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India, Sri Lanka to boost Buddhist tourism

Dec 18 (IANS) With Buddhist sites high on the agenda, India and Sri Lanka Monday agreed on a slew of measures to develop and promote these to attract more tourists from the island nation. The steps to strengthen bilateral relations in the field of tourism were discussed at a 40-minute meeting between Tourism and Culture Minister Ambika Soni and her Sri Lankan counterpart Milinda Moragoda. more..

Prabaharan is actively trailed and his activities in the jungle hideouts closely monitored

Dec 18 (AT) Sri Lanka intelligence agency is well aware of the developments in the Vanni hideout of Prabaharan, the leader of the Tamil Tigers. They are tracking very closely and minutely following the developments. Even the intelligence group is aware of the minor injury sustained by Prabaharan last month and they are actively trailing him to bring an end to terrorism in the country. more..

Sri Lanka president may ban rebels if attacks go on

Dec 18 (Reuters) Sri Lanka may outlaw the Tamil Tigers if the rebels continue to mount large-scale attacks, President Mahinda Rajapaksa said on Monday, a move that would put the prospect of renewed peace talks further out of reach. "One or two more attacks, we have no option," Rajapaksa told reporters after hosting a Christmas gala in the capital Colombo. "(We will) have to ban." "There is a limit to our patience, our tolerance." more..

Minister 'acted with vengeance'

Dec 18 (BBC) A senior minister in the Sri Lankan government is accused of conspiring to keep an MP away as the parliament voted for a crucial vote. Tamil National Alliance (TNA) legislator MK Ealaventhan told BBC Sandeshaya that minister Jeyaraj Fernandopullai suggested he abstain from voting or the government would raise the issue of his absence over a long period. The parliament voted for the third reading of the budget proposals on 14 December. more..

Roy five-for seals series for Bangladesh U-19

Dec 18 (CI) Medium-pacer Subashis Roy had exceptional figures of 5 for 24 to send Sri Lanka Under-19 crashing to a 49-run loss in Fatullah, and more importantly, clinching the series win for Bangladesh U-19 with one match to go. Bangladesh managed only 167 runs after opting to bat, and were staring at defeat when Sri Lanka were cruising at 65 without loss in the tenth over. more..

Centre ‘careful’ about LTTE movements

Dec 18 (Hindu) The Centre is “careful” about the movements of the LTTE not only in Tamil Nadu but also elsewhere in the country, said National Security Advisor M.K. Narayanan here on Monday. Addressing mediapersons after meeting Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi at his Gopalapuram residence, Mr. Narayanan ruled out joint patrolling with the Sri Lankan Navy in the Indian Ocean. There was only coordinated patrolling, with India and Sri Lanka doing patrolling in their respective areas. more..

Identity in Jaffna and Jewish Badge in Germany

Dec 18 (GV) Tamil residents in Jaffna are reportedly being forced to carry a special document of identification issued by security forces, in addition to the national identity card provided by the Emigration and Immigration Department. In other words, these Tamils have been ignominiously reduced, in the eyes of government authorities, to the status of non-nationals of their own country. more..

Until the Guns are silent

Dec 18 (GV) I set out on the journey to Jaffna hoping to report on the situation there. I got back yesterday but am still unable to put down anything on paper as I don’t know where to start. Do I start with the little boy I met who saved his baby brother’s life by scooping his intestines back into his torn belly and holding him till he was given medical attention? Or do I start with the little girl who saw a man on his knees begging for his life before having his brains blown out on the road in the middle of the morning? more..

Govt. worried on head of UNICEF’s recent visit to Kilinochhchi

Dec 18 (LG) Mr. Philippe Duamelle, the Country Representative of the UNICEF was called in to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs today (17/12) to express concern over his recent visit to Kilinochchi and his meeting with LTTE leaders, according to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in a latest press statement here today. "Foreign Secretary Dr Palitha Kohona emphasised that the UNICEF had not followed the guidelines issued by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs when diplomats and high ranking officials sought to visit the uncleared areas in the Northern Province. more..

Sri Lanka’s domestic programme given long overdue facelift

Dec 18 (TO) Sri Lanka have been playing Test cricket for 25 years with extraordinary success, but with an old-fashioned, essentially amateur system based on the strength of school and club cricket. That is about to change. The Times can reveal that a revamped domestic structure, based on only five provincial teams, each with their own sponsor and separate organisation, is about to replace the 20-club “Premier” tournament of recent years. more..

