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Sajith says his father introduced a new concept of housing

Nov 29 (Island) Opening the committee stage budget debate in Parliament on the votes of the Ministries of Urban Development and Sacred Area Development and Housing, Common Amenities, Water Supply and Drainage, Hambantota District UNP member Sajith Premadasa proposed a token cut of Rs.10 on the votes of National Housing Development Authority said that his father was able to bring in a new concept of housing. more..

Govt. considers new pension scheme for all

Nov 29 (DM) The government is considering the implementation of a pension scheme to all citizens after a specific age, Social Services and Welfare Minister Douglas Devananda said. He made this remark when queried about a statement made by the Ministry Secretary. During a recent discussion conducted by HelpAge Sri Lanka, Social Services Ministry Secretary V. Jegarajasingham made this revelation on such an initiative. more..

UPF urges for immediate ceasefire with LTTE

Nov 29 (DM) The Upcountry People’s Front (UPF), a coalition member of the ruling UPFA, yesterday urged the government in parliament to go for an immediate ceasefire agreement with the LTTE. “We urge the government to go for an immediate ceasefire and reach a political settlement”, UPF MP and Deputy Minister of Vocational and Technical Training P. Radakrishnan told parliament yesterday during the vote on the Plantations Ministry of the 2009 Budget debate. more..

Sri Lanka says 4 killed in floods

Nov 29 (AP) At least four people were killed and more than 71,000 displaced by floods caused by heavy rains in northern Sri Lanka, officials said Saturday. Keerthi Ekanayake of the Disaster Management Center said the northern Jaffna peninsula and Kilinochchi and Mullaitivu districts were inundated and nearly 6,000 houses destroyed by persistent showers over the past few days. more..

Sri Lanka: air force bombs rebel positions

Nov 29 (AP) Sri Lanka's air force carried out a series of attacks against Tamil Tiger rebel targets, including a heavy gun position and a guerrilla training camp, while a separate infantry clash killed four guerrillas, the military said Saturday. It said jets bombed the gun position in the rebel headquarters of Kilinochchi on Friday and the training camp in Visvamadu village on Saturday. more..

President to meet Pope

Nov 29 (AKI) President Mahinda Rajapaksa is to meet Pope Benedict XVI at the Vatican on Monday during a brief visit to Italy. Rajapaksa was to arrive in the Italian capital, Rome, on Saturday accompanied by his wife, Shiranthi, presidential secretary Lalith Weeratunga and Foreign Minister Rohitha Bogollagama on an unofficial visit. He was not expected to meet Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi or Foreign Minister, Franco Frattini, during more..

Importing palm oil goes to politicians' henchmen

Nov 29 (LD) Under a backdrop where coconut crops cannot be sold in coconut auction, several government politicians and officials are making the best of it by issuing palm oil import licence to 50 desiccated coconut millers under a quota system, 'Lanka Dissent' learns. By importing palm oil under a quota system instead of solving the problems in the coconut industry, there is a possibility of a monopoly in the edible oil market as well as a rise in prices. more..

33,000 widows in the East - Ravaya

Nov 29 (LD) A research conducted by the Ministry of Nation Building has found that 33,000 women in the East under 30 years of age have been widowed due to the prevailing conflict, 'Ravaya' reports. Citing Minister of Nation Building, Susantha Punchinilame, it adds that the research conducted under the 'Negenahira Navodaya' programme, has also revealed that 95 per cent of these widows are mothers. more..

Five Media to meet DM editor on news coverage

Nov 29 (LD) Representatives of Five Media rights organizations are to meet the editor of the Daily Mirror on Dec. 01st over a lack of media coverage on the Free Media Movement, secretary of the Sri Lanka Working Journalists Association -one of the media organisations, Poddala Jayantha told 'Lanka Dissent'. The Five Media delegation will also include the Chairman of the SLWJA, Sanath Balasuriya, he added. more..

No insurance compensation for slain soldiers - Mangala

Nov 29 (LD) The Sri Lanka Army is yet to issue death certificates for many of its slain soldiers, Spokesman of the 'Defence Watch', Mangala Samaraweera said. Noting that only the cremation certificate has been issued, he added that the Sri Lanka Insurance Corporation has informed these families that it was not sufficient to obtain the compensation of soldiers who are insured. more..

'National plan needed for development'

Nov 29 (LD) For the past 60 years since independence, development in this country has been a history of politicians laying foundation stones and giving government jobs, 'Development Watch' member and North Western Provincial councilor Upulanganie Malagamuwa said. Rural areas have not gained anything other than promises given by politicians during election campaigns, more..

