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Sevanagala Sugar factory month-long fast drags on

June 23 (DM) The UNP charged in Parliament yesterday that the operation of the Sevenagala Sugar Factory had come to a standstill today due to a fast staged by a few employees instigated by a powerful government politician in the area. Chief Opposition Whip Joseph Michael Perera told the House in a statement that the company turns out 30, 000 tons of sugar annually while ensuring livelihood for 4000 sugarcane growers in the area. more..

Sailor shot dead in northern Sri Lanka, soldiers kill 2 Tamil rebels

June 23 (AP) A Sri Lankan sailor was shot dead while guarding a checkpoint in the country's volatile northwest, while soldiers killed two suspected Tamil rebels in the north, the military said Saturday. The sailor was standing guard in Mannar district when he was attacked by the insurgents late Friday, military spokesman Brig. Prasad Samarasinghe said. more..

Lankan extortion kingpin is an ex-Squadron Leader

June 23 (HT) Former Sri Lankan Air Force Squadron Leader Nishantha Gajanayake has been arrested in connection with a multi-million rupee abduction for extortion racket. A former ADC to an Air Chief, Gajanayake is suspected to be the kingpin of a gang which has been abducting Tamil and Muslim businessmen for ransoms running into millions of rupees, according to media reports. more..

Rajapaksa threatens to dissolve parliament

June 23 (HT) Faced with the prospect of more MPs defecting to the breakaway Sri Lanka Freedom Party (Mahajana Wing) founded by sacked cabinet minister Mangala Samaraweera, President Mahinda Rajapaksa on Friday threatened to dissolve parliament and seek a fresh mandate. This threat came after Samaraweera said that 15 to 20 MPs from the ruling SLFP might join the SLFP (MW). more..

Sri Lanka hotel chain to tempt tourists with local flavours

June 24 (LBO) Aitken Spence, a large Sri Lanka based hotel chain with operations in the Maldives and India, is laying out a new menu based on local cuisine and herbal spices. The company's 'Heritance' chain of hotels plans to introduce a range of authentic Sri Lankan dishes within the next two months, says Vajira Seneviratne, an ayurvedha and pharmaceutical specialist working with the company. more..

Moothoor HSZ racially discriminates, denies birthright of Tamils- Sampanthan

June 24 (TN) Rajavarothayam Sampanthan, MP of TNA in a speech delivered to the parliament on 20th June during an adjournment motion related to the Sri Lanka Government's new regulations to establish a High Security Zone (HSZ) in Moothoor East-Champoor areas of the East said that the regulations are "a blatant violation of the fundamental human rights of the Tamil people," and denies "their fundamental right to resettle on the lands owned and possessed by them," and urged Colombo to "take steps to rescind the said regulations." more..

Traders blame GoSL for high prices for goods in Jaffna

June 24 (TN) Jaffna Peninsula Traders Society blamed the Sri Lanka Government for the artificially high price for essential goods created by measures adopted by the office of the Commissioner of Essential Services (CES) in shipping goods to Jaffna peninsula, sources close to Traders Union said. CES’s insistence on shipping essential goods by three cargo vessels precluded using less expensive alternatives by the Jaffna Government Agent, Co-operative Societies and private enterprises, has resulted in soaring prices, sources added. more..

Heavy rain in Plantation districts kills one, injures 7

June 24 (TN) Torrential rain accompanied by heavy winds in the areas in hill country for the last five days has claimed the life of a woman and injured seven students, sources in Bandarawela said. The woman killed was identified as Premawathy, mother of two children, police said. Hurricane force winds caused severe damage to a number of houses, schools, public buildings, business establishments and many vehicles in the affected areas in Nuwara Eliya, Badulla and Ratnapura districts. more..

