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Omanthai checkpoint closure creating crisis

May 19 (LNP) The military has requested the ICRC to hold talks with the LTTE and reopen the Omanthai entry/exit point soon, since thousands of people were facing hardship due to Thursday`s move following heavy mortar attacks by the LTTE. `We are ready to re-open the checkpoint, but we can`t do it until ICRC agrees. Therefore we asked ICRC to take up the matter with the Tigers as thousands of people are suffering` military Spokesman Prasad Samarasinghe told the Daily Mirror yesterday. more..

Copying the British has led education disaster

May 19 (LNP) Sri Lanka`s implementation of a carbon copy of the British Ordinary Level education policies has resulted in over 51 per cent of the students failing at last year`s O/L examinations, Senior educationist Prof. Thilokasundari Kariyawasam said. `The existing ordinary level system is almost a clone of the British system. It was copied and implemented here in 1971 by short-sighted educationists who could not foresee possible repercussions. more..

First in Asia to implement tobacco, alcohol control measures

May 19 (LNP) The Director General of the World Health Organisation (WHO), Dr. Margaret Chan has highly commended Sri Lanka for becoming the first country in Asia to implement laws to minimise the use of drugs and alcohol. President Mahinda Rajapaksa`s initiative Mathata Thitha (Full stop to drugs and liquor) has set a good example for other countries in the region, Chan has said. more..

Hepatitis A hits Gampola area

May 19 (SAMN) Hepatitis A, a water borne disease has broken out in epidemic proportions mainly in the Gampola area with about 200 cases admitted to the Gampola Base Hospital alone, hospital sources said Friday. “This is not a chronic disease and the patient recovers within one week to two weeks. The symptoms are fever, discolouring of the eyes and urine and spinal pain. There are no after effects following full recovery,” more..

TMVP to be decentralized

May 19 (SAMN) In the wake of the reported reconciliation between Karuna Amman and Pillayan, the Thamil Makkal Viduthalai Pullikal (TMVP) convened a meeting on Wednesday and established a working committee to decentralize its “democratic” activities, a party spokesman said. He said the TMVP, as a responsible political party established this working committee with the objective of providing the people a wider range of services. more..

Establishment of SEZ expedited

May 19 (SAMN) Naveen Dissanayake, Minister of Investment Promotion stated that preliminary works relating to the establishment of Investment Promotion Zone (IPZ) in the Special Economic Zone (SEZ) in Trincomalee will be expedited. He mentioned this at a progress review meeting held on May 15 at his office with the participation of the Chairman of Board of Investment of Sri Lanka (BOI), Dhammika Perera and the Chairman Sri Lanka Ports Authority (SLPA), Saliya Wickramasuriya. more..

600 teachers for Muslim schools

May 19 (SAMN) 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. more..

New regulations for grade 1 admissions

May 19 (DM) The National Education Commission (NEC) said yesterday it would issue a new circular shortly outlining the new scheme for the admission of children to Grade 1 classes. After the Supreme Court nullified the present circular, President Mahinda Rajapaksa directed the NEC to draft a new set of regulations. NEC Chairman A.V. Suraweera told the Daily Mirror the set of regulations would be handed over to the President by next week. more..

Joint probe on sinking of trawler

May 19 (DM) The Sri Lankan Defence authorities are to work jointly with the Maldivian authorities in the probe over the sinking of an LTTE arms trawler off the seas of Maldives. A senior Defence ministry official said the Male Government had been informed about the decision through the Sri Lanka High Commissioner in Male. more..

Year-round relief for consumers

May 19 (DN) Prime Minister Ratnasiri Wickremanayake has stressed that the Cost of Living Interim Committee will meet from time to time to control the prices of essential commodities thus giving relief to the people. Prime Minister Wickremanayake who met the Cost of Living Interim Committee on Thursday said the escalation of the prices of essential goods has become unbearable to people who draw a monthly salary. more..

