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Boston Lanka: October 12, 2014

A slap in the face of Mother Lanka

Oct 12 (ST) My Dear Chris, I thought I must write to you because, in the last few weeks, your name has been in the headlines virtually every day although very few people had heard of you before that. Ah, what fame a mere slap in the face can bring, even though it is in fact a slap in the face for the whole country! There are those who wonder what you were doing as our representative in London, when you were in fact a medical doctor and not a career diplomat of the Foreign Service. more..

EAM like a madhatter’s dinner party

Oct 12 (ST) There is nothing so deafening as the External Affairs Ministry’s continued silence on the resignation of Sri Lanka’s High Commissioner in no less a capital than London, on a complaint that he was assaulted by a Government MP designated as ‘Monitor’ to the very same Ministry. The honourable thing for any ‘Honourable’ Minister in charge of the Ministry to do would be to inform the country of the circumstances that had led to this unprecedented event. more..

'Do they have the right to come down hard or soft on other countries?'

Oct 12 (SL) Following the recent visit to meet Pope Francis, the President told the Sri Lankans living in Italy that the government would not allow the international community to interfere into our domestic affairs and would solve our own problems. Speaking to The Sunday Leader, Minister Keheliya Rambukwella said that the government has maintained the same position throughout. more..

Electing criminals as representatives of the people

Oct 12 (SL) A regrettable feature of South Asian politics is the emergence of criminals as representatives of the people. In the last Indian legislature, 1/3 of the members were those with a criminal record, according to Indian Association for Democratic Reforms. Criminal record of the parliament elected in March this year is not available yet. Other democracies in the region including SL probably are no exceptions and we do not have a watchdog like in India to tell us who’s who. more..

SB’s teaching methods

Oct 12 (NS) The Minister of Higher Education S.B. Dissanayake doesn’t mince his words, this everyone knows. Integrity is not his strongest suit. He has a loose tongue which has got him into trouble many times, even earning him a jail sentence on one occasion. Just the other day, after students of Sabaragamuwa University tried to block him from attending the opening of a new hostel, ‘SB’ blurted out, ‘ඡන්ද කාලේ නිසා ඉවසනවාත්ව නැත්තම් අට්ටාලවලට සලකන හැටි අපි දන්නවා’ more..

'President will not overstay mandate'

Oct 12 (SO) Deputy Speaker Chandima Weerakkody said all those who talk about the third term of President Rajapaksa had not even served a single term. This is nothing new but only shows their inability. He said that as long as the people want President Rajapaksa as President, there is no one who can stand in the way. There is no candidate who can face upto President Rajapaksa as a presidential candidate. more..

Budgets, gazettes & lollipops

Oct 12 (Island) Treasury Secretary P.B. Jayasundera went public last week claiming that the forthcoming budget will be development rather than election oriented. Perhaps he is right to the extent that seeni bola traditionally proffered by politicians seeking re-election have been so much in evidence in recent days and weeks and there may well be no need to offer more inducements to the voters in the budget. It all began with the launching of the second phase of the Norochcholai coal power plant more..

Sarath N.Silva’s dangerous game

Oct 12 (Island) Last Wednesday in a statement to the Daily Mirror, former Chief Justice Sarath N. Silva put out a new set of arguments against Mahinda Rajapaksa being able to contest a presidential election for the third time. The Daily Mirror article was titled "MR can’t seek opinion on 3rd term: Ex-CJ". The gist of the former CJ’s new argument was: (a) The President cannot seek the opinion of the Supreme Court on the constitutionality of seeking a mandate for a third term. more..

Sri Lanka’s pensioners to get a digital ID

Oct 11 (LBO) Department of Pensions launches a digital identity card for pensioners in partnership with Sampath Bank. The official launch of the card held 9th September 2014 at Pensioners ’Resort in Kelaniya with the participation of over 3000 pensioners to mark the Pensioners’ Day. Over 600,000 pensioners in the country are expected to benefit from the Digital Identity Card in their banking transactions, the banks said. more..

