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Health staff nabbed by flying squad

Dec 12 (SAMN) The Flying Squad Unit (FSU) of the Health Ministry has carried out 177 raids in the past 11 months to nab errant officials, Health Ministry sources said. Meanwhile, 1,500 public complaints have been received by the FSU during this period, which have helped the Health Ministry to carry out more raids according to the sources. Based on public complaints, 357 doctors and staff officers have been nabbed while 259 nurses and clerks, 112 paramedical staff and drivers, more..

No specific threat from LTTE: Indian Army

Dec 12 (PTI) Ruling out any "specific threat" from LTTE despite reports of its increasing activities in Tamil Nadu, a senior Army official on Wednesday said India will not allow any "unfriendly elements" and security forces have stepped up surveillance to prevent infiltration of militants. "While the Navy and Coast Guard are doing round-the-clock patrolling, we have also strengthened off-coast patrolling," more..

Japan pledges to eradicate terrorism

Dec 12 (DN) Japanese Prime Minister Yasao Fukuda said Japan would always reject terrorism and his Government would take every possible step to stop terror acts. He made these observations when he met President Mahinda Rajapaksa at the Prime Minister's Office in Tokyo on Monday night. Addressing a joint news conference at the Prime Minister's Office, the 71-year-old Japanese leader said his Government condemns all forms of terrorism and would take every possible action to eradicate terrorism. more..

Rs. 21 m to empower disabled

Dec 12 (DN) Rs. 21 million has been granted to the Government Agents of all districts except Mannar and Mullaitivu for Community Based Rehabilitation Programmes (CBR) for 2007. The aid was granted by the Government and Non-Governmental organisations headed by the Social Services and Social Welfare Ministry to create a barrier free environment to persons with disabilities. more..

UNP gets exclusive right to publish “Siyarata”

Dec 12 (DM) The Colombo Commercial High Court yesterday issued a permanent injunction preventing UNP’s official newspaper “Siyarata” being published by anyone else other than the UNP. Commercial High Court Judge Ms. Rohini Walgama made this order following a civil suit filed by General Secretary, Tissa Attanayake, chairman of the Media Committee, Lakshman Kiriella and the publisher of the ‘Siyarata’ newspaper Egodage Nihal Abeysekera. more..

Bribery Comm. files appeal against Ratwatte

Dec 12 (DM) The Bribery Commission has filed an application in the Supreme Court appealing against the release of former Deputy Defence Minister Anuruddha Ratwatte in the bribery case brought against him. In the appeal against the High Court order, the Director General of the Bribery Commission stated that the release was obtained by misinterpreting the Bribery Act and the High Court Judge had been misdirected. more..

Ganesan first runner-up for U.S. HR Award

Dec 12 (Island) The US Embassy in Colombo yesterday announced that Western People’s Front Parliamentarian Mano Ganesan had been picked as the first runner-up for the first annual Freedom Defenders award which was won by the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights. A release from the US Embassy said "On December 10 in Washington, D.C., U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice announced that the recipient of the first annual Freedom Defender's Award is the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights, chosen out of an impressive group of nominees from across the globe. more..

Failure to probe Companies involved in VAT scam shocks rtd. HC judge

Dec 12 (Island) Retired High Court Judge Maxwell P. Paranagama yesterday expressed shock and surprise at the failure to investigate any of the 20 companies which had received huge sums of money as VAT refunds. Paranagama pointed out that they hadn’t been subjected to examination by the special investigation unit of the VAT Section despite serious allegations against them. Instead, the special investigation unit had been given a set of other files, more..

England fight but face battle to survive

Dec 12 (CI) It wasn't the most attractive day of Test cricket, but Sri Lanka's batsmen put them in a dominating position on the fourth day at Colombo with a 197-run lead over a weary England, grinding their noses into the ground. As ever, Muttiah Muralitharan looms large but England's openers took them to a position of relative comfort, racing to 48 before bad light curtailed the day's play. more..

Sri Lankan military says five rebels killed in fighting in the north

Dec 12 (AP) A pair of battles Wednesday between government forces and Tamil rebels in Sri Lanka's northern Jaffna peninsula killed five rebels, a day after heavy fighting killed 54 people, the military said. The fighting broke out in the Muhamalai area, just north of rebel-held territory, early Wednesday, said Brig. Udaya Nanayakkara, the military spokesman. In the first battle, about 7:25 a.m., troops killed one rebel, he said. more..

