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EP polls: TMVP ready to join Govt.

Mar 15 (SAMN) The TMVP which swept the board in Monday’s local government elections in the Batticaloa district will decide whether it should join the UPFA and contest the provincial council elections in the East under a common symbol, spokesman Azath Moulana said Friday. Moulana said there was no problem about entering into an alliance with the government if it agreed to offer the Chief Minister’s post to the TMVP since the Tamils were the ethnic majority in the East. more..

Now, a battle against rat fever

Mar 15 (SAMN) With the rise in the number of Leptospirosis (aka Rat Fever) cases being reported world wide, steps have been to prevent a possible outbreak in Sri Lanka, Deputy Director General Health Services Dr. P.G. Mahipala said. The number of cases reported in the country 2007 was 2,195 of which 34 died. Up to February this year 433 cases and 14 deaths had been reported. Leptospirosis, a communicable disease, is reported worldwide but is most common in tropical and subtropical regions. more..

Media freedom flourishing in SL: MR

Mar 15 (SAMN) President Mahinda Rajapaksa said Friday there was no basis for the outcry that there was no media freedom in Sri Lanka as it was well established and safeguarded under his government. Addressing the 60th anniversary celebrations of the ‘Ruhunu Kala Haula’ at the Presidential Secretariat he said there might be personal disputes among individuals but the government should not be held responsible for incidents arising from them. more..

ACHSU tells Health Minister to resign

Mar 15 (SAMN) The medicinal drug shortage in a number of hospitals islandwide has caused hardship to patients. The Health Minister is directly responsible for this situation, President, All Ceylon Health Service Union, Gamini Kumarasinghe said at a press conference Thursday. Accusing the Minister for the shortcomings in the health sector management resulting in inefficiency, the Union said that no attempt has been made to rectify the situation, more..

E-village programme underway in five provinces

Mar 15 (DN) The Secondary Education Modernisation Project (SEMP) of the Ministry of Education along with the President's Office jointly implemented the e-village programme in five provinces aiming at empowering rural communities by improving 'Information Technology' literacy rate, information sharing and creating employment opportunities. The e-village programme was initiated under the Mahinda Chinthana concept of President Mahinda Rajapaksa and more..

Two killed in Badulla flood havoc

Mar 15 (DN) Two persons were killed due to floods caused by torrential rains in Badulla while a landslide damaged two houses. Several roads were under water due to incessant rains cutting off large parts of the district while around 200 people have been displaced as a result of floods in Haputale and Passara. Around seven houses were destroyed by floods in Badulla and Haputale while 161 others have been partially damaged in Badulla, Haliela, Ella and Haputale. more..

Govt. to step up food production drive

Mar 15 (Island) The government has taken note of the current trends of food grain shortages in the world and the increasing costs and will step up the food production drive with a view to grow all food grains the country needs. The Cabinet has sanctioned the appointment of a Presidential Task Force to implement the food production drive, Minister of Agriculture Development and Agrarian Services Maithripala Sirisena said at Thursday’s Cabinet press briefing. more..

Out with honorary degrees , says Karu

Mar 15 (Island) NGOs and various volunteer organisations confer honorary degrees on individuals these days. This trend must be arrested immediately, Public Administration and Home Affairs Minister Karu Jayasuriya said. He made this observation during a conference of District Secretaries held at the Sri Lanka Development Administration Institute in Colombo recently. The Minister pledged to bring this issue to the notice of the Government and more..

Sri Lankan HC warns of recruitment scams in S’pore

Mar 15 (DM) The Sri Lankan High Commission in Singapore has drawn the attention of the public to a number of scams carried out by unscrupulous recruitment agents who obtain large sums of money from Sri Lankans with the promise of education and employment opportunities in Singapore. A large number of Sri Lankans have been abandoned by their agents upon their arrival in Singapore and face serious difficulties, the Foreign Ministry said in a statement, more..