'Sri Lanka gets US$1.3 bn in FDI by October'

Oct 11 (LBO) Sri Lanka is estimated to have received about US$ 1.3 billion of foreign direct investment by Oct 2014, investment promotions minister Lakshman Abeywardene said. For 2014 Sri Lanka targeted US$ 2 billion of investments and the minister said it is likely the target will be met. However 640 million dollars of investment is still lacking to achieve the targets. “We have already spoken to Shangrila and ask them to bring 50 million before December for their third land. more..

Party based elections differ from personality based elections

Oct 11 (CT) It can be a Local Govt election, Provincial level election or a Parliamentary election. But when talking about presidential elections it is completely a different demography. Individuals play a major role in this process. They may be attached to different political parties, but the verdict will be based on the performance of that individual. Some parties say we will disclose the name of the Common Candidate today. Some say in a weeks-time. Some say in a month. more..

Fonseka says he will shy away from common candidate race

Oct 11 (AM) Leader of the DP Sarath Fonseka reiterated that he would not extend his support to a common candidate at the next Presidential election. Fonseka was the common candidate of the opposition at the Presidential election in 2010 – where President Rajapaksa was re-elected to power with a resounding majority. “We will not support a common candidate if it puts our party in jeopardy, but we are willing to support a candidate who more..

Army Commander sets out restructuring plans

Oct 11 (SLA) Commander of the Army Lieutenant General Daya Ratnayake, addressing the troops at the ceremony, held today (10) on account of the Army Day and 65th Anniversary at the MoD grounds, assured that the ongoing Army restructuring programme would provide more and more welfare facilities and elevate the qualitative aspects by improving the Army’s organizational module, training and armament under those three spheres. more..

SB announces eradication of inhuman ragging from universities

Oct 11 (Island) Minister S.B. Dissanayake listed eradication of inhuman ragging from the university system as one of his biggest achievements. He said that they had now been able to remove in-human bullying of fresh entrants to universities very successfully. Minister Dissanayake was addressing the inaugural session of the SAARC workshop on ‘Innovations in Higher Education’ at the Global Towers Colombo 6. The two – day workshop is jointly organised by the SAARC more..

Sabaragamuwa undergrads attacked

Oct 11 (AD) The supporters of a ruling party politico are behind the attack on a Satyagraha campaign in Pambahinna, last night, says the Convenor of the Sabaragamuwa University Students Union, Rasindu Jayasinghe. “Some students have witnessed and we have received information that the group was accompanied by the supporters of a ruling party Provincial Councilor,” said Jayasinghe. Some 12 students who were engaged in more..

Hudhud storm may affect Jaffna seas

Oct 11 (CG) Department of Meteorology says the severe cyclonic storm named “Hudhud” which is in the Bay of Bengal has intensified into a very severe cyclonic storm and was located about 900 km to the North-east of Jaffna this morning. The storm is moving towards India but under the influence of the system, increase of wind speeds over the island (particularly in the Northern areas) and in the surrounding sea areas is possible. Several spells of showers will occur in the Western, more..

Towards a family policy beyond nepotism

Oct 11 (CT) Since 2010 the Ministry of Social Services has been engaged in the development of a family policy for Sri Lanka. At face value this is a laudable task and one that should be supported by all. On closer examination however a number of fundamental issues arise which cannot be ignored if this exercise is to benefit its intended beneficiaries – those families which are struggling to make ends meet and live together and which are disintegrating as mainstream ‘development’ more..

Virgin coconut oil exports come to a boil

Oct 11 (ST) The growing popularity for virgin coconut oil overseas has brought a remarkable rise in exports – but Sri Lankans are yet to recognise its benefits. Exports in the first seven months of this year brought in close to Rs. 2,500 million, up from Rs. 1,500m in the whole of last year. “This is a 146% increase compared to last year. There is a demand for Sri Lankan virgin coconut oil from US, Europe, Japan & South Korea. more..