Prabakaran's speech leaves Sri Lankan state only two alternatives

Nov 30 (TC) It ain’t over till it’s over, or as the Americans put it, in a reference to the opera, it ain’t over till the fat lady sings. The Mahaveera Day 2008 speech by Velupillai Prabhakaran, one of the world’s most notorious and certainly tubbiest terrorist leaders, demonstrates that there can be no solution to Sri Lanka ’s conflict so long as he remains alive and active, and has not been brought to justice. In our case it ain’t over till the fat laddie swings. more..

Why is Kollywood supporting Lanka Tamils?

Nov 30 (TC) When Ajith, a rare Tamil film star who eschews politics, said he'd be skipping the Nov 1 fast the industry was organising in support of the Lanka Tamils, he was in for a shock. The London theatre which was to release his latest film, Aegan, was ransacked. Chastised, Ajith lost no time joining other big stars—Rajnikanth, Kamalahaasan, Vikram, Vijay, Surya—at the fast in Chennai on November 1. more..

What follows after re-taking Kilinochchi?

Nov 30 (TC) Government spokespersons have once again claimed that the military is poised to enter Kilinochchi at any moment now. These spokespersons have also contested reports that there is a humanitarian crisis involving the internally displaced in the Vanni. Former President J R Jayewardene once famously declared that as Executive President he had the power to do anything except to make a man a woman. more..

In Pictures: Rain and floods add to the missery of IDPs in Vanni

Nov 30 (TC) According to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), the floods are worst in five districts: Jaffna, Mannar, Kilinochchi and Mullaitivu in Northern province, and Trincomalee in Eastern province. Three reservoirs are at risk of overflowing, and vehicle movements across the north are being obstructed by flood waters and bad road conditions, thus hampering the progress of humanitarian convoys. more..

Sri Lankans stranded in Thailand

Nov 30 (BBC) The Sri Lanka Embassy in Thailand has requested the Malyasian embassy in Thailand to expedite visa applications for Sri Lankans stranded in the country to move across to neighbouring Malyasia for onward travel. The Sri Lankan Ambassador to Thailand Professor J.B.Dissanayaka said that about 300 Sri Lankans have contacted the embassy following the closure of main Bangkok airports. more..

Sri Lanka should stop intervention before it is too late: economist

Nov 30 (LBO) Sri Lanka should stop a self-destructive sterilized intervention cycle of the national currency and move to stabilize the economy, to prevent an even more dramatic fall of the currency, an economist has said. The central bank is estimated to have spent more than a billion dollars over the last two months to hold a dollar peg of the rupee, first at 108 rupees and then at 110 to the dollar and cut the statutory reserve ratio twice, adding to the problem. more..

SLBC Chief blasts BBC buffoons

Nov 30 (AT) SLBC Chairman Hudson Samarasinghe on Saturday blasted those who demanded to know why the SLBC had blocked out LTTE boss V. Prabhakaran's so-called Heroes Day speech. Speaking over the Isira radio channel Samarasinghe asked whether those raising this matter expected in the name of media freedom a state-run radio station (maintained with public funds) to broadcast the "voice of a bloodthirsty animal" trying to bisect the country. more..

BBC Audio: Uncovering the abduction and killing of civilians in Sri Lanka

Nov 30 (BBC) BBC's Roland Buerk reports on the lengths to which the Sri Lankan army and its proxies have gone to ensure victory in their war against the Tamil Tigers: [MP 3 Audio-BBC Crossing Continents~ Featuring interviews with Sri Lankan Ministers Gotabaya Rajapaksa, Keheliya rambukwella, Tamil Parliamentarian R. Sambandan, Father Henry Miller, Human Rights Activist Sunila Abeysekara, TMVP leader Karuna V. Muralitharan and several Sinhala and Tamil civilians] more..

History of the Shramadana movement in Sri Lanka

Nov 30 (AT) "Shramadana" or offering one’s strengths and commitment on a voluntary basis to the welfare of lesser fortunate human beings is an extremely noble endeavour. This concept was purely to give of one’s time, energy and money on a non-profit making voluntary basis towards the upliftment of lesser privileged communities in this country. On a national scale & with government patronage this endeavour began as far back as 1958 when more..

