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Sri Lanka Tamil Parliamentarian shooting suspect may be coerced

Jan 2 (TW) Parliamentarian T. Maheswaran and one of his bodyguards were killed and 12 people were injured when a gunman opened fire at the MP and other worshippers at the Ponnambalavaneswarar temple, a renowned shrine for Lord Shiva near the Colombo port. The killing of a Tamil democratic leader T. Maheswaran comes amidst a world mourning the brutal killing of Benazir Bhutto, leader of Pakistan People’s Party and the best hope of restoring democracy and order in Pakistan. more..

Low rupee depreciation rate is evidence `analysts were wrong': central bank

Jan 2 (LR) The central bank said Tuesday the Sri Lankan rupee fell just one percent against the greenback (US dollar) in 2007 even as it pooh-poohed some analysts who had predicted a sharper fall. The USD/LKR pair closed at 108.72 at the end of trading on December 31, helped by a state bank which nudged the rupee a bit higher toward the end of the trading day. The central bank said the year’s closing level showed depreciation of just one percent against the greenback when compared with the 107.71 at the end of 2006. more..

Monsoon flooding subsides, needs under review

Jan 2 (IRIN) Eastern Sri Lanka is beginning to dry out from heavy flooding brought on by monsoon rain during much of December which at its height caused the displacement of 250,000 people, according to government officials. Farms, infrastructure and houses have been damaged, and public health and other concerns remain, but the majority of people displaced by the floods have returned home. “We will need assistance for the reconstruction of houses,” more..

Daily Mirror reflects distorted picture on SLRC's security issue

Jan 2 (MoD) The Daily Mirror, a Sri Lankan English daily continuing on its sordid media operation against the Defence Ministry and the armed forces, today (January 1) posted its latest canard on the change over of the company overseeing the security of Sri Lanka Rupavahini Corporation. Both on its printed and online editions; the paper carries an article "Top Government Official's firm to takeover SLRC security" which has been carefully worded to mislead the public over the issue. more..

A bloody new year dawns

Jan 2 (ML) As another annus horribilis drew to a close the brutal assassination of UNP MP T. Maheswaran on new year’s day in a place of worship indicated the coming year will not be any less grotesque. The January 1 tragedy portends another year of political upheaval and ethnic strife even as the government continues to press forward with its military initiatives and brings back tragic memories of TNA MP Joseph Pararajasingham who was gunned down in church on Christmas Day two years ago. more..

IGP points finger at LTTE for MP’s slaying

Jan 2 (ML) IGP Victor Perera yesterday sought to pin the blame of UNP MP T. Maheswaran’s killing on the LTTE. In a statement made to the state media, Perera has said that following the initial investigations carried out by the police following the murder, a micro pistol was found where the suspect was boarded in Wattala. The micro pistol according to Perera were similar to those used by LTTE cadres. more..

UNP wants interpol probe on Maheswaran

Jan 2 (ML) The UNP yesterday accused the government of being responsible for the murder of Colombo District UNP parliamentarian T. Maheswaran and called for an independent investigation by Interpol. General Secretary UNP Tissa Attanayake, at a media briefing held in Colombo yesterday accused President Mahinda Rajapakse and Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapakse of working hand in glove with the killer by reducing the slain MP’s security a fortnight back. more..

Maheswaran’s pleas fell on deaf ears

Jan 2 (ML) I was on holiday leave after one hectic month of budget coverage when the call came through. It was UNP Parliamentarian Thyagarajah Maheswaran complaining that his security had been unceremoniously withdrawn. Just the previous week, we filed a story on the withdrawal of security of some legislators and the abduction of TNA legislators’ family members. We also spoke to him to obtain a comment. more..

Pilots Union told deal with Emirates won’t be extended

Jan 2 (BL) President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s administration has indicated to Pilots Union that the deal with Emirates will be discontinued while the tussle between national carrier and the budget airline raged further. The government owned budget carrier, Mihin Lanka, survived another storm when SriLankan airlines agreed to restore ground handling services which it rejected yesterday morning owing to non payment of dues. more..

Kicking ’08 off with a bang!

Jan 2 (BL) The political firmament became restive early this year after UNP Colombo District Parliamentarian T. Maheswaran was gunned down as he went to a kovil in Kotahena to invoke blessings for the New Year that had just dawned. No doubt all those holidaying politicos (some of them on our tax money no doubt) all over the world were given rude wake up calls that were announcing the tragedy back home. more..