Sri Lanka gov't denies involvement in abductions

Dec 12 (Xinhua) The Sri Lankan government on Wednesday denied any involvement in an alleged abduction of three people connected to Tamil minority legislators in the Eastern Province. Chief Government Whip and Minister of Highways Jeyaraj Fernandopulle told parliament that it was unfair on the part of the opposition to accuse the government of being behind the abductions. more..

Sri Lanka coalition partner returns to opposition

Dec 12 (LBO) Members of a key Sri Lankan minority party crossed over to the opposition Wednesday increasing uncertainty over the fate of the ruling coalition ahead of a crucial budget vote. Rauf Hakeem, leader of the Sri Lanka Muslim Congress, crossed over to the opposition benches along with three others in the afternoon. Their defection comes ahead of a crucial final vote in parliament on Friday on the government's 2008 budget. more..

Sri Lanka port workers demand quick word on new terminal operator

Dec 13 (LBO) Sri Lankan port workers Wednesday urged the government to speed up a new project to expand Colombo port, saying further delays could jeopardise its transhipment business and hub status. Unions representing a wide range of workers in Colombo port said the Colombo south port expansion project was a vital and urgent necessity not only to retain container business but also to develop the country. more..

Sri Lanka planning to name stadium after Murali

Dec 13 (AFP) The Sri Lankan venue where Muttiah Muralitharan shattered the world bowling record could be re-named after the prolific off-spinner, the country's sports minister said on Wednesday. Gamini Lokuge said he will ask the authorities that control Kandy's Asgiriya stadium to re-name the ground after Sri Lanka's most famous cricketer. "Asgiriya belongs to the Trinity College of Kandy and we have made a request to them," Lokuge told AFP. more..

A “second tsunami” hits Sri Lankan fishermen

Dec 13 (AN) A “second tsunami” has hit small fishermen in Sri Lanka, one of the country’s most marginalised social groups. Since 26 December 2004 when the tsunami struck the coastline of the country, another tsunami-like tragedy has hit them; it involves official indifference, red tape, multinational fishing interests and the tourist industry. Three years after the disaster thousands of people are in fact still living in ramshackle conditions, more..

A complete team-man

Dec 13 (SS) December 3, 2007 will be remembered for a long time by all Sri Lankans, for it was on this day that the nation’s most favourite son, Muttiah Muralitharan, reclaimed the world record for the most number of wickets in Test cricket from Australia’s Shane Warne. Muralitharan held the record briefly in 2004 before Warne overhauled him. And now that Warne has retired, there appears to be no bowler in sight capable of surpassing the Sri Lankan. more..

Disinformation :Deceitful Tigers Distort History

Dec 13 (AT) A recent program on Sri Lanka in "Unreported World" by Britain's Channel 4, focusing on the current situation in the conflict areas, interviewed Sri Lanka Army Commander Sarath Fonseka on Nov. 9. When asked why unidentified gunmen still run amok in the east, the lieutenant general responded, "it will happen as far as the LTTE and its operations are continued." Pro-Tiger media twisted his words and substituted it "will happen as far as the anti-terrorist operations are continuing," to make it more..

Jones stripped of medals, but Sri Lanka Jayasinghe's status still unclear as IOC delays re-ranking athletes

Dec 13 (LR) The International Olympic Committee (IOC) stripped United States' athlete Marion Jones of the five Olympic medals she won in Sydney in 2000 on Wednesday, but the sports body said a decision on whether to reallocate the medals - a move which will benefit Sri Lanka's Susanthika Jayasinghe - will not be made until an inquiry into a doping scandal was concluded. more..

"President's blessings for peace summit"

Dec 13 (BBC) Japanese special envoy, Yashushi Akashi says that even the greatest nations like United States have realised that it is not possible to impose their will upon others. Envoy Akashi told religious leaders gathered at an international inter-faith summit held in Jaffna that a ceasefire is the first step in creating a favourable frame work for peace but has to go beyond ceasefire to achieve a political solution. more..

Legislators' relatives 'abducted'

Dec 13 (BBC) A paramilitary group has abducted relatives of three Tamil parliamentarians in the east, Tamil National Alliance (TNA) says. In a statement to the parliament, TNA legislator Suresh Premachandran accused the Pillaiyan group of abducting three relatives. P. Ariyanethran's elder brother, S.Jeyanandamoorthy's nephew and K.Thangeswary's Secretary were abducted on Tuesday in Batticaloa in three different incidents during the day and the night, he said. more..

