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Will get foreign sleuths if police fail deadline, Mahinda tells ICRC

June 6 (LNP) While giving a seven-day deadline to the Police Chief to find vital clues leading to the killers of the two Red Cross workers, President Mahinda Rajapaksa yesterday informed the ICRC and the Sri Lanka Red Cross officials that he was even prepared to bring down foreign sleuths in the event of the police failing to meet the deadline. more..

A dose of bitter medicine for docs

June 6 (LNP) There seems to be no cure for the ills of the Health Ministry. Not a single day passes without the news of a dispute there being reported. It looks as if health workers took turns to stage protests and harass the hapless public. Yesterday, we reported another protest in the offing. Doctors have threatened to stop private practice, unless the Health Minister cancels the order that all private medical institutions be registered with the newly set up PMIRC. more..

Electoral Reforms: 140 Constituency MPs, 70 District MPs and 15 National List MPs

June 6 (PISL) Presenting the Interim Report of the Parliamentary Committee on Electoral Reforms in Parliament yesterday (5) Chairman of the Committee Dinesh Gunawardena said the Committee proposed that 70 percent of the members be elected to Parliament under the first past the post system and the balance 30 percent be elected under the proportional representation system. more..

‘Protecting a few’ drags country down

June 6 (SAMN) The main opposition UNP lashed out at the government yesterday saying ‘The country is going down a bottomless abyss in respect of the war, economy and defence as a result of protecting a few individuals by the Mahinda Rajapaksa administration. Kandy district UNP Parliamentarian, Lakshman Kiriella said according to information the party received, the security forces sacrificed over 150 lives in Omanthai and 95 bodies were scheduled to be handed over to the Red Cross last afternoon. more..

Sri Lanka market up on select buying but war weighs

June 6 (Reuters) Sri Lankan shares ended firmer on Wednesday on select buying in telecom, insurance and oil stocks, but investors remained cautious amid escalating fighting between the state and Tamil Tiger rebels. The Colombo All Share index closed 0.98 percent firmer at 2,554.81 points, a rise of 24.88 points. The index has fallen nearly 15 percent since February amid escalating renewed civil war and high interest rates, more..

Special pension scheme for artistes

June 6 (SAMN) A special pension and social security scheme, ‘Saraswathi’ covering all artistes was launched Tuesday at the Government Information Department auditorium with the participation of Cultural Affairs Minister Lakshman Yapa Abeywardena and Social Services and Social Welfare Deputy Minister Lionel Premasiri. more..

New force conducts first sting operation

June 6 (SAMN) The newly trained ‘Nandimithra Force’ of the Home Guards has carried out its first ever operation on Monday night in the Karuwalgaswewa area, where they arrested 12 suspects, who were engaged in illegal felling of timber in the Thabbowa Reserve forest. A spokesman of the Unit said an eight man team of the Unit had conducted the raid and found two lakhs worth of illegal timber along with a lorry and a motorcycle. more..

Colombo port intensifies security

June 6 (SAMN) Following the night closure of the north entry point to the Colombo port due to security reasons the Sri Lanka Ports Authority is considering a variety of measures including video and underwater surveillance to increase security and reopen the harbour to its full capacity. According to Sri Lanka Ports Authority (SLPA) Chairman Saliya Wickremasuriya currently 222 hours of navigation time is being lost because of the closure. more..

Deal with US will benefit Lanka - Leader of the House

June 6 (DN) The proposed ‘Acquisition and Cross-Servicing Agreement’ (ACSA) with the US will benefit Sri Lanka, Leader of the House and Health Minister Nimal Siripala de Silva told Parliament yesterday. “Although attempts are being made to portray this as a security agreement, it is not so. We had discussions. We have not hidden this and it is on the Defence Ministry’s website. more..

Keep away from internal politics

June 6 (DN) The Federation of Buddhist Organisations has asked the British High Commission in Sri Lanka to act responsibly and refrain from making statements which according to it, constitute an interference in the country’s internal politics. Federation reprsentatives met Second Secretary of the British Head of Mission, John Culley on Monday, over certain statements made by the British High Commissioner. more..

