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Sri Lanka navy chief denies use of torture

Dec 4 (TA) THE commander of the Sri Lankan navy has denied relying on evidence extracted under torture during the Melbourne prosecution of three Tamils accused of terrorism offences. Navy commander Wasantha Karannagoda appeared by video link in the Melbourne Magistrates Court yesterday and faced vigorous questions from defence barristers on his country's human rights record. Vice-Admiral Karannagoda is a key prosecution witness in a terrorism prosecution of three men accused of being members of the Sri Lankan terrorist organisation the LTTE. more..

Sri Lanka power utility needs reform, price revisions says IMF

Dec 4 (LBO) The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has called for further reforms of Sri Lanka's state electricity utility which looks set to make a 20 billion rupee loss this year. Many of the losses in the Ceylon Electricity Board (CEB) were financed by loans from state banks posing a threat to the entire financial sector, the IMF warned in an assessment of the island economy after its annual consultation with the government. more..

The modest masterblaster calls time

Dec 4 (CI) It was an exit that brought to mind Mike Atherton's sheepish departure at The Oval in 2001. No-one knew for sure that this was his final innings in Test cricket, but the way Sanath Jayasuriya shyly saluted his standing ovation was telling in the extreme. As he reached the rope after a pugnacious 78, he was met with a pat on the shoulder and a semi-embrace by the incoming batsman, Kumar Sangakkara, more..

Sides prepare for fourth-day scrap

Dec 4 (CI) The third day in Kandy belonged exclusively to Muttiah Muralitharan, and yet at the same time it did not. While the magnitude of his achievement rightly dominated the day's proceedings, somewhere beneath the hype and felicitations, a good old-fashioned nuggety Test match was taking shape. By the close it was Sri Lanka with their noses in front, but for the new world-record victim, Paul Collingwood, the battle for supremacy was only just taking shape. more..

Health strike to 'go ahead'

Dec 4 (BBC) Sri Lanka's health workers say they will go ahead with the planned strike despite a court order banning the industrial action. After considering a Fundamental Rights (FR) petition, the Supreme Court on Monday banned the planned strike as patients will face difficulties if the health workers go on strike. The Health Workers' Trade Union Alliance (HWTUA) told BBC Sandeshaya that its members will stop working on Tuesday and Wednesday unless the authorities implement their pledges. more..

Sri Lanka Government desperate to attract tourists

Dec 4 (AT) In a depleted tourist arrival scenario, Sri Lankan Tourist Authorities are now searching to attract tourists from unconventional areas of the globe and now they are tapping the potential in the Middle-East. In the month of October there were nearly 8,000 Middle-eastern tourists have visited Sri Lanka. The latest is the government is trying to attract tourists from Iran, another middle-eastern country. more..

JVP leader says he is ready to sell umbrellas

Dec 4 (AT) JVP leader Somawansa Amarasingha says that the Kadurata Umbrella Industries provides employment for local youth and save foreign exchange. “If any local industry is protecting Sri Lankan foreign funds and provide ample jobs for the unemployed masses the JVP ready to support them. I came to sell umbrellas of the Kadurata Umbrella industries , said Somaeansa Amrasingha who delivered his speech during the 3oth anniversary of the Kadurata Umbrella Industries, Kandy, held at the Taj Samudra Hotel, Colombo on Friday. more..

Release the innocent: Colombo

Dec 4 (Hindu) Amid protests by various parties in Parliament and representations from several organisations and families, President Mahinda Rajapaksa on Monday instructed the Inspector-General of Police to release innocent persons detained during recent search operations in and around Colombo. Fear psychosis has gripped Tamil citizens after the authorities detained over 1,000 persons in one of the largest ever combing operations in search of LTTE suspects. more..

'No spinner has Warne's thinking power'

Dec 4 (CI) Charlie Austin caught up with Muttiah Muralitharan after the spin wizard reclaimed the record for most Test wickets from Shane Warne. Q. How special was it to break the record in Kandy? Very special, and a big relief as I didn't expect to get it in the first innings. I bowled pretty well on the first day and today they put up a hard fight. Finally I achieved it. It could not have worked out better for me really. This is my hometown and a place I really love. My family was here and lots of friends. more..