Vignettes of a Tamil Refugee

June 24 (ISL) This is my delayed response to Sambol’s evocative article on the pain of those who are forced to leave their strife-torn countries. It brought back memories of one such Sri Lankan Tamil family whom I had known during my stay at Madurai. The family consisted of a couple and their three daughters in the prime of youth. The youngest one had the loveliest oval face with big communicative eyes and a skin that was unusually fair and flawless for those South of the Tropic of Cancer. more..

Five more LTTE youth leaguers arrested in London

June 24 (AT) London Metropolitan Police yesterday raided Council flats in Graham Park, North London and arrested five more members of the Tamil Tiger Youth Organization. According to official sources the Headquarters of the LTTE Youth Organization in London was located in this bloc of flats. Police who searched the flat yesterday afternoon took with them LTTE posters, placards, literatures, heaps of documents, computers, LTTE flags, Tamil Eelam Police uniforms, and uniforms of the Tamil Youth Organization. more..

Tiger supporter P. Nedumaran of Tamil Nadu wanted in the UK

June 24 (AT) Police in London are searching for P. Nedumaran, head of the World Tamil Movement (WTM), who had slipped into UK to participate in functions organized by the Tamil Tigers. The WTM is a front organisation of the Tamil Tigers and it is learnt that Nedumaran, who had been jailed in India for his pro-Tiger activities, was instructed by Velupillai Prabhakaran to join the Tamil Tiger agents in their separatist campaigns in Europe. more..

Prabhakaran: the spectre haunting human rights activists

June 24 (AT) One of the most disheartening – one may even call it flawed – reports produced on the current crisis in Sri Lanka is the latest Asia Report 135 of the International Crisis Group (ICG). As the title says, the report deals with Sri Lanka’s Human Rights Crisis. It is disheartening because its runs on the predictable groove of blaming practically everyone – Government of Sri Lanka, the LTTE, the Sri Lankan Peace Monitors, the Tamil para-militaries, the international community, the UN, the Sri Lankan judiciary, more..

Blocking TamilNet: Do it right or not at all

June 24 (AT) There seems to be hullabaloo over the blocking of the pro-LTTE website, "TamilNet." The real issue here is not whether the government was behind it or whether it is an alleged violation of media freedom but how far does it serves Sri Lanka's national interests. To an intelligent audience that does not believe in LTTE propaganda but nevertheless wish to know the Tiger mindset "TamilNet" is an excellent source. more..

Berlin Vihare - Gateway of Buddhism to the German world

June 24 (AT) 50 years is a long time and it is highly commendable, that Das Buddhistische Haus (The Berlin Vihare) has withstood the passage of time and the challenges and continued to serve the noble ideals of the “visionaries” who stepped in to fill a void, a void of spirituality in the German world soon after the trauma of the 2nd World War. The Buddhist world would naturally wish to see Das Buddhistische Haus in Berlin, grow from strength to strength and continue to provide an environment conducive for Germans and the German speaking people, more..

Special Forces poised to capture Thoppigala jungle

June 24 (GDI) The government on Wednesday took a crucial decision to relax the long imposed fishing restrictions in the Eastern seas. Accordingly, fishing restrictions imposed on the coastal belt between Kirinda and Puttalam was relaxed while relaxing the fishing restrictions on Cod Bay in Trincomalee with immediate effect. According to these relaxed fishing restrictions the time given for fishing has been extended up to 4 a.m to 6 p.m and the number of days has also been increased to five days a week. more..

Back to peace talks, a possibility - Bogollagama

June 24 (GDI) The Government is positive that the Co-Chairs, which will meet in Oslo on June 25-26, would encourage the LTTE to come to the peace process or to a negotiated settlement, the Foreign Affairs Minister Rohitha Bogollagama said. In an interview with the 'Sunday Observer' Minister Bogollagama, while reiterating that the LTTE has close links with the Afghan terrorists, said that the government expects a very realistic approach towards bringing the LTTE back to peace talks. more..

