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'Ideal platform for all to board train of peace'

Feb 3 (SO) Implementing the 13th Amendment fully giving powers to Tamils to look after their own affairs will end the national problem, said Minister of Enterprise Development and Investment Promotion Dr. Sarath Amunugama while commending President Mahinda Rajapaksa's willingness to get the support of the majority of political parties. Minister Amunugama told the 'Sunday Observer' that the Tamil groups, which wanted power more than the 13th Amendment have come forward to support the government to resolve the national problem on a compromised situation today. more..

Jobs for Hotel School students in Doha Qatar

Feb 3 (SO) Forty-five Hotel School students who completed a two-month crash course on the hotel sector have been recruited by a leading hotel in Doha Qatar. The remaining 120 students who followed the same course will be given employment in Middle East soon, Deputy Minister of Tourism Faiszer Musthapa said. The Deputy Minister was speaking at a ceremony at the Hotel school Auditorium Colombo. more..

'Sangaree's statement political dynamite!'

Feb 3 (SO) I refer to the opinions expressed by Mr. V. Anandasangaree (VA), the leader of the TULF and Dr. Jayalath Jayawardene, MP, UNP Assistant secretary in "face to face in the Sunday Observer of Jan. 27 and wish to make a few comments in respect of Mr. VA's opinions only because Dr. JJ's views are rather stale and of no consequence. VA says "We had been agitating for a solution based on the federal concept and also offered to accept the Indian model as an alternative-if the term federal is allergic to anyone. more..

Life is like this in Jaffna - Military

Feb 3 (SO) The freedom of the press is assured in the 1978 constitution. Abusing that freedom, last Saturday, an English newspaper carried an article criticising military, propagating false information with unconfirmed facts. At a time when the brutality of LTTE is being unmasked, this misleading story has not only destroyed the values of press freedom but also deliberately painted a fallacious picture of the real ground situation in the north. more..

Eighty years in print

Feb 3 (SO) The Sunday Observer, Sri Lanka's English newspaper with the largest circulation will celebrate its 80th Anniversary, tomorrow. The Observer as it was known then was founded on 4th February 1928. The paper started as the Sunday Observer and Commercial Advertiser on 4th February, 1834. Among the British who served as the Editors of The Observer were E. J. Darley who was in charge when the paper was launched, George Winter, Dr. Christopher Elliott, A. M. Ferguson (1859), John Ferguson (1867), more..

FM Bogolls blasted by President, Chief Govt. whip appointed FM for a day

Feb 3 (LB) Despite widespread speculation, Foreign Minister Rohitha Bogollagama’s head stopped just short of rolling yesterday. However, authoritative sources confirmed that President Mahinda Rajapaksa had “blown a fuse” on Friday over alleged delaying by the Minister of three fresh diplomatic appointments. “He was summoned to Temple Trees to a meeting with President Rajapaksa today and arrived nearly two hours late for a meeting he had called, with foreign ministry staff to discuss the forthcoming SAARC summit in Kandy,” more..

Treating pneumonia with flu medicine

Feb 3 (LB) Opposition Leader Ranil Wickremasinghe Monday flew to India on an invitation tendered hastily by that government to discuss the outcome of the All Party Representatives Committee (APRC) and the prevailing political situation in Sri Lanka. Before leaving for the neighbouring country, he told his party to make public their stance on the Government’s proposal to implement the 13th Amendment and to provide reasons for the UNP’s decision not to attend Independence Day celebrations. more..

Prabha died in a TN hospital? Raw facts or nonsense?

Feb 3 (LB) Last month, President Mahinda Rajapaksa in an interview with NDTV offered to handover Tiger Chieftain Velupillai Prabhakaran to India, if his forces captures the Tiger chieftain. Excerpts of the interview follows: NDTV: Then how will you deal with him because for India, he is a wanted man in connection with the Rajiv Gandhi’s assassination. What do you think? MR: I wonder if India is serious about getting him. He allegedly killed India’s most-loved leader. I don’t think India will pardon him for it. more..

The Galle Literary Festival — two different takes

Feb 3 (LB) A Mardi Gras. ‘An elite third world fashion show, where the rich and the stylish moved from one hall to another’ is how some critics described the recently concluded Galle Literary Festival. The Galle festival was the brainchild of Geoffrey Dobbs the owner of the Sunhouse. He was assisted by Libby Southwell, Juliette Coombe, Seetha Sarwal and a few others. The objective was to boost the image of Galle as Southern Sri Lanka’s most picturesque capital, more..

SLMC to boycott Batti polls?

