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Normalcy not possible without students' release- Bishop

May 17 (TN) "Immediate release of the abducted students is the only way to bring Jaffna peninsula educational activities back to normalcy," Jaffna Bishop Rt. Rev. Thomas Savundaranayagam said in a special meeting held Wednesday around 3:30 p.m between representatives of Peoples Committee for Peace and Goodwill (PCPG) and Sri Lanka Army (SLA) Jaffma Commander Maj. Gen. G. A. Chandrasiri inside the Palaali High Security Zone. more..

'Flying Tiger' guerilla air force will face losses within months: analyst

May 17 (LBO) Tamil Tiger guerilla air wing will bear losses before the year-end as the military gains technology and experience to counter the little intruders, a former Sri Lanka air force commander said. The self-styled Tamileelam Air Force has intruded and bombed targets in government controlled areas including the capital Colombo at least three times, though authorities seem to be getting better at detecting the aircraft with each succeeding raid. more..

US invites world to take a look at Sri Lanka’s black gold

May 17 (LBO) The United States supports Sri Lanka in its effort to develop off shore oil exploration, a senior US official said. “I invited all the countries to explore Sri Lanka’s off shore oil opportunities in the recent Offshore Technology Conference in Houston,” said the US ambassador for Sri Lanka Robert Blake. Offshore Technology Conference (OTC) was held in Houston, Texas USA during 30 April - 3 May. more..

Insurers to leave Sri Lanka rates unchanged: officials

May 17 (AFP) Insurance rates for airlines operating to Sri Lanka are expected to remain unchanged after the government's decision to shut the airport here for night flights following rebel air raids, officials said Thursday. Sri Lanka's only international airport halted night flights last Thursday in line with new security measures following several night-time attacks by rebel Tamil Tiger aircraft. more..

Stocks fall on high rates, war worries

May 17 (Reuters) Sri Lankan shares fell on Thursday in heavy volume, a 13th consecutive daily loss, as investors sold stocks given high interest rates and persistent worry over renewed civil war, dealers said. The Colombo All Share index closed a provisional 1.27 percent lower at 2,493.87 points, a fall of 32.02 points. The index fell 2.72 on Wednesday, and has now fallen around 8 percent so far this year -- all of that in the past fortnight. more..

Burying the peace process along with federalism

May 17 (AT) The SLFP led by President Mahinda Rajapaksa after discussing its devolution proposals at the party executive meeting on May 14, 2007 has clarified that it would propose a unitary state in its submission to the All Party Representative Committee (APRC) on devolution. On May 1, 2007, the SLFP had circulated its proposal for public scrutiny and discussion. more..

Tamil Tigers launched Tharishanam TV channel in Europe

May 17 (AT) Tamil Tigers in Europe has launched the second TV pay channel Tharishanam from yesterday by broadcasting via stat elite “Makkal“ Television Tamil channel of Chennai, India, floated by Pattali Makkal Katchi (PMK) founder S. Ramadoss. Tamil Tigers earlier anounced that they intend to launch a new TV channel called Tharishanam from this week onwards. Accordingly they began broadcasting the Makkal TV channel in the name of Tharishanam. more..

49% GCE O/L students qualified for A/L studies- Education Minister

May 17 (GDI) "Some media reports and the statistics presented in them on the recently issued Government Certificate of Education (Ordinary Level) were incorrect," Minister of Education Susil Premjayantha told the Government Official Website. Minister stated the above commenting on the reports which stated that only 41% of the candidates who sat for the Ordinary Level examination were qualified to study for Advanced Level Examination. more..

Vakarai- From displaced to resettled

May 17 (GDI) With the liberation of LTTE’s stronghold Vakarai, the Government has once again attest to its citizens that an excellent leadership can salvage the country from ruthless terrorism and achieve peace with honour. This great victory in the east, which could be described as a significant development in the country’s two decade long conflict, symbolizes the dawning of a new era to the people. more..

President lauds student inventors

May 17 (GDI) President Mahinda Rajapaksa has lauded the creativity of Sri Lankan students who brought fame to the country at the International New Inventions Exhibition. Praising the creativity and skill of the students, President Rajapaksa at Temple Trees said that instead of being confined to mere rote learning, these students have demonstrated their creativity and skill which should be emulated by others as well, to bring honour and glory to their Alma Maters and the nation as well. more..

