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Emergency passed by 126 vote majority

Dec 7 (LD) The motion for the extension of the State of Emergency by a further month, moved by Prime Minister Rathnasiri Wickremanayake, was passed by a 126-vote majority in Parliament today (Dec. 06th). TNA’s Mavai Senadhiraja called for a ballot, and accordingly the motion was put to a vote and passed with a 141 to 15 margin. All members of the government voted in favour of the motion. more..

Security checkpoints near Hulftsdorp Courts Complex removed

Dec 7 (LD) All security checkpoints around the Hulftsdorp Courts Complex in Colombo have been removed. These checkpoints were located in front of the High Court building at Dam Street, near the R. Premadasa Statue at Hulftsdorp and in front of the Justice Ministry at Sanchiarachchi Watte. Several other checkpoints in the city have also been removed or dismantled. The Defence Secretary met the Chief Justice a few days ago to discuss security checkpoints in the city. more..

State body’s role in military purchases questioned

Dec 7 (LD) The state-appointed Lanka Logistics (Pvt.) Ltd. has failed to fulfill its anticipated purpose of minimizing inconsistencies in the purchase of military hardware, Defence Ministry sources say. Headed by the Defence Secretary, this company is supervised by the Ministry of Defence. Simultaneous to its establishment, the government issued a gazette extraordinary banning Sri Lankans living in the country or abroad, to supply to the country directly or indirectly firearms, explosives, aircraft or ship spare parts, night vision equipment and telescopes. more..

Country financially stable despite war –Central Bank Report

Dec 7 (GDI) A report published by the Central Bank says that although domestic and external risks have increased, Sri Lanka's financial system remains favourable. The Financial System Stability Review (FSSR) 2007 published by the Central Bank notes that the growth prospects of the Sri Lankan economy are expected to strengthen the performance of the business sector and improve the profitability of financial institutions. more..

Trade ties between Sri Lanka and Pakistan to be extended

Dec 7 (GDI) Minister of Trade, Marketing and Consumers Affairs, Bandula Gunawardena stated that Sri Lanka is willing to fully assist and support the business community of Pakistan to enhance trade ties with their counterparts in Sri Lanka. Minister Gunawardena made this pledge during a discussion with Mr.Zubair F. Tufail, Vice President, Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FPCCI). more..

“Govt. is forced by terrorists to continue military operations” Minister Rambukwella

Dec 7 (GDI) Defence Spokesman Keheliya Rambukwella said in Parliament yesterday (06) that whatever the circumstances the Government faces, it will not deviate from the decision taken to combat terrorism. “We took many steps to solve this problem in many ways but the LTTE made all of them futile by attacking General Sarath Fonseeka. Then only the Government decided to combat terrorism” Minister Rambukwella added. more..

A low intensity genocide

Dec 7 (LNP) The Cannibal of Wanni has preyed on another busload of men, women and children. Over fifteen people were killed and many more injured in a claymore mine attack the LTTE mounted on a civilian bus in Kebithigollewa on Wednesday. That cowardly act of naked terrorism came close on the heels of a parcel bomb that killed about twenty people at Nugegoda last week. Prabhakaran blinded by a frenzy of rage has fought his way into a trap of his own making, spurning every opportunity to resolve the conflict peacefully. more..

TNA calls for separate admn in East

Dec 7 (SAMN) The TNA in Parliament on Thursday urged the government to grant the Tamil people a separate administrative system in the Eastern province. Speaking during the Committee stage of the Budget debate, Jaffna District TNA MP N Srikantha said a separate administrative system in the East would act as stepping stone for peace in the country. He stressed that the war would not end and if the country followed the path advocated by the JVP and JHU coming more..

'Govt doing utmost to protect lives'

Dec 7 (SAMN) The Government and the Security Forces are doing their level best to protect the lives and properties of the people from the barbaric acts of the desperate LTTE. The duty of everybody must be to uplift the psychological strength of the Armed Forces and the public, said Information and Media Minister and Cabinet Spokesman Anura Priyadarshana Yapa. Minister Yapa said that the Government is doing its best at the moment to wipe out terrorism from Sri Lanka and has been doing so since it came to power. more..

University, pillar to social advancement

Dec 7 (SAMN) A university has the duty of performing four main roles, providing wisdom to create a highly trained workforce, generating new knowledge and transmitting values to people for the advancement of the society, said Professor Narada Warnasuriya, Vice Chancellor of the University of Sri Jayewardenepura, at the International Forestry and Environment Symposium 2007 held at Tangerine Beach Hotel, Kalutara. more..

