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19A and electoral reforms run into a storm

Mar 22 (CT) Political parties within the coalition govt and the opposition seem to be caught in deep under water currents over the constitutional changes and electoral reforms. Division of opinion to agree on these key issues now seem to crack the pledge of the 100-day programme put before the people to obtain the mandate last January to rule the country. President Sirisena and govt drew up the programme with several more..

Recharging groundwater for enhanced water quantity and quality

Mar 22 (Island) Wisdom of King Parakaramabahu the Great was such that centuries before phrases such as climate change or recharging ground water came into vogue, the farsighted monarch knew that not a single drop of water should be allowed to flow to the sea without using it for human benefit. Centuries before the world came to talk of water and sustainable development at global forums, our own dahasak wewu bendi rata or the dry zone of the island with thousands of reservoirs more..

'Around 74,000 children affected annually by trauma and mental strain'

Mar 22 (Island) Professor Maithree Wickremesinghe said that hard facts are that women are still literally second class citizens. This phenomenon is common in the widest cross section of the social order with no identified respite in the foreseeable future. She was addressing The World Vision International Women’s Day commemoration in Colombo as the keynote speaker. World Vision circumstance brought about discrimination at work, at home, and priority areas where women were virtually second class more..

Zeid will push to release report

Mar 22 (CG) The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Prince Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein has noted that he will release the investigations report on Sri Lanka by September, even if there is a fresh push to postpone it again. Responding to a question posed by an NGO at a closed door meeting on the sidelines of the UNHRC session in Geneva, Zeid al-Hussein said that report is likely to be released two weeks ahead of more..

Docs in showdown with govt on Tuesday

Mar 22 (ST) Over 15,000 Govt doctors island-wide are set for trade union action on Tuesday demanding authorities resolve issues related to their salaries and allowances, the GMOA said. Association Spokesman Dr. Naveen de Zoysa said the health sector will be severely affected when doctors of all hospitals, except for those on duty at the Lady Ridgeway Children’s Hospital in Colombo, Sirimavo Bandaranaike Children’s Hospital more..

China confident of resolving Colombo Port City Project dispute this week

Mar 22 (Island) Amidst preparations to receive President Maithripala Sirisena in Beijing on an official visit this week, China says that the suspension of the US$ 1.5 billion Colombo Port City Project was only a temporary setback to bilateral relations. The new Sirisena administration’s decision to suspend the project pending a review of the various approvals obtained by the investor, China Communication Construction Company, more..

Bond issue: Probe committee to question dealers on inside info

Mar 22 (ST) A Govt-committee probing the controversial Treasury bond issue is to summon bond dealers for questioning this week to ascertain if any party benefitted from inside information. There were also concerns on whether any party had engaged in any short selling of bonds prior to the controversial bond auction. Short selling of bonds, which is illegal, is where a party sells bonds or stock that do not belong to it. more..

Criminals crawling out of woodwork

Mar 22 (CT) Change of govt following the 8 January election has seemingly put an end to the white van menace. Incidents of suspects being shot to death by the police for attempting to escape while being escorted to the places where they had hidden their weapons have also come to a halt. Hence, underworld figures have now started coming out of the woodwork to once again engage in criminal activities, without fear more..

Iran's Deputy FM here on Uma Oya issue

Mar 22 (CT) The Deputy Foreign Minister of Iran, Rasool Eslami arrived in Sri Lanka last Friday to engage in a discussion regarding the problems in connection with the Uma Oya Multi-Purpose Development Project which is being constructed using financial assistance provided by the State of Iran through an interest-free loan. On Friday evening the Iranian Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs engaged in a discussion with more..

LG bodies to go under special commissioner

Mar 22 (CT) Contrary to its previous decision, the govt has decided to place all local govt bodies, where terms expires on 31 March 2015, under a special commissioner for a period of one year, upon dissolution. Similarly, all local govt bodies where terms will come to an end on 31 July 2015 will also be placed under a special commissioner for a period of one year. Decision was announced after Commissioner of Elections, more..

