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President Rajapaksa’s speech at UN: Is Sri Lanka at the threshold of peace?

Sep 23 (AT) President Mahinda Rajapaksa is due to deliver his address to this year's UN General Assembly 25th of this month. There is much anticipation that he will outline the principles of a political solution to the conflict that has sapped the energy and the blood of the country, killing thousands of its citizens in the process, preventing the country from realizing its full potential as a vibrant, free and democratic economic force in the region. more..

H. L. D. Mahindapala traces the decline of Velupillai Prabhkaran’s power leading to Thoppigala

Sep 23 (AT) If the year 2004 was bad for Velupillai Prabhakaran then the year 2005 was worse. The first crack in the seemingly indivisible monolith of the LTTE appeared in April 2004 when Karuna, his most able commander, broke away asserting his own regional rights in the east. There were other factors like personal rivalries as well that made them lock horns. more..

The People and their Leaders

Sep 23 (AT) The leaders would do well to listen to the people. The most holistic, nuanced, rational and sensible set of opinions on the North-East issue was expressed by a Sinhala and Muslim majority in an opinion poll carried out by the Marga Institute (on behalf of the National Peace Council). The poll was conducted in the provinces outside of the North-East and the Ampara district; it was therefore reflective of non-Tamil opinion. more..

Over 20 foreign AIDS patients at ICAAP vanish

Sep 23 (LD) The 8th International Congress on AIDS in Asia and the Pacific (ICAAP) was held at the Bandaranaike Memorial International Convention Hall (BMICH) on the 19th of August. Over 20 of the more than 200 AIDS patients from foreign countries who came down to share their experiences at the conference have gone missing, sources say. It is reported that a Nigerian AIDS patient had admitted himself at the Negombo Base Hospital for treatment. more..

APRC: The immoral dimension of the unitary mantra

Sep 23 (FI) An open letter has been sent by Muslim, Tamil and other minority Sri Lankans to President Mahinda Rajapakse asking him to (1) avoid labelling, as unitary or federal, the new constitutional proposals that are being developed by the APRC, and (2) facilitate the creation of Tamil and Muslim units of devolution in the Northern and Eastern Provinces, instead of precipitating their isolation from one another. more..

Unrealistic Immoderation Of Tamil Moderates On Unitary State

Sep 23 (FI) President Mahinda Rajapakse has been the honoured recipient of an open letter from a number of (mostly expatriate) intellectuals belonging to minority nationalities and national minorities, on the subject of the APRC and impending reforms. They urge that he eschew divisive labels, namely unitary and federal, and that he base himself on the large number of Sinhalese who supported such a high degree of autonomy in 1994. more..

Sri Lanka conflict end in sight but dangers ahead, says US

Sep 23 (LBO) Recent military victories over Tamil Tigers, especially in Sri Lanka's east, offer a chance to end the conflict but only if minorities can be convinced of a bright future in the island, the US envoy has said. "A solution to Sri Lanka's conflict is in reach," US Ambassador Robert Blake said. "But it will require Sri Lanka's government and parties to work together to put the national interest first." more..

The need of the hour is to strengthen the hands of President Rajapakse to fight terrorism – A. L. M. Athaullah

Sep 23 (AT) A. L. M. Athaullah, leader of the National Congress and Minister of Water Supply and Drainage, told the Asian Tribune that his party realized the need to strengthen the hands of President Mahinda Rajapakse at this critical hour in the fight against terrorism and was glad to nominate Basil Rajapakse, the President’s brother, from their national list to Parliament. more..

"Our weapons will never back any anti democratic acts" says Karuna Group

Sep 23 (LeN) We the Thamil Makkal Viduthalai Pulikal(TMVP) having broken away from a terrorist outfit joined the open democratic politics with full confidence in democracy. We are fully committed to gain the reasonable rights and political aspirations of our people through democratic means and thereby improving our people in education and economic wise in an undivided country aimed at establishing an environment where all the communities could live with understanding and unity. more..

Mahinda and Chandrika were to go in the same flight, but changed

Sep 23 (LeN) President Mahinda Rajaakse will leave for US today (22) while the former President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumarathunga is to leave for US tomorrow (23). The President will address the 62nd UN General Assembly on 25th. This is the second time the President is addressing the UN. The President is expected to point out the government proposals for a sustainable solution for the north- east problem in his speech. more..