All govt. offices shifted to Kotte soon

May 19 (DN) Urban Development and Sacred Area Development Ministry (UDSADM) and Board of Investment (BOI) has signed an agreement to commence the second phase of Sethsiripaya administrative complex. Urban Development and Sacred Area Development Ministry Secretary Prof. P. Ramanujam and Board of Investment Chairman Dammika Perera signed the agreement. more..

Colombo delays offshore round

May 19 (UO) Sri Lanka has delayed launching an exploration round for blocks off the island's north-west coast until August, but is still aiming for exploration to begin in the middle fo next year, the government said today. Petroleum & Petroleum Resources Development Ministry Secretary APA Gunasekera said the tender delay was due to "unavoidable circumstances", but did not elaborate. more..

UNP rules out forming national government

May 19 (TN) The main opposition UNP Saturday ruled out the possibility of forming a national government with the government led by Sri Lanka's President Mahinda Rajapakse. "The present government has lost its credibility among the masses due to its undemocratic acts and human rights violations. It is a dream to think of forming a national government with Mr.Rajapakse who tore down the MoU signed by the UNP with the SLFP, main constituent of the government to find lasting solution to all problems affecting the country," more..

Legal battle of UNP-dissidents continues

May 19 (TN) The Colombo District Court Friday extended its stay order for the third time against the decision of the main opposition United National Party (UNP) to expel eleven dissident parliamentarians of the UNP who joined the government led by Sri Lanka's President Mahinda Rajapakse and accepted ministries, and called for further explanation from the UNP leadership, legal sources said. more..

Sri Lanka novel lives up to its bzz

May 19 (GM) In 1987, Theo Samarajeeva, the hero of Roma Tearne's debut novel Mosquito, leaves behind his life in England and returns to Sri Lanka, the country of his birth. What drives him back is the tragic death of his Italian wife, Anna, during a mugging. Theo, a world-renowned novelist, is hoping to lick his wounds and resume work on a book in an idyllic seaside villa along Sri Lanka's southern coast. more..

Justice P. Ramanathan: A statesmanlike judge who endeared himself to all

May 19 (TW) It was, I believe, 1993. The occasion was the Conference of the Chief Justices of the countries in the Asia Pacific region in Colombo and I was representing my Chief Justice. As soon as I, accompanied by my wife, entered the Colombo Airport on my arrival from India I was met by a tall, handsome person with a smiling face and friendly eyes. As I learnt soon after, the imposing personality with the winning smile was none other than Justice Ramanathan, then a judge of the Supreme Court of Sri Lanka. more..

Fighting in northern Sri Lanka kills 3: military

May 19 (AP) Two Tamil guerrillas and a Sri Lankan soldier were killed in continuing clashes in the war-torn country's north, as troops recovered weapons, explosives, and a suicide-bomber vest, the military said Saturday. The latest fighting between the Tamil Tigers and the military occurred near Madu village, about 220 kilometers (135 miles) northwest of the capital Colombo, more..

Couple devastated by deportation order

May 19 (CH) This young couple is in love. Big smiles break out when they recall the first time they met, in a random encounter at the Halifax Shopping Centre. The story of their whirlwind romance and subsequent marriage is told breathlessly and passionately, as if it were an epic Hollywood movie. Eyes light up at the suggestion of just a modest future, maybe a few kids and a small house. more..

Family of five hacked to death in Sri Lanka feud

May 19 (Reuters) A family of five, including two young children, were hacked to death with a sword-like blade north of the capital Colombo overnight in what police said was an attack over a land dispute. Land disputes in Sri Lanka, particularly in rural areas, have resulted in several bloody attacks in recent years, police said. "Five people of the same family, including a four-year-old and five-year-old, were chopped to death using a sharp instrument, something like a sword," more..

Is the Lankan devolution panel heading for a logjam?

May 19 (HT) The APRC, which President Mahinda Rajapaksa set up to evolve a consensus-based devolution system for Sri Lanka, may be heading for a logjam with a plethora of diverse proposals before it. It was to get round this problem that the Chairman of the APRC and cabinet minister, Prof Tissa Vitharana, proposed in February, that his document, which was a marriage between the majority and minority reports of the Experts' Panel, be the basic document for discussion. more..

