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President is 'not above law'

Feb 23 (BBC) Religious leaders representing all faiths in Sri Lanka have urged President Mahinda Rajapaksa to appoint the Constitutional Council (CC) without delay. Prof. Bellanwila Wimalarathana nayake thero, representing the Religious Conference (RC), said it is high time that the government fully implement the 17 amendment to the constitution while preparing to devolve full powers to the Provincial Councils (PC). more..

EI and Oxfam open doors to learning

Feb 23 (EI) Teachers, parents and more than a thousand children from a small fishing town in southern Sri Lanka celebrated the opening of their new public school on 20 February. In an emotional inauguration ceremony, students in beautiful costumes danced and sang to demonstrate their gratitude for their new opportunities to learn in a beautiful, well-equipped building. One of eight schools built in Sri Lanka through the EI-Oxfam post-tsunami reconstruction project, more..

LTTE claim refuted

Feb 23 (Hindu) The LTTE alleged on Friday that eight civilians, including three pre-school children, were killed and 10 were injured, four of them critically, when Sri Lanka bombed a coastal civilian settlement in the Kiranchi area in Poonahari in the Kilinochchi district. However, the Air Force said it bombed “carefully identified” LTTE targets. The Defence Ministry said here the jets had bombed two artillery positions of the LTTE terrorists located in the North of Mannar and Mulllaittivu areas. more..

Grievances of an IDP

Feb 23 (GV) Due to the civil war that erupted in the Trincomalee District between the LTTE and the Government forces, the families that had been living at Muthur and Sam poor areas had been displaced to different locations of Trincomalee District in the Eastern Province of Sri Lanka. Due to this displacement the day to day life of these families had been affected badly along with Education, Culture, and Economy etc; more..

A reponse to ETHNOS OR DEMOS?

Feb 23 (GV) Fashionable as any aspiring theoreticians, writer Publius with above article once again takes on a contemporary and important topic, yet with wider pseudo interpositions and an assumed role of political advisory. Following is a very short response. Those who know me will bear witness that I am neither an Eelamist nor a separatist. I envisage and endeavour for a normative multination democracy where the Thamil nation, more..

Cricket empowers youths scattered around sacred Buddhist city

Feb 23 (UCAN) The diocesan Catholic Youth Federation conducted a cricket tournament to enhance Christian friendship, community spirit and athletic capabilities, and to offer guidance to Catholic youth scattered among distant villages. In the tournament conducted under the theme Get Together and Be Together, more than 200 young people from seven parishes put together 10 teams to compete on St. Joseph College's grounds in Anuradhapura on Feb. 4. more..

SLAF Delay Gets LTTE Off-the-hook

Feb 23 (SLW) A four-hour delay in a bombing run by the Sri Lanka Air Force resulted in a missed high-profile decapitation strike planned several days ago. The target was a conference attended by 'Colonels' Swarnam, Bhanu and Jeyam in north Mannar. The SLAF usually takes four hours to prep the jets, from the point of receiving the Military Intelligence tipoff to the actual delivery of the designated payload to the target. more..

The sad tale of rice

Feb 23 (SLW) Speaking to the Media today (22Feb) at the UNP Media unit, P.Harrison UNP M.P. for Anuradhapura asked whether this Govt. has honoured even a single promise or respected the Farmers of this essentially agricultural land of ours? He asked.The entire agriculture sector has been plunged into ruination because of the ruthless treacherous machinations of the Minister and his Rice Mill owners which are the cause of rice price hikes, and the abysmal predicament of the farmers, he added. more..

India should help Rajapaksa solve Tamil problem: EROS leader

Feb 23 (IANS) A top leader of a Sri Lankan Tamil political party has said President Mahinda Rajapaksa is eager to solve the long-standing ethnic problem in Sri Lanka and has appealed to India to help him in the task. 'We have no doubt that Rajapaksa wants to solve the problem. His sincerity is evident in his practical approach to the question,' said Rajanathan Prabaharan, general secretary of the Eelavar Democratic Front (EDF), more..

International bias contributes to 'vicious cycle of violence', says Jaffna MP

Feb 23 (TN) “The International Community and India, which provide tacit support to Sri Lanka's belligerency, fail to stop or condemn attacks on civilians by Sri Lanka armed forces. But, whenever an attack takes place in the South it gets the prominence of news and International response is prompt. Then, as an occasional passing reference, the antecedents are cited. There is a definite pattern in the international behaviour related to events in Sri Lanka. more..

