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'Twenty20 is saviour of Test cricket'

Apr 16 (IANS) Muttiah Muralitharan, the highest wicket-taker in Test cricket history Tuesday said the Twenty20 format of the game has come to stay and is the "saviour" of Test cricket. Speaking to the media here after a strenuous practice session with the Chennai Super Kings team for the Indian Premier League (IPL), Muralitharan asserted that Twenty20 was the future face of cricket and he had no qualms in accepting the fact. "However, as any cricketer would tell you, Test cricket is the ultimate. more..

Rahul defends Priyanka's meeting with Rajiv's assasin

Apr 16 (IE) Echoing his sister Priyanka's view over her initiative to meet one of the conspirators in their father Rajiv Gandhi's assassination, Congress MP Rahul Gandhi on Tuesday said his family did not carry hatred and anger. "I have a different way of looking at these things. I don't have a problem either," Gandhi told reporters in New Delhi. He was replying to a query on whether he too would, like his sister Priyanka Vadra, meet Nalini Sriharan, more..

The ‘Tamil Nation’ vetoes the Tamil New Year

Apr 16 (TC) The ‘Tamil Nation’ website was launched in 1998. The Editor, Satyendra Nadesan, an Attorney at Law based in the United Kingdom, represents one strand of the Tamil diaspora who had left Sri Lanka in the early 1980s. Many appear to have since lost touch with the ground reality in the island. The recent controversy surrounding Mr. M. Karunanidhi’s decision to shift the date of the Tamil New Year from April to January more..

Avurudhu heralds record accidents

Apr 16 (BL) Approximately 643 accidents were reported during the Sinhalese and Tamil New Year season. Of this, 84 were recorded from the outstations. Training Coordinator of Colombo National Hospital Pushpa Ramyani Zoysa told The Bottom Line that the number of accidents had increased by 21% as against the previous year. “Last year there were around 502 cases of accidents reported while the number has increased to 643 from April 12 to 14,” Zoysa said. more..

The impact of the JVP split

Apr 16 (BL) Sri Lanka has seen three major political splits which affected the country’s political landscape. Will the Wimal Weerawansa split have a similar impact? I don’t think so. Like the several minor splits this country’s political parties have undergone, this might create ripples for a few years. Sri Lanka’s major political splits were caused by S.J.V. Chelvanayakam, S.W.R.D. Bandaranaike and Rohana Wijeweera and the political parties they formed, altered the country’s political structure. more..

Mr. Finance Minister, you are off target!

Apr 16 (BL) The provisional data on the state of government fiscal management in 2007 confirms that Finance Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa, who is also the President, and his Ministry are off target in terms of original as well as revised estimates. Though the government’s mouthpiece Central Bank in its 2007 Annual Report released last week tried to justify some of the over-runs in fiscal management, the degree of variations have caused concern among economists and private sector analysts. more..

Dicey HR record throttles Lanka

Apr 16 (BL) Sri Lanka’s dicey human rights situation is likely to cost the country dearly, with the island being thrown out from an international debt cancellation programme. The United States Congress is expected to endorse a legislative proposal shortly urging for the cancellation of debts owed by some of the world’s poorest countries but nations including Bhutan, Sri Lanka and Laos have been singled out due to their human rights situation and other financial management standard issues. more..

Sri Lanka award promotes peace, dialogue, good government

Apr 16 (USAID) The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) awarded a five-year, $12 million contract to support regional government in Sri Lanka's eastern and north central provinces. The investment will expand the agency's democracy and governance work by helping to improve the areas of security, local government accountability and conflict resolution. The contract was awarded to ARD, a subsidiary of Tetra Tech, Inc., of Pasadena, Calif. more..

LTTE protested outside Slovakian Embassy in London

Apr 16 (AT) The LTTE otherwise known as the BTF (British Tamil Forum) in the United Kingdom organized a protest outside the Slovakian Embassy in London yesterday. The protest took place in front of the Slovakian Embassy based at Kensington Palace Gardens, Central London. A letter was handed over to Slovakian Diplomatic staff by Mr. Ivan Pedropillai a senior figure within the LTTE hierarchy in the UK and more..

Sri Lanka to raise fuel prices this month

Apr 16 (LBO) Sri Lanka would raise fuel prices before the end of the month after running losses of 7.2 billion rupees in 2008, petroleum minister A H M Fowzie said. Up to April 15, the state-run Ceylon Petroleum Corporation had lost 1,856 million rupees. In March the utility had lost 3,769 million rupees from its marketing activities, though it earned about 700 million rupees from fuel hedging deals and its refinery also made profits. more..

