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Ranatunga hints at being next sports minister

Nov 7 (DM) Arjuna Ranatunga has hinted at the probability of becoming the Sports Minister after the next cabinet re-shuffle which is speculated to be effected shortly. “Due to the need of the sportsmen and women and also the sports loving public, I have developed a longing to become the Sports Minister of this country. I am going for that position to make Sri Lanka shine in the world through sports,” said Ranatunga at a ceremony held in Kandy. more..

Muslims agitate against Minister Ranawaka

Nov 7 (LD) Muslims staged a protest demonstration in front of Zahira College, Colombo against what they called intimidatory and anti-Muslim remarks by government minister Patali Champika Ranawaka. The agitation organized by Organization for Protection of Muslims' Rights halted vehicular traffic on roads at Maradana town for several hours. Several vehicles were slightly damaged after the protestors turned a little unruly. more..

President speaks in Tamil

Nov 7 (Island) President Mahinda Rajapaksa, delivering his fourth budget speech in Parliament yesterday (6), spoke twice in Tamil when mentioning the rehabilitation of the North after its liberation from the hold of the LTTE. Mentioning the human elephant conflict, he said the elephants had to be saved, "but not these elephants" pointing towards the Opposition benches where the UNP members were seated bringing laughter to even those among the UNP group. more..

Mangala writes to Speaker over death threats

Nov 7 (LD) Spokesman for 'Defence Watch' Mangala Samaraweera has written to Speaker W.J.M. Lokubandara, seeking his intervention to initiate a police inquiry into the death threats he has received. His letter, dated November 07th says, "As you may be aware, I have launched a new media unit called 'Defence Watch' for the specific purpose of countering the highly misleading defence related news items of the Rajapaksa administration." more..

'Truce in Sri Lanka not possible sans involvement of LTTE'

Nov 7 (PTI) Amid a demand by political parties that Sri Lanka should revive the ceasefire and end its military offensive against the LTTE, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M Karunanidhi on Friday said a permanent truce can only emerge after negotiations between Colombo and the Tamil tigers. The DMK chief said that he was at a loss to understand the rationale behind the demand for a ceasefire in the island nation without the involvement of LTTE. more..

At least 7 rebels killed in battle

Nov 7 (AP) Sri Lanka soldiers fought an intense battle with Tamil separatists in the war-torn northern region and later found seven rebel bodies, the military said Friday. The hours-long fighting erupted Thursday in the village of Panikkankulam as army troops pushed toward the main highway that cuts through rebel-held territory in the north, a military statement said. The statement said the clashes caused "heavy damage" to the guerrillas, leaving "scores" of rebel fighters dead. more..

Budget Speech 2009

Nov 7 (DM) Hon. Speaker, it is with great pleasure that I am presenting my fourth Budget to this august house. Mahinda Chinthana, Ten Year Horizon Development Framework is being widely implemented across the country. The humanitarian operation to relieve the country from the grips of terrorism has reached its final phase. A democratic environment for a political solution in which the power of all people will be amply strengthened is emerging. more..

Budget highlights 2009

Nov 7 (LG) “My earnest plea to the terrorists is to lay down arms and join the democratic process, even at this last moment. If not, they would be militarily defeated”, said President Mahinda Rajapaksa on the ongoing military operations to defeat terrorism, in his Budget Speech. The President said: “I am glad to note that at the moment the Budget is being presented, our hopes are advancing their operations having rescued a vast area in the Kilinochchi and Mullaitivu Districts. more..

Sri Lanka to fast-track mini-hydro development

Nov 8 (LBO) Sri Lanka is giving high priority to developing its remaining hydro-power resources with president Mahinda Rajapaksa saying he plans to appoint a presidential task force to oversee projects and overcome obstacles. Developing hydro power can help to cut cost fuel consumption in the oil importing nation, Rajapaksa told parliament when he presented the government's budget for 2009. Around 600 small scale hydro power projects have been identified which are more..

Sri Lanka makes telecom tax techno neutral

Nov 8 (LBO) Sri Lanka has made a new 10 percent telephone tax technology neutral by extending it from mobile phones to fixed lines as a part of proposals to raise revenue in 2009. "The telephone levy of 10 percent presently applicable to mobile and codeless (sic) telephones will be expanded to be applicable to fixed line telephones as well," the budget speech released to the media said. more..