Voting facilities for overseas Lankans not practical: Polls chief

Oct 11 (ST) A request to consider provision for Sri Lankans living overseas to vote at future elections has been turned down by the Elections Commissioner on the grounds that the move was ‘not practical’ and would need amendments to existing laws. Elections Commissioner Mahinda Deshapriya said that the issue was raised at a meeting with political party secretaries and representatives, but said it was not practical as Returning Officers would have to be sent to more..

PCB chief assures Lanka country now 'safe' for playing international cricket

Oct 11 (ANI) Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) chairman Shahryar Khan has reportedly assured Sri Lanka of foolproof security arrangements for the visiting teams as he visited the country on the last leg of his tour of South Asian cricketing nations. Shahryar went on the trip to improve coordination and forge friendly ties between cricket boards of the four South Asian cricketing nations. He met Sri Lanka Cricket Board president Jayantha Dharmadasa in Colombo and discussed more..

India is committed to assist Sri Lanka

Oct 11 (CG) Indian Govt today reiterated its continuing commitment to assist in Sri Lanka’s development with Indian assisted projects in Sri Lanka amounting to around US$ 1.63 billion. President Rajapaksa, Minister of Education Bandula Gunawardana, and High Commissioner of India Y.K. Sinha, jointly inaugurated a Language Lab at the Wayamba National College of Education, Bingiriya. Speaking on the occasion, more..

I know this is the Miracle of Asia, but ….

Oct 11 (CT) To complete the title of this column, let me add “is it also the land where suspension of disbelief is absolute?” The journalists, in the English media at least, have been uttering platitudes that would justify their inclusion in one of the “Forums” of self-righteousness that seem to be so accepted in middle-class Colombo, Sri Lanka where the word “hypocrisy” appears to have disappeared from the Oxford English dictionary. What has provoked my outburst? more..

Weerawansa pleads with parents to inculcate in their children the love of reading

Oct 11 (Island) Although some were boasting that millions of people visited the Colombo International Book Fair last month, it was not an indication of people enhancing their reading habit as a majority of people bought only exercise books, Minister Wimal Weerawansa said. He said that according to top literary writers in the country, they couldn’t sell even 2000 copies of their books even during the Colombo International Book Fair which was held in parallel to the Literary Month every year. more..

Queen of Jaffna to link Sri Lanka's north again

Oct 11 (AP) The Queen of Jaffna, a once-popular train linking the ethnic Tamil's northern heartland to the rest of Sri Lanka before a bloody civil war cut the link 24 years ago, chugs back into service this coming week, reinforcing the govt's authority in a region once controlled by Tamil rebels. For the old, it is a nostalgic piece of the Indian Ocean island nation's past. For the young, the train represents something novel and opens opportunities to more..

Lankans promised palace employment end up as forced labour on construction site

Oct 11 (ST) Over a thousand Sri Lankans are caught up in a modern day slavery racket in Qatar, where they were lured to work in a construction site for 12 hours at a stretch. Promised with employment in a palace in Doha, Qatar, for Rs 150,000 per month, the prospective employees were sent through a local private agency for a fee of Rs 200,000, and ended up working in shocking conditions. Instead of a palace, they were made to work on a construction site of a seven-star more..

Party leaders agree to extend budget debate by four days

Oct 11 (Island) Party leaders yesterday decided to allocate four more days for the parliamentary debate on Budget 2015. The third reading vote which had earlier been scheduled to take place on Nov. 18 was re-scheduled to 5.00 pm on Nov 24. President Rajapaksa in his capacity as the Minister of Finance will present the tenth consecutive budget of his govt in Parliament on Oct 24. The debate on the Second Reading stage will commence on Oct 25 and continue till Nov 01. more..

Mahabodhi Temple gets Income Tax notice

Oct 11 (IANS) The Income Tax Department has issued notice to Bodh Gaya's Mahabodhi temple, Buddhism's holiest shrine, for not filing annual return of its income of over Rs.100 crore through donations, an official said Saturday. Deputy Commissioner of IT department Saurav Roy said notice was issued to the Bodh Gaya Temple Management Committee (BMTC) for not filing returns. more..