Feb 3 (NS) Incessant violence in the east is likely to prompt Sri Lanka Muslim Congress (SLMC) to boycott the forthcoming local polls in Batticaloa, SLMC General Secretary and Parliamentarian Hasan Ali has warned. The warning comes in the wake of continuous violence targeted at the SLMC candidates in particular and others in general in the Batticaloa District. An urgent meeting between all the SLMC candidates took place in Eravur Friday where they expressed their fear to campaign and participate in the polls. more..

Celebrating a Diamond Jubilee dripping blood!

Feb 3 (NS) Tomorrow, Sri Lanka commemorates its diamond jubilee of independence from Britain, although there is very little to justify celebration. Anniversaries such as these, are usually marked with clichés to the effect that the nation is at a crossroads but nevertheless provide an opportunistic moment to reflect on the past and plan for the future. The 60th anniversary celebrations are understandably low key. more..

Terminally ill at 60

Feb 3 (NS) Sri Lanka celebrates its diamond jubilee of independence on Monday with pomp and pageantry. It is an appropriate time for a retrospective look at where we stand today as a nation, after 60 years of independence. Sri Lanka was under colonial yoke for over 500 years, beginning with the Portuguese invasion of the Maritime Provinces in 1505. After the non violent struggle for independence led by people of the calibre of F.R. Senanayake, more..

Deal with VAT scam culprits under Public Property Act, says Amarasekera

Feb 3 (NS) Nihal Sri Amarasekera, a professional management consultant who gave evidence before the Presidential Commission of Inquiry to inquire into alleged Value Added Taxes (VAT) defraud of the Inland Revenue Department, said that the misappropriation of VAT collected from citizens is a crime and culprits should be dealt with under the Public Property Act. The commission comprises former High Court Judge M.P. Paranagama (Chairman), R.K.H.M. Fernando (former Inland Revenue Department Director General) and more..

Dambulla bus bomb targeted communal backlash: officials

Feb 3 (Island) The LTTE, struggling on the Vanni and Jaffna (Muhamalai) fronts as the army advanced further into its territory blew up a private bus at Dambulla bus stand yesterday morning killing 20 civilians including 14 women. The blast believed to be caused by a cleverly concealed time bomb left inside the bus by a passenger who got off at Dambulla wounded about 50 men, women and children. more..

Travel advisories have not triggered wide cancellations

Feb 3 (Island) Sri Lanka’s tourism industry breathed a sigh of relief as the grave travel warnings and advisories, which emanated from several key markets across the globe, failed to trigger the feared widespread cancellations during this peak winter season. "There has been no considerable drop in tourist arrivals either", beamed Srilal Miththapala, Vice President, Tourist Hotels Association of Sri Lanka. more..

Colombo happy to work with Norway as facilitator: Rajiva

Feb 3 (Island) The Sri Lanka government was happy to continue with Norway as the Facilitator and hoped the abrogation of the CFA would liberate Norway to work now with Tamil groups that had accepted democracy, since previously they had worked only with the LTTE, Prof. Rajiva Wijesinha, the head of the Peace Secretariat had told Norway’s ambassador in Geneva, Ms. Bente Angell Hansen at a meeting last week. more..

DIG defends govt. decision topress on with celebrations

Feb 3 (Island) Police spokesman DIG N.K. Illangakoon yesterday defended the government’s decision to go ahead with Independence Day celebrations on a grand scale and Deyata Kirula, a six-day government sponsored exhibition despite the increased threat posed by the LTTE. Some sections have expressed grave fears about the participation of school children as the LTTE, now desperate to trigger chaos in the South would target the exhibition. more..

Biscuits to feed malnourished children, not Tigers

Feb 3 (ST) The controversial high-nutrition biscuits, seized by the police last week as a consignment allegedly meant for the LTTE in the Wanni, is in fact an order requested by government officials to ward off a major malnutrition crisis in parts of the north. Official government documents, in the possession of The Sunday Times, clearly shows that it was requested by the Kilinochchi Regional Director of Health Services under a "nutrition rehabilitation programme going on at Kilinochchi and Mullaitivu districts with the help of UNICEF." more..

Guns boom for diamond jubilee

Feb 3 (ST) Sri Lanka marks six decades of independence tomorrow as the nation faces some of the gravest challenges since freedom from British rule. The most important among them is the ongoing separatist war, now a full-fledged Eelam War IV sans the Ceasefire Agreement of February 2002. President Mahinda Rajapaksa, who has vowed to "eliminate terrorism" that has ravaged this island republic for over two decades, will no doubt, reiterate his Government's commitment tomorrow. more..