Petition against Mohan Peiris in SC

Mar 22 (ST) The recent crisis over the independence of the judiciary has taken a new turn with two petitioners seeking an order to investigate allegations against Mohan Peiris and a change in the Supreme Court bench he appointed to hear a case filed by them. Petition filed in the SC sought an order — a Writ of Mandamus – for the Commission probing allegations of bribery and corruption to initiate action against Mr. Peiris. more..

Underwhelming outing for knockout kings

Mar 22 (CI) Sri Lanka's campaign spluttered at its beginning, with a warm-up loss to Zimbabwe and a walloping by NZ in the tournament opener. It appeared to find a middling gear through the group stage, as four consecutive scores over 300 were amassed. Then, just as they promised they would be speeding up, they drove off a cliff. Hopes for World Cup victory had been substantially tempered at home, when the team lost more..

Talk at the Cafe Spectator

Mar 22 (ST) The bank details of two powerful personalities in the former regime have been handed over by the Govt to Stolen Assets Recovery Initiative (StAR) of the World Bank and the UN Office on Drugs and Crime. One of them with strong family connections is known to have held US$ 530 million whilst the other, a fixer of all sorts and now in the news, held US$ 516 million. Both have had accounts in a Bank in Dubai. more..

Undoing the wonton damage of the Rajapaksa period

Mar 22 (Island) Indo-Lanka relations were in the doldrums all through the MR years; they have never been worse, not even during the JR period. The factor that bedevilled the relationship in both periods was the Tamil question; furthermore one other issue each gave rise to disquiet during each of these two ‘regencies’. During the first term of JR’s presidency, Lanka’s foreign policy swung alarmingly in a pro-US direction at a time when Indira Gandhi’s Delhi was aligned with Moscow. more..

Netanyahu and Rajapaksa: A tale of two leaders, two elections and two polities

Mar 22 (Island) I was ready to rock and write to celebrate the defeat of Benjamin Netanyahu in last Tuesday’s elections in Israel. I was joking with my friends that Netanyahu’s defeat in Israel would make me even happier than I was after the opposition victory in Sri Lanka more than two months ago. All of this was not to be. Bibi, as he is known in Israel, managed to pull victory from the jaws of defeat, different from Mahinda Rajapaksa who pulled defeat from the jaws of victory. more..

New National Govt soon, 9 portfolios likely for SLFP

Mar 22 (ST) Next week will see the birth of a National Govt with at least nine ministerial portfolios going to those in the SLFP. President Maithripala Sirisena, sources said, would thus effect a re-shuffle of existing portfolios to accommodate the newcomers. The move will ensure that both the UNP as well as those in the UPFA will vote jointly in Parliament for constitutional changes and electoral reforms thus ensuring a two-thirds majority. more..

Colombo VC asked to step down, or will be removed

Mar 22 (Island) The Vice Chancellor of the University of Colombo, Dr. Kumara Hirimburegama, has been asked to step down from office, well informed sources said yesterday. He would be removed if he does not do so. They said. The suggestion that he should go had been previously made but has now been formally conveyed, these sources said. Dr. Lalith de Silva is tipped to be appointed Competent Authority for the University until a permanent appointment is made. more..

BMICH management to appeal damages judgment

Mar 22 (Island) BMICH management which was recently ordered by the Colombo District Court to pay Dr. Samitha Samanmali, then a medical student, who suffered serious injuries in a 2008 accident at the conference center, Rs. 180 million damages has received notice of appeal, she said on Friday. Samanmali suffered extensive injuries by a steel spar striking her when a shelter erected for the Deyata Kirula exhibition at BMICH collapsed in a storm and needed extensive treatment more..

30 SLFP MPs join UNP-UPFA National Govt from today

Mar 22 (CT) Following a shock decision worked out in total secrecy last Friday with Premier Ranil Wickremesinghe, President Maithripala Sirisena will this afternoon swear-in 30 SLFP MPs as ministers, 15 of them with Cabinet rank and 15 others as Deputy Ministers, in a political feint that will see the promised Sirisena-Wickremesinghe National Govt coming to fruition with more than a month to elapse before more..