Tamil games victim of police seizure

Apr 16 (MG) Tamil youth of Montreal, listen up: the Canadian government wants to extinguish your (mini-) Olympic flame. Suspected of fronting for an outlawed terrorist organization back in Sri Lanka, the World Tamil Movement is being railroaded into cancelling a big annual community sports event it had planned for this summer, the group's Montreal lawyer says. "The WTM has a sporting activity very soon, a kind of mini-Olympic Games, and more..

No doctors in Pungkudutheevu Hospital for 17 years

Apr 16 (TN) Pungkudutheevu District Government Hospital, in the Sri Lanka Navy (SLN) controlled islets of Jaffna, since its destruction in Sri Lanka Army (SLA) 1991 offensive, has been without any permanent medical officers due to the reluctance of Sri Lanka government (GoSL) to rebuild the hospital complex in Pungkudutheevu, Jaffna District Director of Public Health Services (DPHS), Dr. Ketheeswaran said. more..

SLA imposes travel restrictions on Mannaar Tamils

Apr 16 (TN) Sri Lanka Army (SLA) has recently imposed travel restrictions on Tamils traveling to and from Mannaar. Tamils who leave Mannaar are only allowed to travel in train from Mathavaachchi while the Tamils, returning to Mannaar from other areas are filtered by their native and residential addresses and refused entry into Mannaar if they carry a National Identity Card with a residential address in South at Kaddaiyadampan SLA checkpost, more..

Sri Lankan democracy on the brink of decay

Apr 16 (LG) Sri Lanka is enjoying a rather shaky status as a democracy in the world. Although, a universal definition on democracy is not available, one of the fundamental principles of democracy is competitive elections where there is freedom of the press, and civilian control of the military. Other important aspects include political pluralism, equality before the law, due process, civil liberties, human rights and elements of civil society outside the government. more..

Prof Vitharane meets Tamil Diaspora groups

Apr 16 (SLW) The Chairman of the All Party Representative Committee (APRC) Prof Vitharane met several expatriate Tamil Organisations during his visit to the UK. An APRC team headed by Prof Vitharana undertook a week long visit to the UK on a fact finding mission to study the process involved in the resolution to the Northern Ireland conflict. The visiting team met some Tamil groups in London and Prof Vitharane on his own engaged in some of the discussion meetings. more..

Jackals hounding Sri Lanka’s High Commissioner to London

Apr 16 (SLW) The ethnic conflict in Sri Lanka has polarised the Sri Lankan Diaspora community in the United Kingdom with politically active Tamil nationalists turning to the LTTE and the British authorities to represent their cause and the politically active Sinhalese nationalists expecting the Sri Lankan High Commission to represent them. The Sinhalese nationalists are disappointed with the outgoing High Commissioner in the UK. more..

Celebrate New Year in unity, Ambassador urges Tamil and Sinhala communities

Apr 16 (AT) Sri Lankan Ambassador Chitranganee Wagiswara called upon the Sinhala and Tamil communities in France to celebrate national events like the Sinhala and Tamil New Year and the Independence anniversary in unity. Addressing the community leaders and the heads of Sri Lankan associations in France at a function held at the Embassy to mark the Sinhala and Tamil New Year, she urged the community leader and Sri Lankan associations to more..

Act impartially in JVP crisis, Basil tells state media

Apr 16 (LD) Senior Presidential Advisor Basil Rajapaksa has instructed the state media to refrain from taking sides in the internal crisis of the JVP. Mr. Rajapaksa has told Media Minister Anura Priyadarshana Yapa to act impartially in this matter, sources at the Presidential Secretariat said. The order to Mr. Yapa also says his ministry should ensure that the private media backs the Wimal Weerawansa faction. more..

Fathers allowed to be present at childbirth

Apr 16 (GDI) Husbands will be given opportunity to be with their wives in the labour room at the time of delivery, Minister of Health, Nimal Siripala De Silva stated. He further stated that measures are to be taken to brief health officials in this regard by issuing a circular regarding this decision, which is due to come into effect shortly. more..

Dissidents told to withdraw complaint against jailed JVP MP

Apr 16 (LD) Dissident parliamentarians Achala Jagoda and Piyasiri Wijenayake should withdraw their complaint to Parliament Police immediately if they honestly want jailed Jayantha Wijesekera to be released from remand custody, said JVP Chief Secretary Tilvyn Silva. Mr. Silva was making a response to the written request to IGP Victor Perera calling for the release of Mr. Wijesekara, sent by the two members of the Wimal Weerawansa faction. more..