UNP raises doubts, but give green light

June 6 (DM) The UNP expressed their cautious support to the government in Parliament to sign the Acquisition and Cross-Servicing Agreement with the US, but raised suspicions as to whether it was the pact originally drafted by them. Speaking during the debate on the agreement in the parliament, party strongman MP Lakshman Kiriella said they should seek international support to crush terrorism. more..

Millions worth of Cannabis seized in joint raid

June 6 (DM) Colombo Excise Department in a special raid conducted on Monday detected a large stock of cannabis worth over Rs.5 million in Tanamalwila area. Two special teams of Excise Bureau of Special Operations (BSO) from Colombo and Kandy carried out a series of raids in Tanamalwila, Hambegamuwa, Karapinchalanda, Wellawaya and Kiribbanaara and recovered the contraband. more..

Sri Lanka aims for billions from CO2 credits

June 6 (Reuters) Sri Lanka plans to start selling credits from greenhouse gas emission savings in projects such as hydropower and garbage management, joining other developing Asian countries in profiting from the Kyoto Protocol. Environment Minister Patali Champika Ranawaka said on Wednesday, Sri Lanka aimed to create a fund of credits from projects including organic farming within three months, as it hopes to rake in billions of dollars in revenue over the next decade. more..

India has rights of an elder brother, says Lanka

June 6 (HT) India has the rights of an elder brother vis-à-vis Sri Lanka, and as such, it can ask the latter to come to it for any military help instead of going to Pakistan or China, says a Sri Lankan government spokesman. Asked to comment on the Indian National Security Advisor MK Narayanan's statement in Chennai that Sri Lanka should not buy weapons from Pakistan or China but come to India for its military needs, the Defence Ministry spokesman Keheliya Rambukwella said that India was like Sri Lanka's elder brother who could make such demands on a younger sibling. more..

Mine blast derails train, injures 4 passengers in Sri Lanka; roadside bomb kills soldier

June 6 (AP) A bomb detonated by suspected Tamil rebels derailed a train in eastern Sri Lanka on Wednesday, the military said, injuring at least four passengers a day before a Japanese peace envoy was to visit the troubled region. A separate roadside bomb blamed on rebels killed a soldier in the north. The explosion went off as the passenger train passed through Vakaneri village in the eastern district of Batticaloa, more..

Sri Lanka says rebels derail train

June 6 (Reuters) Suspected Tamil Tiger rebels blew up part of a rail track, derailing a train in Sri Lanka's east on Wednesday and injuring four people, the military said, a day before Japan's peace envoy was due to visit the district. Yasushi Akashi arrived on Tuesday for a five-day visit to try and find ways to jumpstart a battered peace process which has descended into renewed war. An estimated 4,500 people have been killed since last year alone. more..

Akashi to avoid LTTE during visit

June 6 (HT) The Japanese Special Peace Envoy, Yasushi Akashi, who is currently on his 14 th visit to Sri Lanka to promote a negotiated settlement of the ethnic conflict in the island, will not be visiting the LTTE's headquarters in Kilinochchi. "He will not be going to Kilinochchi but would see the refugee rehabilitation projects in Vakarai (in East Sri Lanka)," said the Defence Spokesman, Keheliya Rambukwella in Colombo on Wednesaday. more..

India remains undecided on aid to Lanka

June 6 (ToI) India continues to dither about whether to drastically upgrade its ongoing military aid to Sri Lanka to include "offensive capabilities" as well, even as Colombo increasingly turns to Pakistan and China for help in its bloody fight against LTTE. The worsening security situation in Sri Lanka and its implications for India, with both Beijing and Islamabad making inroads into the island nation, came up at a high-level meeting chaired by defence minister A K Antony on Tuesday. more..

Pre-school teachers in Sri Lanka are learning how to teach better

June 7 (AN) Children in pre-schools are to benefit from their teachers' improved teaching skills. The Czech humanitarian and development agency, People In Need (PIN), has finished pilot training for pre-school teachers and has also published the Pre-School Teacher Training Manual, which will be used throughout the whole district. PIN, represented by Head of Mission Mr. Matej Novak and accompanied by the Secretary for the Eastern Province Ministry of Education, Mr. R. Thialankama, presented diplomas to the first group of fifteen teachers, more..