Mass anti-LTTE rally in Zurich and Stuttgart

June 24 (GDI) The Tamil political parties which are opposed to the LTTE and victimised by the outfit will join hands with their expatriate members in Switzerland and Germany in the first week of July to show their opposition to the LTTE and to emphasise on an early political solution to the Lankan national crisis. The leader of the PLOTE Dharmalingam Sitharthan told the Sunday Observer that Appapillai Amirthalingam, the late leader of the TULF and Uma Maheswaran, more..

Tigers not for solution short of Eelam - Jeyaraj Fernandopulle

June 24 (LT) Minister Jeyaraj Fernandopulle says that Tigers organization does not agree to any solution short of Ealam. The minister said this at a ceremony organized by Muslim journalists association. The minister said that he too had participated in discussions with the Tigers organization and his experience proved that Tigers do not opt for any other alternative other than Eelam. more..

Two ceremonies from UNP to commemorate later President

June 24 (LT) Two group of UNP held two ceremonies to commemorate the 83rd birthday of the late president Ranasinghe Premadasa. A group led by Mr. B. Sirisena Cooray held one ceremony at Colombo town hall in the name of "Premadasa Foundation" and a group including Mr. Milinda Moragoda attended it. Mr. Sirisena Cooray addressing the ceremony said that no political party in the country has a well planned programme to build the country. more..

British crackdown will pressure LTTE to return to talks: Colombo

June 24 (MoD) Welcoming the British crackdown on the LTTE which was unexpected here, the Sri Lankan government asserted that the long overdue action would increase pressure the LTTE to return to the negotiating table. The LTTE quit the Norwegian-led peace process in April 2003 during Ranil Wickremesinghe's tenure as the Premier. Friday's arrest of LTTE leader in the UK 51-year A.C. Shanthan and 29-year Goldan Lambert, in charge of the vast finances network came hot on the heels of more..

Beijing Zoo holds birthday party for baby elephant from Sri Lanka

June 24 (Xinhua) Baby elephant Migara, a gift of friendship from Sri Lanka to China in February this year, celebrated his sixth birthday at the Beijing Zoo Saturday. With a red ribbon on head, the male elephant received birthday wishes from both Chinese and Sri Lanka children, as well as delicious bananas from its raiser. Some 50 pupils from a Beijing-based China-Sri Lanka friendship school gave performances at the party. more..

Lanka concerned over Chinese-built LTTE arms

June 24 (ANN) A deeply concerned Sri Lankan government is likely to draw China’s attention to a clandestine arms pipeline to the LTTE amidst growing evidence that the group has acquired a sizeable quantity of Chinese manufactured equipment. The government is expected to seek China’s help to halt vital military supplies to the LTTE. Last week’s capture of an LTTE attack craft about six nautical miles east of the LTTE stronghold at Thalaiady highlighted the Chinese arms link. more..

Election kite up in the air

June 24 (ANN) Talk of an election is once again in the air with President Mahinda Rajapakse quoted telling his inner council that if there were more defections, dissolution of parliament would be an option he would have to consider. While Rajapakse, assisted by all accounts by the LTTE who stopped Tamils voting in areas the Tigers control or influence, won the presidential election in November 2005, it was his predecessor, Chandrika Kumaratunga who won the last parliamentary election for the United Peoples Freedom Alliance she cobbled together with the JVP to defeat the UNP. more..

Sri Lanka eye Jonty, Blewett for assistant position

June 24 (CI) Sri Lanka are eyeing Jonty Rhodes and Greg Blewett as assistant coach to newly appointed head coach Trevor Bayliss. Rumesh Ratnayake, the former fast bowler, was offered the position but turned it down citing personal reasons, thus sparking the search for another name. "We were looking up to Rumesh with the future in mind, but now that he is unavailable we have to weigh our options," Samantha Algama, Sri Lanka Cricket spokesman, told AFP. more..