President faces HR fire at UN

Sep 23 (LNP) On the eve of President Mahinda Rajapaksa`s address to the United Nationa General Assembly, the world body has expressed serious concerns over "a spate of extrajudicial executions" by the military, paramilitary forces and insurgent groups in Sri Lanka. A damning report by Philip Alston, the UN Special Rapporteur on Summary and Arbitrary Executions, states that in presenting the report to the General Assembly last year, Mr. Alston warned that `Sri Lanka was on the brink of a crisis of major proportions.` more..

FBI to extradite KP

Sep 23 (SAMN) The FBI is “discretely working” on the extradition of the LTTE’s chief arms procurer Shanmugan Kumaran Tharmalingam alias Kumaran Pathmanathan (KP), well placed intelligence sources said. Both Colombo and New Delhi vied for the extradition of the Tigers chief arms procurer, yet both are losing the extradition battle. “International war against terrorism received priority, and FBI will get KP,” said a well placed military source referring to foreign intelligences sources. more..

Dengue epidemic looms

Sep 23 (SAMN) With at least 16 deaths and nearly 4,000 cases reported so far this year, health officials have declared a week-long war against dengue beginning Monday. As part of this, people are being requested to play a major role by clearing mosquito-breeding places so that dengue won’t reach epidemic proportions with the onset of the northeast monsoon. A medical official at the Epidemiology Unit said the pattern of the disease indicated a possible epidemic in the coming months unless effective action was taken to control mosquito breeding. more..

SC attempts to release Boosa detainees

Sep 23 (SAMN) The Special Committee appointed by President Mahinda Rajapaksa to investigate disappearances and abductions, has moved away from its original goal, and is now attempting to seek redress for those detained without proper charges. The Committee headed by Transport Minister Dullas Alahapperuma has already visited the Boosa Camp in Galle and identified scores of people punished without proper charges or evidence. more..

Per capita income will hit $ 5,00: CB

Sep 23 (SAMN) The Government is targeting a GDP growth of over 8 percent next year and if that growth rate could be sustained over the next 20 years the per capita income will hit US$ 5,000, said Central Bank Governor Ajith Nivard Cabraal. The Governor was addressing the launch of the Sri Lanka Germany Business Council website on Thursday. Speaking on 'Positioning Sri Lanka for the Future', he said the country's current per capita income which is around US $ 1,355 is higher than many countries in the region. more..

Enter Basil Rajapaksa - and so it’s a fait accompli now

Sep 23 (LB) So, finally, Basil Rajapaksa is in Parliament. It was one of those anticipated things - but, it took a death of an MP to make it happen. MP Athaullah the party leader of the deceased MP, said that he will not stand in the way of the vacant post being filled by Rajapaksa, and so open sesame, Basil Rajapaksa was made Member of Parliament. Behind the story hangs so many tales. more..

Sahodara Samagama expands

Sep 23 (LB) President Mahinda Rajapaksa ended the speculation last week by gifting to his brother and advisor, Basil Rajapaksa, the National List Parliamentary seat left vacant with the death of former Irrigation Minister Anver Ismail. Although the President had long intended to get his brother into Parliament, it was Health Minister Nimal Siripala de Silva who had proposed that Basil be nominated to Ismail’s vacated seat. more..

Not defeating the LTTE, but how it’s defeated that matters

Sep 23 (LB) Dr Rajan Hoole is a Martin Ennals award winning human - rights champion heading the acclaimed UTHR (J) critical of both LTTE and the goverment. The Defence Secretary has recently stated that the crushing of the LTTE must precede a political settlement. This comes against the President’s remarks to journalist, Inderjit Badhwar that he is in effect bound to appease the Sinhalese constituency that voted for him and is constrained to stand by a unitary state. more..

Malaka, medical certificates and the law

Sep 23 (LB) While the Judicial Services Association (JSA) that condemned the alleged threat on a magistrate’s mother stressing that they did not point fingers at anyone Minister Dr. Mervyn Silva on Thursday appeared on TV saying this was done by some group to tarnish his good name. “We did not mention any names,” says JSA, Secretary and Kandy District Judge, Nissanka Bandula Karunarathna. more..

Rs. 48 bn. loss for CEB next year

Sep 23 (NS) The Ceylon Electricity Board (CEB) has projected a loss of a staggering Rs. 48 billion from power generation for the year 2008, surpassing even the country’s annual defence expenditure, Board of Investment (BOI) Chief, Dhammika Perera told The Nation yesterday. Climbing world oil prices and the fact that Sri Lanka is dependent upon fuel oils to produce electricity has resulted in the heavy projected losses for the CEB in the next four years, Perera added. more..