A two-month ordeal for TN fishermen

May 19 (EI) It was a tale of uncertainty and agony for 11 fishermen from Tamil Nadu, who spent more than two months, allegedly under outlawed LTTE detention in deep forests in Sri Lanka. The unshaven haggard-looking fishermen, who returned to the Indian shores on Friday, were brought to Chennai for a meeting with Chief Minister M Karunanidhi. A 14-year-old boy was also part of the team. more..

U.N. Seeks Access for Needy in Sri Lanka

May 19 (AP) The United Nations expressed concern Friday at the plight of hundreds of thousands of people displaced by rising violence in Sri Lanka and called for increased access to the needy and security for humanitarian workers. The comment from Tony Banbury Asia Director for World Food Program came as a resurgence in violence between government forces and separatist Tamil Tiger rebels killed nearly 5,000 people in the past 18 months and seriously undermined an internationally backed cease-fire. more..

Karthigesu Sivathamby: Mighty Intellectual

May 19 (TW) The Thamil community in general and the academic / intellectually oriented student population both in this country and abroad, in particular, treat him as an icon of the past and present century. He is just not merely a Thamil scholar, but also a multi-disciplinarian of the intellectual kind. He is much more than to us Sri Lankans. more..

Sri Lankan IT experts highlight competitive advantage of technology for business

May 20 (LBO) Information technology has a component that gives the technology a competitive advantage in business, IT specialists say. That component gets commoditised but companies must come up with new components to stay on the top, they say. “There is definitely a component of IT which is really giving the competitive advantage to the company," more..

Released Tamil Nadu fishermen meet Chief Minister Karunanidhi

May 20 (AT) The eleven Tamil Nadu fishermen who went through their lives’ worst ordeal of a meaningless imprisonment of two months by the Tamil Tiger and got released through the influence of pro-LTTE Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu were brought before him for a photo session to make political capital out of it, Tamil Nadu sources alleged. more..

Re-embracing the Original Sin

May 20 (AT) The controversial SLFP proposals were amended last week, to make them more in accordance with the main demands of the JVP and the JHU. The unitary state is in, formally, by name, and Buddhism has been granted the primacy of place. Even as he pandered to the Southern extremists, President Rajapakse made it crystal clear that moderate opinions are of no consequence to him. Obviously the pleas of democratic Tamils for enhanced devolution will go unheeded. more..

President Rajapaksa’s address to the G11 Summit

May 20 (GDI) Your Majesty King Abdullah, Excellencies, Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen, Please accept my congratulations, Your Majesty, for the exemplary leadership you have provided in the past two years as Chairman of the G-11. I also take this opportunity to thank you most sincerely for the wonderful hospitality accorded to me and my delegation during our visit to your beautiful country. more..

No forcible resettlement of IDPs -Bathiudeen

May 20 (GDI) Minister of Resettlement and Disaster Relief Services Rishad Bathiudeen has reiteratedthat the Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) are settled in their place of origin, voluntarily on their own accord. The Ministry provides assistance in the resettlement programme. It had been agreed to commence resettlement of IDPs from May 14 in the cleared areas of the Batticaloa district. more..

Jayasuriya rested as Pakistan bat

May 20 (CI) Pakistan won the toss and chose to bat at the Sheikh Zayed Stadium in Abu Dhabi in the second of their three-match series against Sri Lanka. Pakistan won the first match of the series thanks to a Shahid Afridi intervention, the allrounder bulldozing a tight match Pakistan's way with a 34-ball 73. It was Shoaib Malik's first match in charge and a five-wicket win against quality opposition was a near-perfect start. more..

LTTE frees Indians after losing Sri Krishna

May 20 (ANN) Consequent to the negotiations, the LTTE on Friday (May 18) ferried 11 members of the crew to Tamil Nadu, a day after Maldivian Coast Guard rescued Simon Soza of the Sri Krishna’s crew following a confrontation with Sea Tigers which resulted in the destruction of the vessel in their southern territorial waters Thursday morning. more..