CBK welcomes probe on Water’s Edge land sale

Feb 3 (ST) Former President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga has welcomed the Supreme Court or 'any relevant body' examining the entire transaction behind the Water’s Edge Golf Club land sale. She has told the Supreme Court that her Cabinet approved the alienation of State land for a private golf course at Battaramulla on the advice of the then BOI (Board of Investment) and the Finance Ministry so as to attract foreign investment into the country. more..

Former service chiefs implicated in shady deals

Feb 3 (ST) A Commission of Inquiry tasked to probe corruption in military procurements has made scathing indictments against three former Commanders of the Army, Navy and Air Force, The Sunday Times reliably learns. In the report handed over to President Mahinda Rajapaksa last Tuesday the Commission chaired by Supreme Court Judge Justice Shiranee Tillekewardena has listed the transactions where the three service commanders were involved and called for legal action against them. more..

Sri Lanka asks for public help to find bus bombing suspects

Feb 3 (AFP) Sri Lanka's police Sunday sought public help to track down two men believed to have planted a powerful bomb on a crowded bus that killed 20 passengers and wounded more than 60. The parcel bomb, left on an overhead rack of a long-distance bus in northern Sri Lanka, was set off on Saturday morning using a mobile phone, a police spokesman said. "We have information that two people got off the bus before the bomb went off," police Deputy Inspector-General Kingsley Ekanayaka said. more..

Rajapaksa third best leader of free Sri Lanka: survey

Feb 3 (IANS) President Mahinda Rajapaksa is the third best among Sri Lanka's leaders since the country became independent in 1948, shows a survey. Conducted in January by Nielsen and the Sunday Times newspaper, the survey shows that Rajapaksa is number three, with 21 percent of the 519 respondents preferring him to other leaders, past and present. President R. Premadasa, who ruled between 1988 and 1993, was marginally ahead of him with support from 22 percent respondents. more..

Sri Lanka blast in Colombo zoo

Feb 3 (LBO) An explosion inside a zoological garden in a southern suburb of the Sri Lanka capital Colombo has injured four, the military said, a day after a bus bombing killed 20 civilians in the central province of the island. Military spokesman Udaya Nanayakkara said they were investigating the blast which was believed to have been caused by a hand grenade. Eyewitnesses said visitors to the zoo were seen fleeing the area. more..

Sri Lanka suicide bombing kills 10

Feb 3 (AP) A female suicide bomber attacked the main railway station in the Sri Lankan capital Sunday, killing at least 10 people and wounding 93 others, officials said. Military spokesman Brig. Udaya Nanayakkara said the bomber got down from a train and then blew herself up. "I was near my counter and I heard a big blast. When I looked behind I saw a policeman bleeding," said Ravindra Pinto, a ticket inspector at the station. more..

Sri Lanka marks freedom day amid bombs and bloodshed

Feb 3 (AFP) Sri Lanka braced for more violence as suspected Tamil rebels set off bomb attacks in the capital on the eve of celebrations to mark independence day, officials said Sunday. Tamil Tiger guerrillas struck in the heart of Colombo, with a suicide bomber killing at least 10 passengers and wounding more than 100 at the main railway station despite a security dragnet in place for Freedom Day festivities on Monday, police said. more..

Sri Lanka beef up security after run-in with hoons

Feb 4 (SMH) SRI LANKA were forced to increase security around their team hotel in Tasmania after a group including Muttiah Muralitharan was pelted with an egg and abused. While Sri Lanka coach Trevor Bayliss dismissed the incident as "a non-event", Cricket Australia was so concerned it arranged for extra police guards after the incident on Thursday night. The visiting side's chief selector, Don Arunasiri, was hit by an egg, while more..

60th National Day ceremony will be held at the Galle Face

Feb 4 (AT) The 60th National Day ceremony will be held at the Galle Face Green tomorrow under the patronage of President Mahinda Rajapaksa. Presidential secretariat said the ceremony will be open to the public and all those who would like to participate in this event are requested to assemble near the Lake House building, from where free transport will be provided to Galle Face Green. The ceremony will also be telecast live on SLRC and several other channels. more..

Human Rights Watchdogs, Neo-colonialism and the Stray Dog Population of Colombo

Feb 4 (GV) International human rights organisations accuse the Sri Lanka government, the LTTE and the paramilitary groups operating under the aegis of government portfolios or official military protection—like the EPDP and the TMVP—of continuous violations and killings. The government and its supporters scorn these accusations as neo-colonial interventions in the affairs of the nation and counter that these foreign NGOs ignore LTTE brutalities. more..