Can Basil rescue Mahinda’s sinking ship?

Sep 23 (NS) Politics in Sri Lanka maybe moving at a pace faster than what we saw at the Twenty-20 cricket World Cup in South Africa, but last week saw a development that may well have repercussions in the political arena for years to come: the nomination of presidential advisor and sibling Basil Rohana Rajapaksa to Parliament. The appointment of Rajapaksa comes at a time when President Mahinda Rajapaksa has been targeted by the opposition, mostly the United National Party (UNP), for attempting more..

Enter Basil

Sep 23 (NS) President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s political acumen as a shrewd politician was amply displayed last week with his latest appointment to Parliament through the national list. He showed the opposition that he is equally smart when he appointed his younger brother and Senior Advisor on International Affairs, Basil Rajapaksa to Parliament to fill the void created by the demise of Non-Cabinet Minister Anwer Ismail. more..

Legal review of COPE report passed to Bribery Commission tomorrow

Sep 23 (NS) The legal section of the Commission to Investigate Allegations of Bribery or Corruption (CIABOC) is to hand over its review of the COPE report to the Chairman of the Commission tomorrow. According to Director General of the Bribery Commission, P. Ranasinghe, its legal section is currently in the process of reviewing the malpractices of public enterprises that the parliamentary COPE report has found guilty. more..

Horana Grade-fiver creates history

Sep 23 (SO) Chagi Basuru Weerakoon of Takshila College, Horana has created history by obtaining maximum marks at the Grade Five Navodaya scholarship examination. He has achieved this unique feat of scoring 200 marks out of the 200 total for the first time in the history in this highly competitive Grade Five Scholarship examination, according to the Department of Examinations. more..

Crash program to popularise liquid milk

Sep 23 (SO) A crash program to popularise the use of liquid milk will be launched by Milco (Pvt) Ltd under the directives of the Minister of Livestock Development C. B. Ratnayake to overcome the shortage of milk powder and the increasing prices. Milco has already strengthened the milk collecting mechanism throughout the Island. Milco buys fresh milk from milk farmers and farmer societies at its 72 milk chilling centres. more..

Corruption: Police officers under the cloud?

Sep 23 (SO) In a society where bribery and corruption is taking place at an alarming rate, what can the civil society do to wipe them out? According to the Director General of the Commission to investigate Bribery or Corruption. Piyasena Ranasinghe, the public, who are highly affected, should not tolerate bribery and corruption, which is now at its monstrous level. more..

IMF urges Sri Lanka to cut spending

Sep 23 (AFP) Sri Lanka needs to slash state spending and contain the budget deficit, the International Monetary Fund said Sunday, warning that the island's debt exceeds gross national production. It also rapped the Colombo government for not collecting enough revenue to meet day-to-day expenses and noted that investments were too low to sustain growth. "Sri Lanka's gross capital formation is the lowest in the region and current government spending is high," more..

Arch rivals sight redemption in dream T20 final

Sep 23 (AFP) The young guns of India and Pakistan will square off in a dream final of the Twenty20 world championships Monday at the culmination of a tournament which has changed the face of cricket. After a clinical Pakistan performance saw off the challenge of New Zealand at Cape Town in the first of two semi-finals on Saturday, India recorded a stunning victory in Durban against the previously all-conquering Australians. more..

SLC slams select committee

Sep 23 (BBC) Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) authorities have slammed independent selectors panel for not implementing a coherent plan in choosing the national cricket team. Chairman of the SLC Interim Committee, Jayantha Dharmadasa, told BBC Sandeshaya that the selectors' decisions have paved the way to early retirement and criticism by senior players. Member of the 1996 World Cup winning team Upul Chandana slammed the select panel while announcing his retirement from the international games earlier this month. more..

Welioya Diversion Project to benefit 7,000 families

Sep 23 (SO) The Welioya Diversion Project has been completed at a cost of Rs. 1.2 billion with financial assistance of the Japanese government and the consolidated fund, the Resident Engineer Welioya Diversion Project, S. M. A Nelugoole told the Sunday Observer. The consolidated fund has allocated Rs 800 million and the Japanese Government has provided Rs. 500 million for the project to provide irrigation facilities to 7,000 families living in arid lands in the Moneragala and Ratnapura districts. more..