Life in Periyar jungles unbearable for Tamils

Nov 8 (EB) Sri Lankan Tamils, who had fled the bitter ethnic conflict in their country over 30 years ago, are finding life in the jungles of Periyar, where they have been rehabilitated, unbearable. "There are no schools, no shops, no phones, no transport. We don’t want to live like this, like tribals, cut off from the rest of the world," said Murugan, 28, a forest guide working for KFDC’s Gavi tourism project. more..

'Melamine test clears Lankan product'

Nov 8 (TP) Sri Lankan mission has dismissed the media reports that Munchee Lemon Puff biscuit, imported from Sri Lanka, was contaminated with toxic melamine. Ambassador Vijaya Padukkage yesterday told The Peninsula that the market samples test conducted by the Health Science Authority (HAS) in Singapore has cleared the product. "When the media reported that the Sri Lanka-made biscuit was tainted, the company was unilaterally pulling off the product from the shelves in Qatar. more..

President Rajapaksa congratulates new Maldivian President

Nov 8 (AT) President Mahinda Rajapaksa has felicitated the newly elected President of the Republic of Maldives, His Excellency Mohamed Nasheed. In a message of congratulations, President Rajapaksa has hailed the new President’s election as a manifestation of the confidence and trust placed in him by his party and the people of the Maldives. The full text of the message is as follows: more..

Sri lanka Tourism Minister to visit Iran

Nov 8 (AT) Sri Lanka's Tourism Minister, Milinda Moragoda will make an official visit to Iran later this week with a high level team of public sector officials and senior businessmen. Mr Moragoda is visiting Iran as the guest of the Vice President of the Islamic Republic of Iran and President of the Iran Cultural Heritage, Handicrafts and Tourism Organisation, Esfandyar Rahim Mashaee. He will also meet other senior ministers and officials during his stay. more..

Dr. Premasiri Khemadasa - a committed Sri Lankan who reached across cultural and generational barriers

Nov 8 (PISL) The late Dr. Premasiri Khemadasa, fondly known as ‘Master’, passed away at the age of 71 on October 24th at a private hospital in Colombo. He had been ailing for some time. Recognising his contribution to the art world in Sri Lanka, the Government organised a funeral with state honours at Independence Square. Dr. Khemadasa’s remains were brought in a procession from his home in Rajagiriya, more..

'Board officials knew about IPL contracts'

Nov 8 (CI) The Sri Lanka Cricketers' Association (SLCA) has claimed Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC), including chairman Arjuna Ranatunga, was informed during a meeting in June that some of the country's leading cricketers had committed to the IPL for the next three years. However, in July, the SLC finalised a tour of England in 2009 - currently put on hold by sports minister Gamini Lokuge - despite assuring its cricketers during that meeting that they would keep a window free for the players' participation in IPL till 2010. more..

President fattens his purse from budget

Nov 8 (LT) The allocation for the President this year has exceeded his allocation for last year by Rs.1200 million. This amounts to 10% of the total amount allocated for the salary increase of all state employees. To increase allocation of the President grants of 25 essential ministries including women's and children's welfare, urban development etc have been pruned. The only argument the government has to show that the budget proposals were a successful one is the increase of taxes for foreign goods. more..

Karunanidhi calls for end to hostilities in Sri Lanka

Nov 8 (IANS) Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi altered his stand on the issue of Tamils in Sri Lanka Friday and called for cessation of hostilities from both the warring sides in the island country. 'A permanent ceasefire is needed to ensure lasting peace for which a cessation of hostilities from both the sides is an inevitable need. more..

Sri Lankan military drives closer to LTTE stronghold

Nov 8 (wsws) The Sri Lankan military on Wednesday announced the capture of Akkarayankulam in the northern province of Vanni after days of "heightened fighting" with the LTTE. Akkarayankulam is the LTTE's main defensive position just nine kilometres south of Kilinochchi, the separatist group's administrative and military centre. There are no independent reports of the fighting as journalists are barred from the frontlines. more..

Catholics in embattled Jaffna maintain unattended graves

Nov 8 (UCAN) Alfred Perinpanayagam spent All Souls' Day cleaning graves, one belonging to a friend, in the Catholic cemetery in Jaffna. "I feel a sense of relief and happiness when I clean the graves," the 62-year-old Tamil Catholic fisherman said on Nov. 2, while washing the tomb of Canisius Singarayer. It is one of about 5,000 graves in the 19th-century cemetery in this city 300 kilometers north of Colombo. more..