Sri Lanka to provide no respite for Bangladesh

June 24 (CI) Bangladesh can expect no respite from a charged up Sri Lanka when they confront them in a series of three Tests starting Monday at the SSC grounds. "One thing we've realized is that whether we play Australia or Bangladesh whoever it is, even Zimbabwe we are going to treat every game as top priority for us," said Mahela Jayawardene. "That's the attitude we've been having and its part of our success we've had in the last 2-3 years. more..

SL board disappointed by Ratnayake's withdrawal

June 24 (CI) Jayantha Dharmadasa, the chairman of Sri Lanka Cricket, has expressed disappointment at the withdrawal of Rumesh Ratnayake as assistant coach of the Sri Lankan team. Ratnayake, the former Sri Lankan fast bowler, had signed a four-year contract with Sri Lanka Cricket nearly a month ago to become assistant coach, replacing the outgoing coach Trevor Penney. But in a complete u-turn Ratnayake has stated in a letter that he is unable to accept the position due to family commitments. more..

For Warnapura the waiting is over

June 24 (CI) For Malinda Warnapura the long wait is over. When he walks out to open the Sri Lanka innings against Bangladesh in the first Test starting on June 25 at the SSC in Colombo it will hopefully launch him on a course that will ensure a permanent place in the national team. Despite his impending Test debut, there are no signs of nervousness, instead a steely determination to make the best out of the opportunity. "I am waiting to play and I am hoping I can make it good," he deadpanned. more..

Sri Lanka as tough as Australia - Penney

June 24 (CI) Trevor Penney, Sri Lanka's stand-in coach, believes his side are as tough as Australia, and can compete with them in all aspects of the game. Speaking ahead of the three-Test series against Bangladesh, Penney said: "[Adam] Gilchrist was the difference at the World Cup. Otherwise, I think we are pretty much level with Australia with our fielding, our bowling and our batting. We've got some great talent. more..

Team has never been more upbeat, says Jayawardene

June 24 (CI) Tom Moody, Sri Lanka's fourth coach in the last 12 years may have gone, but with Trevor Penney in place now and Trevor Bayliss due to take over from September, Mahela Jayawardene knows it is time to move on. "Whether Tom is here or not we have to continue to do the hard work. Tom's been great for us for the last two years. He's made a decision and we have to move on. We know the brand of cricket that we've been playing and the commitment and the hard work that we've done," more..

Why ask us to negotiate while America is fighting terrorism ?

June 24 (LNP) The Secretary of the Vietnamese Communist Party and the theoretician of the Vietnam revolution, Comrade Li Duwan, once said `socialism` and the `Vietnam nation` is one and the same. Yet, is it true ? Socialism is an economic system. A nation is different. A nation is a society of people with a distinct geographical presence and a political definition. Why then did Li Duwan, a thinker of high repute call them as one ? It is, most probably a very lyrical way of explaining that the liberation of the Vietnam people and socialism are inseparable. more..

AG slams IIGEP chief

June 24 (SAMN) Attorney General C. R. de Silva in a hard hitting letter to the Chairman of the International Independent Group of Eminent Persons (IIGEP), Justice P.N Bhagwati has accused the group of over stepping their mandate to monitor the progress of the Commission of Inquiry (CoI) appointed by the President. The AG has particularly taken offence at the two public statements issued by the IIGEP, which have been very critical of the progress made by the CoI and the role of the AG’s department in the whole exercise. more..

Pay-first-appeal later tax reforms

June 24 (SAMN) Sri Lankan tax authorities, with revenues off target and the government facing a huge cash crunch, are considering a proposal for taxes to be paid upfront with the usual appeal process following instead of in reverse, as it is now. Tax lawyers said the proposal – set to trigger a major controversy -- was supported at a recent meeting between tax enforcing agencies – Inland Revenue, Excise and Customs – and Treasury officials following reports of tax revenue falling sharply, short of target in the last quarter. more..