IGP rejects dissidents’ request to free jailed JVP MP

Apr 16 (LD) Inspector General Victor Perera has rejected a request by two dissident JVP parliamentarians that jailed MP Jayantha Wijesekera be freed. The Colombo Chief Magistrate remanded Mr. Wijesekara until April 17th after his arrest on the charge of having hijacked two party vehicles from Parliament garage after assaulting a policeman on duty there. Over this fiasco, the Wimal Weerawansa faction is facing the fury of the JVP. more..

Air force takes LTTE targets in Muhamalai and Oddusudan

Apr 16 (GDI) The Air Force carried out successful attacks on LTTE hideouts in Muhamalai and Oddusudan this morning (16th) and yesterday (15th). Air Force spokesperson Andrew Wijesuriya revealed that Sri Lanka Air Force MI 24 helicopter gun ships carried out air sorties targeting an LTTE bunker line and mortar gun position ahead of the Muhamalai security forces forward defence line (FDL) this morning (16th). more..

Eastern PC election campaigns in top gear after the New Year

Apr 16 (GDI) Following the celebrations of the Sinhala and Tamil New Year, all parties contesting the May 10 Eastern Provincial Council Election have accelerated their campaigns. The General Secretary of the UPFA, Susil Premajayanth stated that the Government was happy that for the very first time after several decades it could unite the formerly divided Tamil, Muslim and Sinhala communities in the Eastern Province and more..

Govt. backs AG in clash with IIGEP

Apr 16 (SAMN) Despite repeated objections by the International Independent Group of Eminent Persons (IIGEP) the government is said to have proposed amendments to the Commission of Inquiries (CoI) Act, including the legal right for the officials of the Attorney General’s (AG) department to participate in the CoI proceedings. The IIGEP has also submitted its final report to President Mahinda Rajapaksa, more..

JVP factions ready for a patch up

Apr 16 (SAMN) Moves are afoot by both factions of the JVP to hold a dialogue and patch up the differences that is splintering the party, following moves to suspend its Propaganda Secretary. The dissident group said Tuesday they were ready for a dialogue with the party leadership at any time to iron out their differences, while the party leadership said they were willing to accept them if they got into the right track. more..

'Environment levy won’t affect CoL'

Apr 16 (SAMN) The Environment Conservation Levy will in no way affect the cost of living of the general public and the Government plans to collect rupees one billion from it annually. The levy would be charged in decimal amounts, Minister Patali Champika Ranawaka said. He told The Island that while respecting any views or decisions by the Speaker W. J. M. Lokubandara on the levy Bill, he challenged anyone in parliament at anytime to a discussion or debate on the Bill. more..

Boost for dairy milk industry

Apr 16 (SAMN) The Livestock Development Ministry has embarked on a dairy milk industry promotion programme. In addition to the Government funds, the United Nations Development programme has allocated Rs. 30 million for the uplift livestock projects in the province. Priority is being given to elevate milk production in addition to encouraging farmers to take to goat and paultry farming. more..

Rs. 1,500 m housing project to solve shelter problem

Apr 16 (DN) The Government will implement a massive housing project at a cost of Rs. 1,500 million to end the prevailing shelter problem countrywide and to cater to housing needs of those who live below the poverty line, National Housing Development Authority (NHDA) Chairman Mohammed Rafeek told the Daily News. He said the project will be implemented by the NHDA with financial assistance and guidance from the Nation Building and Estate Infrastructure Development Ministry. more..

Fulbright Student Advisory Centre comes to Mahinda College, Galle

Apr 16 (DN) As honorary Chairman of the US-Sri Lanka Fulbright Commission, I am delighted to help inaugurate this collaborative venture between the Fulbright Commission and Mahinda College and its Old Boys’ Association, said US Ambassador Robert O. Blake when he opened a Fulbright Student Advisory Centre at Mahinda College, Galle on April 4. The Ambassador said ‘this project will help those in the Southern Province who would like to study in the United States to more..

Health Ministry leaves interns serving in Jaffna in the lurch

Apr 16 (Island) Around 20 interns and 30 post-interns who were transferred to Jaffna peninsula to serve in State-run hospitals were compelled to purchase up and down air tickets costing Rs.17,000 each, to travel to Colombo to spend the New Year with their families. Although the Health Ministry had promised to arrange for air tickets, the Ministry had failed to provide them, the Government Medical Officers Association (GMOA) said. more..