Great military victories but Tigers still a threat

Sep 23 (ST) The undeclared Eelam War IV, now raging, has seen a slow but sure increase in the military thrust by the Security Forces against Tiger guerrillas. Since the Government's official claims that the guerrillas have been "completely driven away" from the East, the focus of military actions has been almost entirely in the North. That is not to say the East has fallen silent. more..

CBK-Manmohan lunch upsets Government

Sep 23 (ST) The all-powerful Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa unambiguously spelt out a vital piece of Government policy last Monday. He declared during a nationally-televised event from the Naval garrison at Trincomalee that there could be permanent peace in Sri Lanka only through defeating terrorism "one hundred per cent" militarily. The occasion was a return to port by a Navy flotilla that had destroyed three Tiger guerrilla cargo vessels. more..

Agriculture: Its declining yet vital role in economic growth

Sep 23 (ST) It is most disconcerting to repeatedly hear a wrong understanding of the current status of agriculture in the country. And that too by none other than one of the several ministers in charge of a facet of our agricultural development. It was unbelievable to hear a minister say and then repeat that our agriculture accounts for 76 per cent of the economy and that 76 per cent of our people are dependent on agriculture. more..

Prisons chief says transfer thwarted tunnel escape

Sep 23 (ST) Some 64 LTTE cadres, including hardcore members, were metres away from escape from the Kalutara high security prison, if they had not been transferred to the Welikada prison a year ago, the Prisons chief said yesterday. The revelations came as inquiries got underway yesterday to probe how the LTTE prisoners dug a tunnel extending more than 200 metres (600 ft) using improvised devices from their cell close to the Kaluganga. more..

Refugees linger in limbo on Nauru

Sep 23 (SMH) THE fate of 72 Sri Lankans on Nauru remains uncertain nearly two weeks after they were recognised as genuine refugees because the Government is insisting it will find a third country to resettle them. So far, no request for resettlement has been made to the six primary candidates - Norway, Denmark, Sweden, the United States, Canada and New Zealand - leaving the men, already held on the Pacific island for six months, in detention limbo. more..

Lanka asks Bhagwati panel not to make adverse statements

Sep 23 (PTI) Sri Lanka has urged a global panel headed by former Indian top judge tasked to oversea a probe into rights abuses not to issue statements "that affect public confidence" in the country's institutions. A miffed Sri Lanka's Attorney General's department has asked the panel headed by former Indian Chief Justice P N Bhagwati not to issue statements "that affect public confidence" in the country's institutions. more..

Ravana is a hero for Sinhala nationalists

Sep 23 (HT) The Ramayana is not part of the mainstream Sinhala religious and cultural tradition in Sri Lanka, because Buddhism has been the religion of the majority of Sinhalas for long. But ancient Sinhala works like Rajavaliya and Ravanavaliya identify Ravana as a Sinhala king and extol him as a great one. In modern Sri Lanka, there has been a movement to revive Ravana as a cult figure, who represents Sinhala or Sri Lankan nationalism because he was among the first in the island's history to have resisted an alien/Indian invader. more..

Under fire Sri Lanka offers olive branch to Tamil Tigers

Sep 23 (AFP) Sri Lanka offered Sunday to halt major military operations against Tamil separatists in exchange for peace talks following intense international censure. Troops will not press ahead with an offensive if Tamil Tiger rebels agree to talk, Defence Ministry secretary Gotabhaya Rajapakse told a newspaper amid pressure from the island's key foreign backers not to pursue the military option. more..

Karuna’s Travails

Sep 24 (TC) When the Sri Lanka security forces’ successfully swept the east and regained control, act two of the theatre of the east opened. There are three actors on the stage-the government and the army, the political parties, and Karuna’s Tamil Makkal Viduthalai Pulikal (TMVP), made up of disenchanted members of the LTTE. There is a fourth actor, the LTTE chucked out of the cast, hovering on the wings ready to spoil the act now and then. more..

How Maliboda led from the front in ethnic amity building

Sep 24 (TC) I was travelling by bus from Colombo to Avissawella on that fateful morning in July 1983 when the ethnic violence erupted in Sri Lanka. Suddenly, our bus braked to a halt: hordes of unruly men armed with bludgeons and knives boarded the bus and ruthlessly set upon Tamil commuters, assaulting them mercilessly. “What have these people done to you that you should do this to them”, I cried to the violent hot-heads. more..