'Our struggle has reached a critical stage'

Nov 30 (AT) The Sri Lankan MP, Mavai S Senathirajah believes that the TNA struggle has reached a critical stage though he is unwilling to commit himself to participation in APRC in case government send an invitation. In an exclusive interview to Asian Tribune, Senathirajah who is general secretary of Ilankai Tamil Arasu Katchi (Former Federal Party) and deputy leader of the TNA Parliamentary Group is willing to spell out their bottom-line. And its is separate state for Tamils. more..

The Tiger Speaks

Nov 30 (AT) Almost more shocking than the CPC’s 'iniquitous' hedge on oil futures was the lackadaisical official response to it. The prospect of losing US$96 million (at the least) would have galvanised any sane government into action. Not the Rajapakse administration, which reacted to the news of this massive loss with unnerving equanimity. Given this context the only hope was judicial intervention and the Supreme Court did not disappoint. more..

Updates and more

Nov 30 (DW) The Sri Lanka Army is now 4km away from Nedunkerni after having captured the strategic village of Othiyamalai. They are also 2kms away from Alampil, the strategic Sea Tiger base. The LTTE is putting up stiff resistance in all areas. 23mm and 30mm Heavy Machine Guns, some of which was captured from the Navy's Dvora FACs years ago are being used extensively to keep the Army down. The high caliber rounds from the HMGs, coupled with the incessant rains are making things a bit difficult for the SLA at the moment. more..

Mihin's brand new plane through a web of middle men

Nov 30 (SL) The recent cabinet decision to secure an aircraft for Mihin Lanka on a wet lease and give the airline another Rs 1.1 billion behind the back of parliament has raised fresh questions about the government's priorities and its competence to steer the country through the economic crisis. In passing the cabinet paper, not a hum was heard on what the airline - fraught with US$ 3 million in debt with a loss of over US$ 1.5 million from its only year of operations more..

Central Bank hand revealed as oil hedge boils over

Nov 30 (SL) Even as allegations of massive cheating including personal benefits, all expenses paid trips abroad and bank jobs for relatives pummel the players in the oil hedging scam, Sri Lanka is set to lose up to a colossal 400 million dollars, over 15% of the country's foreign reserves, on what amounts to a government wagering contract that has left financial experts aghast. The cost of the hedge exceeds the cost of the Norochcholai Coal Power Plant. more..

MR-Ranil discuss war and peace as LTTE vows to shatter southern dreams

Nov 30 (SL) While LTTE Leader Velupillai Pirapaharan made it clear in his annual 'Heroes Day' speech that more bloodshed and mayhem can be expected in Sri Lanka as the war intensifies, President Mahinda Rajapakse was busy last week grappling the nightmare economic scenario confronting the country in the backdrop of the oil hedging disaster even as the opposition moved swiftly to put an alliance together believing an election will come sooner than later. more..

'No harm in initiating talks with Pirapaharan'

Nov 30 (SL) Foreign Employment Promotion Minister and Government Defence Spokesman, Keheliya Rambukwella believes that the military has succeeded beyond the targets set. In a wide-ranging interview with The Sunday Leader, Rambukwella said that the military was formidable, target-oriented and to aid the effort, there was a strong counter propaganda mechanism that was unavailable before. more..

President wants Fowzie

Nov 30 (LB) Despite the Supreme Court’s order last Friday, President Mahinda Rajapaksa is unlikely to remove Petroleum Minister A. H. M Fowzie from his portfolio, LAKBIMAnEWS reliably learns. The Supreme Court on Friday suspended Ceylon Petroleum Corporation Chairman Asantha De Mel from his duties and ordered the government to remove Fowzie from his ministerial post as “he has failed in his public duties”. more..

Hedging, sledging - - what’s the difference in politics?

Nov 30 (LB) The oil hedging calamity —- now, if ever there is a pointer to the sleepy state of affairs in both sides of the political divide in this country, this certainly is it. Last week, when it was brought up in cabinet, there were still the defenders of the deal. Said Petroleum Minister Fowzie, that if it worked, the people would have never said a word. What did G.L. Peiris say? That the country gained USD 24 million but lost 8 million also. more..

Killer weather -- Kili in sight

Nov 30 (LB) Troops in the northern front had to contend with two different foes last week, from air and from land. Though the Army was capable in successfully meeting the threat on the ground, rain was to impede much of their progress on the northern front throughout last week. Soldiers faced immense difficulty due to torrential rains brought on with the onset of the north-east monsoon. Troops moving forward from their positions on the Kilinochchi and Muhamalai fronts, as more..