The APRC process: From hope to despair

Feb 4 (GV) The damp squib of an incoherent, vague and poorly crafted two page document that finally emerged from the All Party Representative Committee highlights two important and worrying lessons. First, it seems that in the area of constitutional reform in general, Sri Lanka is moving backwards rather than forwards. The two page document is clearly Thirteenth Amendment MINUS. more..

Teachers deprive a student from receiving education after getting forcible statement

Feb 4 (AHRC) The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has received information regarding the forcible deprivation of the education of a 13-year-old student by teachers in Sri Lanka on 19 November 2007. The teachers allegedly forced her to sign a statement that she had been raped and is accordingly pregnant, which a medical report later proved to not be true. The principal issued a leaving certificate and did not allow her to come to the school. more..

Be Together For All : Another Game in the War on Terror

Feb 4 (LG) A source close to the government circle said that there is discontent within ranks in the government forces that Senior Officials are financially thriving since the current escalation of war. Brigadiers, senior commanders, navy personnel, air force officials and even senior police staff have become mega rich in the climate of life and death war situation in the country. These sources say some high ranking officials have bought exclusive luxury houses and building properties that their normal salaries can ill afford. more..

We must value our freedom

Feb 4 (LG) This year marks Sixty fourth anniversary of our Independence from British rule one of the most prolonged eras of domination by an imperial power in the long history of this country. We had been ruled by the British from 1815 to 1948. There is a propensity towards the belief among the people of this country that we had won our independence without a single drop of blood being shed to achieve it. In fact some of the national leaders of yesteryear were recorded as saying that: we won this independence almost without any effort on our part. more..

Independence & Dependent Leaders

Feb 4 (LG) When will Sri Lanka be independent? There are many people who think that in 1948 we had a head start compared to most countries in Asia and Africa and that many countries wanted to follow our example. However fifty six years after February 1948 we are trying to follow everybody else without knowing where we are going or what we need. In 1948 we had a University that was supposed to be in good shape and soon after some newly established universities in our region wanted the expertise of some of our academics to direct their faculties. more..

Prelude to independence

Feb 4 (LG) In October 1941, his Majesty’s government in England issued a declaration recognising the urgency and importance of constitutional reforms to change the political pattern of Sri Lanka, and suggesting that the position would be examined after the Second World War (1939-1945). Sir Andrew Caldecott who was the Governor of Sri Lanka, during the greater part of the War, came to the island to solve the political deadlock caused by the decision of the State Council to put an end to the Donoughmore Constitution in force then. more..

Post Independence foreign policy of Sri Lanka - an Appraisal

Feb 4 (LG) Among the many fields of achievement of Sri Lanka throughout its exceptionally long and truly glorious history of over 2500 years, foreign policy was one in which it excelled and showed conspicuous ability. This record in fact began rather draw with the summit of the rapport between the mighty emperor Asoka and King Devanampiya Tissa of Sri Lanka and this tradition of Sri Lanka moving with the high and mighty and gaining their confidence has been one of the features of Sri Lankan diplomacy to which the Non-Aligned Summit in Colombo in 1976 bears witness. more..

US blames Tamil Tigers for Sri Lanka blasts

Feb 4 (IANS) The US Sunday 'strongly' condemned the bomb blasts in Sri Lanka and blamed the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) for the attacks just ahead of the country's independence day Monday. 'The United States strongly condemns the terrorist bombing on Feb 3 at Fort railway station and Dehiwela Zoo in Colombo, and on Feb 2 in a bus in Dambulla,' a release from the US embassy here said. more..

Sri Lanka to screen trains, buses from north

Feb 4 (IANS) Sri Lanka Sunday said that buses coming from the troubled north would be stopped at the border between the Tamil-dominated region and the Sinhalese-speaking south, following the blast at Colombo's main railway station that killed 11 people and injured over 100. Passengers and goods heading for towns in the south would be stopped at Medawachchiya on the border and would be transferred into separate buses after due checking for bombs. more..

Buddhism, Nationalism and Politics

Feb 4 (FI) On 4 February 2008, Sri Lanka will be in the 60th year of independence. Although the Government will celebrate the day pompously, the people carrying the burden of the internal war and the high cost of living will have little cause to rejoice. Politicians, particularly those who have benefited tangibly and those anxious to seek power that could be easily abused under the system introduced to serve the self-interests of the power holders will more..