Major import fraud to be tackled

May 17 (GDI) Sri Lanka Customs is now on a special mission to probe a major import fraud committed by two large scale companies involved in liquor trade in Sri Lanka. According to the Director General of Customs, S.A.C.S.W.Jayatilaka, a team of officials of the Sri Lanka Customs is conducting investigations on the fraud and the custom duties evaded would easily run into several billions of rupees. more..

Personal information at Embassies leaking to criminal groups

May 17 (GDI) The Government has identified that criminal elements engaged in some of the abductions from various parts of the country have access to the financial information provided to foreign embassies by visa applicants. It is credibly evident that these personal information’s are leaked out to the groups through embassy channels. more..

Fresh recruitment drive for Army, STF

May 17 (LNP) Following the successful military operations in the East, the Army has launched an unprecedented mass recruitment drive. `Following the successful recruitment drive early this year we have commenced a fresh drive to recruit a new batch since early this month mainly for the Army`s Air Mobile Brigade and the Mechanized Infantry Brigade,` Military Spokesman Prasad Samarasinghe told the Daily Mirror yesterday. more..

Visa information leaked out to kidnappers

May 17 (LNP) President Mahinda Rajapakse yesterday said there was credible evidence that there were instances of financial information furnished to foreign embassies by visa applicants being leaked out to criminal elements responsible for some of the abductions reported from various parts of the country. President Rajapske said the government had information that certain kidnappers had, in interrogating their victims, used virtually carbon copies of financial documents submitted together with their visa applications. more..

CID interrogates Sonali

May 17 (LNP) The CID yesterday questioned `Morning Leader` Editor Sonali Samarasinghe for more than five hours over a series of investigative reports she had written for `Sunday Leader` and `Irudina` newspapers. Her reports spotlighted directives by the Central Bank governor to stop the investigation into the activities of the controversial numismatics outfit GoldQuest. more..

Adding another prong to the trident?

May 17 (LNP) Some people seem to have all the luck in politics. President`s elder brother Chamal Rajapakse, who held the Irrigation portfolio earlier, was sworn in as Minister of Ports and Aviation yesterday. Former Minister of Foreign Affairs and Ports and Aviation Mangala Samaraweera, who has indicated his willingness to return to the Cabinet following his ouster due to a row with the President, must be disappointed. For, even if he comes back, he will not get either of those plum cabinet posts. more..

Govt slams international HR groups

May 17 (SAMN) The government Wednesday slammed international rights groups for accusing the Government of blatant and unabated human rights violations while failing to raise a strong voice against rights abuses committed by the LTTE. A statement from the Government Peace Secretariat (SCOPP) said there should be mounting pressure on the LTTE to agree to a political settlement in Sri Lanka as the Government has always championed and been committed to such a settlement and not a military solution. more..

Somawansa expected to meet UK envoy

May 17 (SAMN) British High Commissioner Dominick Chilcott expressed the belief that he could meet with JVP representatives soon. Referring to yesterday’s story ‘British HC calls off meeting with JVP’, Chilcott said, "Your well-sourced front-page story about the British High Commission and the JVP prematurely asserts that we have called off a meeting with them. We haven’t and we still hope we can arrange one. Your source quite correctly says that the initiative for a meeting came from us. more..

Lack of NIC causes of poverty: WB

May 17 (SAMN) The failure by the Department of Registration of Persons to issue National Identity Cards (NICs) to the majority of plantation workers, even two decades after they were given citizenship rights in the early eighties, has become a major cause for poverty in the estate sector, a World Bank Economist said. Ambar Narayan, the World Bank’s Senior Economist on Poverty Reduction and Economic Management for the South Asian Region, more..

Rajapaksa agrees to suspend CMC

May 17 (SAMN) President Mahinda Rajapaksa has agreed to a proposal made by the SLFP municipal councillors to suspend the Colombo Municipal Council (CMC). The SLFP councillors made this request when they met President Rajapasa on Tuesday following the issuing of a charge sheet on the Mayor and the Council by the Western Province Chief Minister Reginald Cooray. However, the President has turned down a request made by the councillors to dissolve the council. more..