Sri Lankan Police conjure up an incredible revelation in the murder investigations of a journalist

Feb 23 (SLW) The Free Media Movement (FMM) is very surprised to learn that the head of the CID of the Sri Lankan Police claims that journalist Sampath Lakmal, who was murdered in 2006, was a paid military informant. DIG H. W. Prathapasinghe made this statement to an English newspaper on 17th February 2008. The FMM finds it utterly incredible that it has taken 18 months for the CID to make this revelation, even by its own standards. more..

Tamils in Colombo are not arrested but 'caught' says Mano Ganesan

Feb 23 (LeN) Tamils are not arrested but 'caught' at street corners, from their places of residence and business and taken away in the most inhuman uncivilized manner to unknown locations by the state police authorities. It is occurring like municipal 'dog catchers' catching 'stray dogs' with their 'dog catching gear' in 'dog pound vans'. The Catchers are the Police, Stray dogs are the Tamils, Catching gear is the Police weapons and the Dog pound Vans are famous White Vans! more..

Karuna: The Tragedy of a Rebel(Part IV)

Feb 23 (LG) The Tigers expropriated the Tamil dream of liberation and tuned it into a nightmare for the Tamil people. If the Karuna rebellion was not to take the same route, it needed to make a conscious effort to be different from the LTTE. Karuna’s ability to gain and retain the backing of his people depended on his willingness to respect their basic rights. Popular support would have strengthened his hand not only vis-ŕ-vis the LTTE but also the Lankan state. more..

Is Pottu suffering heart attack?

Feb 23 (LG) LTTE, totally rejected on false report on their intelligence head Shanmugalinam Shivashankar alias Pottu Amman. "LTTE Intelligence Wing chief Pottu Amman was admitted to the Intensive Care Unit of Kilinochchi hospital last 13th following a heart attack, says sources from Kilinochchi," some media in Colombo has reported without proper evidence. “That was not based on true also it was a joke,” senior member of the LTTE said. “I don’t know why they are doing journalism like a baby”, he added. more..

Troops recover 6 LTTE bodies : Janakapura

Feb 23 (LG) The soldiers of the Sri Lanka Army (SLA)'s 59th division launched several pre emptive strikes on LTTE positions north of Janakapura on the 22nd (yesterday). Several bunkers on LTTE's de facto front line in the area have been destroyed. 10 LTTE cadres have been killed in the firefights and troops have recovered 6 bodies of slain LTTE cadres. Five T-56 weapons have also been seized by the troops. more..

Sri Lanka health ministry and drug industry cut deal over hospital visits

Feb 23 (LBO) Sales representatives of Sri Lankan medical firms are to be given identity cards through the pharma industry and given access to government hospitals during specified hours. They would also have to observe a strict code of conduct under a deal worked out between the industry and the health ministry to regulate access by pharmaceutical salesmen. The Sri Lanka Chamber of the Pharmaceutical Industry (SLCPI) said in a statement it would take strict action against members who violate the agreement and code of behaviour. more..

Sri Lanka coral reef fisheries destroyed by organized crime: officials

Feb 23 (LBO) Sri Lanka's coastal fisheries and coral reefs are being destroyed by a rapid rise in dynamite blasted 'fishing', with the lucrative practice now exploding into an organized crime involving big money, officials said. Dyanamite fishing is a destructive way of killing fish by setting off explosives underwater so that the resulting shock waves kill fish in a vast surrounding area. more..

Supreme Court to hear Sufi Sect case on Feb 27

Feb 23 (AT) The Supreme Court issued an order on Thursday, February 7, 2008 for all parties connected with the Fundamental Rights Case relating to the denial of access to their homes filed by members of the Sufi Sect to appear before the Court on February 27. This was in sequence to the case filed by All Ceylon Thareekathul Mufliheen, a Sufi Order, to exercise their belief and practices in Kathankudy and other parts of the country for their long struggle spanning for over 12 years. more..

Educay's Mobtion Ministrile service in Badulla today

Feb 23 (GDI) The Ministry of Education will hold mobile service today at Badulla Central College from 8.00 a.m. to 4.00 pm, with the aim of addressing the grievances of the education sector at their grassroots level Through the programme the Ministry is hoping to address the issues of the teachers, principals and administrative and non-academic staff. Academic and non-academic staff in the Uva Province can present their issues or grievances to the mobile service where more..

Archaeological sites to be protected by special police unit

Feb 23 (GDI) A Special Police Unit is to be established at the Department of Archaeology on March 4 to prevent destruction of archaeological monuments and conserve the archaeological and scientific heritage. This unit will function under the direction of Deputy Inspector General of Police Gamini Navaratne and Director of Crimes Section, M.K.D.W. Amarasinghe and will be coordinated by the senior police officer of the respective police area. more..