Nearly 30,000 marooned in eastern Sri Lanka floods

Dec 18 (Xinhua) Nearly 30,000 people in eastern Sri Lanka have been displaced by floods caused by incessant rains over the weekend, disaster relief officials said here Monday. Most affected were people from the Ampara district where 22,339 people from 5,824 families were displaced, officials said. In the Batticoloa district, about 1,500 families have been relocated to schools due to flooding, officials said, more..

Clinton fundraising ties to terror group

Dec 18 (CFP) On December 4, 2007, we reported that members of the terrorist organization LTTE, more commonly known as the Tamil Tigers, were arrested in New York for their plot to use stolen credit card numbers and other methods to steal $250,000 in New York “and tens of millions from ATMs worldwide.” One of the men arrested worked three jobs at Newark Airport as a security agent and baggage handler with complete security clearance. more..

Sri Lanka: Human Rights Commission Downgraded

Dec 18 (TW) The recent downgrading of Sri Lanka’s National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) by an international committee highlights the need for independent international monitoring of the human rights situation in the country, Human Rights Watch said today. Recently the International Coordinating Committee of National Institutions for the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights – the international body that regulates national human rights institutions – reduced Sri Lanka’s NHRC to the status of an “observer” because of government encroachment on its independence. more..

Rs. 460 million for ‘No Projects’ Ministry

Dec 18 (CP) The government has allocated a staggering Rs. 460 million from people’s money to the ministry of UNP dissident Mahinda Wijesekara, Minister for Special Projects who has not even undertaken a single new project since he was sworn in as the Minister by President Mahinda Rajapaksa. Wijesekara’s Ministry is housed at the plush World Trade Center in Colombo Fort. The rent paid for the office space is Rs. 460,000 per month with a deposit of Rs. 9 million. more..

CMC slashes public health funds

Dec 18 (CP) The Budget proposals of the Colombo Municipal Council for 2008 show a drastic cut in funds allocated for the work of the Public Health Department (PHD), according to a PHD official. Compared to the funds allocated in 2007, which was Rs. 387 million, a reduction of Rs. 59 million means the Department will have to manage with only Rs. 318 million in 2008, which is a 15% reduction. more..

Intl. bankers on alert for large withdrawals by LTTE

Dec 18 (CP) The international financial community is being alerted to look out for large bank withdrawals by LTTE operatives and front companies trying to repatriate the funds to Tiger-controlled areas following the deaths of a Tiger leader and several of the group’s top fighters in a strike by the Sri Lanka Air Force. "The odds are that those deceased individuals held bank accounts overseas, the purpose of which was to assist in arms procurement and fund-raising or extortion from the expatriate Tamil community," more..

Noise pollution affects our children, not politicians

Dec 18 (CP) The effectiveness of the much touted noise pollution regulations would be greatly diminished if the recent statement in Parliament by a minister to adopt new regulations to permit the use of loudspeakers after 10.00 pm comes into effect. Construction and Engineering Services Minister Rajitha Senaratne told parliament recently that a Cabinet decision had been taken to bring in new regulations to allow the use of loudspeakers after 10.00 pm, and more..

Budget voting only falls in line with Hypocrisy of MPs

Dec 18 (ISL) Since of late, in Sri Lanka, time and again it has become evident that voting and victories in Parliament do not mirror the true will of the people as those members who enter Parliament as people’s representatives have never stood by the aspirations of the masses and voters after winning, for which they were elected. No sooner they win elections than they have forgotten the promises they have made to their voters and the policies they promulgated, with personal agendas obnoxiously overtaking them. more..

Govt. cannot formulate any policy for the benefit of the people says UNP

Dec 18 (LG) Lakshman Kiriella , the UNP Parliamentarian addressing the media meeting at the UNP Media unit questioned why the JVP which bitterly criticized the Budget 2008 as a harlot draped in a kandyan saree and voted against it at the second reading suddenly took a ‘U’ turn at the final reading? It is obvious that JVP fully aware that its popularity has hit rock bottom after last elections like more..

Will anarchy prevail in Sri Lanka?

Dec 18 (LG) The attitude of the government and the previous government to the question of corruption has been lackadaisical and one of apathy. Obviously if these governments pursued the corrupt offenders the fall-out would have exposed their own party members. Most recently, the government is reluctant to act on the COPE findings because the senior UNP defectors now with the government would be charged and may have to lose their portfolios and be stripped from their office of being members of parliament. more..