'Forces carried out identity check'

Dec 7 (SAMN) The SLMM claims it had received a complaint where the government security forces had carried out an “identity check” on a group of civilians in Eachilampattu, Trincomalee recently. According to the latest SLMM security assessment report the controversial incident had taken place on November 17 after inhabitants of four villages in Eachilampattu were summoned by the security forces. “17 males (16-35yrs) were reportedly arrested on this occasion. more..

Sri Lankan tourism needs a boost for crafts to flourish

Dec 7 (Hindu) Well-known Sri Lankan architect Tilak Samarawickrema on Thursday said the rich crafts of his country will flourish only if the tourism industry gets a new lease of life. Delivering a talk on “A national identity or universality in design: A personal quest” at India International Centre here, Mr. Samarawickrema, who is popularising Sri Lankan images, forms, colours and traditional compositions and also marketing the products of indigenous craftsmen, more..

SAARC plans rail, ferry links to India

Dec 7 (AA) A rail corridor between Chennai and Colombo and ferry services linking Colombo with Kochi in Kerala and Tuticorin in Tamil Nadu is likely to be taken up on priority for improving intra-regional connectivity within SAARC. Foreign secretary Shivshankar Menon on Thursday said that the Saarc standing committee, which met in New Delhi over two days, has identified these and other transport projects for immediate implementation. more..

Refreshments local style

Dec 7 (DN) Departing from the usual custom of offering a piece of cake and a cup of tea as refreshments the members of the Kurunegala Pradeshiya Sabha officials and media persons attending the council's monthly meeting were served with a plate of boiled green gram laced with a lump of scraped coconut and lunumiris and a cup of liquid cows milk during the tea interval under a novel programme initiated by Council Chairman Patrick Karunasinghe to promote the consumption of indigenous food items. more..

Police shoot gang leader in self-defence

Dec 7 (DN) Police acting in self-defence shot dead an underworld leader when he attempted to hurl a hand grenade from his hide-out in Weragama, Wadduwa last morning, OIC Wadduwa Nimal Karunaratne said. Harshana Nuwan Silva alias Sambaba was arrested in Kandy on Tuesday and handed over to Wadduwa police. "Sambaba was a notorious criminal and was wanted by police. He carried out many criminal activities all over the country such as robbery, extortion and even murder," more..

State sector transport unions say pay or we strike

Dec 7 (Island) State sector transport trade unions have threatened to launch a strike by the end of January 2008 if all their 38,000 members are not paid their back wages and Cost of Living allowances totalling Rs 16,000 each. All Ceylon Transport Workers Union General Secretary Sepala Liyanage told The Island yesterday that five other State sector transport unions have pledged support for the trade union action as representations made to higher authorities, including the Minister of Transport, had fallen on deaf years. more..

Air quality scale not in ideal location – Ranawaka

Dec 7 (Island) Environment and Natural Resources Minister Patali Champika Ranawaka yesterday admitted that the air quality monitoring machine at the Fort Railway Station was not in an ideally situated location to monitor air quality. He said at a press conference in Battaramulla yesterday, that due to the sea breeze in the area there may be differences in the measurement levels and they would be moved to another location. more..

Kilinochchi within sight- Govt.

Dec 7 (DM) Minister Keheliya Rambukwella, said in Parliament yesterday that Kilinochchi was within sight, and therefore the Government would pursue the target of eradicating terrorism to create a democratic environment.During the debate on the extension of the Emergency, Mr. Rambukwella said that a favourable atmosphere would be created so that a political solution, which would accommodate the aspirations of the Tamil people, could be worked out with the assistance of all democratic Tamil parties. more..

Ranil proposes to clip President’s wings

Dec 7 (DM) Opposition UNP leader Ranil Wickremesinghe yesterday proposed sweeping constitutional reforms to strengthen the role of Parliament specifically in matters of fiscal management and the curtailment of the Executive’s power to dissolve Parliament. He also proposed that the Constitution should mention the number of ministers and make provision for the presidential staff to be answerable to Parliament. more..

ADB Extends $50M Loan to Sri Lanka to Promote SME Development

Dec 7 (ADB) The Asian Development Bank (ADB) is lending $50 million to Sri Lanka to help promote the development of small- to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) located outside the country’s western province. The Small and Medium Enterprise Regional Development Project aims to accelerate the development of SMEs based outside the urbanized western province by improving their access to credit and business development services, and providing links to information, technology and markets. more..

