundation for a new court complex more..

‘All Easter attack culprits will be punished’

Jan 7 (DN) It has been almost two years since the Easter Sunday attacks which was carried out on April 21, 2019 resulting in the deaths of almost 300 and injuries to over 500 and the Govt is carrying out extensive investigations regarding this incident. “As the PCoI investigating the Easter attacks had unravelled many a vital evidence which was not found during the investigations by the parliamentary committee appointed during the previous Govt, we cannot be satisfied with the investigations more..

Triple clusters exceed 42,000 patients

Jan 7 (FT) The COVID-19 clusters that emerged from Divulapitiya, Peliyagoda and Prisons yesterday exceeded 42,000 patients, with health authorities stating that 522 COVID-19 patients were identified yesterday. 521 associates of the Peliyagoda COVID-19 cluster tested positive for the virus yesterday, bringing the total number of patients linked to the triple clusters to 42,498. In addition to the above cluster, local COVID-19 more..

Sri Lanka confident Test series with England will not be derailed by Covid

Jan 7 (TG) SL have full confidence in their biosecure arrangements for the upcoming series against England, with the chief question now being whether Covid-19 was able to spread among the tourists during the journey from London last weekend. Moeen Ali is England’s one confirmed case after testing positive on arrival on Sunday, and on Tuesday the all-rounder, who is asymptomatic, was transported from team hotel in Hambantota to one in Galle to complete his 10 days of isolation. more..

UNDP Human Development Report presented to the Foreign Minister

Jan 7 (MFA) UNDP Resident Coordinator Robert Jukham presented a copy of the UNDP Human Development Report 2020 to Foreign Minister Dinesh Gunawardena on 5 Jan at the Foreign Ministry. Foreign Minister Gunawardena appreciated the UNDP’s cooperation with SL and expressed his appreciation of UNDP’s response to Covid-19 early interventions. He mentioned that free education and health policies of SL, among other things, have significantly contributed to the country’s more..

Govt for pro-growth policies, says PM

Jan 7 (FT) Sticking to pro-growth policies, PM Mahinda Rajapaksa told Parliament the Govt’s focus was on keeping public finances on an even keel, while maintaining a simplified tax system for the private sector to capitalise on positive growth achieved in the third quarter. “SL’s economy has fared better than many other countries in the world in the wake of COVID-19 in 2020, with an economic growth rate of 1.5% in 3rd quarter more..

Fulfill Tamil expectations, India tells SL

Jan 7 (TM) Indian Minister of External Affairs Dr. S. Jaishankar yesterday urged the SL Govt to satisfy the expectations of the Tamil people and fulfill the Govt’s commitments on the 13th Amendment to the Constitution. “It is in SL’s own interest that the expectations of the Tamil people for equality, justice, peace, and dignity within a united Sri Lanka are fulfilled. That applies equally to the commitments made by the SL Govt on meaningful devolution, including 13th Amendment to Constitution. more..

PM says no decision to hand over ECT to foreign company

Jan 7 (Island) PM Mahinda Rajapaksa told Parliament that no decision had been made to hand over the East Container Terminal (ECT) of the Colombo Port or part of it to a foreign entity, or involve a foreign venture in managing it. PM said that ECT would be developed by the govt and no decision had been made so far to hand it over to a foreign company. The PM said that the yahapalana govt had inked an agreement over the ECT without involving Ministry of Ports & Naval Affairs. more..

TNA wants regional councils to replace PCs: Submits proposals for new constitution

Jan 7 (TM) The TNA has proposed to the committee of experts appointed to draft a new constitution that regional councils should replace the established provincial councils (PCs), with these regional councils including territory in the North and East predominantly occupied by Tamil-speaking people. The TNA, which is represented in the Opposition as the ITAK, has also proposed that the nature of the SL State be more..

Central Expressway: COPE barking up the wrong tree

Jan 7 (FT) Recently COPE revealed massive irregularities in the construction of Central Expressway running into billions of rupees, allegating more than Rs. 1.7 billion was spent on feasibility studies. In addition, the delay in commencement of the first section of the Central Expressway, from Kadawatha to Mirigama, from 2015 to 2019, had caused a financial loss of Rs. 8 billion. It was alleged that changing the original plan to commence the road from Kadawatha, more..

What is right is not popular; what is popular is not right

Jan 7 (FT) The virus that made many a person to wish gladly to witness the back of 2020 has mutated – not that it is an unusual feature for viruses – and had cast a different spell over few countries especially England and South Africa. We speak of the need to take precautions over the mutations and had taken action not exactly in line with caution. However, evolutionary biologists may actually say and indicate to us not to worry and as such we may have inadvertently acted in scientific order! more..

පාර්ලිමේන්තු මන්ත්‍රි අතුරලියේ රතන

First in Sri Lanka: LOLC General Insurance achieves Rs 6B in Gross Written Premium

Jan 7 (CT) LOLC General Insurance, a fully owned subsidiary of the LOLC Group recently became Sri Lanka’s first general insurance company to achieve Rs 6 Billion Gross Written Premium (GWP), in less than 10 years. The company reached the Rs 6 billion mark in December 2020, becoming the fastest general insurance company to achieve this milestone in the industry. LOLC General Insurance CEO, Kithsiri Gunawardena talks of the many key attributes that helped reach this achievement. more..