Red Boys & Other Boys

Dec 18 (LG) After over a month long hullabaloos over the 2008 Budget of Mahinda, the regime has at last has secured its respite on 14th (Friday) December 2007 with 47 votes majority for the government due to unpredictable JVP somersaulting from its original position. Soon after the voting, JVP was given good publicity by the government media for their loyal service to save the government from its near collapse. more..

Mathivathani Prabakaran declared open eluders home in Kilinochchi

Dec 18 (AT) Mathivathani Prabakaran, wife of Velupillai Prabakaran, the Leader of the LTTE declared open the Home For the Elders, “Anbuchcholai” at Ariviyal Nakar located in Ki'linochchi last Sunday. This was hailed as one of the rarest even ever attended a public function by Mathivathani Prabakaran by the LTTE pro-LTTE medias all over. The inauguration event was presided over by Thirukkumaran, head of the Welfare Centre for Heroes' Families. more..

LTTE calls for support to rescue Director General of UNESCO

Dec 18 (AT) While Sri Lankan government and the UNESCO Director General are at loggerheads over the latter’s unwarranted condemnation of the air attack on Voice of Tigers, the LTTE called on the Tamil community to rescue the Director General of UNESCO. Tamilnet, the pro-LTTE website made an open appeal to the Tamil community to come to the beleaguered Koichiro Matsuura Director General of UNESCO, who has found himself in a tight corner by poking his nose into affairs beyond the mandate of UNESCO. more..

Sri Lanka EPF needs independent governance: IMF

Dec 18 (LBO) The International Monetary Fund has called for an independent governance structure for Sri Lanka's Employees Provident Fund (EPF) amidst growing concern about real losses to the fund and its management at the hands of the Central Bank. In a Financial Sector Stability Assessment the IMF said a "sound, robust, and independent governance structure" was needed for the EPF with a "clear objective of seeking the best investment returns for members." more..

Sri Lanka markets watchdog should be more neutral and independent: IMF

Dec 18 (LBO) Sri Lanka's capital markets watchdog should be made more transparent and its officials more independent, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has said. The island's Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) is "well-resourced", but its capacity needs to be further strengthened, the IMF said in a comprehensive financial sector assessment report on the island. more..

Sri Lanka climate change may ravage agriculture, coast areas

Dec 18 (LBO) Rising temperatures over the next couple of decades will ravage Sri Lanka’s dry zone agriculture and a possible sea level rise will affect the coastal economy a top climate change expert has warned. A temperature rise in the next few years is feared even if big polluters decide to cap carbon emissions, which are responsible for global warming. "Developing countries have to be aware that whether there are emissions cuts or not we are already committed to a certain degree of climate change," more..

Sri Lanka issues new currency note with anti-counterfeiting features

Dec 18 (LBO) Sri Lanka is issuing its first currency note under the signature of Governor Nivard Cabraal with added security features to battle a rising threat of counterfeiting, the Central Bank said. The note is dated 2006.07.03. The one thousand rupee note will have upgraded security features to battle an "increasing threat" of counterfeiting high denomination notes, the monetary authority said. more..

Group in JVP still believes in armed struggles – Nandana Gunatillake

Dec 18 (LD) 'Extremists' in Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) who still believe in the armed struggle to gain power, is dragging the party to the jungle, says independently-functioning JVP MP Nandana Gunatillake. Speaking to BBC Sandeshaya yesterday (Dec. 17th), he said that despite being unarmed at present, “there is still a group in the party that believes in an armed struggle to gain power”. more..

Special Projects Minister fears his woman servant linked to terrorism

Dec 18 (LD) Special Projects Minister Mahinda Wijesekara has handed over a woman servant at his Cotta Road residence to the Borella Police on suspicion that she was linked to terrorist activities. Acting on a telephone call by the Minister, the Police had visited the house and arrested the woman along with her belongings. Identified as Karupaiyah Rajayogam alias Ranjani, she is said to be a resident of Moneragala. more..

Drug convict facing contempt of court charge remanded

Dec 18 (LD) Mohammed Shiyam, the drug convict who was sentenced to death, was produced before the Colombo Magistrate’s Court today (Dec. 18th) to face a contempt of court charge. Shiyam is charged of disturbing court proceedings after he swallowed a liquid and fainted in the docks when the court was about to deliver the verdict. He was summoned to the Colombo Magistrate’s Court after the Colombo High Court Judge lodged a complaint with the Keselwatte Police regarding his liquid-swallowing and fainting act. more..