Outsider to head Appeal Court: UNP appalled

Feb 23 (LD) The UNP charged yesterday (Feb. 22nd) that the government’s attempt to appoint a person who was not a member of the Appeal Court as its President was a violation of the Constitution and Parliamentary Privileges. Raising a question of privilege UNP front-liner Lakshman Kiriella said the Appeal Court had petitioned President Mahinda Rajapaksa protesting the proposed move. more..

Blake rules out UN peace keeping mission in Sri Lanka

Feb 23 (LNP) US Ambassador Robert Blake recently ruled out the possibility of a UN peace keeping mission in Sri Lanka. In an interview in the latest edition of BENCHMARK Blake had stated `I don t think so. First of all, there is no peace to keep! So that s a bit of a far-fetched scheme. In terms of a role for the UN, it has to be requested by the member state in question. I have not heard that the Government is interested in any UN force at this state quite the contrary. more..

Girls School (Mahamaya - Nugegoda) principal re-remanded

Feb 23 (LNP) Colombo Chief Magistrate Nishantha Hapuarachchi yesterday re-remanded Priyani Chandrika the Principal of Mahahamaya Girls School Nugegoda now being held earlier on a charge of obtaining Rs. 15,000 from a parent for the School Development Society (SDS). The Permanent Commission to Investigate Allegations Against Bribery or Corruption is prosecuting. more..

War: Not just a question of pancreas and limbs

Feb 23 (LNP) Suddenly everybody has become so concerned about Prabhakaran s health. When killer waves pummelled Sri Lanka s littoral in 2004, everyone wanted to know what had happened to him. Some claimed he had perished in the tsunami but he made a comeback after weeks. Then the talk was that the person whom we saw was not Prabhakaran proper but his doppelganger. more..

No extension for Inland Revenue Commissioner General

Feb 23 (DN) Minister of Finance and State Revenue Ranjith Siyambalapitiya told Parliament yesterday that the service of the present Commissioner General of Inland revenue would not be extended and assured his retirement on March 8. The Minister also stated that the most suitable person with proper qualifications would be appointed to the post of Commissioner General thereafter. more..

Country’s development through village level

Feb 23 (DN) “Accelerated development in village level will help to develop the country speedily. Realising this situation the President and the Government have given priority to develop rural areas even facing a critical war,” said Housing and Common Amenities Ferial Ashraff after handing over “Lakjayagama” Janasevana Housing Scheme constructed at Mirigama recently, with 50 houses constructed by the National Housing Development Authority (NHDA) at a cost of Rs. 3.2 million. more..

Tariff proposals ‘pro rich, anti-poor’

Feb 23 (SAMN) The Energy Forum criticised the proposed electricity tariff of the Ceylong Electricity Board (CEB) calling it a system which will fatten the purse of the rich by emptying the pockets of the poor. In a report titled ‘An Alternative Proposal to the New Electricity Tariff Structure of the CEB’ the Energy Forum agreed that the electricity tariff structure should be revised if the CEB was to recover its losses but said the new structure would hurt the lower and middle income groups more than the affluent. more..

Lankans find Ayurveda treatment for AIDS

Feb 23 (SAMN) Researchers at the Bandaranaike Memorial Ayurvedic Research Institute (BMARI) in Nawinna have developed an Ayurvedic formula to further the life span of AIDS patients and lessen their sufferings, Indigenous Medicine Minister Tissa Karalliyadda claimed Friday. Senior BMARI Research Officer Dr. Pushpa Wickramasingha said research conducted at the BMARI so far had proved that the sufferings of AIDS patients could be lessened by indigenous medicine. more..

Livestock awards a dead loss

Feb 23 (SAMN) In what appeared to be yet another waste of public funds, the government has spent more than Rs. 24 million on the “Livestock Awards Ceremony” and one million rupees on the news conferences regarding the event. Chief Government whip Jeyaraj Fernandopulle made the disclosure in Parliament in response to an oral question by JVP MP Ranaweera Pathirana. After the revelation, JVP MP Anura Kumara Dissanayake queried how the government could spend over one million rupees for media conferences targeting one such event. more..

Year 5 Scholarship exam made mandatory; teachers up in arms

Feb 23 (Island) The Education Ministry has made the Grade Five Scholarship examination compulsory with immediate effect, Examinations Commissioner General Anura Edirisinghe told The Island yesterday. However, the government’s decision has run into stiff opposition from teacher unions that want that examination scrapped. "This exam has placed much pressure and burden on children and parents. That leads us nowhere," General Secretary of the Ceylon Teacher Service Union said. more..