Hot air over felling of valuable trees

Apr 16 (Island) State Timber Corporation Chairman Chandana Haputhanthri yesterday quashed rumours that a large number valuable trees have been felled on either of the Buttala-Kataragama road as a precaution against terrorist attacks which have been on the increase over the last few months. Haputhanthri said that the only valuable trees among those felled are Satinwood and the number is negligible while a large number of Palu and Veera trees have been axed. more..

New born baby found dead in washing machine

Apr 16 (DM) In a sensational story splashed in Kuwaiti newspapers, a new born baby was found killed in a washing machine allegedly by her Sri Lankan mother who works as a housemaid in Kuwait, the Foreign Employment Bureau said yesterday. FEB Deputy General Manager L.K. Ruhunage told the Daily Mirror the tragedy which took place on March 31 had come to light when the woman’s employer admitted her to hospital because the housemaid had complained of heavy bleeding. more..

Retired Major to file FR case against Minister

Apr 16 (DM) A retired Army Major is to file a Fundamental Rights application against Minister Mahindananda Aluthgamage for allegedly assaulting him together with his security guards during the weekend. Retired Army Major Athula Rathnayaka who served in the army for more than 40 years and was also a former SLFP organizer in the Mahiyangana electorate alleges that he was also robbed of Rs.300,000 which was in his possession at the time of the assault. more..

Rain curtails West Indies chase

Apr 16 (CI) A series of increasingly heavy showers caused the third and final ODI in St Lucia to be abandoned, leaving West Indies 2-0 winners of a series which started with a thriller but ended in a damp squib. There had been one shower much earlier in the day, but a brief downpour sent everyone scurrying from the field with West Indies trundling along and only ten balls needed for Duckworth-Lewis calculations to come into play. more..

Sri Lanka March tourist arrivals up 8.6%

Apr 16 (Reuters) The number of tourists arriving in Sri Lanka in March rose 8.6 percent from a year earlier thanks to a campaign to attract visitors from Iran and relative calm in the country's civil war, officials said on Wednesday. Arrivals edged up to 38,049 from 35,031 a year before, the island's state tourist authority said. Arrivals in the January-March period rose to 135,516 from 134,635 a year earlier, a marginal increase of 0.7 percent. more..

Sri Lanka: Snakes and Ladders

Apr 16 (IRIN) Disaster management experts in Sri Lanka have found a novel use for the snakes and ladders board game - training children in disaster mitigation. The snakes represent disasters while the ladders are mitigation methods. When a player gets to a snake he slides down on the board but when he reaches a ladder he moves up. The game forms part of a disaster awareness programme conducted at schools in 16 districts around the country by more..

Fighter planes bomb rebel base as fighting kills 14 combatants

Apr 16 (AP) Sri Lankan fighter jets bombed a Tamil rebel base in the volatile north while infantry clashes killed 12 rebels and two soldiers, the military said Wednesday. Reports of fighting have increased in recent months following the government's promises to capture the rebels' de facto state in the north and crush them by the end of the year. But diplomats and other observers say the army is facing more resistance than they had expected. more..

Iran to fund doubling Sri Lanka's oil refining capacity

Apr 16 (Kyodo) Iranian President Mahmood Ahmadinejad will kick off a billion dollar refinery expansion project in Sri Lanka to be 70 percent funded by Iran through a 10-year loan with a five-year grace period, Petroleum Minister A.H.M. Fowzie told Kyodo News on Wednesday. "Iran is already giving us four months interest-free credit for our oil purchases," he added. more..

Sri Lanka to set up top advisory body to govern north

Apr 16 (IANS) The government has said that a 'high level advisory committee' would be set up to govern the war-ravaged Northern Provincial Council, once the forthcoming eastern provincial elections are completed, government sources here said. The Government Information Department in a report Wednesday said that the ruling coalition led by President would appoint this top level committee following the May 10 elections for more..

Lanka's ThĂla- Fusion of classical & modern

Apr 17 (IP) It was yet another first by Sri Lanka Foundation of Los Angeles-a cultural extravaganza presented by Channa-Upuli duo at the prestigious Bovard Auditorium, University of Southern California on March 29. To a packed audience, the Channa-Upuli troupe paraded the versatility of a well trained, disciplined dancing troupe that not only understands the intricate techniques of classical ballet, but also the inner content of modern developments of such techniques, more..