Govt. prepares for referendum for extension of office

Dec 18 (LD) President Mahinda Rajapaksa has ordered his senior advisor Basil Rajapaksa to inquire into the possibility of holding a referendum to get the office of the present government extended for another six years in order to continue the war against terrorism, reports say. The president has also advised his younger brother to initiate talks with the JVP Propaganda Secretary Wimal Weerawansa as it is crucial to obtain the support of the JVP at such a referendum. more..

Nalanda Ellawala murder case in High Court

Dec 18 (LD) Ratnapura Magistrate and Additional District Court Judge M.M.M. Mihal has instructed to charge-sheet six suspects including Textile Minister Mahinda Rathnatilake and Minister of Nation Building Susantha Punchinilame in the High Court in the murder of MP Nalanda Ellawala 10 years ago. The magistrate released four suspects including the son of Minister Rathnatilake. more..

Steps to expand tourism in the East

Dec 18 (GDI) Chairman of Sri Lanka Tourism Development Board Mr. Renton de Alwis said that steps have been taken to expand tourism industry in the East and to bring more tourists under Negenahira Navodaya program. China Bay Airport terminal in Trincomalee has been administered by the Air Force. People representing Sinhalese, Tamils, Muslims and Burgers could display their products in the terminal. more..

Laws to assure job security to those infected by HIV/AIDS

Dec 18 (GDI) The Government has decided to introduce a set of laws to assure job security to those in the Government sector affected by HIV or AIDS. Minister for Health and Nutrition, Nimal Siripala De Silva made this announcement following a complaint by a Government servant infected with HIV/ AIDS that his services had been terminated. Though it is unfair to remove such a victim from employment there is no prevailing law to prevent such treatment. more..

Central Bank to create public awareness on debt management

Dec 18 (GDI) The Central Bank will soon release the first issue of the "Public Debt Management in Sri Lanka"- a publication on government's management of public debt. This publication will be utilized by the Central Bank as a means of creating awareness on the government's public debt management strategies adopted during 2006 and 2007, the current status of the debt stock, and the "way forward" strategies for 2008 and beyond. more..

Confab/Exhibition tourism to bring in positive results in 2008

Dec 18 (GDI) Government is expecting positive results next year with tourism promotions associated with meetings, incentives conferences and exhibitions. This year such promotions have targeted corporate in main cities in India and they are aware of the facilities and resources available in Sri Lanka, according to the Secretary of the Ministry of Tourism George Michel. more..

Majority approve President Rajapaksa's policy on eradicating terrorism -- CPA Survey

Dec 18 (GDI) The results of the survey conducted by the Centre for Policy Alternatives (CPA) reveals that the overwhelming majority of the Sri Lankan people are satisfied with President Rajapaksa'a efforts to eradicate terrorism. The Office of the Permanent Mission of Sri Lanka to the United Nations in Geneva in a media release release stated that the survey shows the majority of the country's main ethnic group (Sinhalese) supports the government's war on terror (87.3%) and approves its rule of law ( 84.4%). more..

UNICEF Rep queried over unsanctioned Kilinochchi visit

Dec 18 (GDI) The Ministry of Foreign Affairs summoned the Country Representative of the United Nation's Children's Fund (UNICEF), Philippe Duamelle over a visit to Kilinochchi and meeting with LTTE leaders recently. Foreign Secretary Dr. Palitha Kohona is reported to have expressed concern over this visit which has not been sanctioned by the Ministry as per guidelines for diplomats and other high ranking officials with regard to visiting uncleared areas. more..

Aceh Peace Process Stakeholders and Facilitators Visit SCOPP

Dec 18 (PISL) A highly representative delegation associated with the Aceh Peace Process in Indonesia visited the Peace Secretariat (SCOPP) on Wednesday, December 12, 2007 for a brief discussion and an exchange of views and insights on conflict resolution based on experiences gathered from peace initiatives in the two countries. The discussion covered a range of issues such as history of the dispute, elements of the Aceh Memorandum of Understanding, devolution of power, more..

Lankan mission aims to forge unity: envoy

Dec 18 (GT) IN ORDER to instill a sense of belonging and forge unity among the community members, the Sri Lankan embassy celebrates all religious occasions at the chancery. Ambassador S B Atugoda told Gulf Times yesterday that the embassy encouraged the community to have celebrations of all major religions of Sri Lanka at the embassy. He said the role of the embassy and diplomats had changed lately. more..