Archeologists begin excavation of sunken ships

Feb 23 (Island) Maritime archeologists have commenced underwater excavations and studies of two wrecked ships of archaeological value off shore at Hikkaduwa. One of the ships belonged to the world’s oldest bulk oil carrier fleet - Conch. It had been wrecked off the coast of Akurala. Both ships capsized well over a century ago, one in late 19th century and the other in the early 20th century. "They are vast stores of artifacts that could support many further studies," more..

Wheat flour sales have declined:Deputy Minister

Feb 23 (DM) The sale of wheat flour at village level has declined by 90 percent, 58 percent in Colombo and suburbs, and by 30 percent in the wholesale trade, Deputy Finance Minister Ranjith Siyambalapitiya said in Parliament yesterday. Mr. Siyambalapitiya said that the import of wheat grains had also declined from 883,000 tons in 2006 to 455,000 tons in 2007, and this was a great achievement for the country in its effort to promote local food production. more..

Exporters sound alarm bells on electricity tariff hike

Feb 23 (DM) The National Chamber of Exporters of Sri Lanka (NCE) has strongly expressed their concern on a proposed hike in electricity tariffs and called on the government to put on hold any tariff increases until the end of the year in order for its stakeholders to plan and propose alternative strategies to prevent any hike in electricity tariffs. At the meeting the council members pointed out that if the proposed hike in electricity tariffs of around 43% were to be implemented, more..

LTTE got new method of child recruitment, Lanka tells UN

Feb 23 (PTI) LTTE is continuing to "forcibly train" children with use of arms in its stronghold in northern Sri Lanka and then returning them to their normal environment, the government has alleged. "This (LTTE) terrorist group continues recruitment and use of children as combatants and its commitment (to stop such recruitment) was never implemented," the Sri Lankan Permanent Representative to the UN, Prasad Kariyawasam, told the working group of the Security Council on Children and Armed Conflict. more..

Sri Lanka victory march bogged down in fog of war

Feb 23 (AFP) The battle lines are clearly drawn in Sri Lanka with the government vowing to finish off the Tamil rebels, but after decades of bloodshed a final outcome appears as uncertain as ever. While politicians from President Mahinda Rajapakse down have buried a truce deal and promised to wipe out the "terrorists," the military is now scaling down the rhetoric. "Most definitely, we can say that we are winning," army spokesman Brigadier Udaya Nanayakkara told AFP. more..

Sri Lanka bomb blast outside capital injures 17: military

Feb 23 (AFP) A parcel bomb exploded on a bus in a Colombo suburb on Saturday, wounding at least 17 people in the latest in a string of violent attacks, the defence ministry said. But casualties would have been far greater if an alert passenger had not spotted the booby-trapped package and shouted at people to get out of the vehicle, military spokesman Brigadier Udaya Nanayakkara said. The blast occurred outside a court house in Mount Lavinia town. more..

Justice L K Wimalachandra appointed as Commissioner for Tourism

Feb 24 (AT) The establishment of the office of Commissioner for Tourism Administration ensures justice to any aggrieved party in the event of any injustice, unfair treatment or failure to perform any statutory obligations by any agencies in the tourism sector and this new office comes into operation with new institutional infrastructure under the Tourism Act of 2005 and President Mahinda Rajapakse appointed Appeal Court Judge LK Wimalachandra on the recommendation of Chief Justice Sarath Silva as the Commissioer for Tourism Administration. more..

Government by Blindman’s Buff*

Feb 24 (AT) Sri Lanka needs intelligent governance today more than ever before. Not only is it necessary to prevent a Kosovo outcome in the North-East; it is also necessary to save our garment trade from collapsing. Seen in this context the President’s obvious unwillingness to appoint the Constitutional Council becomes inexplicable, as inexplicable as the sudden transferring out of the Chairman of the Bribery Commission without giving an iota of reason. more..

Silent suffering and cost of living in Jaffna

Feb 24 (FI) “The cost of living is sky rocketing like the Kfir jets” said an old man standing along a road side in Jaffna. He was holding his loaf of bread tightly as though it was something precious. “Yes, soon will have to give up eating” another old man standing next to him admitted. It is easy to estimate the cost of living by comparing the price increase of wheat flour and bread. more..