Policemen running illegal gem mines in Ratnapura

Nov 30 (LB) Certain high ranking Police officers in Ratnapura are allegedly involved in illegal gem mining operations in Ratnapura. LAKBIMAnEWS reliably learns that a large scale illegal gem mining operation using heavy earth moving equipment is taking place in the Paradise estate in Kuruvita, Ratnapura. Apparently this racket is operating with the full support of some police officers in the area. more..

Sri Lankan students stand up for charity

Nov 30 (SG) Students of Sri Lankan International School, Riyadh (SLISR) were the most enthusiastic participants in the annual charity bazaar held at the Sri Lankan Embassy here recently. The event that raised around SR20,000 within a few hours of its start was organized by the Riyadh-chapter of Sri Lankan Expats Society (SLES). “Many schoolchildren have participated in the charity bazaar, contributing for a noble cause,” said an SLES official. more..

Another food convoy to leave for Kilinochchi

Nov 30 (GDI) Seventy lorry loads of food items received from India for civilians held virtually hostage by the LTTE will leave Vavuniya tomorrow, the Ministry of Resettlement and Disaster Relief Services said. This is in addition to a convoy of 20 lorries carrying flour, sugar, dhal and kerosene which left for Kilinochchi from Vavuniya on Friday. Last Friday another group of 183 civilians reached Vavuniya escaping from the uncleared areas increasing the total number of escapees to 322. more..

Floods uproot thousands

Nov 30 (SAMN) At least seven people were killed, four soldiers reported missing and more than 500,000 affected by floods following heavy rains in the North and East during the past few days, the Disaster Management Centre (DMC) and reports from the area said Saturday. The Mullaitivu, Kilinochchi, Mannar, Jaffna, Trincomalee districts were the worst affected by the rains said to be the heaviest in the past several decades. Over 88,000 people have been displaced in the North, officials said. more..

Fear stalks Batticaloa

Nov 30 (SAMN) Fear stalks the Eastern town of Batticaloa with at least 16 killings reported in the last fortnight. Elected local government officials protesting the murders held a token strike to oppose the killing spree. Besieged Eastern Province Chief Minister Sivanesathurai Chandrakanthan, alias Pillayan, said his party vehemently condemns the killings and denied that his party, the TMVP were also involved in the killing spree. “ more..

Sri Lankan cities crumbling

Nov 30 (SAMN) All major cities in the country are in a state of disrepair and in need of urgent maintenance,, President Chamber of Construction Industry of Sri Lanka, Surath Wickremasinghe said, describing Colombo, Kandy, Batticaloa and Jaffna as “living fossils that are struggling to enter the 21st century.” Identifying the lack of funds to be the cause of poor facilities, he cited the Panchikawatte Urban Regeneration Project as an example. more..

'Counter terrorism measures inappropriate: only increasing violence'

Nov 30 (NS) Eastern Province Chief Minister Sivenesathurai Chandrakanthan alias Pillaiyan is a worried man. Violence under his very nose is escalating, casting a nasty shadow over him and his administration. All fingers are pointed at him for the growing bloodshed in the East. People by and large look up to him for remedy, but he has none in his hand to offer, because the forces working against him are powerful and influential. more..

Sri Lanka may face Intl. credit suspension

Nov 30 (SAMN) Sri Lanka's existing international credit lines may be suspended and even if it could source credit internationally, it might be at a premium, the local head of a credit rating agency said in light of Friday's Supreme Court (SC) interim order against oil hedging.The SC suspended the state owned Ceylon Petroleum Corporation (CPC) from making hedge payments on contracts with banks on a Fundamental Rights (FR) plea. more..

UNP rebels given offer hard to refuse

Nov 30 (NS) In the event of the government deciding to go for a general election, the SLFP leadership has offered all 17 UNP rebels the option of contesting under it, or under the UPFA umbrella as a separate group, depending on the preference of each member, informed political sources said. UNP rebel sources, however, said they have not taken any decision on the matter as they had also been given assurances that Parliament will not be dissolved any time soon. more..

KKS cement factory re-opening delayed

Nov 30 (NS) Plans to reopen the Kankesanthurai Cement Factory have been delayed by two months due to security reasons. Reliable sources told The Nation that due to the on-going offensive, the planned US$ 100 million project would be stalled till at least February. “There are concerns that it could become a target under the current circumstances,” sources said, adding that so far the existing factory was in good condition. more..

