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JVP rings alarm bells for MR

Sep 12 (ML) Even as President Mahinda Rajapakse was humiliated last week over the false claim of a joint defence committee with India, High Commissioner for India in Sri Lanka Alok Prasad on Monday was to meet former President Chandrika Kumaratunga at her official residence at Torrington. The meeting served as a prelude to Kumaratunga’s visit to New Delhi tomorrow where she will meet not only the Foreign Minister Pranab Mukhejee but is also slotted to meet Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. more..

UNP slams two Chambers for corporate greed

Sep 12 (ML) The UNP yesterday accused HSBC of practicing double standards and lashed out at two Chambers for promoting the US $ 500 million bond issue to benefit from the ‘illegal’ deal which it said was tainted with corruption. In a hard hitting statement issued yesterday, the UNP also called upon the people to continue the agitation against the HSBC, the Federation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry of Sri Lanka (FCCISL) and the National Chamber of Commerce for approving the cutting of subsidies to the people. more..

Opposition warns Speaker of impeachment

Sep 12 (ML) The National Council yesterday warned that it would bring an impeachment motion against Speaker W.J.M. Lokubandara if he certifies the financial bills, which were debated in parliament last week. Addressing the media yesterday with UNP General Secretary Tissa Attanayake, Coordinator SLFP (M) Wing Sripathi Sooriyaarachchi said that the five bills were not passed in parliament legally according to the standing orders and therefore cannot be certified by the Speaker as duly approved. more..

Sri Lankan garment workers demand wage hike

Sep 12 (LBO) A Sri Lankan labour rights group said it plans to launch a campaign to pressure the island's clothing exporters to raise wages of workers in the industry, a key export earner for the country. The Apparel-industry Labour Rights Movement (ALaRM) said in a statement that garment factory workers cannot make ends meet with their present minimum wages. The industry, one of the island's main foreign exchange earners, employs 200,000 people, mostly young women. more..

The unitary state will not be acceptable to Tamil and Muslim people

Sep 12 (FI) The recent developments in the country have pushed me to address the people of this country, Muslims, Sinhalese and Tamils. As many people in this country are well aware, that at great risk to my life I have devoted the last years of my life to finding a political solution that will allow our children to live in peace and to prosper. We have lost too many of our leaders, our youths and ordinary people from all communities to a conflict for which we all have to share some blame. more..

Chandrika runs to India to lobby against Mahinda Rajapakse’s military campaign; Ranil to follow

Sep 12 (AT) After holding talks with Indian High Commissioner, Alok Prasad, on Monday the former President Chandrika Kumaratunga left for India yesterday (Tuesday). Officially it was announced that this was to be a private visit. Unofficially, it is known as the latest political mission of Chandrika Kumaratunga to stage a come back with the help of India. Just before the talks began in Colombo she slammed the door on the media waiting at the entrance, virtually shooing them away. more..

SME Bank to promote ‘Protected Agriculture’ exports

Sep 12 (GDI) SME Bank in collaboration with the Mahaweli Authority of Sri Lanka (MASL) and the Protected Agriculture Entrepreneurs’ Association (PAEA) has taken the initiative to introduce the production of high value crops which have export potential under controlled environment (protected agriculture) suitable to Mahaweli areas particularly in the dry zone. more..

No subsidy cuts! No General elections in the near future!

Sep 12 (GDI) Minister of Highways & Road Development Jeyaraj Fernandopulle condemning the behaviour in parliament of some members of the opposition in the UNP on the day of the voting on the new taxes said that these bills were passed duly, taking count on three occasions. The aforesaid members disturbed the Speaker and disrupted the sittings in an unruly manner. However, the bills were passed by a majority of 20 votes. more..

National Sports Festival postponed due to rains – Gamini Lokuge

Sep 12 (GDI) Minister of Sports and Public Recreation Gamini Lokuge announced the postponement of the National Sports Festival today. He said that the Ministry was compelled to postpone the National Sports Festival due to the onset of bad weather. Minister, addressing a media briefing at the Department of Information today said also commented on the current situation. more..

More and more tourists soon- Actg Minister for Tourism

Sep 12 (GDI) Addressing a media briefing today the Minister on Mass Media and Acting Minister of Tourism lakshman Yapa Abeywardane was very optimistic about the revival of the tourist industry with more and more tourist arrivals in the coming months. He said France has already lifted the ‘halt’ on entering Sri Lanka and declared Sri Lanka as a suitable venue for holidaying. more..