'Prabaharan is putting sand into his opened eyes'

Dec 4 (CP) Kathiravelu Nithyananda Devananda, commonly known as Douglas Devananda, the militant-turned politician who has survived more LTTE assassination attempts than on anyone else, believes there would be more attempts on his life as long as Prabaharan is alive. Devananda, born in 1957 in Jaffna to a teacher mother and Communist father, obtained his primary education at Jaffna Central College. He was sent to Colombo for higher studies in 1974. more..

Dark clouds on the political horizon

Dec 4 (CP) At that time all of us went through the stage of exchanging autographs. Being a co-educational school, it was natural for us to have a ‘teen-age’ crush. Very often it was a one-sided one where the girl didn’t know anything about it and yet was friendly with us as classmates. This was the Jaffna teenage crush, 1950 style! We gave the autograph to that particular girl and waited for her to return it with a verse written on it. more..

Kettle calls the pot black

Dec 4 (CP) The on-going conflict in Sri Lanka is wrongly labelled ‘Ethnic’ on the premise that the Sinhalese and Tamils are of different ethnic origins. Historical, archeological, cultural, phenotypical (physical appearance) and now genetic evidence point to common origins and heavy intermingling over the centuries. We speak different languages, which share a large number of common words and have a similar grammatical structure. more..

Rein in war machines, urges Peace Council

Dec 4 (CP) The Colombo attacks appear part of a larger pattern in which civilians are being made victims of the escalating conflict, states a media release from the National Peace Council. It further states, "The chilling spectre of suspected LTTE bombings in Colombo has re-emerged with the two attacks that have claimed at least 19 lives and injured dozens. First was the suicide attack at the office of the Ministry of Social Services in the vicinity of a school, more..

The reality of living in a “Separate State”

Dec 4 (GV) Many Sri Lankans spent a peaceful Sunday at home. A typical lazy Sri Lankan Sunday spent lounging after a sumptuous lunch and browsing through the newspapers in a vain attempt to delay the oncoming week. I was one such Sri Lankan. Going out was too much of a hassle with all the security concerns. The detailed recounting of the recent twin bomb blasts checked all enthusiasm of having a rocking Sunday. more..

Sri Lanka economic shocks are home grown: IMF

Dec 4 (LBO) Recent weaknesses in Sri Lanka's economy have come from internal policies, and a plan to stop market pricing Diesel and Kerosene in 2008 may destabilize the economy further, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has warned. "Growing vulnerabilities appear to be rooted primarily in domestic policies of the past few years," the IMF said in its annual Article IV consultations report released today. more..

Bombs in Colombo and Kilinochchi and Arrests

Dec 4 (TC) Text of speech by Mano Ganesan MP in the parliament: Minister Hon. Jeyaraj Fernandopulle spoke about the recent bomb blasts in Colombo. At the very inception I wish to state categorically that my party Western Peoples Front very strongly condemn the bomb attack at Hon Minister Douglas Devananda's office in Colombo and the bomb blast attack at a departmental store in Nugegoda, south of Colombo. more..

The charm, charity and cheer of Muralitharan the magnificent

Dec 4 (GU) For once - in honour of Muttiah Muralitharan's freshly minted world record - do not look him up in Wisden or on Instead, try There, you will get some idea of the charity work that Murali and his agent, Kushil Gunasekera, are engaged in. Of course, some of the biggest villains in history have embraced charity for other purposes. But for Murali his concern is genuine. more..

Treasury secretary on Sri Lanka central bank board `no threat to independence'

Dec 4 (LR) Sri Lanka has told the International Monetary Fund (IMF) that having the country’s treasury secretary on the Central Bank’s five-member monetary board does not hinder its ability to act independently even as criticism grew that the bank was pressured into printing money by the treasury to support the financially over-extended Government. more..

Is the Lanka conflict being turned into a war of attrition?

Dec 4 (KT) A RESIDENT from the war-ravaged north-east of Sri Lanka once told a sociology researcher that he was bored to death because he hadn’t heard a gunshot for a long time. The remarks came during a lull in the fighting some time ago. Life in Colombo, the commercial capital of Sri Lanka, had been lacking any violent excitement for some time. It had seen car bombs, truck bombs, train bombs and numerous suicide bombs in addition to assassinations, sabotage and attacks on vital economic and military installations. more..

Armed gang sets fire to newspaper printshop

Dec 4 (wsws) An armed gang broke into and set ablaze the printshop of Leader Publications, south of Colombo, in the early hours of November 21. While no group has claimed responsibility, the circumstances strongly point to the involvement of the security forces or associated paramilitaries and thugs. This open thuggery against a newspaper publisher is a part of growing attack on the media unleashed under President Mahinda Rajapakse with the escalation of the renewed war against the LTTE. more..