Govt not sympathetic to minority - Hakeem

Dec 13 (BBC) Sri Lanka Muslim Congress leader, Rauf Hakeem says that the security provided to him by the state has been stripped as soon as he crossed over to the opposition. This has been made effective from the midnight on Wedlnesday. He said considering his capacity as a party leader and also as a minority leader from the east, special security arrangements were made for him by the government even when he was in the opposition. more..

Visit to SERENDIP - Part II

Dec 13 (CO) My local host was the brother of Mr.Valsan, our Sri Lankan Deputy High Commissioner in Madras. He and his wife drove me around in Colombo, down the Galle Face, to the Port, and to the temple of Buddha called 'Ganga Rama' situated inside a beautiful lake in Colombo. They also drove me to 'Majestic City' and 'Liberty Plaza', two important shopping centres in the city. more..

A Romance with Rights

Dec 13 (GV) This afternoon we are gathered to celebrate and pay tribute to two Sri Lankan human rights defenders: one a fearless group that has exposed human rights violations mainly in relation to the conflict, and secondly, to an equally fearless woman who has played many roles in her campaign of human rights for all. We are also gathered here at a moment of severe human rights crisis and their struggles reflect the many micro struggles that others undergoing in different parts of the country. more..

Compensating for political failure

Dec 13 (LG) Supreme Court has ordered the dismantling of permanent security checkpoints to facilitate the movement of traffic on public roads, suddenly changing the landscape of Colombo. The abandoned checkpoints at various entry points to the city have a desolate look. In his judgment, Chief Justice Sarath N. Silva said that waging war against the state is the severest of offences, punishable by death, and members of the security forces have full power to maintain public order and more..

'Chief Minister Karunanidhi behind LTTE’s Sea Tiger in Tamil Nadu'

Dec 13 (LG) In what could be described as a very serious allegation against the State government, AIADMK supremo J Jayalalithaa on Wednesday charged Chief Minister M Karunanidhi with 'open support to the banned LTTE' and slammed the police department under him for total inertia. The AIADMK leader also wondered why the Centre was 'tolerant' and demanded it to take note and initiate stern action. more..

Rajapakse Government under Fire

Dec 13 (LG) The SLMC party, four cabinet ministers quits government and crossed over to the opposition benches just two days before the crucial final voting on controversial budget 2008 on December 14th, according to the sources. Minister of Posts and Telecommunications Rauf Hakeem said, President Rajapaksa’s government had failed to resolve problems of his community including a dispute about acquiring lands owned by Muslims in the eastern province. more..

Rauff Hakeem flays the government after crossing over to Opposition

Dec 13 (AT) Rauff Hakeem, Lader of the Sri Lanka Muslim Congress and the Minister of Post and Telecommunication spoke to Asian Tribune after crossing over to the opposition yesterday afternoon. He said that he has misgivings about the capability of the government to address the grievances of the minorities; both Muslims and Tamils. He said that they cannot suffer the type indignity they have been suffering for several months. more..

Sri Lanka gets UN human rights visitor

Dec 13 (LBO) A United Nations human right representative concerned with refugees is to arrive in Sri Lanka today on a week long visit at the invitation of the government, the UN has announced. Walter Kalin, representative of the UN Secretary General on the human rights of internally displaced people, will hold talks with a wide range of people to get a better understanding of the situation here and find possible solutions, the UN statement said. more..

Sri Lanka marketers to clamp down on scam ads

Dec 13 (LBO) Organizers of a Sri Lankan advertising award scheme say they would clamp down on 'scam' ads, which are especially made to win awards but are not widely placed in media. This year the steering committee of the 'Chillies 2009' awards has devised stringent rules to counter such scam ads. According to organizers, in 2007 some of the award were won by scam ads. more..

'Dec. 14th Budget voting will decide whether the darkest hours of Sri Lanka`s political history will be put to an end'

Dec 13 (ISL) Dr .Jayalath Jayawardena , UNP Parliamentarian addressing the Media Unit today said 14th Dec. budget voting is a decisive moment in the country and people’s future. It will decide whether the people will see the light of dawn and be delivered from the darkest hours of Sri Lanka’s political history or continue plunged in suffering, starvation, lawlessness, desperation and destitution driven into by this despotic, more..

CBK in Sierra Leone

Dec 13 (LG) The Former President of Sri Lanka (1994 -2005), Ms. Chandrika Kumaratunga is on a five-day working visit to Sierra Leone from Monday the 10th to Saturday the 15th December 2007. She arrived in the country heading a 3-man delegation from the African Women Leaders’ Project The overall objective of the visit is to strengthen female political leaders by enhancing their confidence to a great extent in politics and decision making capacities. more..