‘The Pearl Fishers’; a French-Sri Lankan joint opera

Sep 12 (GDI) The Sri Lankan Tourist Board in association with The French Embassy in Sri Lanka and The Neemrana Music Foundation will be bringing back The Pearl Fishers’ opera is coming back to its country of origin: Sri Lanka, after a period of more than 140 years since its composition. Composed by Georges Bizet (the French composer who also created Carmen), ‘The Pearl Fishers’ opera is a fiery love story set on an island off the coast of Sri Lanka amongst the simple fishing folk. more..

Minister seeks Japanese assistance for solid waste management programme

Sep 12 (GDI) Minister of Environment and Natural Resources Patali Champika Ranawaka has requested the assistance of Japan for the implementation of the ‘Pilisaru’ the national solid waste management programme. Minister Ranavaka solicited this request during the ECO ASIA 2007 in Fukuoka, Japan on September 08, where he held a mutual discussion with his Japanese counterpart Wakabayashi Masatoshi. more..

Britain briefed on LTTE’s deceitful strategies

Sep 12 (GDI) British Government has been briefed on the deceitful strategies of the LTTE by the Minister of Export Development and International Trade Professor G. L. Peiris during a meeting with Malloch Brown, Minister of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs in London. He explained the British Government that the experience in Sri Lanka indicates that there are several circumstances which must exist before a ceasefire or cessation of hostilities can be sustainable. more..

Peace Secretariat to sponsor Jaffna athletes

Sep 12 (GDI) Prominent Jaffna school athletes will get assistance from the Secretariat for Coordinating the Peace Process (SCOPP) to participate at the National Schools Games in Colombo. The SCOPP has acceded to a request from Commander, Security Forces, Jaffna, Major General G.A. Chandrasiri to find the necessary funds for transport and other requirements of the school athletes. more..

Sweden to completely phase out development assistance to Sri Lanka within 4 years

Sep 12 (BL) Dealing a further blow to the country’s stumbling economy, the government of Sweden has decided to phase out its development assistance to Sri Lanka in the next two to four years, commencing 2009, the Embassy of Sweden told The Bottom Line yesterday. The phase-out follows a decision by the new Swedish government that assumed power last year, more..

Mervyn goes berserk in Kiribathgoda

Sep 12 (BL) Controversial Minister Mervyn Silva who recently threatened to finish off anyone with his ‘legally registered pistol’ has marred the opening ceremony of the State Mortgage & Investment Bank in Kiribathgoda simply because his name was not included in the invitation cards, The Bottom Line reliably learns. “The incident had occurred at around 10:30 a.m. when guests had gathered outside the Bank just before it was declared open. more..

Rs. 15 million to overhaul FM’s house

Sep 12 (BL) Foreign Minister Rohitha Bogollagama allegedly spent at least Rs. 15 million to refurbish his Stanford Crescent official residence, with Rs. 3.8 million already being allocated from the cash-strapped Foreign Ministry, The Bottom Line learns. The massive refurbishment drive included retiling the floors of the house, putting in bathtubs, new furniture and also relaying the grass in the vast gardens of the old stately residence, according to the wishes of the globe-trotting Minister, more..

‘Black Week’ at Sri Jayewardenepura campus

Sep 12 (BL) Hundreds of students from the Sri Jayewardenepura University held a demonstration against its management, by placing a coffin surrounded with black flags, at the entrance to the university, declaring that free education in the country was now in its last stages. The protest was held to mark ‘Black Week’ titled ‘Death knell for free education,’ which will end on Sunday (16). more..

Myanmar, Sri Lanka project four-fold increase of bilateral trade this year

Sep 12 (Xinhua) Myanmar and Sri Lanka have projected to increase their bilateral volume by four fold this year to reach 25 million U.S. dollars from over 6 million dollars in the previous years, the local Pyi Myanmar reported Wednesday. It was so proposed when officials of the Union of Myanmar Federation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry, and the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce met in Colombo late last month. more..

As grants go-a-begging, Govt. going for big loan: Opposition

Sep 12 (LNP) The main opposition UNP and its ally SLFP (M) charged yesterday the government was negotiating for a loan of US$ 500 million from a consortium of foreign banks when it had not even utilized the US$ 4.7 billion received as aid and grants for development projects including post-tsunami reconstruction activities. SLFP (M) parliamentarian Sripathi Sooriyarachchi told journalists that even the utilization of 20% of committed funds each year could be considered satisfactory, but the amount utilized did not even amount to 10%. more..