Country to lose billions in fishy iron deal

Jan 2 (BL) Sri Lanka is set to lose billions of rupees in the coming years, by allowing a private company with Indian affiliations the sole mining rights to excavate an iron bore mine in Kokaragoda Kanda, Palawatta. The mine is spread across 65 acres and contains high quality iron bore amounting to millions of tonnes. According to JVP Parliamentarian U.P.S. Gunasekera, ‘Uva Magnetic Company’ proposes to export unprocessed iron bore to the Indian tycoon Mitthal. more..

Maheswaran killed before Parliament bombshell

Jan 2 (BL) Next Tuesday (8) would have been an important day for Colombo District Parliamentarian Thiagarajah Maheswaran, for he was to expose in Parliament the culprits behind mayhem in Jaffna. “It would have been the D-day for the culprits who are responsible for the turmoil in the district. It would have also been the day when the wolf in sheep’s clothing was to be revealed,” highly placed sources said. more..

Meethirigala Forest Hermitage marks 40th Anniversary

Jan 2 (AT) Meethirigala Nissarana Wanaya, one of Sri Lanka's most respected and largest Buddhist Forest Hermitages, celebrated its 40th year of existence, on December 23 (Unduvap Poya Day). The occasion was marked with the laying of foundation stones for a new building complex at the base camp of the Hermitage to provide better accommodation facilities for lay Buddhist visitors and meditation practitioners. more..

Sri Lanka set for price increases as war escalates

Jan 2 (AFP) Sri Lanka is set to raise the prices of basic foods such as potatoes and sugar as well as cooking gas, officials announced Tuesday, fanning fears of galloping inflation in the conflict-wracked island. Inflation is already running at 17.5 percent in the tropical country, whose economy has been slowing amid an escalating war between government forces and Tamil rebels fighting for an independent homeland. more..

Sri Lanka equity markets to face tough conditions in 2008: analysts

Jan 2 (LBO) Sri Lanka's stock market is expecting tough conditions ahead with large government borrowings keeping interest rates high and corporate earnings expected to take a hit in weaker economic conditions. The stock market was upbeat during the first quarter of 2007 due to lower interest rates and inflation and better corporate earnings. "This year, we do not see the interest rates falling in the short term," more..

Sri Lanka will "focus on a more people centred diplomacy in 2008"

Jan 2 (AT) In a directive to the Sri Lankan missions abroad Foreign Minister Rohitha Bogollagama called for a people centred diplomacy coupled with a broadened economic emphasis in 2008. He listed major achievements in the sphere of foreign relations during 2007 due to the extensive travel done by President Mahinda Rajapaksa and himself in an attempt to reach a wide range of international audiences. more..

'Protection of fundamental human rights is a responsibility of a democratic government'

Jan 2 (GV) Any government genuinely looking after the interests of its people would stand for pluralism and the fundamental democratic and human rights of its people. Thus that government will be obliged to take all the necessary steps to uphold the rule of law and to establish and maintain appropriate mechanisms to prevent the abuse of power and protect the life and liberty of every individual. more..

Church organizes Christmas event for prisoners, families

Jan 2 (UCAN) The Church arranged separate Christmas family get-togethers this year for female and male Christian inmates of the Colombo prison. Male prisoners convicted of criminal offenses such as murder, theft, fraud and drug dealing, along with detainees awaiting court verdicts, joined loved ones, exchanging embraces and shedding tears, at the prison's Buddhist meditation hall on Dec. 16. more..

President marks tsunami anniversary by beating the war drums

Jan 2 (wsws) With more than 21,000 Sri Lankans still wallowing in squalid camps three years after the terrifying tsunami that struck the region on December 26, 2004, President Mahinda Rajapakse has used the anniversary, not to pledge more rapid reconstruction, but to defend his government’s resumption of civil war. Addressing a meeting to mark the occasion on December 26 in Matara, a southern town where the population is largely Sinhalese, Rajapakse insisted on the importance of “defeating terrorism”. more..

Sri Lankan tsunami victims speak out

Jan 2 (wsws) World Socialist Web Site reporters in Sri Lanka spoke with survivors of the 2004 tsunami in Peraliya, in southern Sri Lanka’s Galle district, and Moratuwa, in the Colombo suburbs, just before the third anniversary of the catastrophe. Peraliya, a coastal village in the Galle district and 95 kilometres from Colombo, was one of the areas most affected by the tsunami. According to official reports, 1,559 people were killed and 226 lost, presumed dead, in the district with 12,645 houses totally or partially damaged. more..

