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Transparency, free media make democracy work

Jan 31 (CT) As Vice News producer Isobel Yeung put her life in danger as she walked the dangerous streets of Uighur alongside unsuspecting military, fear was kept aside as she searched for stories of the many victims that were detained in internment camps for many years, having to abandon their families and children who are now orphans in the State’s eyes. As acclaimed journalist Walter Cronkite once said, “Journalism is what we need to make democracy work,” portraying how democratic more..

Rise of Rajavasala Injustice

Jan 31 (Island) There is a new nationalism having its impact on the world today. It is Vaccine Nationalism. As the pandemic keeps spreading, and faster with variants, Vaccine Nationalism is rapidly moving towards a Vaccine War, with the EU and UK showing a display of vaccine weaponry. SL has received its first vaccine weapons against Covid-19, from neighbouring India. There is more such weaponry sailing here from China more..

Independence Compromised

Jan 31 (ST) Come Independence Day next week (Feb 4), and what ought to be a day of joyous celebration, a day to pay homage to those forebears who went through 450 years of colonial rule and to all those who paved the way for freedom, alas, is being marked in a pall of gloom. Damning report by a controversial int'l agency dubbed a cesspool of political bias, cherry-picking on events in SL hangs over this nation. The country is not being toasted by the world community, or a part thereof. more..

Little cause for celebration

Jan 31 (ST) My dear Mother Lanka, I thought of writing to you because you would be celebrating our 73rd anniversary of independence in a few days. For all the noise we make on Feb 4 every year, I am not sure whether celebrating is the right word, and whether we are indeed independent, for that matter. It has been seven decades since the British left our shores. If we were still a colony, would we be better off? Have we made real progress being in charge of our own destiny? These are questions many more..

Money laundering Lankan couple in mystery land deals valued at hundreds of millions

Jan 31 (ST) A Sri Lankan couple’s money laundering operations – now under investigation by the CID – is laying bare a spending spree of buying residences and other properties in different areas and costing hundreds of millions of rupees. In some instances, sellers who made statements have denied knowledge of the buyer – remarks that have aroused further suspicion. Statements of others are yet to be recorded. more..

Sri Lanka Cricket’s talk show takes hypocritical twist

Jan 31 (SO) Amid calls for the sacking of the current cricket administration and replacing it with an alternate body in the aftermath of catastrophic team results, the jockeying for positions and vote buying are taking shape while a high-level discussion to turn things around has been seen by analysts as an eye-washing cover-up that changes very little or nothing. An election to either allow the present set of shady SLC administrators to continue or be replaced with another tried and tested outfit is more..

A job for experts!

Jan 31 (ST) The Minister of Sports addressed the media midweek to announce the launch of the High Performance Plan for national athletes who are being earmarked to represent Sri Lanka at major international events, notably the Commonwealth and Asian Games in 2022 and the Olympic Games in 2024, including the Para segments. A very precise agenda indeed, with the terms of reference favouring medal prospects! Expanding the investment in athletes from 6% to 20% more..

Namal cracks the whip as heads roll at SLC

Jan 31 (ST) Winds of change are sweeping across Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) as Sports Minister Namal Rajapaksa has decided to crack the whip in a bid to arrest the current slide of the national team. Sri Lanka suffered two 2-0 defeats at the hands of South Africa and England which became a subject of public ridicule given how SL performed particularly in the home series against England. Minister is working closely with more..

'We aren’t playing well under pressure'

Jan 31 (ST) Earlier this week, we were in with a perfect chance to square the two-Test series against England and collect valuable points in the World Test Championship. But a session full of madness where we lost six wickets for not many saw us losing the series in dramatic style. I am lost for words with our batting approach. It was an embarrassing performance. I can see a lot of pain in our fans. People take lot of pride in our cricket and when they come and tell me that they don’t want to more..

Drop it or Lose it: New fitness rage hits town

Jan 31 (SO) This is not the kind of fitness fixing that is the talk of the town these days. What started off as a bunch of friends getting fit turned into a growing program of athletic training and wellness for both the average Joe and high-performance athletes. It is called Dropit fitness that was conceived by three college friends, Devind Pathmanathan former captain of the Royal College cricket team and currently a first-class cricketer, Heshan Nanayakkara a badminton coloursman and more..

Sooriyawewa to host 142nd Battle of Blues?

Jan 31 (ST) The blue riband annual cricket encounter between Royal College and S. Thomas’ College is likely to maintain its continuity despite speculations of tradition big matches may have to forego the year 2021. According to reliable sources, the 142nd encounter between Royal and S. Thomas’ will take place after all, but behind closed gates at the Mahinda Rajapaksa Int'l Cricket Stadium in Sooriyawewa, Hambantota. more..

Sri Lanka aims US$ 2.5B FDI for 2021

Jan 31 (CT) Govt of SL is hoping to attract more than US$ 2.5 billion worth of Foreign Direct Investments (FDIs) this year, after it saw numbers dwindle over the last two years as investor sentiment withered following the Easter Sunday attack and the adverse impacts of COVID-19 on the global economy. State Minister Ajith Nivaard Cabraal said the Govt was looking to attract over US$ 2.5 billion in FDIs this year, and facilitate increased inflows, would table draft regulations and more..

Expedite ban on single use plastic: CEJ

Jan 31 (SO) Stressing the need to expedite the ban on single use plastics through a proper and sustainable waste management mechanism that would help generate revenue to the economy, Centre for Environmental Justice (CEJ) called upon the authorities not to be swayed by certain multinational companies which are responsible for haphazard garbage disposal and be transparent about where trash finally ends up. Presenting the outcome of a recent survey during more..