Govt. not given up quest for peace -Bogollagama

May 20 (PISL) Foreign Minister Rohitha Bogollagama addressing the international media at the venue of the G11 summit held yesterday (19) at the Dead Sea international convention centre in Jordan said Sri Lanka was seeking the support of the international community to bring the LTTE to the negotiation table to resolve the conflict by a political solution by negotiations. more..

Defence nod sought for telecom deal

May 20 (LNP) A government-appointed committee examining the proposed sale of Japanese NTT (Nippon Telecom) stock in Sri Lanka Telecom to Maxis of Malaysia, wants Defence Ministry clearance if the sale was to go through. The Sunday Times last week revealed that there was a rush to close the deal with Maxis and raised issues of transparency. The report said the deal was shrouded in secrecy though it carried national security risks. more..

Over 600 bribery and fraud complaints against Sri Lankan public officials

May 20 (LNP) The Sri Lanka Bribery and Malpractices Investigation Commission received over 600 complaints against public officials within the first five months of 2007. Director of the Commission, Senior Superintendent of Police Neville Guruge, said this is an increase of 35% compared to 2006. The Director said there is a delay in investigations due to the lack of staff and space in the office. more..

President meets with Jordanian monarch

May 20 (LNP) President Mahinda Rajapakse attended the World Economic Forum held at the King Hussein convention centre last Friday (18) where several West Asian leaders and economists from Western Nations discussed a new approach to the development of the region`s economy on the theme Putting Diversity to Work. They emphasised on a new approach to corporate culture in the region that could achieve common trade and economic development. more..

SLT telephone directories to take two more months

May 20 (LNP) Sri Lanka Telecom (SLT) subscribers in the Western province will have to wait at least another two months for their telephone directories as the process of collating information and printing this year`s edition for the 1.2 million customer base has run into a string of obstacles. `Printing different directories for such a huge subscriber base is an enormous task`, more..

City hotels in crisis

May 20 (SAMN) With Sri Lanka’s battered tourism industry plunging into an abyss of despair and uncertainty following the LTTE air threat, Colombo city’s luxury hotels are in the throes of an unprecedented crisis amidst a sharp dip in occupancy and mounting overheads and operational costs."We are devastated", a key hotelier bemoaned. "This kidney punch has floored us". more..

UNP squabbles deepen

May 20 (SAMN) There is trouble brewing within the UNP with Party Chairman Rukman Senanayake and General Secretary Tissa Attanayake at odds with each other, with the former giving prominence to a newly appointed organiser of Colombo West, Bodhi Ranasinghe, overlooking Attanayake. In the Kandy District too, several appointments had been made on the behest of Lakshman Kiriella without consulting Attanayake. Now, Attanayke feels that Kiriella had been given precedence over him. more..

M-LEARNING at Colombo University

May 20 (SAMN) Sri Lanka Telecom Mobitel has joined the University of Colombo to introduce to Sri Lanka an innovative concept that breaks through traditional boundaries, utilizing advanced technology. “M-learning” goes a step further changing the way in which education is delivered and received, and is a promising path way to obtaining higher education that will undoubtedly deliver value to the country, SLT Mobitel said. more..

Keep Madhu free of battle: Mannar Bishop

May 20 (SAMN) Mannar Bishop Rayappu Joseph called on both government security forces and the LTTE to refrain from engaging in battle in the sacred area of the Madhu Church taking in to consideration the upcoming church feast. “The army is trying to take control of the area but we object to bloodshed. Such action might destroy infrastructure of the shrine. Shelling and bombing are likely to take place. more..

Two half burnt bodies found

May 20 (NS) Two half burnt bodies were found dumped on the wayside along the Malwana road in Pahuruwila, Dompe, early yesterday, police said. The two bodies had not been identified yet. Dompe Police said that both bodies were blind folded. The hands of one the victim were bound. Police said that both bodies did not have any clothing except for undergarments. The police assume the vicitims would have been in the thirties. more..