The LTTE is heavily involved in fund raising for Hilary Clinton in New Jersey

Dec 13 (AT) Well known activists of a banned terrorist group in the United States are involved in the fund raising activities of the US Democratic candidate Senator Hilary Rodham Clinton. According to a fundraising web site for the Senator, LTTE activists are involved in raising funds from 100 Dollars to 2300 Dollars to help elect Senator Clinton as the next United States President. more..

Westborg undertakes a broad operation to defeat the budget

Dec 13 (LT) Diplomatic Sources say that former Norwegian Ambassador Mr. Jon Westborg is now in Sri Lanka and the he is engaged in a broad operation to defeat the budget. According to these Sources Mr. Westborg who arrived in Sri Lanka two weeks ago has had several rounds of secret discussions with a few government ministers in a leading hotel in Colombo and representatives of British, German and Australian embassies are reported to have been associated with westborg in these discussions. more..

Basil spreading fallacies to prevent crossovers – Jathika Sabha

Dec 13 (LD) UPFA parliamentarian Basil Rajapaksa stands accused of spreading fallacies in a desperate attempt to discourage government parliamentarians who have decided to crossover to the opposition. Rajapaksa has claimed that a splitting up of the JVP cannot be avoided if its Central Committee gives into to pressure by Tilvyn Silva and Anura Kumara Dissanayake and decides to vote against the budget on December 14th, as a majority of JVP MPs vehemently oppose a toppling of the present regime. more..

Let Muslims live in their motherland – SLMC Sec. Hassan Ali

Dec 13 (LD) General Secretary of the SLMC Hassan Ali says the land issue of eastern Muslims had been one reason for his party’s withdrawal of support to the government. “The eastern land issue was one reason for us to leave the government. Even 175 acre plots of farmland were acquired and destroyed. Muslims were evicted from their land. We too are Sri Lankans. Let Muslims live in their motherland,” he requested in Parliament today (Dec. 12th). more..

Basil attempts thro’ English media to prevent Thondaman from crossover

Dec 13 (LD) Basil Rajapaksa is engaged in a childish attempt through local English-language newspapers to influence the stance of CWC’s Arumugam Thondaman and other minority party politicians to minimize the impact from a terrible defeat for the Rajapaksa Brothers’ budget at the vote on its third reading tomorrow, a top official of the Jathika Sabha told ‘Lanka Dissent.’ more..

16 campus protestors granted bail

Dec 13 (LD) The Colombo Magistrate’s Court today granted bail to 16 undergraduates who were arrested by the Cinnamon Gardens Police when it dispersed a protest organized by the Inter-University Students Federation in Colombo three days ago. Colombo Chief Magistrate Mackey Mohammed, ordering the release of the 16, including IUSF Convener Duminda Nagamuwa, on Rs. 100,000 personal bonds each, remarked that university students lose their public recognition due to such action. more..

Hakeem alleges security provided to him & 4 MPs withdrawn maliciously

Dec 13 (LD) SLMC leader and former Posts and Telecommunications Minister Rauff Hakeem charges that the government has withdrawn the security provided to him and other party MPs without any prior notice and with malicious intent. Raising a point of privilege in Parliament today (Dec. 13th), Hakeem claimed that as a person engaged in politics in the eastern province he had been insecure in the north and the east. more..

Don’t preach to us on human rights - Ambassador tells the West

Dec 13 (LD) UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour highlighted Sri Lanka’s failure to address a raft of human rights abuses in a highly critical speech to the Human Rights Council on (Dec. 11). She is pushing to set up a UN human rights office in the island, a move that the government has categorically rejected, as explains Sri Lanka’s Ambassador at the UN Dayan Jayatilleka. more..

Injunction against health strike extended till Dec. 21

Dec 13 (LD) The Colombo High Court today extended an injunction till December 21st that prevents 44 health sector trade unions from resorting to strike action. On November 09th, High Court Judge Sisira Ratnayake gave the order after considering a fundamental rights petition filed by a heart patient of Colombo. The Judge said today that any objections to the extension of the injunction could be filed on December 21st. more..