Marian shrine in Madhu to become ‘peace zone’

June 7 (AN) Catholics, Buddhists and Hindus, Tamils and Sinhalese, have all welcomed the statement by Sri Lanka’s President Mahinda Rajapakse in which he said that a ‘peace zone’ would be established around the country’s most famous Marian shrine in Madhu at least during the main annual celebrations dedicated to Our Lady. more..

Sinharaja threatened

June 7 (BBC) Sri Lanka's pristine tropical rainforest is under threat from unpredictable weather and locals are blaming global warming. more..

Sri Lanka glass bottle maker aims to increase exports to wine market

June 7 (LBO) Ceylon Glass Company Ltd. (CGCL) is doubling its capacity to make coloured bottles at its new plant that is under construction and aims to increase exports to the niche wine bottle market. Exports in the 2007 financial year increased 212 percent over the previous year mainly because of the launch of different shades of coloured wine bottles, a company statement said. more..

Sri Lankan Red Cross stops work for slain colleagues

June 7 (AFP) Red Cross offices across Sri Lanka stopped work Wednesday as a mark of respect for two colleagues gunned down last week. Sri Lankan Red Cross workers Sinnarasa Shanmugalingam and Karthekesu Chandramohan were abducted in Colombo on Friday and murdered by armed men claiming to be police. They were working in the conflict-wracked eastern town of Batticaloa. more..

Samaraweera leads A-team tour

June 7 (CI) Sri Lanka have named a 15-man squad for the A tour of England starting next month. Tilan Samaraweera, who played the last of his 39 Tests at Edgbaston last year, leads the side with Jehan Mubarak as his vice-captain. According to SLC sources, Mubarak is expected to captain the team in the four one-day matches on the tour. He and fellow opener Michael Vandort also toured England last year when Sri Lanka drew the Test series 1-1. more..

Air force officer takes over as Sri Lanka manager

June 7 (AFP) A senior Sri Lankan air force officer has been appointed as the new manager of the national cricket team, replacing Michael Tissera, a Sri Lanka Cricket official said Wednesday. Air Vice Marshal Sriyan Samararatne, a strict disciplinarian, was picked after facing an interview panel Wednesday by Sri Lanka Cricket, the governing body of the sport here, an official told AFP. Samararatne is on a two-year contract. more..

Sri Lankan freight forwarders to clear skills shortage

June 7 (LBO) Sri Lanka's freight forwarding industry is setting up an academy to train people with the skills and knowledge required to handle logistics in today's rapidly growing international trade. Professionally trained people are in demand and can command good salaries, industry officials told a news conference Tuesday. more..

Cuba-Sri Lanka to Expand Cooperation in the Coconut Industry

June 7 (FP) Sri Lanka's Minister of the Coconut Industry, Salinda Dissanayake, arrived in the eastern Cuban province of Guantanamo on Wednesday to establish closer links between Cuba and his country. On Thursday, the minister and his delegation will visit plantations, Malay ovens and coconut oil factories in the municipality of Baracoa -- the main producer of coconuts in Cuba. Also scheduled are talks with local producers and managers in that sector. more..

Fears for Sri Lanka human rights

June 7 (BBC) All parties involved in the war in Sri Lanka have come in for heavy criticism for disregarding human rights at a public hearing at the European Parliament. Both the government of Sri Lanka and Tamil Tiger rebels fighting for autonomy for Tamils in the north and east were blamed for "showing a brazen disregard for the well-being of civilians". more..

Sri Lanka to protect witnesses testifying at human rights inquiries

June 7 (AP) Sri Lanka has introduced a witness protection program to encourage people to testify at inquiries into killings and alleged human rights violations, the president's office said Wednesday. Victims and witnesses testifying at a Presidential Commission of Inquiry would receive "necessary material assistance and the commission would ensure strict confidentiality and anonymity," more..

Asia triumph despite Pollock hundred

June 7 (CI) Shaun Pollock tried his best to take his side to a come-from-behind victory, but the Africans couldn't quite recover from Mohammad Asif's incisive opening spell on an action-packed day's cricket at Bangalore's Chinnaswamy Stadium. Mohammad Yousuf and Mahela Jayawardene were the architects of a batting effort that mustered a formidable 317 but ultimately the Asians managed to stave off a brilliant Pollock to take a 1-0 lead in the three-match series. more..