EPDP Condemns & Blamed LTTE on Assassination of Maheshwaran

Jan 2 (LG) “We are deeply saddened and shocked to hear the assassination of our dear friend Mr. T. Maheshwaran at the dawn of the New Year when all the people of this country belonging to every community with different faiths were engrossed in religious performances hoping for peace and harmony to prevail in the ensuing New Year,”according to press statement realsed by the EPDP, a pro-Government Tamil political party. more..

A Host of Opportunities for Sri Lanka Exporters at the South Asia Commodity Fair

Jan 2 (LG) A record number of participants totalling 53 enterprises/companies displayed their products at the Sri Lanka pavilion at the first ever South Asia Commodity Fair, which was held from 28th to 30th December 2007, at the Beijing Exhibition and Convention Center attracting a whole host of opportunities for Sri Lanka exporters to penetrate the Chinese market. more..

2008 - Luv'ly Wishes That Needn't Turn Out For Us

Jan 2 (ISL) The next day gave life to many stories including one that said the President was happy to remove Dr. Mervyn Silva from his position of MP that would take away the ministerial posting and all powers, perks and privileges that goes along with that and appoint him as the Chairman of SLRC for making Rupavahini so popular within half a day. Yet it wasn’t a bad closing at year end for the SLRC that was all along labelled as a stooge station of the government in power. more..

Court permits burial of Maheswaran remains

Jan 2 (LD) Colombo Additional Magistrate Ravindra Premaratne today granted permission for the burial of the remains of slain UNP MP T. Maheswaran. Chief Judicial Medical Officer of Colombo Dr. Ananda Samarasekara, who performed the inquest, had recommended that there was no necessity for another post mortem examination. A lone gunman struck when Maheswaran was leaving Ponnambala Vaneswara Kovil in Kochchikade yesterday after participating in religious observances. more..

Identification documents of woman suicide bomber to TID

Jan 2 (LD) Colombo Additional Magistrate Ravindra Premaratne today ordered the Commissioner of Registration of Persons to handover to the Colombo Terrorist Investigation Division (TID) all identification documents of the female suicide bomber who came for a failed mission to kill Social Services Minister Douglas Devananda. These documents include the woman’s National Identity Card and the papers she had furnished along with her application for the NIC to the Department of Registration of Persons. more..

US condemns Maheswaran killing & Slave Island bomb blast

Jan 2 (LD) The United States has condemned the killing of parliamentarian T. Maheswaran and the blast that targeted a military bus in Slave Island. “The United States condemns the assassination on January 1 of Thiyagarajah Maheswaran, United National Party Member of the Sri Lankan Parliament,” the US Embassy in Colombo said in a statement. “We express our sympathy to the family of Mr. Maheswaran, his parliamentary colleagues, and the people of Sri Lanka.” more..

UNP wants IGP summoned to Parliament over Maheswaran murder

Jan 2 (LD) The United National party is to ask the Speaker to summon IGP Victor Perera to Parliament over his statement that the LTTE was responsible for the murder of party MP T. Maheswaran. The police chief had made the remark without the support of any evidence from the magisterial inquiry or the government analyst’s report, UNP parliamentarian Lakshman Kiriella told the media in Colombo today. more..

CID probes 10 media men involved in Mervyn Silva episode

Jan 2 (LD) The Criminal Investigation Department has identified 10 media men who came from the outside and got involved in the Mervyn Silva episode at Sri Lanka Rupavahini Corporation last week. Investigations are underway to find out how they entered the premises and also whether they provoked the SLRC staff against the Labour Minister, police sources said today (Jan. 02nd). more..

Kudu Lal attempts to escape from country

Jan 2 (LeN) Lal Peris alias Kudu (heroine) Lal who was among the goons that broke into the Sri Lanka Rupavahini Corporation premises to assault the News Directoris reportedly attempting to escape from the country. TV channels broadcast shots of Kudu Lal standing close to Mervin Silva. It is reported that he will leave the country under a special instruction. The police team that is investigating the incident under the instructions of DIG Colombo has recorded a statement from Nuwan Udaya Gunathilaka of Kolonnawa now in remand. more..

Single Vaccine for five deceases

Jan 2 (GDI) A single Vaccine known as Haemophillus Influenzae Type B, has been introduced to protect children from five deceases. According to the Ministry of Health and Nutrition children under five years as a single vaccine from yesterday instead of 5 vaccines, triple and other vaccines for Hepatitis “B” and Pneumonia. The administration of their new vaccine will be started as a Pentavalent vaccine in 3 doses for Children. more..