Traffic awareness event for Sri Lankan expats

Dec 18 (GT) THE traffic and patrols departments at the Ministry of Interior (MoI) recently made a presentation about some aspects of the new traffic law at the annual gathering of the Sri Lankan Majlis. Some 250 members of the Sri Lankan community attended the event. Lieutenant Riyadh Ahmed Mohamed Salih from the traffic and patrols department, thanked the Sri Lankan Majlis for organisaing the event. more..

People-smuggler gets two years' jail

Dec 18 (TA) A PEOPLE-SMUGGLER linked to the arrival of 83 Sri Lankan asylum-seekers in international waters off Australia earlier this year has been sentenced to two years in jail by an Indonesian court. Veteran people-smuggler Abraham Lauhenapessy, known as Captain Bram, was arrested inJune on people-smuggling charges and was last week handed a two-year jail term and fined 25 million rupiah ($3110). more..

Five Lankans arrested for robbery in Jeddah

Dec 18 (LNP) Five Sri Lankans, a woman and four men employed in Jeddah were arrested by the Saudi police in connection with theft of jewellery valued at 4 million rupees last week, an official spokesman of the Sri Lanka Foreign Employment Bureau said yesterday (17). He said the woman was alleged to have robbed the jewellery from the residence of a Saudi national on the instigation of the Sri Lankan male workers. more..

Rein in these wild buffaloes!

Dec 18 (LNP) No sooner had the government won the budget vote than its goons attacked two buses carrying UNP supporters after the party`s convention in Gampaha on Sunday. The UNP has complained to the police that a group of its activists engaged in putting up flags were also set upon and over 200 flag posts forcibly removed. Is this the way the government is celebrating its victory? Those dastardly attacks must be condemned unreservedly! more..

Archaeological sites under threat

Dec 18 (SAMN) A shortage of funds is threatening Sri Lanka’s archaeological sites with neglect. Director General of the Archaeology Department Dr. Senarath Dissanayake said there were 2,500 archaeological sites islandwide and only Rs. 17 million was allocated annually to the department. "We cannot complete investigation, restoration and excavation countrywide with this small amount." more..

1.2 mn Muslims live below poverty line

Dec 18 (SAMN) Over 1.2 million Sri Lankan Muslims, out of a total of 1.8 million, live below the poverty line, while Muslim women are poorly educated, a top Islamic gathering was told Monday. Moors’ Islamic Cultural Home (MICH) president, A. A. M. Marleen, who addressed the opening of the Sheikha Fatima Building in Colombo 6, , said 1.2 Muslims lived below the poverty line while the remaining 600,000 Muslims earned only an average income today. more..

Geographical landmarks to be mapped

Dec 18 (SAMN) The Urban Development and Sacred Area Development (UDSAD) Ministry with a view to expediting development and to use the error free geographical information has decided to map geographical landmarks. The UDSAD has decided to implement this project with the assistance of the Surveyors Department under the supervision of Urban Development Authority. The Government has received euro 6.5 million for this project. more..

Scandal exaggerated says diplomat

Dec 18 (SAMN) A Lankan diplomat says the scandal involving some 114 Sri Lankan peacekeeping troops expelled from the UN peacekeeping mission in Haiti on charges of sexually exploiting under aged Haitian women has been exaggerated. The Los Angeles Times quoted a senior Sri Lankan diplomat in Washington as saying the Haitian government's inability to create opportunities for its citizens led young girls to sell themselves to lonely and homesick soldiers. more..

Politics banished from welfare, development - President

Dec 18 (DN) President Mahinda Rajapaksa yesterday inaugurated the renovated Galle International Cricket Stadium, inclusive of the newly-constructed Pavilion, at a colourful ceremony in Galle yesterday. The stadium which was destroyed by the 2004 tsunami was renovated at a cost of Rs. 500 million. Making an inspection tour of the stadium, President Rajapaksa directed officials to expedite work at the site. more..

Welfare programmes for prisoner families

Dec 18 (DN) Social Services and Social Welfare Deputy Minister Lionel Premasiri stated that steps had already been taken by his Ministry with the intervention of National Social Development Council to launch a series of programmes for welfare and uplift the socio mentality of the families of prisoners who had been serving long sentences. He made these observations at a ceremony held at Welikada Prisons premises, on December 6 commencing its first such programme. more..