Requiem for Justice and Human Rights in Sri Lanka

Apr 17 (MN) The eleven-member International Independent Group of Eminent Persons (IIGEP) consisted of representatives from India, France, Indonesia, the United States, the Netherlands, Bangladesh, Canada, Cyprus, the United Kingdom, Australia and Japan, abandoned their efforts to assist the Presidential Commission of Inquiry to Investigate and Inquire into Serious Violations of Human Rights. more..

Party split could hasten Sri Lankan peace

Apr 17 (UPI) The breakup of the JVP, in Sri Lanka last week came as a big surprise. There had been rumblings within the party for many months that were reported in the media, but these seemed more a matter of the inevitable personality clashes and jostling for position within the party rather than a fatal division of the party. The departure of former JVP presidential candidate Nandana Gunathilaka from the party over a year ago, and more..

Sri Lankan MP enthused by Priyanka-Nalini Meeting

Apr 17 (NIP) The cordial meeting between Priyanka Vadra, daughter of the slain former Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi, and Nalini Sriharan, one of the convicted conspirators in the assassination case, may help rapprochement between India and the Sri Lankan Tamils, says a pro-Tamil Tiger political leader. “I am very happy, because the meeting could lead to a closer relationship between India and the Sri Lankan Tamils,” said S. Kajendran of the TNA, more..

'Nalini feels cleansed of sins after meeting Priyanka'

Apr 17 (PTI) Nalini Murugan, serving a life sentence in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case, considers her last month's meeting with Priyanka Vadra at Vellore prison a defining moment of her life, as she felt she had been "cleansed of her sins, though committed unknowingly", her brother P S Bhagyanathan said. Nalini's spirits were "high" ever since her meeting with Priyanka on March 19, Bhagyanathan, who was also an accused in the case but later acquitted, said. more..

In Sri Lanka, it's a gardener's world

Apr 17 (TMG) In Sri Lanka gardening tends to be a more serious pursuit. After all the garden is not only a source of shade from the searing sun but staple foods and even medicine. A Ruk Rakaganno grafting lesson for residents of the Matara district Like everything else in the tsunami of 2004, hundreds of thousands of gardens were washed away. Immediately following the disaster the first priority was to re-house people living in refugee camps and this has largely been achieved on the south coast. more..

No Jayawardene for Derbyshire

Apr 17 (CI) Mahela Jayawardene will not feature for Derbyshire this season owing to fixture clashes, the county has announced. Fans will be disappointed but perhaps not surprised after an already short stint was squeezed further by international demands. Jayawardene, the Sri Lanka captain, had planned to arrive after the Indian Premier League but with the Asia Cup being moved forward to June and changes to India's tour of Sri Lanka, more..

Sri Lankan stars to miss inter-provincial Twenty20

Apr 17 (CI) With the Indian Premier League just days away from its launch, followed immediately by the conclusion of the Indian Cricket League's second season, Twenty20 cricket has caught on like a virus. Sri Lanka will have its own version with its inaugural six-team inter-provincial tournament scheduled to take off on Thursday. With the national team away in the Caribbean, and a few seniors set to take part in the IPL, the tournament has opened the doors for many budding cricketers trying to make their mark at this level. more..

Sri Lanka's war, fiscal reversals, policy stance hit sovereign rating: S&P

Apr 17 (LBO) Sri Lanka's internal war and a reversal in 'tentative' improvements in state finances had made the country less able to weather shocks, putting its credit rating at risk, the rating agency Standard & Poor's said. The rating agency said debt ratios were above the average for the 'B+' rating awarded to Sri Lanka and further fiscal reversals will result in a downgrade. Sri Lanka's credit outlook was cut to negative earlier in the year. more..

Central bank decries over staffing of government sector

Apr 17 (LBO) Sri Lanka's central bank has criticised the practice of ruling party politicians of stuffing the state sector with their supporters, saying such over staffing is not only wasteful but creates worker shortages in the private sector. It said in its annual report for 2007 that unemployment in the island was coming down and is estimated to have declined to the lowest recorded level in the fourth quarter of 2007. more..

Ceiling on rice price

Apr 17 (BBC) The Sri Lankan government says that it has imposed a ceiling on the price of rice. New prices come into effect from midnight Wednesday, says Consumer Affairs Minister Bandula Gunawardena. Selling these rice varieties for more than the stipulated prices is prohibited under the Consumer Protection Act, Minister Gunawardena told BBC Sandesaya. Under the new price scheme, the maximum retail price of a kilo of Samba should be Rs.70, Nadu 65, Red raw rice 65, and White raw rice 55 more..