Whither domestic tourism promotion

June 24 (SAMN) Initiatives on domestic tourism promotion undertaken by the Sri Lanka Tourist Board (SLTB) to assist the struggling sector is doomed to failure, say those in the travel industry. According to the Managing Director of World Travel Center, Sudharma De Silva, the SLTB's 'intention is good but their action is wrong.' De Silva told The Sunday Times FT that for the first time in Sri Lanka, the SLTB Chairman Renton De Alwis and Tourism Minister Milinda Moragoda are speaking out on domestic tourism but with no genuine interest. more..

Jeyaraj drops bombshell

June 24 (SAMN) SLFP firebrand and Trade Minister Jeyeraj Fernandopulle, in a startling revelation Saturday said that the District Council proposal put forward by the SLFP was inadequate to meet the aspirations of the Tamils. Addressing a large gathering in Colombo at the annual general meeting of the Muslim Media Forum the minister raised concerns about offering the district as a unit of devolution when the Tamils have been historically clamouring for a separate state. more..

Fresh battles in Karuna Group

June 24 (LB) The TMVP, political party set up by former Eastern guerrilla commander Vinayagamoorthy Muralitharan is heading for another upheaval as Pillayan, the ousted former Supreme Military Commander of the party returned to Batticaloa after over a month in exile in the jungles of Trincomalee. Pillayan and his loyalists came in eight vehicles, triggering fears of a fresh internecine clash in the Karuna faction. more..

‘Sugathadasa’ tender bender stays

June 24 (LB) More than one year after he was found guilty of contravening government tender procedure and attempting to cause a loss of millions of rupees to the state, a top brass at the Sugathadasa Sports Authority has still not been subjected to disciplinary action and appears to have got off Scott free. more..

The moving Mangala machine

June 24 (LB) The following are some notes from our Parliamentary correspondent’s report last week:MPs Mangala Samaraweera and Sripathi Sooriarachchi sat in the opposition benches around twelve noon last Monday. They sat on seats close to JVP MPs Lalkantha and Vijitha Herath. Sooriarachchi sat where MP Nihal Galappathi usually sits. The MPs were first greeted by UNP’s Rukman Senanayake. Later, the crossover MPs were seen having a long discussion with Wimal Weerawansa and Anura Kumara Dissanayake. more..

Air Pollution Monitoring Stalled

June 24 (LB) The Air Condition Analyser (ACA) located opposite the Fort railway station, installed by the Central Environment Authority (CEA) in 1997 at a cost of Rs. 10 million, to measure the volume of air pollution has been non-functional for the last three months. Since its installation the machine was automatically operative right round the clock. According to CEA Chairman Udaya Gammanpila repairs to the machine will cost Rs.20 million. more..

Some UNP politicians try to betray intelligence services

June 24 (SO) A certain section of UNP politicians is attempting to betray the intelligence services of the country in a bid to thwart successful military operations carried out by the security forces in the Northern and Eastern provinces, Minister of Mahaweli and Rajarata Development Maithripala Sirisena told the Sunday Observer. The public were aware of what the UNP did with the exposure of the Millennium city which resulted in the killing of a large number of intelligence personnel by the LTTE. more..

Raids on inferior drugs in pharmacies

June 24 (SO) All pharmacies in the country will come under tight scrutiny of the National Drug Authority (DRA) as the authority has found that some pharmacies are selling inferior quality drugs. Deputy Director of the DRA Dr. Dhammika Jayalath told the 'Sunday Observer' yesterday that they raided, nine pharmacies in Embilipitiya and has detected a large stock of damaged, unregistered, banned drugs which had expired. more..

President to launch islandwide political campaign on July 26

June 24 (NS) President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s government will launch the development of the Sun Rise region encompassing 43 AGA divisions in the East on July 26. July 26 marks the anniversary of the commencement of the Mavil Aru Operation. Highly placed government sources said that President Rajapaksa would also launch a countrywide political campaign to coincide with the Sun Rise region development plan. He said that there would be 43 major development programmes launched on that day. more..