Govt. to tighten no smoking law

Sep 12 (LNP) As a result of the Tobacco and Alcohol Control Authority coming into force, smoking in prohibited places under the Act had reduced by 90 per cent. However Health Minister Nimal Siripala de Silva has appointed a committee to amend the Act to include public places like roads and lanes which were not included in the Act The Authority hopes that with strict enforcement of this amendment, smoking in prohibited places could be reduced to nearly 100 per cent, if the Police and Excise authorities enforce the law strictly. more..

Heroes and heroines: A different view

Sep 12 (LNP) History is a tale told by someone to serve his or her purpose, especially when the narrator happens to be a politician. Such tales are often first person narrations replete with egotism. If we are to believe in history as told by politicians, all of them are heroes or heroines. Former Minister Mangala Samaraweera has, in a recent speech in Kandy, related how the SLFP contrived to turn the tables on the UNP and brought its 17-year-long regime to an end in 1994. more..

Villagers rescue trapped jumbos

Sep 12 (SAMN) Wildlife officers and villagers are working round the clock to rescue two wild elephants who had fallen into a cultivation well near Indugaswewa in Sigiriya on Monday night. Roaming wild elephants dealing destruction to cultivations in their path occasionally fall into abandoned wells and ditches especially in areas where the human elephant conflict is present. On these occasions, villagers band themselves together and try to rescue the beasts deploying various props and other means. more..

Interpol help to nab Lankan smugglers

Sep 12 (SAMN) Cambodia will ask Interpol to help track down four men, including two Sri Lankans, wanted for allegedly planning to use the kingdom to smuggle people to third countries, a police official said on Tuesday. The men - two from Pakistan and two from Sri Lanka - used to live in Cambodia but left the country before police discovered their smuggling plan last month, Maj. Gen. Chhay Sinarith, the head of the Cambodian police information department, said Tuesday. more..

180 days to uplift east

Sep 12 (SAMN) The government is to shortly launch a ‘180 day development programme’ to uplift the eastern province, a top government official said. To fulfill this task, the government is also expected to meet all the local and foreign donors on September 22 and 23, in Colombo. Presidential Advisor Basil Rajapaksa is expected to chair the meetings, it is learnt. The ‘180 day development programme’ is the brainchild of Public Administration Minister Karu Jayasuriya. more..

Hyundai comes with the lowest bid

Sep 12 (SAMN) The controversial tender for the construction of the breakwater for the new South harbour at the Colombo port has finally attracted a low bid from a party that was originally disqualified. Reliable sources said that when the financial bids were opened this week, it transpired that Hyundai, which was originally disqualified due to alleged underhand pressure by the Cabinet Appointed Negotiating Committee (CANC), had submitted the lowest bid of US$ 360 million. more..

SLTB records turnover increase

Sep 12 (DN) The Sri Lanka Transport Board’s (SLTB) turn over has increased by Rs 47.1 million in August. SLTB Chairman Tudor Dayaratne said the net income of the Board has recorded a Rs 47,158,477 rise last month in comparison to the previous months. “The increase in the turn over is mainly attributable to the operations carried out by the SLTB flying squads on bus crew and commuters engaged in various malpracticer,” he said. more..

New taxes not for poor

Sep 12 (DN) The Government has not imposed taxes on passenger transport, lorries transporting goods, tractors used for agriculture or three-wheelers through the Regional Infrastructure Development Levy Bill (Amendment) passed in Parliament on Thursday. “We will not burden the ordinary masses with additional taxes,” Trade, Marketing Development, Co-operative and Consumer Affairs Minster Bandula Gunawardana told a press-briefing. more..

Retired army colonel stabbed and injured

Sep 12 (DM) A retired army colonel was stabbed by three unidentified men near his residence in the Manning Town flats yesterday morning. The 47-year-old victim a former colonel attached to the Army Special Forces was out on his routine morning jogging exercise when three unidentified persons approached him and stabbed him on his chest several times. The colonel had managed to escape from the suspects and had run to a near-by house and cried for help. more..

Pension money all gone says Director

Sep 12 (DM) The Pensions Department has to find a staggering Rs. 1.3 billion to pay gratuity payments to about 3000 retired public servants as the department has exhausted all its funds, Pensions Director K.A. Tilakaratna told the Daily Mirror yesterday. “Around 3000 vouchers have piled up awaiting disposal at the department. I expect to find money as early as possible and pay up before October 8, the day on which the department marks ‘National Pensions Day’, Tilakaratna added. more..