Freedom, what does it mean in Sri Lanka

Feb 4 (AT) Anything to be meaningful in any country it should emanate from the people of that country,- they should be consulted, discuss with them and the final decisions would have to be arrived at with the full consent of the people within the framework of natural justice, fair-play and according to conventions, covenants of the United Nations to which the country is a signatory. Sri Lanka people are left out in the decision making process. more..

'LTTE Targeting Innocent Civilians, Prabhakaran’s Whereabouts Unknown'

Feb 4 (AT) In an interview with the Asian Tribune, Dr. Keliya Rambukkwella, Minister of Foreign Employment Promotion and Welfare and Government Spokesman for Defence and National Security called the latest suicide bomb attacks acts of treacherous terrorism. LTTE has targeted incident civilians in a desperate move he added. He also stated that the whereabouts of Velupillai Prabhakaran are difficult to decipher. more..

Heart to Heart With Somawansa Amerasinghe (2)

Feb 4 (AT) Somawansa Amerasinghe analysed JVP’s stand on equality before the law. He stated “I am not blaming only the Colonial rulers. I am blaming all the leaders, Sinhalese, Tamil and Muslims who led the country after 1948. They formed the Ceylon National Congress in 1919, if I remember correctly; they could not carry on with that great effort after 1921, due to mistakes made by everyone. more..

Humanitarian Aid to Sri Lanka

Feb 4 (AT) Family members and neighbors help each other in times of crises; so it is in the case of the world family-although some in this part of the world don’t seem to understand such sentiments of the world family; as such they brand those volunteering to assist as do-gooders! Capitalism-meaning private sector oriented economies and what is left of communism-meaning state enterprise oriented economies are two major divisions in the world; more..

Let us renew our pledge to move in unity towards a New Sri Lanka – President

Feb 4 (AT) President Mahinda Rajapakse in his Independence Day message has emphasized on the need for unity of the people in the country for a New Sri Lanka and of the two challenges country faces - the challenge of the eradicating terrorism and the eradication of Poverty. Sri Lanka’s sixtieth independence anniversary is celebrated today in Sri Lanka and all over where Sri Lankans lives with and in unity. more..

Scandal gnaws at Buddha's holy tree in India

Feb 4 (Reuters) Tales of corruption, looting and religious rivalry are swirling around the spot where Buddha is said to have gained enlightenment in eastern India some 2,500 years ago, sullying one of Buddhism's holiest sites. Buddhist scriptures describe it as the "Navel of the Earth", and 100,000 pilgrims and tourists visit every year, packing the town of Bodh Gaya in Bihar state and its Mahabodhi Temple. more..

Bomb warning ahead of Sri Lanka Independence parade

Feb 4 (Reuters) A caller claiming to be from a little known Sri Lankan rebel group warned of bomb attacks on Independence Day celebrations on Monday due to take place in the capital Colombo within hours. Sri Lanka's military said the group, Ellalan Forces, was a codename used by Tamil Tiger rebels behind attacks in the capital including one on Sunday when 11 people were killed in a rail station bombing. more..

Sri Lanka blocks SMS on independence day

Feb 4 (AFP) Sri Lanka's telecom networks Monday blocked text messaging on mobile phones as part of security measures for the island's independence day celebrations, the phone operators said. The main mobile service provider Dialog, in a message to its subscribers, said SMS (short message services) would not be available for 12 hours, the duration of independence day festivities. more..

Sri Lankan independence: 60 years of communalism, social decay and war

Feb 4 (wsws) February 4, 2008 marks 60 years since Sri Lanka’s formal independence from Britain. The very character of today’s official celebrations—a military parade under conditions of a security lockdown in Colombo and a civil war raging in the north—is testimony to the complete political bankruptcy of the Sri Lankan ruling elites. Six decades of independence have brought ordinary working people nothing but communal conflict, more..

Independent life in a 60 year old island paradise

Feb 4 (SLW) The first years after independence were good. Ceylon was no poor country though we were not a developed country. We had enough foreign reserves and we earned more from the Korean War. Our rubber fetched good money for us. We had free education, free health and we ate wholly subsidised rice on the rice ration book. There were Peakfreen biscuits, IXL jam and Reeve’s colours for the affluent children and Ole Spice for the well groomed gentlemen. more..

Security Update from Colombo

Feb 4 (SLW) At least 12 people were killed and over 90 others injured, some seriously, when a LTTE female suicide bomber blew herself up on the 3rd platform of the Fort Railway Station at 2pm today. Six school boys, all from the D.S. Senanayake College (Colombo) baseball team and their coach were among those killed. The suicide bomber was a young woman, light skinned and very attractive. She had disembarked from a train plying from Matara to Vavuniya. more..