Sri Lankan Peace Official Comments on TRO, UNICEF

Dec 13 (PISL) Statement by Prof Rajiva Wijesinha on behalf of the Sri Lankan delegation, at the debate in the United Nations Human Rights Council on December 12th on the Reports of Martin Scheinin, Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism and Rodolfo Stavenhagen, Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights and fundamental freedoms of indigenous people. more..

Sri Lanka sees more tourists in November

Dec 13 (LBO) Sri Lanka saw more foreign visitors in November with Western Europe, a key generating market rallying 40 percent to drive total arrivals up by 20 percent, the tourism promotion office said. Arrivals from UK grew 53 percent to 7,938, Germany 24 to 4,005 while the Netherlands grew 85 percent to 1,551 helping boost Western European visitors to 17,925. Western Europe is a key generating market for the island's beleaguered leisure industry which has been hard hit by an upsurge in violence. more..

Key Cabinet decisions

Dec 13 (GDI) Cabinet Spokesman and Minister of Mass Media and Information Anura Priyadarshana Yapa addressing a media briefing today (13) in Colombo said that Prof. Wishwa Warnapala obtained cabinet approval for the following on behalf of the Ministry of Higher Education: 1. Construction of a Paramedical building for the Medical Faculty of the Rajarata University at a cost of Rs.330 million. Construction work would be entrusted to the State Engineering Corporation. more..

'Govt. confident of getting budget passed'

Dec 13 (GDI) Speaking on 4 SLMC MPs led by Mr. Rauff Hakim crossing over to the opposition recently, Media Minister Anura Priyadarshana Yapa said today it was strange that when at the Second Reading of the Budget they had voted with the Government approving the proposals but had suddenly 'realized' that the Government had not done much for the Muslim Community. Suffice it to say that all the other Muslims MPs are with the Government and they realize the services rendered by the Government towards the community and the Eastern Development programme. more..

Thailand intends to strengthen economic ties with Sri Lanka

Dec 13 (GDI) The newly appointed Thai ambassador to Sri Lanka, His Excellency Thinakorn Kanasuta said that promoting frequent visits between members of the Thai-Sri Lanka Chamber of Commerce will be high on his agenda as a first step towards strengthening economic relations between the two countries. "Greater interaction between business persons will naturally result in enhanced trading volumes beneficial to both countries," said Mr. Kanasuta. more..

"Prabhakaran dreams cannot be fulfilled" - Minister Devananda

Dec 13 (GDI) Prabhakaran is a brutal killer and is not a representative of the Tamil people, said the Minister of Social Services and Social Welfare and the Leader of the EPDP, Douglas Devananda participating in the Parliamentary debate yesterday (12). The minister was referring to the unsuccessful attempts made by the LTTE to take is life using suicide bombers on 11 different occasions. more..

"LTTE using new and unexpected methods to transport explosives"

Dec 13 (GDI) Military Spokesman Brigadier Udaya Nanayakkara stated that the LTTE, facing a severe shortage of cadres in the moment, has decided to deploy more females in its operations and to resort to more 'innovative' ways of transporting explosives. This situation has partly been caused by the fact that the LTTE loses around 10 cadres everyday in the battlefield, especially in Jaffna and Vavuniya, Brigadier Nanayakkara said. more..

People displaced for 3 decades provided compensation within two years – Rishad Bathiyutheen

Dec 13 (GDI) Minister of Resettlement and Disaster Relief Services Rishad Bathiyutheen said that people who had to flee Jaffna due to the rise of terrorist activities and forced to take refuge in Puttalam, Anuradhapura and even to Tamil Nadu from time to time since 1977, were granted compensation upon the directions of President Mahinda Rajapaksa. more..

Gandhi Ashram trains refugee women

Dec 13 (Hindu) Off the Tiruchengode-Paramathivellore Road, opposite a Sri Lankan refugee camp, a group of women is busy trying their hands at basket weaving. Two trainers instruct the dozen-odd women, who carry out the orders by cutting the palm leaves and deftly bending the cut leaves between two other leaves. The women, Sri Lankan refugees from the Paramathivellore camp, have been at it for the past two days to augment the family income. more..

'Sri Lanka' the colorful land of sunshine

Dec 13 (TZ) The most beautiful island on earth according to Marco Polo and one of the lands to be admired according to world-famous Arab Muslim traveler Muhammad Ibn Battuta al-Tanji, Sri Lanka has a coastline that extends 1,340 kilometers. In the Sinhala language, Sri Lanka means "that which shines brightly." As its name implies, the sun always shines over the Sri Lankan land. The average temperature in the country is 28 degrees Celsius. more..