Death threats disrupt academic life in Jaffna

May 17 (KT) Academic life in Jaffna has come to a standstill amidst death threats and fear psychosis while the military and the LTTE blamed each other for the worsening situation. The LTTE’s peace secretariat in a statement yesterday said posters had sprung up overnight in the Jaffna University premises identifying some 300 staff and students as rebel supporters and warning them of dire consequences. more..

Sri Lanka to reconsider ban on mothers seeking jobs

May 17 (Dawn) Following protests from the general public and rights groups, the Sri Lankan government is set to reconsider a ban imposed on mothers with young children seeking employment overseas. The ban was announced by minister of child development and women’s empowerment, Sumedha G. Jayasena earlier this year. Ministry officials say the intention of the ban was to protect children below the age of five who are often left without a proper guardian as a result of their mothers taking overseas jobs. more..

Health sector strike called off

May 17 (DN) The strike launched by certain trade unions and health workers of certain grades has called off, Healthcare and Nutrition Ministry spokesman said. He said that the strike was called off temporarily after Healthcare and Nutrition Minister Nimal Siripala de Silva informed Health Promotion Minister Jayaratne Herath that when he return to Sri Lanka on May 21, he will discuss the matter with relevant parties in order to give a solution. more..

Rise in corruption complaints

May 17 (DN) The number of complaints on corruption cases received by the Commission to Investigate Bribery or Corruption has increased by 35 per cent this year with the majority of complaints received against politicians and high-ranking Government officials. Director Investigations of the Bribery Commission SSP Neville Guruge told the Daily News that there are 600 corruption cases pending for investigations out of which more than 100 were against politicians. more..

Establishment of Dept. for Coastal Security

May 17 (DM) The Cabinet gave approval yesterday to establish a department for the coastal security considering its environmental and other concerns. President Mahinda Rajapaksa presided the meeting at Temple Trees. Addressing the Cabinet, Mr. Rajapaksa noted they would carry out rehabilitation and resettlement work in the cleared areas of the northern and eastern provinces without waiting for various volunteer organizations to assist them in the task. more..

Captain denies knowledge of plane parts aboard ship

May 17 (DM) Harbour Police, yesterday, informed the Colombo Magistrate that the captain of the ship M. V. Tintang -- which was alleged to belong to UNP parliamentarian T. Maheswaran --had told the police that he was not aware of any aircraft parts in the hold of the ship. The captain, T. Murugeshu Panchawaram, had been questioned over the allegation that a part of a light aircraft had been found in the ship, which was carrying cargo to the North. more..

Two plead guilty to people smuggling

May 17 (AAP) TWO Indonesian nationals today pleaded guilty in Perth to trying to smuggle 82 Sri Lankan asylum seekers to Australia. Medi Ariyanto, 31, and Holik (Holik), 22, pleaded guilty in the Perth Magistrate's Court today to trying to facilitate the entry to Australia a group of five or more people who would become unlawful citizens. The pair were remanded in custody until their sentencing in the West Australian District Court on September 4. more..

3 Tamil rebels killed in clashes with soldiers in northern Sri Lanka: military

May 17 (AP) Sri Lankan troops and separatist Tamil Tiger rebels clashed in northern Sri Lanka leaving three guerrillas dead, military said Thursday. The clash occurred Wednesday evening in Madu of northern Mannar district, military spokesman Brig. Prasad Samarasinghe said. Samarasinghe said the bodies will be handed over to the Tigers through the International Committee of the Red Cross. more..

Lanka extortionists use visa applications to choose targets

May 17 (HT) Extortionists have been using personal financial information submitted to the various embassies by persons seeking visas. Wealthy persons become their targets. President Mahinda Rajapaksa told the media here on Wednesday, that government had credible evidence that there were cases in which personal financial data furnished to the embassies as part of visa applications, were leaked to criminal elements who, in turn, used the information to identify targets for extortion. more..

Maldives says sinks suspected Tamil Tiger arms vessel

May 17 (Reuters) The Maldives coast guard opened fire on and sank a vessel carrying suspected Tamil Tiger rebels and a cargo of weapons on Thursday after a 12-hour standoff at sea in its southern territorial waters, the government said. However, a man who threw himself overboard before the clash and surrendered spoke the south Indian language Malayalam and not Tamil, and officials were treating the alleged rebel link with caution. more..