Principal faces charge sheet

Oct 11 (Island) Western Province (WP) Education Secretary would charge sheet Principal of St. Joseph’s Balika College, Grandpass, within two weeks for allegedly demanding Rs. 50,000 for admitting a student, WP chief minister’s media secretary Pradeep Anura Kumara said. He said that preliminary investigation into the alleged incident had been conducted by the WP Education Secretary Daya Senarath and disciplinary action would be taken according to the principal’s response to more..

Mano and Fonseka discuss elections

Oct 11 (CG) DP leader Sarath Fonseka and DPF leader Mano Ganeshan have had talks on the Presidential elections expected to be held next year. Ganeshan said the meeting took place last evening. At the last Uva PC elections Ganeshan had campaigned in support of the UNP. Fonseka has been non-committal on who he will support at the Presidential elections or if he will contest on his own. Yesterday the UNP had said it wants to have talks with the DP, the TNA and the JVP on more..

Army celebrates 65th anniversary

Oct 11 (SLA) Sri Lanka Army, saviour of the Nation and now, the most-sought service provider of the country, marked its 65th Anniversary and the Army Day on Friday, during a colourful parade at MoD grounds. Today’s ceremony is the climax of a series of commemorative ceremonies that got underway beginning the final week of Sept. Chief Guest Lieutenant General Daya Ratnayake commenced the programme, more..

Ranil tells Harin: 'Naming prime ministerial candidate not realistic'

Oct 11 (Island) UNP Leader Ranil Wickremesinghe has told Opposition Leader of the Uva PC Harin Fernando that naming a prime ministerial candidate in the run-up to the forthcoming presidential election is not realistic as the party was campaigning for the abolition of the executive presidency. Wickremesinghe has explained that the UNP needed to adopt a political strategy taking into consideration that the executive presidency will be abolished to pave the way for a govt more..

Legislation for heads of local bodies to continue despite budget defeat

Oct 11 (ST) Parliament will take up for debate five Bills related to local authorities that will allow for heads of these bodies to remain in the office, even after their annual budgets are defeated. The five related pieces of legislation that will be amended are the Municipal Councils Ordinance, Urban Councils Ordinance, Pradeshiya Sabha Act, Local Authorities Elections Act and Local Authorities Filling Vacancies Act. Under existing legislation, heads of local authorities have to resign if more..

Etisalat in talks to sell its Sri Lankan unit

Oct 11 (ST) The UAE’s largest telecoms operator, Etisalat, has begun initial talks with several international telecom operators, including India’s Bharti Airtel, over the potential sale of its Sri Lankan unit. A source close to Etisalat said that Airtel was one of several operators to approach the company. Etisalat began its operations in Sri Lanka in 2010, after acquiring a 100% stake in Tigo, a subsidiary of Millicom International Cellular, for $155m. more..

The politics of (university) violence

Oct 11 (CT) The news that a section of the faculty of University of Colombo had decided to stop their academic engagements to bring an end to the on-going rather inhuman ragging within their university (and other higher education institutions) is disturbing and welcoming. Disturbing because ragging of such cruel nature should still exist, welcoming as the faculty members have decided to address this seriously. Universities are not only about earning a degree or helping towards that. more..

BBS – Wirathu agreement: Declaration of war on Muslims in Sri Lanka and South Asia

Oct 11 (CT) Anti Muslim Sinhala racist outfit BBS, which does not represent the mainstream Sinhala Buddhists, but had done considerable damage to pit Sinhalese against Muslims in the name of Sinhalese and Buddhism, together with Myanmar’s convicted criminal Ashin Wirathu, have declared war on Islam and Muslims in Sri Lanka and in South Asia. As part of this program the two sides, BBS and 969, also signed a special agreement aimed at creating South Asia free of what they described as more..