Party Leaders express their sentiments on the demise of T. Maheshwaran

Jan 2 (GDI) The General Secretary of the Jathika Hela Urumaya (JHU), Rev. Omalpe Sobhitha issuing a statement states that the assassination of MP T. Maheshwarn is a blow on Buddhist ideology and that speedy action should be taken to round up the culprits. It is no secret that various forms of links prevailed between Mr. Maheshwaran and the LTTE. It could be a boomerang from that quarter or a warning to those involved with terrorists. more..

SLTB Records Rs. 14m profit

Jan 2 (GDI) The Sri Lanka Transport Board recorded a major turnaround by showing a net profit of Rs. 14 million in 10 depots across the country, according to ministry sources. Sources added that this is particularly significant since SLTB had previously recorded losses due to maladministration and malpractices. Ten depots, Kurunegala South, Avissawella, Deraniyagala, Nawalapitiya, Nuwara Eliya, Batticaloa, Kalmunai, Valachchenai, Central Bus Stand in Pettah and more..

Rupavahini security changed, heads to roll

Jan 2 (LNP) A new security service has been at the Sri Lanka Rupavahini Corporation following the incident where Labour Minister Mervyn Silva and a group of his goons attacked the News Director. A member of the employees association of the SLRC told The Island that the earlier security service was withdrawn as they had faile to perform their duties correctly on the day of incident. The new service had been given strict instruction that they should be very careful in admitting outsiders to the SLRC premises. more..

No development possible till terrorism wiped out - PM

Jan 2 (LNP) `People who had taken law into their hands should not be recognised. Terrorism was also a case of the law taken into the hands of a small group of people. Until we wipe out terrorism from our country we will not be able to develop our country,` Prime Minister Rathnasiri Wickremanayake said, addressing his staff, on New Year`s day. `There is a group of terrorists who are trying to destroy the country and whatever political views we hold or whatever group we belong to we should support the armed forces who are sacrificing a lot to protect the country.` more..

JVP demands Bill to bake Prima

Jan 2 (LNP) The JVP is demanding that the Government brings in an urgent Bill to amend the clause in the Consumer Affairs Authority Act, which made way for the Prima Company to increase the price of wheat flour as and when it wanted. `We too could bring a Bill to amend this but according to procedure it will take another six months if we submit it now. The best option is for the government to bring an urgent Bill and then we too would support it to scrap the law permitting Prima to raise flour prices without the Government`s approval,` more..

People in east don’t want an election

Jan 2 (SAMN) The people in the east do not want an election due to the situation prevailing in the area, the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) said Tuesday. TNA Trincomalee parliamentarian K. Thurairetnasingham said the political and security situation was not conducive to hold a general election at the momen or in the near futuret. He stated that the TNA was taking steps to stop the elections from getting underway. more..

Mihin in the middle of airlines tussle

Jan 2 (SAMN) President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s administration has indicated to the Pilots Union that the deal with Emirates will be discontinued while the tussle between national carrier and the budget airline raged further with the government owned budget carrier, Mihin Lanka, surviving another storm when SriLankan airlines agreed to restore ground handling services which it rejected Tuesday morning owing to non payment of dues. more..

All parties condemn killing

Jan 2 (SAMN) Political parties roundly condemned Tuesday's assassination of UNP MP T. Maheswaran while he was performing religious observances at Sivan Hindu Kovil in Kotahena. The TNA held the government responsible for the assassination saying there appeared to be a nexus between the drastic reduction in the security provided to Maheswaran a few days ago and the shooting that took place yesterday. more..

CID interrogates Mervyn Silva

Jan 2 (SAMN) The Criminal Investigation Department Tuesday questioned Minister Mervyn Silva regarding his part in a melee at the SLRC recently. A team of CID policemen, led by an Inspector, visited the minister’s residence in the morning and interrogated him for almost three hours and recorded a statement, a senior CID officer said. The CID also questioned Sumedha Atulasiri the Deputy Director General (News and Current Affairs) of SLRC on Monday evening for two hours regarding the incident. more..

SLFP condemns

Jan 2 (DN) The Sri Lanka Freedom party yesterday vehemently condemned the killing of Colombo District UNP MP T. Maheshwaran while he was engaged in religious activities. SLFP General Secretary Minister Maithripala Sirisena in a media release issued yesterday said even religious places have been used for perpetrating such brutal killings. It is regrettable that the MP has been killed while he was engaged religious activities at Shiwam Kovil, Kotahena. more..