Budget cuts taxes, but imposes new one

Nov 8 (LBO) Sri Lankan accountants say the proposed cut in Value Added Tax (VAT) in the government's 2009 budget would not provide much relief as a new tax and higher import duties would make up for the reduction. The budget presented to parliament by President Mahinda Rajapaksa proposed to reduce VAT, the government’s main stream of revenue, from the existing 15 percent to 12 percent to reduce the cost of living. more..

Suicide bombers in guise of beggars?

Nov 8 (IANS) Tamil Tiger guerrillas, facing a military onslaught in Sri Lanka's north, have let loose suicide bombers in the guise of beggars and pregnant women in Colombo, a media report said Friday. The warning has come from the police intelligence, the state-run Daily News reported. It said the police had arrested a leading intelligence operative of the LTTE at Kiribathgoda, a commercial town about 15 km north of Colombo. He was dressed like a beggar. more..

Sri Lanka's holiest Catholic shrine empty

Nov 8 (AP) Hundreds of thousands of pilgrims once visited Sri Lanka's holiest Catholic shrine, but the church now lies empty because the military ordered worshippers to stay away after seizing the area from the Tamil Tiger rebels. Only 12 people — two priests, three nuns and seven workers — remain at the shrine of the Our Lady of Madhu. The church is home to a 450-year-old statue of the Virgin Mary, believed to have miraculous healing powers, and more..

Policeman, CDF killed in Ampara

Nov 8 (BBC) A police constable and two members of the Civil Defence Force (CDF) were killed in an LTTE attack in Mahaoya, police said. The police and CDF personnel have come under attack as they were providing security to farmers in Tempitiya village, according to Mahaoya police. Another member of the CDF who sustained injuries was transferred to Mahiyangana hospital from Mahaoya hospital. more..

Double price paid for school uniform material

Nov 8 (BBC) The Ministry of Education has purchased uniform material for schoolchildren next year at nearly double the price of the best quality material in the local market, an investigation by 'Ravaya' has found. The Ministry has bought white polyester under two categories - locally manufactured at Rs. 104.65 per metre and imported material at Rs. 98.90 per metre. more..

Kilinochchi battle will be archetypal military disaster for Sri Lankan Army

Nov 8 (SLW) According to government statistics, over 1,098 soldiers have been killed and more than 8,281 injured in the battles during the past nine months of this year, with the worst of the battle clearly yet to come as the military delves into the heart of Kilinochchi. By releasing figures minimising the casualties suffered by the military, without the 'Missing-In-Action' and 'Deserters' figures, the government has been able to hide the true face of the war. more..

Mafia inside Sri Lanka Cricket working against me: Ranatunga

Nov 8 (IANS) Chairman of interim governing body of the Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) Arjuna Ranatunga made strong allegations, saying that a 'mafia' within the board was working against him. 'There is a mafia inside Sri Lanka Cricket. That mafia can't push me down. We wanted to carry out certain changes at the Sri Lanka Cricket, but it is not an easy thing,' more..

Prospects for a Sri Lankan version of Barack Obama

Nov 8 (DM) The euphoria bordering on hysteria surrounding the historic victory of Barack Obama in the 2008 US Presidential stakes is yet to subside. Even as the pragmatic president - elect whose campaign was wrapped attractively as an idealistic package, moves away from the “poetry of electioneering ” towards the “prose of governance ” the effects of his success are being felt around the world. more..

Siriwardene leads SL to hard-fought win

Nov 8 (CI) Sri Lanka Women held their nerve to beat West Indies by two wickets, and level the series 1-1, in their second ODI in Dambulla. Shashikala Siriwardene, the captain, took two wickets and top scored with 43 as Sri Lanka reached the target with four balls to spare. Siriwardene was the eighth wicket to fall with the score on 152. Sri Lanka, however, edged home, thanks to the ninth-wicket pair of Suwini de Alwis and Dilani Manodara. more..

Zimbabwe treat Bulawayo warm-up 'like a Test'

Nov 8 (CI) Zimbabwe will approach their four-day match against Sri Lanka as seriously as if it was a Test, according to head of selectors Kenyon Ziehl. Speaking to the Independent newspaper, Ziehl said the game, which starts in Bulawayo on Wednesday, was a key part of getting Zimbabwe readmitted to the Test arena. "They judge us on the longer-version and we need to play 12-38 first-class matches before resumption of Test cricket," he said. more..