Politicos to be arrested

Mar 22 (SL) Minister John Amaratunga says a few leading politicians will be taken into custody within next two weeks. These politicians have been alleged to have committed financial frauds, corruptions and accused of lack of transparency in State affairs. The minister said that the recording of statements from some opposition politicians has already been completed. Furthermore, the minister has instructed the IGP to carry out a comprehensive investigation into the human limbs found at more..

President, PM, CBK in Jaffna tomorrow

Mar 22 (SO) President Mathripala Sirisena, PM Ranil Wickremesinghe and former President Chandrika Kumaratunga are scheduled to fly to Jaffna tomorrow morning on an important symbolic visit to the North, to distribute title deeds of lands in the former High Security Zones being returned to families displaced by the war. Minister D.M.Swaminathan, who will accompany the national leaders on their brief visit to Jaffna, said that the ceremonial distribution of the title deeds more..

Sequence of events: Suspicions all round

Mar 22 (ST) Monetary Board of the Central Bank (CB) met Monday, Feb 23 and on the following day issued its monthly monetary policy stating that the interest rates were unchanged. Thereafter between Feb 24 and 26, an interested party sold treasury bonds (that it held) with the date of payment settlement being a week from then, compared to the norm of a two-day settlement from purchase period. On the morning of Friday, more..

Death of former Polls chief

Mar 22 (SO) Chandrananda de Silva, most famous as a long-time Commissioner of Elections during many controversial polls, passed away yesterday at his resident at Rajagiriya. He was 78 years of age. After retiring from a lengthy career in elections administrator, De Silva later served briefly as Secretary Defence and as an Advisor to President Chandrika Kumaratunga. A former student of Rahula College, Matara de Silva was appointed an Assistant Elections Commissioner in 1960 and more..

PM as Leader of govt 19A draft in Parliament on 24 March

Mar 22 (CT) The Draft 19th Amendment to the Constitution bearing an amendment, defining the Prime Minister as the leader of the government, will be tabled in Parliament on 24 March, government sources told Ceylon Today. The Gazette Notification printed on 15 March dated, 13 March specifies that the clause in the Constitution defining the President as being the leader of the government has been removed from the Constitution in the amending Draft Bill. more..

Lanka’s Moscow envoy accused of selling arms to Ukraine rebels

Mar 22 (ST) Udayanga Weeratunga, SL’s former Ambassador to Russia, has been accused by Ukraine of involvement in arms sales to separatist rebels fighting troops in that country. Govt of President Petro Poroshenko has made a complaint to the Foreign Ministry in Colombo in this regard providing details of Mr. Weeratunga’s involvement, Minister Mangala Samaraweera said. “We will conduct a full investigation into this matter,” more..

If you are going to India, wear a mask

Mar 22 (ST) Health authorities have instructed tour operators organising pilgrimages to India to advise their elderly clients to take necessary precautions against the A(H1N1) epidemic — also called Indian swine flu – which has killed about 2,000 people while about 31,000 have fallen victim. Health Ministry has warned especially the elderly, mothers-to-be and those with chronic illnesses to take precautions if they are going to India. They have been advised to use surgical masks more..

19 from SL to attend 2-day talks on fishermen

Mar 22 (ENS) A 19-member Sri Lankan team, comprising 10 fishermen’s leaders and nine officials, will be participating in talks between the fishermen’s associations of Sri Lanka and India to be held in Chennai on March 24 and 25. This will the third time fishermen’s associations of the two countries will be meeting to thrash out the issue of fishing in the Palk Straits and Palk Bay. The first meeting was held in Chennai on Jan 27, 2014, and the second in Colombo on May 12, 2014. more..