Resolve to create people-friendly public service - Minister

Jan 2 (DN) “The Government servants should resolve to view the IDPs with a humanitarian angle in providing services to the IDPs due to war and natural disasters,” said Resettlement and Disastor Relief Services Minister Rishad Bathiudeen. The Minister delivering his new year message said: “IDPs and Refugees have to be resettled in safety and in dignity in their birth places or in an alternative habitat.” more..

Police expect injured killer to spill the beans

Jan 2 (Island) The police expect the injured killer of UNPMP T. Maheswaran to divulge vital information to track the mastermind of the assassination and establish the motive. The National Hospital Director Dr. Hector Weerasinghe told The Island last evening that the condition of the suspect was stable. "He is recovering and there is a heavy police guard for him," he said. A senior police officer said the police were eagerly waiting to interrogate the suspect. more..

Schools reopen today

Jan 2 (Island) Most schools reopen for the new year today, except those where the GCE O/L answer scripts are being evaluated which will reopen on January 10. Grade five scholarship winners will be admitted to their new schools on January 21, Additional Secretary Ministry of Education W. Dharmadasa told The Island. Evaluation of answer scripts is being conducted in 82 schools. 33,833 students have passed the fifth standard scholarship examination. This is 9000 more than the previous year. more..

Juvenile mothers accommodated in special centre: NCPA

Jan 2 (DM) The National Child Protection Authority (NCPA) said 21 juvenile mothers are accommodated in a special centre maintained by an NGO under the purview of the Authority at present. “All these mothers are under the age of 18 and had been victims of various forms of sexual abuse. We are keeping them under our care till the legal proceedings relating to their court cases are over. Until then we are trying our best to rehabilitate them mentally and physically under various programmes,” more..

Fmr. security officer identified as suspect

Jan 2 (DM) Parliamentarian T. Maheswaran’s security officer L. Dharmasiri speaking to the Daily Mirror from his hospital bed alleged that Mr. Maheswaran was shot dead by one of his former security officers. The suspect identified as Vasanthan, was admitted to the National Hospital in a critical condition and kept under heavy police and army protection, hospital sources said. His national identify card carries the name Valentine with his place of residence as Jaffna. more..

Strike by Sri Lankan food importers may affect India

Jan 2 (IANS) Indian exporters of essential foods to Sri Lanka may be hit hard if importers and distributors in the island carry out a threat to go on strike against the Sri Lankan government's bid to enter the trade on unequal terms. 'India is one of the major suppliers of essential foods to Sri Lanka. Most of the onions, potatoes, sugar, chick peas and all the chillies come from India,' more..

Vaiko appeals to PM to drop plan to visit Colombo

Jan 2 (PTI) MDMK chief Vaiko appealed to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to drop his plan to visit Sri Lanka to participate in the National Day celebrations on Feb 4, alleging that Colombo had negated provisions of the Indo-Sri Lankan accord. "The island republic's supreme court in a recent verdict has nullified the merger of North and East provinces of that count highest judicial body of a country has negated an international treaty. more..

Renewed fighting delays reconstruction in north and east

Jan 2 (IRIN) Three years after the tsunami devastated Sri Lanka, the island’s eastern and northern districts which were hardest hit, lag far behind southern areas in post-tsunami recovery. The rest of the country is showing impressive results, according to officials at the Reconstruction and Development Agency (RADA), who say over 90 percent of the intended new houses have been constructed. more..

Sri Lanka raises hotel rates amid bomb attacks: officials

Jan 2 (AFP) Sri Lanka's luxury hotels raised their rates on Wednesday despite an escalating ethnic civil war that triggered a 20 percent drop in tourists. Colombo's 20 city hotels increased their minimum room rates to 105 dollars from 70 dollars to boost revenues and raise staff wages, said Shanthi Kumar of the Colombo City Hotels Association. The drop in tourism is "of concern but our staff are finding it hard to keep up with the rising cost of living and we need to raise their wages and increase our revenues," more..

Central Bank sees 2008 GDP growth at 7 pct

Jan 2 (Reuters) Sri Lanka's 2008 economic growth is estimated at 7 percent while annual inflation is expected to be brought down to 10 to 11 percent by end of this year, the governor of the central bank said on Wednesday. "The economy is expected to be broad based and grow by 7 percent in 2008," Governor Ajith Nivard Cabraal said, while announcing the monetary and financial sector policies for 2008. more..