Red Cross water brings garden to bloom

Dec 7 (IFRC) ‘It was the sea breeze that I missed the most when I moved to my new house,’ says Sri Lankan tsunami survivor Mr Priyadasa. ‘My family feels safe now and we’re happy that we don’t live near the ocean anymore, but it was just so hot here’. Sitting on the veranda of his new house two kilometres from the ocean, facing a tropical garden where plants in many shades of green fight to grow on top of each other, it is hard to imagine the barren land that Mr Piyadasa inherited when he moved into his new house in the south of the island. more..

Sri Lankan court permits rights petition to proceed

Dec 7 (Xinhua) The Supreme Court in Sri Lanka on Friday granted permission to proceed in the fundamental rights petition filed by a Tamil minority political party against last weekend's arrests of Tamils in the capital Colombo and its suburbs. The Ceylon Workers Congress (CWC) application is to be taken upon Monday, party officials said. The CWC represents the Tamils of Indian origin who form the labor force in the island's central tea plantations. more..

CID probing import of food packets by UNICEF: Lanka

Dec 7 (ZN) The Criminal Investigation Department is looking into the issue of import of food packets by UNICEF after allegations were made that it could have been meant for the LTTE, the Sri Lankan government has said. "The CID is currently conducting an investigation on the import of 'Meals Ready to Eat' (MRE) packs by UNICEF," Sri Lankan Foreign Minister Rohita Bogollagama told the Parliament yesterday. more..

Sri Lanka military says five rebels killed in fighting in volatile north

Dec 7 (AP) A series of battles between Sri Lankan troops and separatist rebels in the volatile north killed five of the rebels, the military said Friday. The battles in the Vavuniya and Mannar districts brought the number of Tamil Tiger rebels killed Thursday to 15, according to military figures. Two soldiers also were missing from the fighting in recent days, the military said. Rebel spokesman Rasiah Ilanthirayan did not return calls seeking comment. more..

'Rajiv Gandhi gave no instructions to eliminate LTTE chief'

Dec 7 (ANI) Reports suggesting that former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi gave orders for the elimination of the LTTE chief, V. Prabhakaran, at the height of the IPKF operations in Sri Lanka in 1987, have been rubbished by a former diplomat and army commander. Reacting to former commander of IPKF operations in Sri Lanka, Major General (retired) Harkirat Singh's charge that he was ordered by the then Indian High Commissioner to Sri Lanka, J.N. Dixit, to kill Prabhakaran during a `white flag' meeting on September 16, 1987, more..

Malaysia probes ethnic Indian protest group for alleged terrorist links

Dec 7 (AP) Malaysian authorities are investigating an ethnic Indian protest group for possible links to terror networks, including Sri Lanka's Tamil Tiger separatists, an official said Friday. The Hindu Rights Action Force, or Hindraf, denied any terrorist ties, and accused the government of trying to stem support for the group after it staged a massive rally last month to highlight the economic plight of Malaysia's minority ethnic Indians. more..

Ethnic Indians reject Malaysians' terror claim

Dec 8 (Reuters) A group of Malaysian lawyers demanding affirmative action for the country's ethnic Indians vowed on Friday to sue top police and legal officials who claimed it had ties to terrorists. Malaysia has tried to paint the group, the Hindu Rights Action Force, or Hindraf, in terrorist colours after it organised a rare protest by 10,000 ethnic Indians last month. Malaysia's police chief said it was trying to provoke racial clashes. more..

Sri Lanka seek to shut out England at lucky venue

Dec 8 (AFP) Buoyant Sri Lanka will look to clinch the Test series against England when they return to their favourite hunting ground for the second Test starting here on Sunday. Most teams have suffered heartbreak at the Sinhalese Sports Club (SSC) in central Colombo where Sri Lanka have won 10 of their last 12 Tests since losing to Nasser Hussain's Englishmen in 2001. more..

Sri Lanka's logistics industry call for action on electronic clearing

Dec 8 (LBO) Sri Lanka's logistics industry is calling for action to get a paperless cargo clearing system on track, by bringing in a new service provider or allowing competition, five years after a part state-owed firm was given the task. Logistics and shipping firms that wanted to cut cost and speed up cargo clearance are frustrated about how things have turned out. Brimming optimism five years ago about a logistics hub emerging in Colombo has now given way to anger and frustration. more..

Lankan firing on Indian fishermen unintentional: Navy

Dec 8 (PTI) The Indian Navy on Thursday came to the defence of its Sri Lankan counterpart over the allegations of firing at Indian fishermen in the Palk Straits, saying that such incidents were not intentional and fishermen often got caught in crossfire between the Island's Navy and the LTTE. "In fact, the Indian fishermen crossover the maritime boundary and fall prey to the crossfire between the Lankan navy and LTTE," more..