Colombo lacks sincerity in investigating Fr. Jim Brown's disappearance - Jaffna Bishop

Dec 4 (TN) The Bishop of Jaffna, Rt. Rev. Thomas Saundranayagam, who is on a mission to Vanni, on Sunday said that the manner in which Colombo was handling the investigation on the disappearance of Rev. Fr. Jim Brown, seemed like an eyewash exercise without any sincerity, being conducted to "hoodwink the International Community" into believing that investigation was continuing. more..

Infoshare, Microsoft and USAID unveil the Unlimited Potential Partnership

Dec 4 (ISL) The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) is partnering with Microsoft to introduce a new training curriculum developed with the assistance of the American information technology giant for four key sectors of the Sri Lankan economy. USAID and Microsoft are co-financing the $236,000 project, which will be implemented by InfoShare, a nonprofit firm that develops IT solutions to nonprofit development organizations. more..

In the name of International Aid

Dec 4 (ISL) Having been a part of an international organization for humanitarian relief work, I have come to mature in my thinking of the world’s ways, views and sadly, have also come to feel somewhat jaded about the modus operandi of the monster mechanism of relief aid. Embroiled in a labyrinthine maze of bureaucracy and international hierarchy, the reality of processes and procedures that engulf all goodwill and good intention is a hard lump to swallow. more..

The Second JVP Insurgency (PART 02)

Dec 4 (LG) With the signing of the Indo-Lanka Accord and the induction of the Indian army, opposition to devolution became amalgamated with anti-Indianism, and the new combine became the main leitmotiv of the JVP’s ‘liberation struggle’. It justified everything—from the killing of Vijaya Kumaratunga to unplugging incubators at the main Children’s Hospital during the JVP led health workers strike. more..

Sri Lanka urges private sector to spread benefits of export success

Dec 4 (LBO) Sri Lanka's government is trying to better spread the benefits of economic growth and reduce income disparities which have widened in recent years, a senior minister said. The government wants to help the private sector to improve its links with farmers in outlying rural communities, Minister of Export Development and International Trade G L Peiris said. "Export performance has been commendable with a growth this year of 12-14 percent over 2006," he said. more..

Sri Lanka rural e-learning project seeks corporate support

Dec 4 (LBO) A Sri Lankan e-learning initiative for rural students is seeking corporate sector support to expand and cover 400 computer centers around the island, its designers said. The Shilpa Sayura project initiated by eFusion, a local software company, is a learning tool for rural students who do not have the necessary number of teachers and lack resources to continue studies. more..

Sri Lankan herbal products exporters in plea for land

Dec 4 (LBO) Sri Lankan exporters of ayurveda and herbal products are asking the government for land to cultivate plants they need as a ban on raw material exports by India is affecting their prospects. The ban by Indian on the export to Sri Lanka of raw plants used in ayurveda and herbal products could threaten the island's own exports of such products, a top herbal products exporter has warned. more..

Sri Lanka to counter Tiger lobby against EU concessions

Dec 4 (LBO) Sri Lanka is aware of a campaign to block the renewal of trade concessions for apparel exports into the European Union and the government is taking counter measures, a minister said. "We're very well aware of the campaign and the government is very well prepared," Minister of Export Development and International Trade G L Peiris said. The GSP (Generalised System of Preferences) Plus scheme gives Sri Lankan exporters get duty free access to EU markets. more..

Sri Lanka gets Swedish aid to clean up industrial pollution

Dec 4 (LBO) Sweden has given Sri Lanka a soft loan to set up wastewater treatment plants in two suburbs of the capital Colombo known for clusters of factories that discharge untreated waste into waterways. The Swedish government loan of 91.9 million dollars (about 10 billion rupees) for the project, done through the National Water Supply and Drainage Board, is interest free, the Finance Ministry said in a statement. more..

Colombo Commercial property development scandal

Dec 4 (LD) Yet another questionable dealing by the present regime has come to light. The most strategically located prime land in Colombo, which is available for development, is the ‘Colombo Commercial Property’ located at Sir James Pieris Mawatha, opposite the Beira Lake. Such a development must be undertaken by the government where serious, capable and suitable development partners are selected who will give the maximum benefit to Sri Lanka. more..