Burying the Peace Process along with Federalism

May 18 (TW) The SLFP led by President Mahinda Rajapaksa after discussing its devolution proposals at the party executive meeting on May 14, 2007 has clarified that it would propose a unitary state in its submission to the All Party Representative Committee (APRC) on devolution. On May 1, 2007, the SLFP had circulated its proposal for public scrutiny and discussion. more..

Sri Lanka state banks, CEB to get new chairmen

May 18 (LBO) Sri Lanka's Bank of Ceylon, Peoples' Bank and Ceylon Electricity Board is to get new chairmen, a senior presidential aide told LBO. Gamini Wickremesinghe, the current Chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission would head the Bank of Ceylon, replacing Udayasri Kariyawasam who would be appointed as chairman of the Ceylon Electricity Board. more..

Sri Lanka closes check point to rebel territory

May 18 (Xinhua) An entry-exit check point linking Sri Lanka's government controlled area and rebel held area in the island's north was temporarily closed on Thursday, defense officials said. The Omanthai check point in the northernmost forward defense line in the Vavuniya district was closed at 10:15 a.m. local time (0445 GMT) following continued mortar fire by the LTTE, officials said. more..

Mangala likes the old one

May 18 (LeN) It is being reported to 'LeN' that former minister Mangala Samaraweera has on formed the president that he would reassume duties if he stops the campaign against Sripathi Suriarachchi and Tiran Allas and if the head of state makes sure that an atmosphere like on the 9th of February wouldn't occur again. more..

Summery of Cabinet Decisions

May 18 (GDI) The cabinet has granted its approval to a memorandum submitted by Hon. Amarasiri Dodangoda, Minister of Justice and Law Reforms to amend the code of criminal procedure (Special Provisions) act, No. 15 of 2005. The act provides for, 1. Enhance period of detention in Police custody. 2. Forwarding of direct indictments by the Attorney General in certain grave cases; 3. Amended procedure in respect of the preliminary inquiry( non-summary) more..

Sri Lankan Presidency; Consensus building should be to do what is right, not what is popular

May 18 (AT) If President Rajapaksa is to be given his due for one characteristic of his Presidency, it is his desire and ability to build consensus amongst his political friends and detractors, something that none of his predecessors were able or willing to do, or perhaps did not see as a necessity. more..

Arugambe lacks tourists due to the prevailing security situation in the Eastern Province

May 18 (AT) Tourists Hotel owners in Arugambe say that their hotels lack full occupancy due to the prevailing security situation in the eastern province. At present some hotels which have established personnel connections with the overseas agencies could achieve 50 percent occupancy level , but said they have already reduced their workforce due to the present financial constraints. more..

Colombo pulls out ICRC staff following LTTE shelling

May 18 (Hindu) Sri Lanka on Thursday announced withdrawal of the ICRC representatives at the Omanthai entry/exit point at Vavuniya due to reported heavy mortar shelling by the LTTE and maintained that at least 19 Tiger cadres were killed in intense fighting in the north in the last 24 hours. A Defence Ministry statement said the point had been temporarily closed for civilians. more..

Indian government rules out review of Sethu project

May 18 (Hindu) The Government on Thursday rejected the Opposition's demand to review the Sethusamudram project with Union Shipping Minister T.R. Baalu asserting in the Rajya Sabha that a number of studies had shown that there was no manmade structure as was being made out by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leaders. With Prime Minister Manmohan Singh present in the House, Mr. Baalu sought to demolish all the arguments put forward by BJP leaders Murli Manohar Joshi, Sushma Swaraj and the AIADMK's S.G. Indira. more..

Curfew hours relaxed in Jaffna

May 18 (TN) The Sri Lankan Military command in Palaly announced Thursday that the new curfew hours in Jaffna peninsula will be from 8:00 p.m. to 4:00 a.m., a reduction of one hour, sources in Jaffna said. The new hours took effect from Thursday. Curfew hours, first introduced after the outbreak of violence on 11 August 2006, have been altered several times and stood at 7:00 p.m. to 4:00 a.m., before the latest announcement. more..