Ace Cinematographer of LTTE Dies in Action

Feb 24 (TC) Last Sunday was a sad day for the LTTE as they lost in battle another senior stalwart who had rendered yeoman service to the movement for more than two decades. Lt. Col Thava or Thavam as he was called was not one widely known to the world like tiger police commissar Suppiah Paramu Thamilselvan. But in his own, quiet way Thava has been responsible for portraying the LTTE in a positive light and projecting the Tiger cause worldwide. more..

Tigers Fight Fierce Defensive War on North-West Front

Feb 24 (TC) In recent times there has been much media attention towards the continuing strife on the North - Western front. The North - West became the theatre of conflict after the LTTE was ejected from the Eastern province. The Government shifted its focus towards the Mannar district and those parts of Vavuniya district under LTTE control after the fall of the East. more..

Jayalalithaa: From Alluring Actress to Powerful Politician

Feb 24 (TC) India in general and its Tamil Nadu state in particular have spawned many colourful political personalities. Standing out among these figures is Ms. Jayalalithaa Jayaram the actress - politico of Tamil Nadu. The Former chief minister and Anna - Dravida Munnetra Kazhagham (ADMK) leader turns 60 today (Feb 24th). more..

Colombo Told to Seek Clemency for Rizana From Baby’s Family

Feb 24 (AN) A top Saudi official has asked the Sri Lankan government to appeal directly for a pardon to the family of the baby allegedly killed by a Sri Lankan maid. Prince Khaled ibn Sultan, assistant minister of defense and aviation for military affairs, made the comments during a meeting with Sri Lankan Foreign Minister Rohitha Bogollagama on the sidelines of the Singapore Airshow 2008, which concluded last week. more..

Sirisena takes on JVP and Basil

Feb 24 (SL) SLFP General Secretary Minister Maithripala Sirisena has been the target of a political coup unleashed by forces within the government for quite some time. The 'coup' is being masterminded by President Mahinda Rajapakse's brother Basil Rajapakse with the blessings of the former. Sirisena was targeted by the government for the 'abnormal' increase in the price of rice. The price of rice which skyrocketed due to government bungling was blamed on Sirisena and his brother who owns a rice mill. more..

The Rajapakse 'connection' and a multi million dollar deal

Feb 24 (SL) Damning documents and details have emerged to prove that the government has yet again moved to place the interests of President Mahinda Rajapakse's family before the state and the public, in a well thought out move to persuade state telecom operator, SLT to shell out millions of rupees to yet another family company. The shocking details will show that the family company was set up for the specific purpose of more..

The battle for Adampan

Feb 24 (SL) LTTE top ranker, Swarnam has a score to settle with government forces. Almost a year back, he was forced out of his much vaunted Swarnam base in the Verugal area north of Vaharai and had to flee the east, injured. The departure of Swarnam in early January 2007 from the eastern battle field was the precursor to what was to come - the complete withdrawal of the Tigers. 'Colonel' Swarnam is back in the news again. more..

A general election and governance that threatens the GSP Plus facility

Feb 24 (SL) While President Mahinda Rajapakse was last week considering a snap general election mid year before the full impact of the worsening economic crisis and a possible stalemate in the war hit the people, the opposition geared to put the government to the sword before May Day with plans afoot for a mass agitation campaign which will precipitate a general election before the next budget. more..

Deputy Minister Puthirasigamoney Always a Supporter of CWC and Upcountry People

Feb 24 (AT) The newly appointed Deputy Minister of Justice and Law Reform, Vadivelu Puthirasigamoney told the “Asian Tribune” that he never left the Ceylon Workers Congress and thus there was no question of his re-joinging it. Deputy Minister Puthirasigamoney a nominated Member of Parliament from the CWC and earlier he was the Administrative Secretary of the CWC. more..

Sri Lanka to put new conditions on container terminal: report

Feb 24 (LBO) Sri Lanka will cancel a controversial deal for a container terminal at Colombo port and bring new conditions after a consortium led by the Port of Singapore Authority (PSA) won a financial bid, a media report said. The deal hit newspaper headlines with port workers alleging that state-run Sri Lanka Ports Authority (SLPA) was influencing the deal in favour of Hutchison Port Holdings of Hong Kong, whose bid had come second on a ranking. more..

Mother tongue only until tertiary education

Feb 24 (LD) Children should be given education in their mother tongues only, until they complete their secondary education, the National Vernacular Commission has told the government. The Commission has made the recommendation in an interim report issued to coincide with the International Mother Language Day on February 21st. Certain national and international schools, the Law College and the Art Faculty of the Colombo University are holding their academic activities in the English language only, it has pointed out. more..