“Rights probe in Sri Lanka slow”

Sep 12 (Hindu) The Sri Lankan Presidential Commission of Enquiry probing serious human rights violations in the island nation has made “woefully slow” progress in the last 10 months since its inception on November 3, said P.N. Bhagwati, Chairman, IIGEP which oversees the functioning of the Commission. Mr. Justice Bhagwati expressed concern that the Commission had not completed the enquiry even in one of the 15 stipulated incidents that occurred since August 1, 2005. more..

Confusion over capture of Tigers' arms procurer

Sep 12 (ANN) Thai authorities arrested the Tamil Tigers' chief arms procurer, Shanmugan Kumaran Tharmalingam, also known as Kumaran Pathmanathan or "KP", in Bangkok on Monday (Sept 10), according to the Sri Lankan defence ministry's official website. But Thai Foreign Ministry deputy spokesman Piyira Khempon said the government was not aware of the arrest, if any was made. Thai police spokesman Lt General Narong Yangyern dismissed the report. more..

Sri Lankans get refugee status but can't stay

Sep 12 (AAP) A GROUP of 72 Sri Lankans intercepted en route to Australia from Indonesia in February have been accepted as refugees, but will not be allowed to live in Australia. The Sri Lankans have been held on Nauru for several months since their vessel was intercepted by HMAS Success near Christmas Island on February 20. Only one had been refused refugee status, Immigration Minister Kevin Andrews said today. more..

TNM leader begins fast 'unto death'

Sep 12 (PTI) Piqued by the refusal of permission to set sail to Sri Lanka in a boat carrying food and medicines to help the 'suffering Tamils' there, Tamil National Movement (TNM) leader P Nedumaran today began 'a fast unto death'. Earlier Nedumaran and more than 650 volunteers belonging to various organisations were arrested at Nagapattinam and Rameswaram when they tried to take the articles by boat. more..

Nedumaran and supporters arrested

Sep 12 (PTI) Tamil National Movement leader P Nedumaran and 500 volunteers were arrested on Wednesday when they tried to proceed to Sri Lanka by sea with medicines and essential commodities to "help the suffering Tamils" there. Nedumaran, addressing the volunteers, said that they tried their best to send the items including medicine and food to the suffering Tamils legally through the Red Cross society but their efforts became futile as permission was denied. more..

Thailand denies arrest of Tiger kingpin

Sep 12 (LNP) Thailand yesterday denied claims that a senior Tamil Tiger rebel leader, who allegedly led the group`s international arms procurement network in its two-decade fight against Sri Lankan forces was arrested in Bangkok, Associated Press reported yesterday. "According to immigration records for the past two years, there is no record of him entering the country," Thai Interpol Chief Col. Apichart Suribunya, told AP, adding that there had been no arrests of Sri Lankans in the past three to four days. more..

Sri Lanka issues evacuation order; tsunami waves Indonesia

Sep 12 (LBO) Sri Lanka has issued evacuation orders to people living in coastal areas after a tsunami struck the coast of Indonesia from a 8.2 magnitude earthquake. Sri Lanka's Disaster Management Centre estimates that the first waves could reach Sri Lanka by 7.30 pm local time (1400GMT) The Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre initially said the waves could reach Sri Lanka around 20.00 hours (8.00pm) Sri Lanka time but warned that actual times could be different. more..

Sri Lanka lifts tsunami warning

Sep 12 (LBO) Sri Lanka has lifted a tsunami warning and evacuation order issued after an 8.2 magnitude earthquake generated a small wave in Indonesia. The Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre issued an Indian Ocean-wide tsunami watch after the initial quake. Thailand put coastal areas on alert but did not issue a warning. Sri Lankan authorities expected small waves to reach the island by around 7.30 pm local time. more..

Results of Deliberative Poll Reveal Space for Peace

Sep 13 (TW) A deliberative poll with a sample size of 1800 carried out by the Marga Institute in collaboration with the National Peace Council during May-June 2007 has brought out the people’s attitudes towards the LTTE, the ethnic conflict and its solution, and also the potential for generating popular support for a political solution. more..

Sri Lanka India sea canal spark protests from Hindus

Sep 13 (AFP) Thousands of right-wing Hindus launched protests across India Wednesday against a plan to create a sea lane which they say would destroy the links between a revered string of islands. The half-billion-dollar project would allow ships to travel around the southern tip of India without having to skirt around Sri Lanka as well, saving more than 30 hours. more..