PB faces axe: Heads of BoC, People’s Bank and CEB to roll as well

May 20 (NS) Treasury Secretary Dr. P.B. Jayasundera is likely to be ousted upon President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s return to the country, The Nation learns. The Nation reliably learns that Jayasundera had incensed the President with certain remarks two days before Rajapaksa took wing for the G11 summit in Jordan. During a face to face meeting, Jayasundera is reported to have responded to a question posed by the President with regard to the state of the economy, by claiming that things were under control. more..

Five killed in Hokandara type murder

May 20 (NS) The murder of an entire family of five barring the eldest child in Kanduboda, Biyagama by chopping them to death on the wee hours of Saturday has sent shock waves through the area while the multiple murders bore hallmarks to the famous Hokandara murder case that happened eight years ago. The five bodies were found early Saturday morning in the village of Kanduboda in the outskirts of Biyagama. more..

The dilemma of the Rajapaksa regime

May 20 (NS) There are two ways of looking at the Mahinda Rajapaksa regime. And that, in a sense, is the very dilemma this regime faces – no one in authority appears to be capable of reading between the lines. If one were an insider looking out, the outlook appears to be extremely rosy and Mahinda Rajapaksa appears to be king – unchallenged, unperturbed and unassailable; in the near future at least. more..

Poachers and tree fellers go wild in Wilpattu

May 20 (ST) The temporary closure of the Wilpattu National Park, following a brutal suspected LTTE attack that claimed nine lives three months ago, has turned it in to a happy hunting grounds for the LTTE, poachers and illicit tree fellers, villagers say. Extending over an area of 131,667 hectares Wilpattu is the largest wild life sanctuary in the country. The park was closed in 1985 after the LTTE killed 28 park officials. more..

Make-believe world heads for collapse

May 20 (ST) The story doing the rounds in the corridors of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs at Republic Square is about a telephone call its Secretary, Palitha Kohona, received from President Mahinda Rajapaksa last Wednesday afternoon. A respected Sri Lankan, known to be a strong backer of the opposition United National Party (UNP), was being invited to the White House last week. Senior staff there was seeking his opinion on some issues. more..

Fight now and pay later

May 20 (ST) It was past 2 a.m. last Monday when the well equipped Sri Lanka Air Force (SLAF) Beechcraft was on patrol over the skies of Trincomalee. Such patrols over North and East have become a routine after the LTTE demonstrated its air strike capability. Suspecting it to be a LTTE aircraft, a Sri Lanka Navy patrol directed fire at the reconnaissance plane. more..

Tax staff shortages cause cash flow problems for businesses

May 20 (ST) Staff and resource shortages at the Inland Revenue Department are delaying VAT refunds to businesses. The Inland Revenue Department says the long delays in VAT refunds to exporters are due to lack of properly trained staff and a mounting backlog of files. "Verifying the correctness of the claims takes time," said VAT Commissioner Mallika Samarasekera. more..

New Bills soon to protect indigenous medicinal resources

May 20 (SO) Around 50 Bills will be presented in Parliament this year to protect indigenous ayurvedic medicinal resources from being exploited for commercial use locally and abroad, said Minister of Indigenous Medicine Tissa Karaliyadde addressing the launch of the 'Ayurveda 2007' National Indigenous Healthcare Exhibition in Colombo. more..

Customs bust heroin operation

May 20 (SO) The lid of a heroin smuggling operation was blown off when Customs officers nabbed a Pakistani national who attempted to smuggle in five and a half kilos of heroin to Sri Lanka at the Bandaranaike International Airport yesterday. The haul was the second largest quantity of heroin to be detected at the BIA in recent times, valued at over Rs 42 million. Last year Customs seized 5.8 kilos of heroin at the BIA. more..

'West discriminates in fight against terror'

May 20 (HT) President Mahinda Rajapaksa on Saturday slammed the developed countries for tolerating terrorism if it did not directly affect them. "Unfortunately, some in the developed world tend to view certain terrorist organisations with a degree of tolerance," he told the G11 summit in Jordan. "At times these terrorists are viewed as rebels or fighters against discrimination, as long as they do not create violence in those countries." more..