Vanni teachers continue protest in Jaffna

June 7 (TN) The sit-in-protest launched by Vanni Teachers in front of Jaffna Education Office and the Additional Provincial Director's office Tuesday continued Wednesday, blocking routine work at the two offices. Attempts by members of the Sri Lanka Army (SLA) and officials from Northern Provincial Sabai to dissuade the agitators failed to produce any positive results, sources in Jaffna said. more..

"LTTE behind train blast"

June 7 (Hindu) Japanese special envoy Yashushi Akashi arrived here for an assessment of the situation following escalation of hostilities between the military and the Tamil Tigers. Meanwhile, suspected LTTE cadres targeted a Colombo-bound passenger train from Batticoloa through an improvised explosive device on Wednesday. more..

Reebok unveils fourth store in Sri Lanka

June 7 (IT) Reebok has unveiled its latest store 'Arena' in Colombo, taking the count to four stores in Sri Lanka. As part of the company's global expansion, Reebox eyes Sri Lanka as a key market. Reebok India MD Subhinder Singh Prem said, "The region has always been important to Reebok as a resource but in recent years it's become the fastest growing regional market. more..

Tigers cremate remains of 14 dead SLA soldiers

June 7 (TN) Eleven dead bodies of Sri Lanka Army (SLA) soldiers, declined to be received by the Sri Lanka Army (SLA) on Tuesday from the ICRC, were handed back to the LTTE Wednesday. The bodies were cremated with full military honours by the Tigers at 5:15 p.m. in Kokkaavil where more than 1500 soldiers killed in Mullaiththeevu SLA debacle, back in July 1996, were cremated. more..

LTTE at the receiving end at the public hearing on Sri Lanka by the European Parliament

June 7 (AT) Several Members of the European Parliament condemned terrorism by the LTTE as a cause of concern, and the need for the LTTE to return to the negotiating table. Some MEPs identified terrorism as the root cause of the prevailing situation in Sri Lanka, and highlighted the complete denial of human rights of civilians living in areas under LTTE control. more..

India goes back to flexing its muscle in the neighborhood

June 7 (AT) There are three events in recent Indo-Sri Lanka relations that remain indelibly in their history. The anniversaries of assassination of Rajiv Gandhi in May 1991 and the Indian violation of Sri Lankan air space in June 1987, an act of gross intimidation, have already passed. The third, the Indo-Sri Lanka Agreement, will be remembered next month more in sorrow than as a gesture of good neighborly relations. more..

'Manmohan Singh is the last man to help Sri Lanka'

June 7 (AT) 'The Frontier Post' of Peshawar Pakistan in a hard hitting editorial on India categorically pointed out that Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh would be the last to listen to Sri Lanka’s urgently needed sophisticated weapons to combat a Tamil insurgency to keep his fragile coalition government dependent on politicians of Tamil Nadu, an Indian state which supplies the insurgency with weapons and hence Sri Lanka should look elsewhere for its needs. more..

SriLankan Airlines is among Asia’s best say UK luxury travellers

June 7 (ETB) A survey of 10,000 readers of UK’s Daily Telegraph on their experiences in luxury travel has placed SriLankan Airlines among the finest of Asia’s airlines. SriLankan was one of four runners-up in the category of Best Asian Airline, which was won by Singapore Airlines. Other runners-up were Cathay Pacific, Malaysian Airlines and Thai Airways. more..

Lanka airline allows more free baggage

June 7 (GT) SRILANKAN Airlines has announced an increase in free baggage allowance for return passengers flying out of Qatar. Travellers who purchase their tickets in Doha are now entitled to carry 40kg of free baggage on their return journey - double the amount of the previous baggage. The airline's manager in Qatar, Lakshman Weerasooriya, hopes the extra allowance will provide an incentive for passengers to choose the carrier over other airlines. more..

Japanese peace envoy heads to Sri Lanka's volatile east

June 7 (AP) A Japanese peace envoy was to visit Sri Lanka's volatile east on Thursday, a day after at least four people were injured when a bomb triggered by suspected Tamil insurgents derailed a train. The explosion went off as the passenger train passed through Vakaneri village in the eastern district of Batticaloa on Wednesday, Defense Ministry spokesman Lt. Col. Upali Rajapakse said. more..