UN mission 'no threat to sovereignty'

Sep 24 (BBC) Sri Lanka government should not unnecessarily be concerned over establishing a UN human rights mechanism in Sri Lanka, a senior minister said. SLMM leader Rauff Hakeem told BBC Sandeshaya that it would be an opportunity for Sri Lankan to demonstrate that the country is genuine in its attempts to curtail rights abuses. The minister of Ports and Telecommunications was speaking as the government opposed establishing a UN monitoring mission in sri Lanka. more..

Sri Lanka opposition renews warning on sovereign bond

Sep 24 (LBO) Sri Lanka's opposition has renewed its warning that a planned sovereign bond has no parliamentary sanction and a future government made up of the current opposition will "cancel" the bond. The opposition United National Party leader Ranil Wickremesinghe had warned HSBC Bank, a joint lead manager of the bond deal, that its banking license in the island will be cancelled if it breaks Sri Lanka's laws. more..

Sri Lankan banks urged to include rural poor

Sep 24 (LBO) Sri Lanka's Central Bank governor Ajith Nivard Cabraal has urged the banking community to reach out to the rural poor saying the move would not only help impoverished farmers but enrich the banks themselves. The government and the banking community should aim to improve financial inclusion for vulnerable sections and give opportunities to people, he told the inaugural session of the 19th anniversary convention of the Association of Professional Bankers Friday. more..

Nearly 1000 students participate in Jaffna peace rally

Sep 24 (TN) More than one thousand students from schools throughout Jaffna peninsula gathered at Jaffna Central College Sunday morning to take part in a rally urging all parties to earnestly participate in the peace process. The meeting organized jointly by more than 18 Non Governmental Organizations (NGOs) in the peninsula, under the patronage of an organization named Childrens’ Friendship Association, commenced at 9:00 a.m., and lasted more than two hours. more..

Tamil parties on LTTE hitlist, says Colombo

Sep 24 (Hindu) At least eight persons, including four LTTE cadres, two activists of the Karuna faction and one soldier, were reported killed in the north and east in the last 24 hours. As per the military, the LTTE cadres — “continuing their killing spree” against dissident Tamil political parties — murdered two more Tamil youths and injured two in the Ampara and Batticaloa districts on Saturday. more..

Sri Lanka to get demo of ICICI Bank's rural smart card

Sep 24 (LBO) ICICI Bank, India's second-largest bank, is planning to demonstrate in Sri Lanka its smart card technology that helped create innovative products and take banking to rural India, even to illiterate farmers, a top official said. Chanda Kochhar, Deputy Managing Director of ICICI Bank, said its technology partner Financial Information Network and Operations (FINO) will be brought down in October to demonstrate the products that helped the bank penetrate un-banked areas in the sub-continent. more..

Mangala failed to substantiate his allegations against the Government – Basil

Sep 24 (AT) Basil Rajapakse,the National List Member of Parliament, told the "Asian Tribune" that Mangala Samaraweeera and Sripathy Sooriyaratchi – the two-man band of the breakaway SLFP (M) – failed to substantiate in Parliament their allegations about payments made to the LTTE during the last presidential elections. He was elevated from being the Senior Advisor to his brother, President Mahinda Rajapakse, to a Member of Parliament and expected to be a Minister with cabinet rank soon. more..

Cricket: Hafeez torments Sri Lanka

Sep 24 (AFP) Pakistan warmed up for the Twenty20 World Championships with a five-wicket win over World Cup finalists Sri Lanka in a practice match yesterday. Mohammad Hafeez led the way with an all-round effort, claiming 2-18 in his four overs to restrict Sri Lanka to 162-7 before making 45 as Pakistan cruised home with seven balls to spare in Centurion. more..

Sri Lankan Govt achieved important victories in the last several months- US Ambassador

Sep 24 (GDI) “The Government of Sri Lanka has achieved some important victories in the last several months. The expulsion of the LTTE from the East and the recent sinking of several LTTE ships carrying arms and other provisions mark important military successes,” said the US Ambassador Robert Blake. Ambassador Blake made these remarks at a Seminar held recently on "Sri Lanka: the Way Forward" in Colombo. more..

“Gamaneguma” development programme at “Sandamaleliya”

Sep 24 (GDI) SME Bank has joined in with carrying out a social responsibility project in “Sandamaleliya” village,(within the Mahavilachchiya DS area), Anuradhapura District, with the cooperation of the “Gamaneguma” programme of the Presidential Secretariat. Inauguration ceremony of this project was held at 10.00am on 14th September and the bank intends to complete the reconstruction work within a very short period by coordinating and supervising the reconstruction work effectively. more..