Vaiko blames UPA government for plight of Sri Lankan Tamils

Nov 8 (Hindu) The United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government led by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is responsible for the plight of Tamils in Sri Lanka, according to MDMK general secretary Vaiko. “The Centre has been supplying arms and ammunition since the UPA government came to power,” he told The Hindu here on Friday. In the name of war against terrorists killing of Tamils cannot not be accepted, he said. more..

The Kurakkan trail in Sri Lanka’s political landscape

Nov 8 (LG) Much has been said of how DA followed SWRD Bandaranaike across the well of the House of Parliament when the latter crossed-over into the Opposition ranks. For me there was a deep significance in that move.In that historic photograph, which I first saw as an unknowing little boy, D.A. Rajapaksa seems to follow Bandaranaike, effortlessly. For him, it was coming home. Perhaps he was never easy within the ranks which represented the privileged class. more..

Devananda’s journey from the valley of militancy to the haven of democracy

Nov 8 (LG) The naughty schoolboy transformed into one of the most dangerous Tamil militants of our times. The winds of change transformed the militant to a Politician and a Leader of a Political Party. Douglas Devananda stands as one of the most disciplined Politicians in Sri Lanka – those Tamils around him have a lot to learn from him of the intricacies of democracy, discipline, human dignity and good conscience. more..

Buddhism: Ten ways of making merit

Nov 8 (LG) The general desire of all beings throughout life is to escape painful and undesirable experiences and seek circumstances giving rise to happiness. Many people ignorant of the true ways of gaining genuine happiness look for it only in the round of sensual pleasures. That only brings happiness in the short-term – at best – and suffering will follow sooner than later. Indulgence will not bring happiness nor will abstinence. more..

'Sad plight of the East today'

Nov 8 (LG) Deputy Chairman of Committees, it is a very sad occasion when we have to get up to debate the extension of the state of Emergency as this is an occasion where we recall the cycle of mounting tragedies that seem to be an inextricable part of our troubled history. The proclamation of a state of Emergency has serious implications for democratic governance, the rule of law and human rights. more..

Summary of Cabinet Decisions

Nov 8 (GDI) Cabinet approved a memorandum submitted by the Minister of Healthcare and Nutrition, Nimal Siripala de Silva, to arrange for the State Pharmaceutical Manufacturing Corporation (SPMC) to supply the total quantity of selected pharmaceuticals required by the Medical Supplies Division (MSD). Cabinet further approved the appointment of the following committee to handle the relevant pricing: more..

O/L Exam from December 8-20

Nov 8 (GDI) The GCE Ordinary Level examination will begin on the 8th of December and will continue till 20th, according to the Department of Examinations. The examination will be held in 5300 examination centers island-wide. Approximately 300 000 candidates will be sitting for the examination under both new and old syllabuses. All the sections of GCE question papers have been revised along with the marking scheme. more..

Aspects of barriers on Federalism in Sri Lanka

Nov 8 (FI) It is a tragedy to observe that the Sinhala Only Act accounted as a marked departure towards the march of communal cry, a problem that was created unnecessarily. The Tamils would have studied the Sinhala language even if the Sinhala Only Act was not passed, had Sinhala and Tamil been enshrined as official languages in the constitution. It became worse when the 1972 constitution was passed with the sole purpose of denying a place for Tamils by not having a Senate. more..

Give Arjuna One Last Chance

Nov 8 (TC) Arjuna, the hero of the Hindu epic Mahabharata, was so focused on his target that he was blind to everything but the eye of the bird that he was aiming at. Our own hero Arjuna Ranatunga, is similarly transfixed on his own glory, that he cannot tolerate any view but his own. The awkward standoff with the BCCI and the players is by no means Ranatunga's fault. In fact, this World Cup winner is perfectly correct in insisting in the sanctity of test cricket. more..

Rajapaksa now offers package to placate LTTE

Nov 8 (EB) President Mahinda Rajapaksa has announced that he will spend SLRs 3000 million ($ 27.27 million) on the rehabilitation of the youth, children and women of the war-torn Tamil-speaking Northern Province, including LTTE cadre who lay down arms. "We have to look after the welfare of innocent children, women and youth living in such areas, and rehabilitate LTTE members and make them useful citizens to the society. more..

Muslim extremists threaten Buddhist school

Nov 8 (LG) Extremist Muslim politicians are trying to disrupt the ethnic harmony in the Srimath Baron Jaytilleke Vidyalaya, Colombo 10 by demanding that Muslim girls attending this predominantly Buddhist school be allowed to wear Muslim attire. This is despite the fact that children from other communities are obeying the school's accepted dress code in accordance with the school's Buddhist identity. more..