2 health workers arrested for violating court order

Dec 4 (LD) The Maradana Police today (Dec. 04th) arrested two activists of the Health Services Trade Union Alliance (HSTUA) on the charge of violating a court order that prevents health workers from engaging in strike action. The two – K.D. Asanga and K.H. Somaratne – are accused of intimidating workers who reported for duty. They were produced before Maligakanda Magistrate Sunil Abeysinghe and remanded until the 7th of this month. more..

Heated argument in Parliament over Finance Secretary statement

Dec 4 (LD) A heated argument broke out between Speaker W.J.M. Lokubandara and JVP MP Wasantha Samarasinghe in Parliament today when the latter claimed that the Finance Secretary has undermined the dignity of the House by his statement to a weekend newspaper. The JVP MP charged that the Secretary to the Finance Ministry has said that the allegations of the parliament-appointed Committee on Public Accounts (COPA) cannot be accepted. more..

Who can determine innocence of detainees? - Fernandopulle

Dec 4 (LD) Chief Government Whip Jeyaraj Fernandopulle questions as to who is capable of determining the innocence of persons who are detained on suspicion by the security authorities. When Parliamentary sittings resumed this morning, members continued to debate the arrests of Tamils in Colombo and suburbs in the last few days. Responding to Fernandopulle’s remark, UNP’s T. Maheswaran said, “I can. I am saying that all of them are innocent.” more..

“What will happen to the detained Tamils?” – T. Maheswaran

Dec 4 (LD) “We are not asking this question to gain political favours or to sling mud at the government. But, what will the government do to the Tamils who are detained?” questioned UNP MP T. Maheswaran. Speaking in Parliament today, the UNP MP said that he was with the detainees till dawn and that they were innocent. He also requested the government to hand the detainees over to him and that he would make sure that they were returned to their homes. more..

Silver adorned gymnast Tharindu comes home

Dec 4 (LD) Tharindu Paththapperuma, who won silver in the Pommel Horse event at the 10th Asian Gymnastic Championships in Syria, will return to the island today. This is the highest international glory won by a Sri Lankan gymnast. Tharindu is a student of Ananda College, Colombo and reports say that a special reception is arranged at the school to receive him. Thivanka Fernando was also selected for the men’s final round. more..

Susanthika commended

Dec 4 (GDI) Sprint queen Susanthika Jayasinghe was commended by President Mahinda Rajapaksa for her achievement at the World and Asian Athletic Championships. The Ceremony was held at the Temple Trees yesterday (03rd). She was awarded with a cash prize of Rs.5 million and a duty free car permit. Susanthika Jayasinghe made history in the Sydney Olympics by becoming the first Sri Lankan woman to win an Olympic medal. more..

As a minority community representative ....

Dec 4 (GDI) At a press briefing today, Chief Government Whip Jeyaraj Fernandopulle said that certain members of the parliament of the TNA and UNP were trying to show that innocent Tamils are being detained, which he as a Minister completely deny. Referring to the two bomb attacks at Minister Douglas Devananda’s Narahenpita office, and a shopping mall at Nugegoda, the Minister said that the two suspects, one suicide bomber and the other as a shopper had come as innocent people. more..

Help Desk for detainee information

Dec 4 (GDI) A Help Desk is to be set up by the Ministry of Disaster Management and Human Rights, to provide information to the public about persons arrested and or detained by Police and Security Forces in the recent roundup of suspect persons in Colombo and the suburbs. Minister of Disaster Management and Human Rights, Mahinda Samarasinghe, has directed the setting up of this Help Desk, following representations made regarding the persons detained by the authorities over the last few days. more..

President honoured with ‘Dharma Chakra’ gold medal from Japan

Dec 4 (GDI) The Honganji Foundation is to confer for the first time such a honourary award in its history. President Mahinda Rajapaksa is to be presented with a 24 carat gold medal for his efforts to propagate Buddhist cultural values and precepts by the Honganji Foundation when the Lankan leader visits Japan this week. Honganji is a Mahayana Sect in existence for over 800 years and has a large following in Japan and other parts of the world. more..

'Government to achieve Millennium Development Goals within 2007-2010'

Dec 4 (GDI) Speaking in parliament yesterday, Minister of Urban Development and Sacred Areas Development Dinesh Gunawardena said that his Ministry has formulated the National Physical Planning Policy (NPPP) with the objective of promoting and regulating integrated planning and economic, social, physical and environmental aspects of lands and territorial waters of Sri Lanka. more..