JB new Ambassador to Thailand

June 24 (NS) Professor of Sinhala at the University of Colombo, eminent linguist and historian J.B Dissanayake has been named the ambassador designate to Thailand by President Mahinda Rajapaksa The Nation learns. Professor Dissanayake, a product of Ananda College Colombo, graduated from the University of Peradeniya in 1961. He later went on a Fulbright scholarship to the University of California, Berkley to read for a Masters in linguistics and obtained a PhD from the University of Colombo. more..

Mangala’s phenomenal rise leaves Govt. in awe

June 24 (NS) Two weeks ago we said through these columns that politics is the art of the possible. In politics they say anything is fair, whether it be here or elsewhere in the world. It has now been proven beyond doubt that politics is the art of the possible. There are no permanent friends or enemies. Yesterday’s enemy could become a close political ally today and vice-versa – this is the political reality world over, where political opportunism has taken precedence over everything else. more..

Re- employed public servants irked

June 24 (NS) A government decision to drastically reduce the allowances paid to retired public servants now re-employed at ministries, departments, provincial councils, public corporations and statutory bodies has created consternation among a large number of the re-employed public servants. The Ministry of Public Administration and Home Affairs has circulated these new regulation imposed on their allowances with effect from April 1, 2007 which will affect a large number of retired public officers who are re-employed, informed sources said. more..

3 Ministers face corruption charges

June 24 (ST) Three ministers – Jeewan Kumaratunga, Jagath Pushpakumara, and S. M. Chandrasena—are facing legal action over alleged frauds and malpractice.Minister Jeewan Kumaratunga has been directed to appear in courts next month after he was implicated in a case of allegedly defaulting five youth seeking to migrate to Australia. Notice has been issued for the minister and two others to appear before the Gangodawila Magistrate’s court on July 13. more..

Heavy casualties as war intensifies

June 24 (ST) For many reasons than one, the ongoing undeclared Eelam War IV is assuming increasingly greater significance. In Geneva, last week, President Mahinda Rajapaksa told Norway's peace facilitators that the Government's military campaign against the LTTE would continue. It could only be halted if their leader, Velupillai Prabhakaran, pledged to cease violence and declared he was willing to talk peace. more..

Samaraweera's switch shifts scenario

June 24 (ST) Though a few of the trusted were told, it still remained a closely -guarded secret. Ousted Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera and colleague Sripathi Sooriyarachchi decided several days earlier they would join opposition ranks. The reasons were many. Main among them was the news that Government leaders were to step up the pressure on the duo as well as their close confidants. It was to come in many forms including new probes on 'wrong doings' by the Criminal Investigation Department (CID). more..

PCs in crisis over fund slash

June 24 (ST) Provincial Councils throughout the country have been thrown into crisis and virtual bankruptcy with the Treasury slashing their allocation by as much as 60 percent, provincial leaders said. They said vital projects relating to roads, irrigation systems, health and education were seriously affected by the move. UPFA controlled Southern Province Chief Minister Shantha Vijayalal said his council and others were appealing to the government to restore the allocation so that provincial development could be carried on. more..

Rain threatens Sri Lanka-Bangladesh Test

June 24 (AFP) Uncertain weather remains Sri Lanka's main concern as they attempt to extend their supremacy over Bangladesh in a three-Test series starting here. Sudden heavy showers, common for the region at this time of the year, have hampered preparations for the first Test at the Sinhalese Sports Club (SSC) and more rain has been forecast for the entire week. more..

Sri Lanka claims 13 rebels killed

June 24 (AFP) Elite Sri Lankan troops killed at least 13 Tamil Tiger rebels in clashes in the north of the country, the defence ministry said. Members of the special forces attacked the LTTE at two locations in the northern district of Vavuniya on Saturday, killing a total of 13 guerrillas, the ministry said in a statement. Both sides routinely make casualty claims that are impossible to independently verify. There was no immediate comment from the rebels. more..