Plight of persecuted Tamils worsens

Nov 8 (LG) The Tamil-controlled north-east of Sri Lanka thunders "day and night" under bombardment from the forces of the Sinhalese government in Sri Lanka's capital Colombo as they attempt to destroy Tamil autonomy. Against this backdrop, "a great human tragedy" is also "exploding", according to Fr James Pathinathan of St Theresa's Church in Kilinochchi, the administrative capital of the de facto government of the LTTE. more..

Canadian Defence Advisor in Jaffna

Nov 8 (LG) Army Canadian Defence Advisor Colonel Richard Ryaer Burbidge recently visited Jaffna to get firsthand experience of the humanitarian activities being carried out by the Security Forces in Jaffna. The visiting diplomat, after being received at the Security Forces Headquarters Jaffna (SFHQ-J), was briefed by the Jaffna Commander Major General G.A. Chandrasiri on the contribution of the Security Forces to maintain welfare for the civilians even after the closure of A-9 Main Supply Route. more..

Consumers to receive concession on electricity

Nov 8 (LP) Minister of Power and Energy, W D J Senevirathna said that all measures will be taken to provide the concession on electricity bills for the consumers mentioned in the budget 2009 by President Mahinda Rajapaksa. He has advised the CEB to take necessary actions at meeting held yesterday. In keeping to the “Mahinda Chinthana” consumers will be immedeatley given a concession rate of Rs 30 for those who use less than 90 units of electricity. more..

Japanese pilgrims visit Sri Lanka

Nov 8 (LP) Sri Lanka Tourism recently offered a traditional Sri Lankan welcome to the first contingent of 45 Japanese Buddhist pilgrims of the Honmon Butsu Ryjshei (HBS) organisation led by Ven Nippo Umeda, Vice Incumbent of HBS Head Quarters Japan and Ven Nisso Fukuoka Chief Officer of Sri Lanka HBS when they arrived in Colombo. Japan, among one of the friendliest nations of Sri Lanka, having good trade and travel ties, has always considered Sri Lanka a place that is blessed with an abundance of nature and smiling people. more..

Sri Lanka Army blocks medicines, nutritious food supplies to children, at Omanthai

Nov 8 (LNP) Sri Lanka Army (SLA) at Oamanthai entry point turned the supply lorries away on Thursday, for the third consecutive time, refusing entry for medical supplies and nutritious food (Thriposha) for children in the Mullaiththeevu Regional Director of Health office on Thursday, according to medial sources of the district. The consignment was allocated for the third quarter of 2008. The supplies were not allowed to be taken beyond Oamanthai by the SLA since July, the sources added. more..

The Budget – Good or for Bad?

Nov 8 (AT) A significant feature in this Budget for the year 2009 is the massive Defense expenditure. The president wishes to do this regardless of the great increase of the budget deficit and the global recession in order to “establish a stable economic environment to restore democracy, consolidate human rights and achieve economic development as a priority need”. The government obviously expects, to finish the war soon, to hold Provincial and Local elections, to more..

UN team study SL MDG success

Nov 8 (SAMN) A special team from the United Nations is scheduled to visit Sri Lanka next month to find out the secret behind the success of achieving three Millennium Development Goals (MDG’s) seven years before the targeted year of 2015. The three MDGs are from the Health Ministry, a Healthcare and Nutrition Ministry spokesman. The UN set seven Millennium Development Goals for Sri Lanka which have to be achieved by 2015. more..

Speaker slips in the House

Nov 8 (SAMN) Speaker W. J. M. Lokubandara made a slip in the House Friday (7) when he called on the Deputy Minister of Finance and Government Revenue Ranjith Siyambalapitiya to open the Budget debate. He was than reminded by the Chief Opposite Whip, former Speaker Joseph Michael Perera that it was the Opposition that should start the Budget debate. Speaker Lokubandara apologsed and next called on more..

SL economy will grow by 6.5% in 2008

Nov 8 (SAMN) The Central Bank has projected that the economic growth rate for 2008 would only be 6 to 6.5%, which is a deceleration from the 6.8% growth rate recorded the previous year. The industrial sector growth rate is also projected to decelerate from 7.6% to 6.3% this year. The Central Bank says that a slowdown is expected even in the service sector with a growth rate of 6%, however, the agricultural sector is projected to see an expansion of 6.6% compared to the 3.3% rate recorded last time. more..