SLC to cut player salaries by 40%

Jan 31 (Island) SL’s elite cricketers are set to feel the pinch soon when their national contracts are up for negotiations in six weeks time. Cricket sources said that the board is considering slashing players salaries by as much as 40% following the recent disastrous performance in the two match Test series against England. SL lost the first Test by seven wickets and the second Test inside four days by six wickets with more..

East Container Terminal

Jan 31 (Island) The proposal to sell 49% of the East Container Terminal (ECT) of the Colombo Port to a group of investors led by India’s Modi-friendly Adani Group has been the hottest potato to land on our ruling coalition’s lap since its election last year. Massive trade union and other resistance, strongly supported by the Buddhist clergy and other activists, many of whom campaigned for the Sri Lanka Podu Jana Peramuna (SLPP) and its allies at the last election, continues to escalate. more..

Adani to run the RPCs?

Jan 31 (ST) Indian investor Adani Group, in the hot spot over the ECT at the Colombo Port, has now become the centre of discussion among plantation companies as there is speculation the govt has invited them to take over some Regional Plantation companies (RPCs). There was no independent confirmation of these reports. Some of the underperforming RPCs are said to have come under the scanner of the govt and it is believed that these would be taken over by the govt and more..

Increasing retirement age: Govt proceeds with Budget proposal

Jan 31 (TM) Despite concerns raised by the private sector with regard to the Budget proposal of increasing the retirement age, the Govt is in the process of incorporating the proposal into all the relevant acts, including the EPF Act. Treasury Secretary S.R. Attygalle told us that the required measures to implement the proposal have been taken, and Ministry of Finance had informed the Ministry of Labour about the necessary more..

Build gas-import terminal, LNG power plants: Energy expert

Jan 31 (SO) SL’s electricity prices are neither the highest in the world nor the highest in the region. They were high some time ago but not anymore, said RMA Energy Managing Director and energy sector expert Dr. Tilak Siyambalapitiya. He said newspapers, officials and even politicians say so, because they like slogans and they do not bother to calculate and find the truth. The last electricity price increase was made in 2013 and almost the entire price increase was folded back in Sept 2014 more..

Overheated Colombo bourse, a magnet for newbies

Jan 31 (ST) The Colombo share market sets new highs almost every day. ‘All’ stock market participants are beyond happy. They want to continue to be happy. They want this run to last – forever. Forever is far-fetched with the overheating of the market, all ready to dissipate anytime. If, however is the catchword. Analysts predict that if the low interest rate regime prevails, if excess liquidity in the banks is maintained, if the rupee keeps on depreciating, if import restrictions aren’t lifted more..

Consensual resolution with Core Group: Politically challenging, Govt

Jan 31 (TM) Govt of SL (GoSL), which has fired off a tough response to the damning report of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (UNHCHR) Michelle Bachelet on the country’s human rights situation, and is presently perusing the proposal for a consensual resolution by the UN Core Group on SL, has stated that a consensual resolution with the Core Group at the UNHRC is likely to be politically challenging, more..

Mid sea oil discharge facility averts fuel crisis

Jan 31 (Island) Sri Lanka has averted a major fuel crisis by overhauling the Single Point Buoy Mooring (SPBM), which was virtually crumbling as it had not been refurbished since being installed in 2010. It would have spelled disaster if this offshore facility had collapsed as it’s the key link that handles the transfer of liquid cargo from oil tankers to the Muthurajawala oil tank farm, which meets 60% of the country’s demand for petrol, diesel and jet fuel, a senior official said. more..

‘Journalists are now being arrested after forcibly entering their homes’

Jan 31 (Island) In recent times, we see a different media culture. Instead of attacking them, journalists are now being arrested after forcibly entering their homes. Their computers are taken away and they are harassed. They are forced to make false statements. Some fabricate blatant lies to ensure the win of their favored politicians, says Karu Jayasuriya, Chairman of the National Movement for Social Justice (NMSJ). “Character assassination has become common. more..

Pro-govt parties oppose ECT deal with foreign investors

Jan 31 (ST) A majority of partners in the ruling alliance want the East Container Terminal (ECT) in the Colombo Port vested entirely with the SLPA. They are opposed to ceding the ECT for a joint project with India and Japan. State Minister Jayantha Samaraweera said a decision in this regard was made at a joint meeting yesterday. He said those represented were from the SLFP, PHU, LSSP, DLF, CP, SLMP, CWC, EPDP, Yuthukama Org more..

What the Indian expedition to Ram Setu/Adam’s Bridge could reveal

Jan 31 (Island) Indian scientists will soon undertake a possibly first scientific expedition to date the chain of corals and sediments forming the Ram Setu, also known as Adam’s Bridge. This 48-km long bridge-like structure between India and SL finds mention in the great Hindu epic Ramayana, but little is known or scientifically proven about its formation. Recently, a central advisory board on archaeology, functioning under the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), approved the project proposal submitted by more..

Russia permits Lanka to produce Sputnik V Vaccine

Jan 31 (SO) Russia has expressed its willingness to allow Sri Lanka to produce its own Covid-19 vaccine Sputnik V locally if the National Medicines Regulatory Authority (NMRA) authorises it for local use. Sputnik V vaccine is already being manufactured in India and those two countries signed agreements last year to produce 300 million doses of the Russian vaccine in Indian laboratories. Prez Rajapaksa has authorised the use of the Chinese and Russian drugs that have shown more..

Diplomatic bungling as Lanka faces head-on collision with UNHRC

Jan 31 (ST) A head-on confrontation between the Govt and the UN system has become inevitable, judging from the latest report of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights. The preliminary report, obtained by me from an authoritative source, appeared in these columns last week. Sections of Colombo-based diplomatic community and other ill-informed quarters, here and abroad, surmised that it had been leaked more..