2011 cricket World Cup format may be changed

Dec 8 (IANS) The format of the 2011 cricket World Cup, to be held in Asia, might undergo some changes and more number of matches may be played than the 2007 tournament held in the West Indies. Niranjan Shah, secretary of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), said here a number of formats would be discussed at a meeting of the four joint hosts - India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh - in Delhi this weekend. more..

Murali debate causes a stir

Dec 8 (HS) IF THERE'S one cricketing issue that stirs the emotions, it's the debate over whether Muthiah Muralidaran is a chucker. In the week the great Sri Lankan off-spinning wizard broke Shane Warne's wicket-taking world record, those questioning his action were again given the chance to fire a shot. This charge was led by former Cricket Australia chairman and Test umpire Col Egar, while spin guru Terry Jenner also feels Muralidaran's action is suspect. more..

president to take salute at BRNC

Dec 8 (SD) The President of Sri Lanka will be taking the salute as young officers formally pass out of Dartmouth's Britannia Royal Naval College on Thursday.President Raja Pakse will watch as his own son Yoshitha joins the parade to mark the end of a year's tough training at the world famous naval college. The president will inspect a total of 301 young officers who will parade outside the main college building for the traditional passing out ceremony. more..

Surge in tourists' arrival at Lord Buddha's Lumbini in Nepal

Dec 8 (ANI) Lumbini in Nepal is attracting devout Buddhists despite the political turmoil in the country. According to Lumbini Development Authority, as compared to the previous year, there has been a steep rise in the number of tourists and pilgrims visiting Lumbini, the birthplace of Lord Buddha. The number of visitors has touched 70,000 mark compared to approximately 50,000 visitors recorded for 2006. more..

Karuna 'still our leader' - TMVP

Dec 8 (BBC) Renegade Tamil Tiger leader Vinagamurthi Muralitharan alias Karuna is still the leader of the breakaway faction, a regional leader said. New Trincomalle district political leader of the Tamil Makkal Viduthalai Puligal (TMVP), told BBC Sandeshaya that there was no conflict between Karuna and the deputy leader, Pillaiyan. The TMVP factions led by the two leaders have been fighting as Karuna's influence in the organistion diminished, according to media reports. more..

War planes bomb Tamil Tigers rally point

Dec 8 (AFP) Sri Lankan war planes bombed rebel-held territory in the island's north-east as 11 guerrillas were killed in ground battles, the defence ministry said. Jet aircraft hit a "gathering point" of the LTTE at Mullaitivu on Thursday, the ministry said. There were no immediate reports of casualties. The ministry said the military killed 11 Tiger rebels in ground attacks on Thursday, adding that one soldier was wounded in the clashes. more..

Tamil Diaspora, Piribaharan and India

Dec 8 (LR) Piribaharan’s annual birthday speech for this year strongly mentioned about the need for Tamil people to unite for self governed Tamil country. This is first time that the annual speech is not prepared by LTTE theoretician Anton Balasingham and this year’s desperate message is clear red light to political leadership in New Delhi. If Piribaharan’s terrorist movement is aiming autonomy for world Tamil Diaspora, the natural and historical territory is non other than Tamil Nadu state of India. more..

Sri Lanka to host next SAARC summit

Dec 8 (IANS) Sri Lanka will host the 15th South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) summit next year, as Maldives is unable to do so due to domestic preoccupation, External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee said here Friday. 'Owing to domestic preoccupations in 2008, Maldives will be hosting the SAARC summit in 2009,' Mukherjee said after the daylong meeting of SAARC council of ministers concluded here. more..

Talks, yes, but not on Tiger truce, says Lanka

Dec 8 (AA) Colombo will be willing to talk to the LTTE for a political roadmap to resolve the decades-old ethnic conflict in the island nation but issues like ceasefire will not be discussed, visiting Sri Lankan foreign minister Rohitha Bogollagama said in an exclusive interview to this newspaper. "We will not speak in terms of ceasefire or any of those things. What we are speaking in terms of if they are prepared to understand the political issues ... more..

UNESCO will re-examine statement on VoT attack – Director General

Dec 8 (GDI) Director General of UNESCO, Koichiro Matsuura has assured Sri Lanka's Ambassador in France and Delegate to the UNESCO, that he will " re-examine the entire issue" on the UNESCO press release issued earlier this week regarding the attack on the Voice of Tigers (VoT) Station. The Director General gave this assurance when Ambassador Chithranganee Wagiswara met him on Thursday to personally lodged Sri Lanka's protest against the recent statement made by the Director General, more..