Sacred places in the North and East should be preserved

Dec 4 (GDI) Speaking in parliament yesterday (03rd) Ven. Medananda Thera pointed out that the Northern and Eastern provinces have been rescued from the LTTE clutches to a great extent. But the preservation of the sacred places in these areas should be carried out. Most of the temples in the North are located in the villages. There is evidence of Buddhism flourishing in these areas in the past. more..

New drinking water supply to estate sector

Dec 4 (GDI) The Government is planning to initiate three drinking water supply projects to provide drinking water for the plantation community in the Haputale and Bandarawela area at a cost of Rs. 2.75 million. This amount was allocated by Deputy Minister of Health Suresh Wadivel from his decentralised budget for the benefit of plantation workers. Under this programme Rs. 1.75 million is allocated for Aislebby Estate, more..

Roadblocks not legal, decides SC

Dec 4 (SAMN) A Supreme Court bench presided by Chief Justice Sarath N. Silva Monday decided that the roadblocks for VIP safety in rush hours were not legal and violated fundamental rights of people. He ordered the Secretary of Defence Ministry and the Inspector General of Police to avoid such action and use alternate measures. Court also said the real purposes of checkpoints were not being served by some officers manning them, thereby causing inconvenience to the people. more..

OPA seeks Parliament sans jokers

Dec 4 (SAMN) Professionals in Sri Lanka, in an attempt to bring sanity to the country’s political system which has gone haywire, are seeking to introduce constitutional amendments which would enable ‘governance without political parties’. Presidents and Secretaries of 42 member associations of the Organisation of Professional Associations (OPA) and retired services chiefs are meeting today to further discuss ways of making this dream a reality soon. more..

Health strike on despite court order

Dec 4 (SAMN) Sri Lanka's health workers said Monday they would go ahead with the planned strike despite a court order banning the industrial action. After considering a Fundamental Rights (FR) petition, the Supreme Court on Monday banned the planned strike as patients would face difficulties. The Health Workers' Trade Union Alliance (HWTUA) said its members will stop working on Tuesday and Wednesday unless the authorities implement their pledges. more..

Ethical guidelines for doctors

Dec 4 (SAMN) The Sri Lanka Medical Council (SLMC) has initiated a process of reviewing the ethical guidelines for medical and dental practitioners formulated and adopted some time ago as the basis for its monitoring of the ethical aspects of current medical practice in the country in areas including contraception and abortion. Dr. H.H.R. Samarasinghe, President of the SLMC, said that some of the areas that needed to be examined are: more..

Enhanced security for Yala

Dec 4 (DN) Increased security measures coupled with the strong presence of Army, Police and Civil Security Forces in villages adjoining the Yala National Park and Kataragama area have contributed to a better security situation in Yala and Kataragama. Area Commandant, Hambantota, Area Brigadier Sudantha Ranasinghe said no incident has been reported in Tissamaharama, Kataragama and the Yala National Park after the claymore attack in the Katagamuva area, 35 kilometres away from Kataragama, on November 10. more..

Eastern resettlement drive continues

Dec 4 (DN) Resettlement and Disaster Relief Services Minister Rishad Badiudeen said 7,036 IDP families in the Eastern province will soon be resettled. He said that 1,164 IDPs in the Chenkalady Divisional Secretariat Division, 3,428 IDP families in Kiran Divisional Secretariat Division and 2,444 IDP families in Batticaloa and yet to be resettled. Badiudeen said 36,343 IDP families in Vakarai and Vavunathivu in Chenkalady Divisional Secretariat division and more..

Sri Lanka top celco to recycle old phones

Dec 4 (LBO) Sri Lanka's top celco Dialog Telekom wants to collect a million old phones and recycle them in the next two years in an initiative that will keep dangerous heavy metals from contaminating the environment, officials said. Phone batteries for example have heavy metals such a lead, nickel and cadmium. Dialog is collecting old phones and accessories from today. "In Sri Lanka there are about 10 million mobile phones, and mobile phones become obsolete in two to three years," more..

Despair and distrust

Dec 4 (FL) NINETY minutes before the November 27 “Hero’s Day Speech” of LTTE supremo Velupillai Prabakaran, Sri Lanka Air Force fighter jets flattened the Voice of Tigers building close to Kilinochchi town. It was a precise operation, even going by the account of the LTTE. The aerial bombing is an unambiguous declaration by the Mahinda Rajapaksa government that it is determined to take the fight right into the heartland of the Tamil Tigers. more..