Sri Lanka looks to boost economic growth despite obstacles

June 7 (LBO) Sri Lanka plans to accelerate and broaden its development activities despite the internal conflict, the island's president said Wednesday, as an expanding budget deficit threatened to undermine growth this year. “We need to fearlessly combat terrorism and develop without making it an excuse,” President Mahinda Rajapakse said in a statement at the opening of an economic summit organized by the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce. more..

A Colombo Tamil’s trip to Jaffna with his Sinhalese friend

June 7 (ISL) Many Sinhalese have this concrete idea about the LTTE and its de-facto state: “Terrorists”, “dictators”, “child conscriptors” and “ruthless murderers”. I too had that similar sense of picture before travelling to Killinochi. In 2003, I was visiting Jaffna after 12 years. In order to travel to Jaffna, you’re had to go pass the rebel controlled land: Vavuniya and Killinochi. more..

Summary of the Cabinet decisions

June 7 (GDI) The Cabinet has granted its approval to a Memorandum submitted by the Hon. Prime Minister, who is also the Minister of Internal Administration on the restructuring of the organizational structure of the Registration of Persons Department (RPD). Hon. Prime Minister stated in his Memorandum that since the establishment of the department in 1972, it has issued more than 20 million identity cards and it still adopts manual process for recording of data contained in NIC applications. more..

'Electoral reforms should be favourable to people '

June 7 (GDI) Any kind of reform that would take place in the Electoral System of Sri Lanka should be beneficial and favourable to the public and the top most importance of it will be for the common people, Mass Media and Information Minister Anura Priyadarshana Yapa said. He said, “it is high time for the public to have a serious debate on the matter and it is the responsibility of the media to bring in to light those views and thoughts.” more..

Japan will continue supporting Sri Lanka

June 7 (GDI) Government Spokesperson, Mass media and Information Minister Anura Priyadarshana Yapa, said that the Japanese Government has not given an impression of altering their assistance extended to Sri Lanka. Minister Yapa stated this answering to a question from a journalist with regard to the Japanese special peace envoy Yashushi Akashi’s current visit in the island. With the information he has received so far, Minister added, “Japan will continue to provide the promised aid.” more..

SL to host the 8th Asia Cooperation Dialogue Foreign Ministers Meeting

June 7 (GDI) Sri Lanka will be hosting the 8th Asia Cooperation Dialogue (ACD) Foreign Ministers Meeting in the year 2009. Sri Lanka received the acceptance to its offer to host the 8th ACD Foreign Minister’s Meeting during the 6th ACD Foreign Minister’s Meeting, which took place from 04 to 05 June 2007 in South Korea. Foreign Minister Rohitha Bogollagama led the Sri Lankan delegation at this meeting. more..

Sri Lanka should to trim corruption and modernise education to go forward: US envoy

June 7 (LBO) Sri Lanka's should trim redundant ministries, increase wages for senior officials and be more transparent to help propel the country forward, the US envoy in Colombo said. "Reduce the number of ministries with overlapping responsibilities," Robert Blake, US ambassador for Sri Lanka and Maldives said at the business leaders' summit organized by the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants. more..

Sri Lanka markets watchdog mulls stiffer fines

June 7 (LBO) Sri Lanka's capital markets watchdog is planning to impose stiffer penalties as part of an overall revamp of key statutes governing the Securities Exchange Commission (SEC), a top official said. "We want to bring in best practices and standards," SEC director general Channa de Silva told LBO. "We're thinking of amending the SEC Act and the Takeovers and Mergers Code." more..

Sri Lanka finance ministry, auditor-general in row over revenue losses

June 7 (LBO) Sri Lanka's Finance Ministry has disputed a report by the auditor-general that weak collections led to a revenue loss of 360 billion rupees. The loss, it said in its annual report for 2006, was not more than 6.2 billion rupees of which half related to the VAT refund fraud which occurred during 2002-04. It also rejected the auditor-general's assessment of 22 billion rupees in tax arrears, saying that the figure needs to be 'revisited'. more..

There might not be another chance to amend the electoral system

June 7 (LeN) Minister of agriculture and agriculture development Hemakumara Nanayakkara says those who were demanding for a change in the electoral system are now opposing it, since they cannot even think of coming to power. The minister made this statement addressing a media briefing organized to declare the stance of the UNP alternative group, at the Seth Sevana this morning. more..