Jeyaraj nonplussed!

Dec 8 (LT) Chief Whip of the Government Minister Jeyaraj Fernandopulle found himself at sea when JVP Parliamentarian Ms. Sujatha Alahakone asked a question in Parliament. Ms. Alahakone asked the minister to present the details regarding the number of water connections and the length of pipelines that existed when drinking water project that was completed in 1982 was taken over by National Water Supply & Drainage Board from Matale Urban Council on 8th January, 2001. more..

Is Sri Lanka's spurned Muslim minority ripe for fundamentalism?

Dec 8 (CSM) Ten-year-old Haris is told regularly by his father that home is a rice farm in Mullativu, in northern Sri Lanka. But the child was born in a coconut-leaf shanty in a camp in Puttalam, on the west coast, where he has lived ever since. When asked where he is from, Haris replies, quick as a dart: "This place." Seventeen years ago, all the Muslims from Sri Lanka's northern province, at least 75,000 of them, were expelled by the LTTE, more..

The left and the written word

Dec 8 (TC) All of us in this Hall today are friends and admirers of Ajith Samaranayake. Ajith was someone special in the field of media in our country, in that he could traverse many worlds. As a journalist he completed the full cycle of his profession from news reporter to lobby correspondent, columnist, Editor of a Daily, Editor of a Sunday newspaper, and finally consultant to Lake House. more..

Hindraf never established links with LTTE, says Uthayakumar

Dec 8 (Hindu) Malaysian Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi on Friday ordered the police to “monitor” the Hindu Rights Action Force (Hindraf) “closely.” A few hours earlier, Hindraf leader and legal adviser P. Uthayakumar said the group had never established any link with the LTTE. He told The Hindu over telephone from Kuala Lumpur that the “baseless” allegation was first made by Attorney-General Abdul Gani Patail in a sessions court at Shah Alam on Wednesday. more..

Court to Review Death Verdict on Rizana Today

Dec 8 (AN) The appeal hearing in the case of a Sri Lankan maid, who was sentenced to death after a four-month-old infant in her care died, is set to take place today before a three-judge panel in a court in Dawadmi. “There is every possibility of Rizana (Nafeek) being acquitted and for her to be free from this case once and for all,” Hussain Bhaila, Sri Lanka’s deputy minister of foreign affairs, told Arab News. more..

MP in charge of anti-terrorism scrutiny speaks at event linked to Tamil bombers

Dec 8 (TO) The MP who heads the parliamentary body scrutinising Britain’s counter-terrorism laws addressed a rally at which a plea for support for suicide bombers was broadcast, The Times has learnt. Keith Vaz, the chairman of the Commons Home Affairs Select Committee, addressed the annual Tamil rally in the ExCel centre in East London. He spoke after partipants watched a televised address by Velupillai Prabhakaran, the commander of the LTTE, a terrorist organisation banned by the Home Office. more..

Sri Lanka's Ranatunga warns of talent drought

Dec 8 (AFP) Sri Lanka's legendary cricketer Arjuna Ranatunga on Saturday expressed concern about the lack of new talent emerging to replace the island's ageing superstars. "We do not see any top talent coming up to replace great players like Muttiah Muralitharan and Kumar Sangakkara," Ranatunga said at a ceremony to commend Muralitharan on becoming the world's highest Test wicket taker. more..

Sri Lankan employers act against increasing sexual harassment

Dec 8 (LBO) Sri Lanka's corporate sector has launched an initiative to encourage employers to adopt a code of conduct to combat sexual harassment in the workplace about which complaints are on the rise. Guidelines formulated by the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce (CCC) and the Employers' Federation of Ceylon (EFC) aim to promote gender equality and create awareness on sexual harassment in workplaces, officials said Friday. more..

HRW-AI open letter: Urgent action needed to end abuses in Sri Lanka

Dec 8 (TC) The United Nations Human Rights Council should press the Sri Lankan government to agree to the immediate establishment of a UN human rights field operation with a strong monitoring mandate, Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International said in an open letter. The full text of the letter is as follows: Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International are writing at the start of the Sixth Session of the Human Rights Council to urge immediate action on the rapidly deteriorating human rights situation in Sri Lanka. more..

The Second JVP Insurgency (Part III)

Dec 8 (LG) The first of the two most dangerous moments in the Second JVP Insurgency happened in the run up to the Presidential Election of 1988. The JVP came within an ace of capturing state power not because it was a colossus but because all non-JVP institutions became pigmy-like. The loss of will to resist the JVP avalanche was a generalised phenomenon, affecting political parties, organisations and individuals across the spectrum. more..