Inside story: How Maithripala Sirisena spent election night on a Dodangaslanda estate

Mar 22 (Island) With President Maithripala Sirisena’s revelation to Sandeshaya, that there were plans to destroy his whole family if he lost the presidential poll, political sources recalled how the then common candidate was escorted under cover of darkness to an estate owned by a close friend in the Kurunegala district. Just days after the Jan 8 presidential election, The Sunday Island learnt how the drama unfolded at Dodangaslanda, more..

Hospital admissions due to poisonous sea creatures rising

Mar 22 (SO) A surge in the number of patients admitted to hospitals from poisonous sea creatures has caused alarm among health officials. "Some are already known to us. But many remain elusive. We need to urgently identify them as they collectively pose a danger to public health and life," Dr Waruna Gunathileke of National Hospital Sri Lanka, said. He said to contain this emerging threat, his Unit had launched an in-depth study on poisonous marine life in Sri Lanka, for the first time. more..

Hokandara - a new haven for drug peddlers

Mar 22 (Island) A fair number of middle and upper middle class families who opted to move into the quiet, eco- friendly and nature surrounded areas of Hokandara South are currently faced with a nightmarish situation where a neighboring plot of land belonging to Lake House has been converted by a gang of drug peddlers who freely use the property terrorizing residents. These lands were purchased by residents from The Finance Company in 2003 by breadwinners who are in their late more..

SEC halts UDA debenture, calls for audited accounts

Mar 22 (ST) SEC has halted the Urban Development Authority's (UDA) Rs. 10 billion debenture issue and called for its audited accounts of 2012 and 2013. The state entity was gearing to launch the bond for low-cost housing before last year end, but owing to the political changes it was put off. “When they had made a fresh application, we saw that they hadn’t audited their accounts for the past two years. more..

Aloysius family exits JV with Browns

Mar 22 (ST) Four days after the controversial Treasury bond issue on Febr 27, the Aloysius family exited from its joint venture with the Browns Group. On March 3, the Aloysius family company Perpetual Holdings (part of Perpetual Capital) sold its 50% stake in FLC Joint Venture Company (Pvt) Ltd to Brown Investments, bringing Browns’ total ownership to 100 per cent. FLC Joint Venture Company was a joint venture between Browns Investment and Perpetual Holdings. more..

Pakistani sex worker ring exposed

Mar 22 (SL) The special investigation unit of the Department of Immigration and Emigration says an extensive investigation had been launched into a racket where young Pakistani girls are forced to work as sex workers in Sri Lanka. It has been revealed that Pakistani girls aged between 16 and 15 have been sent to Sri Lanka to work as sex workers. Last week a group of investigators arrested five Pakistani girls in the age group between 16 and 25 during a raid in Colombo. more..

Ranatunga says likely to return as Cricket Board Chairman

Mar 22 (ST) Sri Lanka Cricket may get a boost with veteran cricketer and Minister Arjuna Ranatunga set to announce in two weeks about taking up chairmanship at the board. The minister addressing the media on Wednesday said, “If I have time I will definitely come back as Sri Lanka Cricket Chairman,” adding that his decision would be made in two weeks time. His comments came on Wednesday just before SL were eased out of more..

Circular after circular on 15% issue to senior citizens

Mar 22 (ST) Commercial banks have been instructed to accept deposits of up to Rs.1 million at 15% interest from senior citizens over 60 years with no other limitations on periods, the Sri Lanka Banks Association said in a public notice this week. The latest information provides more clarity on the confusion over the 15% interest rate which worried many senior citizens. However many 60 year-olds with more than Rs.1 million in fixed deposits still maintain the Govt cheated them by more..

Rainbow govt avoids answering questions

Mar 22 (CT) The growing habit of the rainbow govt to avoid answering questions raised by the Opposition, including those raised under Standing Order 23-2 was questioned by many opposition legislators, several times during Parliamentary sessions last week. JVP leader Anura Kumara Dissanayake and Opposition Leader Nimal Siripala de Silva brought to the notice of Speake that the govt is blissfully neglecting in answering their questions of national importance, as more..