Race for Deputy Leader UNP, begins

Nov 30 (NS) UNP National organiser S.B. Dissanayake last Thursday (26), handed in his application for the position of deputy leader of the party to UNP Leader Ranil Wickremesinghe. Dissanayake told the UNP Leader that he was able to fulfil the criteria stipulated to hold the position. A group of party seniors including John Amaratunga, Joseph Micheal Perera, Renuka Herath, Amara Piyaseeli Ratnayake and Sarathchandra Rajakaruna had been tasked with preparing the criteria that more..

Three-member committee to devolve power to East

Nov 30 (SO) President Mahinda Rajapaksa will shortly appoint a high level three-member committee to address the issue of devolution of powers to the Eastern Provincial Council in terms of the 13th Amendment. The process of appointing members to the high level committee to coordinate the process of vesting all stipulated powers to the Council has already begun and that the committee would be appointed in a few days. more..

Large number of GCE (O/L) students fail to obtain NICs

Nov 30 (SO) Although the Department of Registration of Persons (DRP) called upon the school authorities to encourage GCE (O/L) students to obtain National Identity Cards, only 200,000 students had done so during the past six months. DRP Commissioner A. G. Dharmadasa told the Sunday Observer that a large number of students had not obtained their NICs in time, and there will be a rush to the Department in future, when they apply for IDs. more..

'Mumbai eye-opener to India'

Nov 30 (SO) Emphasising the Government's priority to defeat the LTTE until the last Tiger is killed to re-establish democracy in the country, the Chief Government Whip and Minister of Urban Development and Sacred Area Development Dinesh Gunawardena said that it was time for the Indian politicians to think of the burning need to combat terrorism which had now come to their doorstep. more..

Colours of courage and hope

Nov 30 (SO) True Colours, an exhibition of paintings by students of Chitra Lane School for Special Child offers a multitude of talents displayed. Amazingly, the students with special needs proved that they have also possessed special and perhaps extraordinary talents compared to their counterparts. Students have involved in every aspects of the exhibition from organisation to making exhibits and even recycled papers on which the invitations and placards were made. more..

CB calls for explanations from three banks on oil hedging

Nov 30 (Island) Three foreign banks with offices in Colombo were written to by the Central Bank last week calling for explanations on matters identified during the ongoing preliminary investigation into the oil hedging contracts between themselves and the Ceylon Petroleum Corporation, authoritative official sources said yesterday. The three banks addressed are the Standard Chartered Bank, Deutsche Bank and Citibank. more..

A New constitution- the need of the hour

Nov 30 (Island) The response I received to the call for a Constituent Assembly to draft a new Constitution is indeed huge. I set out my email address hoping for some feedback and the response has certainly surprised me. All who responded agreed that the present system which has only bred hate should be dumped. President Rajapaksa would do well to take account of this; he could go down in our history as the president who restored democracy to this country and more importantly took hate out of politics. more..

Vaiko attends LTTE Heroes’ Day rally in London

Nov 30 (Island) While a group of British citizens were being held as hostages in the Taj Mahal and Oberoi hotels in Mumbai by an unknown terrorist group, the LTTE held a Heroes’ Day rally at the ExCel Centre in London last Thursday. A large number of Tamils based in the United Kingdom and from other cities across Europe attended the rally to listen to the Heroes’ Day speech delivered by LTTE leader Velupillai Prabakaran from the Wanni in Sri Lanka. more..

N’Eliya Race Course losing ‘High Altitude’ amble against mega sports complex

Nov 30 (Island) The only available venue for horse racing or the ‘Sport of Kings’ in Sri Lanka, the Nuwara Eliya Race Course, is fast giving-way to a mega Rs. 5000 million, state-sponsored sports complex, described by local sports authorities as a ‘High Altitude Training Centre’ for sportspersons. While the question on the lips of local horse racing enthusiasts is what would become of the glamour sport once the Nuwara Eliya track is sent into oblivion by the monumental, multi-dimensional sports complex, more..

Tigers face multiple challenges

Nov 30 (ST) Just ten days after Mahinda Rajapaksa was elected as Sri Lanka's fifth President, Tiger guerrilla leader, Velupillai Prabhakaran, described him as a "realist, committed to pragmatic politics." In his "Maveerar" (Great Heroes) day, speech in 2005 he wanted to know how he was going to handle the peace process. Two years later, last Thursday, Prabhakaran declared "we wish to stop the war and seek a peaceful resolution to the national question of our people." more..