Boycotting teachers 'threatened'

Sep 13 (BBC) Teachers' trade unions in Sri Lanka accused authorities of intimidating teachers who are boycotting marking A/L exam papers. Lanka Teachers' Association (LTA) said the authorities are using police to intimidate teachers after the talks between the authorities and trade unions collapsed on Wednesday. The teachers have been boycotting marking A/L exam papers for nearly 20 days urging the authorities to rectify their pay anomalies. more..

Attack on giant Pakistan Buddha

Sep 13 (BBC) Suspected pro-Taleban militants have tried to blow up an ancient carving of Buddha in north-west Pakistan. The statue, thought to date from the second century BC, sustained only minimal damage in the attack near Manglore in remote Swat district. The area has seen a rise in attacks on "un-Islamic" targets in recent months. This is the first such attack in Pakistan and is reminiscent of the Taleban's 2001 destruction of the giant Buddhas at Bamiyan in Afghanistan. more..

"Govt. not listening" say Fishermen

Sep 13 (BBC) Fishermen from various parts of the country held a protest in Colombo to bring to light a number of unsolved issues they face and demand urgent action. The demonstration on Wednesday organised by the National Fishermen's Solidarity was held in front of the Ministry of Fisheries. The protesters accused the government of neglecting the small-scale fisheries industry and putting fishermen in difficulties. more..

Sri Lanka opposition slam HSBC, business chambers over dollar bond

Sep 13 (LBO) Sri Lanka's main opposition slammed HSBC Bank over its involvement in a controversial sovereign bond issue and accused two trade chambers that came to its aid of creating a "new class of exploiters". Last week HSBC defended itself saying it was following local rules after the opposition United National Party (UNP) leader Ranil Wickremesinghe threatened to cancel its banking license if he ever came to power. more..

Pathmanathan: Colombo maintains silence

Sep 13 (Hindu) A day after asserting that it has information from ‘other sources’ about the reported arrest of Kumaran Pathmanathan, considered to be the chief of the LTTE’s overseas arms procurement, by the Thailand police in Bangkok on Monday, the Sri Lanka Government on Wednesday maintained complete silence on the subject. Efforts to reach senior officials for any new details on the issue were not successful. more..

State police stop Nedumaran’s boat journey to Sri Lanka

Sep 13 (Hindu) The Tamil Nationalist Movement leader P. Nedumaran, along with over 300 members of various affiliate organisations of the Co-ordination Committee of Supporters of Freedom for Tamil Ealam, was taken into custody by the police at Nagapattinam on Wednesday when he resorted to a fast-unto-death after an abortive boat journey to deliver medicines and food to Tamils in Jaffna. more..

Irish aid volunteer dies in Sri Lanka

Sep 13 (IT) A volunteer working abroad under the Irish Aid's Rapid Response Initiative has died suddenly in Sri Lanka. Conor Lyons, who was the first volunteer from the Government's international Rapid Response Corps to be deployed abroad, travelled to Colombo last week to work with the UN World Food Programme on a three month deployment. more..

Taylor anchors Zimbabwe to historic win

Sep 13 (CI) It was a night to remember for cricket fans everywhere except for Australia. Zimbabwe played out of their skins, Australia looked rusty, and, after the drama of a rain delay with Australia ahead on Duckworth-Lewis, Zimbabwe, who had been wobbling when the rain hit, edged to a memorable, wonderful five-wicket win off the penultimate delivery. Two years ago to the day Australia lost the Ashes at The Oval. This game might have lacked the importance of that one, but it was a damn sight more embarrassing for them. more..

Sri Lankans won't rot for years: Andrews

Sep 13 (AAP) The government will make sure 72 Sri Lankans whose refugee claims have been approved will not languish in the Nauru detention centre for years, Immigration Minister Kevin Andrews. He said Australia would have talks with possible recipient countries and seek to move quickly on the matter. Refugees have in the past remained on Nauru for as much as five years while waiting for their political process to be completed. more..

More displaced as fighting flares up in northwest

Sep 13 (IRIN) The latest outbreak of violence between Sri Lankan government forces and the LTTE, in the northwestern district of Mannar, has forced at least 4,000 people from their homes, according to humanitarian agencies. Civilians in Silavathurai and Mullikulam, two coastal villages in the district, fled when government troops advanced into the LTTE-controlled coastal area some 250km northwest of Colombo on 31 August. more..