President to participate the inauguration ceremony of the World Economic Forum

May 18 (GDI) The President Mahinda Rajapaksa will participate at the inauguration ceremony of the World Economic Forum today at 15.30 from local time. The Forum will be held at the King Hussein Conventional Hall in Jordan. The President was warmly welcomed by the Minister of Public Works and Housing Hosni Abu Gheida at the Queen Alia International Airport. more..

Australia charges two LTTE suspects

May 18 (GDI) Two Sri Lankan Tamil men residing in Australia have been charged with collecting and providing funds to the LTTE and for being members of LTTE terror organization. Australian Police have laid fresh charges against two terror suspects named Aruran Vinayagamoorthy and Sivarajah Yathavan. Aruran Vinayagamoorthy, 32, the resident of Mount Waverley in the south-eastern city of Melbourne, is facing two counts of directly or indirectly making assets available to the Tamil Tigers. more..

Police to recruit Tamil interpreters

May 18 (GDI) Police will recruit retired government servants as Tamil interpreters as there is an acute shortage of Tamil interpreters at police stations. Inspector General of Police Victor Perera has instructed all senior police officers to immediately recruit, on a temporary basis, retired government servants who can speak Tamil, to the police force. more..

Oil exploration to start in March next year

May 18 (GDI) The exploration of three oil blocks in Mannar basin will commence in February or March 2008. The parcels or blocks, will be open for bidding in late July or early August this year, Petroleum and Petroleum Resource Development Minister A.H.M. Fowzie said. Addressing a press briefing at his office yesterday, Minister Fowzie said that documentation has been given to a private company called Fugro Data Solutions. more..

Protection, safety of Lankan migrant workers

May 18 (GDI) Sri Lanka will sign several Memoranda of Understanding with the Governments of Jordan and Kuwait this week which will enhance the protection and the safety of Sri Lankan migrant workers living in these two countries. Foreign Employment Promotion and Welfare Minister Keheliya Rambukwella said the signing of the MoUs will take place parallel to President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s visit to the two countries. more..

600 teachers for plantation Muslim schools

May 18 (GDI) The second phase of appointing 600 new teachers to Muslim schools in the plantation sector was held at St. Anthony’s College, Kandy last week under the patronage of Education Minister Susil Premajayantha. Following the inaugural ceremony at Temple Trees, 353 new teachers were appointed to schools in the Central and Sabaragamuwa Provinces. According to Premajayantha, out of the 3,779 new appointments, 600 are Muslim teachers. more..

10,000 teachers to ease shortage

May 18 (GDI) Moves are under way to appoint 10,000 new teachers within three months to ease the teacher shortage, said Education Minister Susil Premajayantha. Education Ministry sources said that there are 210,000 teachers serving in 9,765 schools throughout the island. With the scheduled appointments of 10,000 new teachers this number will increase to 220,000. more..

Sri Lankan police harass witnesses in case of murdered SEP supporter

May 18 (wsws) A magistrate in the Kantalai court in eastern Sri Lanka last month postponed the case of Socialist Equality Party supporter Sivapragasam Mariyadas, who was murdered on August 7 last year. The magistrate did not challenge a request for a further delay, made by the crime investigation division (CID) of Trincomalee police. No evidence was presented that the police have carried out any serious investigation. more..

"LTTE stole 130,000 Norwegian Passports and sold some of them to Al Qaeda"

May 18 (AT) Bernard Goonetileke, the Sri Lankan Ambassador in Washington DC interviewed by the Washington Post Radio Thursday said the LTTE operatives have stolen 130,00 Norwegian passports and sold them to the highest bidders including the terrorists of Al Qaeda. “One of them surfaced with 700 of the stolen passports in Thailand and got caught to the police,” the Ambassador told J.J. Green, more..

Sri Lanka Telekom deal still being hammered out

May 18 (LBO) A new deal between the buyer of Japan's NTT stake in Sri Lanka Telecom and the government is being hammered out in a way that will protect the interests of the 49 percent state holding, a top government official said. Treasury Secretary P B Jayasundera told reporters there was no hidden mystery behind the sale of a 25 percent slice of NTT's 35 percent stake in Sri Lanka Telecom to Usaha Tegas and it was not contrary to the government's anti-privatization policy. more..