Unions threaten all-out strike

Mar 15 (DM) The drama at the Sri Lanka Rupavihini Corporation took a new turn with yesterday’s attack on Rupavahini Workers Union President Arunasiri Hettige while the Joint Trade Union Federation threatened to launch a general strike. All Ceylon Trade Union Federation President MP Piyasiri Wijenayake told a news conference they would launch a general strike soon after watching the government’s reaction on the issue. more..

Commentary: The new martyrs

Mar 15 (WT) On Feb. 17, two men on a motorcycle gunned down Pastor Neil Edirisinghe and shot his wife in the stomach outside their home in Ampara, Sri Lanka, as their toddler son looked on. Although one would be tempted to think the incident was related to the bitter ethnic conflict ravaging the country, it was not. Local newspapers report that a businessman, now in custody, had hired the gunmen to kill the 37-year old pastor because he had aided his estranged wife's conversion to Christianity. more..

Sri Lanka sets an example by fighting terrorism: PM

Mar 15 (PTI) Sri Lanka has set an example to the whole world by fighting terrorism and establishing democracy in the war-ravaged Eastern part of the country, Prime Minister Ratnasiri Wickramanayaka has said. "The Government which overcame terrorism and established democracy (through the local bodies elections) in the East has set an example in this regard to the whole world," Wickramanayaka told a Pakistan delegation on Friday. more..

Lanka to impose fuel surcharge on power rates

Mar 15 (BN) Sri Lanka, which gets two-thirds of its electricity from oil-fired plants, will impose a fuel surcharge on power rates as record oil prices increase costs. A 30 per cent “fuel adjustment charge” will be levied on users of more than 90 units from March 15, Minister of Power and Energy John Seneviratne told reporters in Colombo today. Sri Lanka’s consumer prices rose the most in at least four years in February as more..

Sri Lankan military says 5 Tamil rebels, 3 soldiers killed in fighting in the north

Mar 15 (AP) Clashes in Sri Lanka's embattled north killed five Tamil Tiger rebels and three soldiers, while air force jets bombed a rebel training camp, the military said Saturday. The combatants were killed Friday in four separate clashes in the Jaffna, Mannar and Welioya regions, the military said in a statement. On Saturday, fighter jets bombed a rebel training camp near their de facto capital of Kilinochchi, the statement said. more..

U.S. stands by Human Rights Report; looks forward to continued Dialogue

Mar 15 (USE) U.S. Ambassador Robert Blake and Minister of Foreign Affairs Rohitha Bogollagama held a constructive discussion on March 14 of the 2007 Report on Human Rights Practices in Sri Lanka that was released this week by the Department of State. The U.S. Government stands by the report. more..

Sri Lanka: U.S. throws lifeline to Tamil Tigers

Mar 15 (Reuters) Smarting at mounting criticism of its human rights record amid escalating civil war, Sri Lanka's government has accused the United States of throwing a lifeline to the widely banned Tamil Tiger rebels. In its annual report on human rights practices, the U.S. State Department said the Sri Lankan state's respect for human rights continued to decline in 2007, citing reports of killings by government agents and more..

Sri Lanka nears purchase of MiG-29s

Mar 15 (IANS) Sri Lanka is in advanced talks with Russia to buy five MiG-29 fighter-bomber aircraft, according to Jane's Defence Forecasts. In a report dated March 14, Jane's quoted Jayantha Wickramasinghe, CEO of Sri Lanka's sole defence equipment buying agency, Lanka Logistics and Technologies Ltd., as saying that talks were 'well under way' for buying four MiG-29 SMs and one MiG-29 UB. more..

Yummy Lanka

Mar 16 (NIP) The crumb fried vegetable cutlets with tomato-chilli sauce set the ball rolling. The soup- sweet potato with roasted garlic - that followed truly refreshed our spirits. We could not stop ourselves from attacking the mango chutney (which was really sweet) and the lime pickle. Well, there was more to come. All you gourmets out there, here’s the latest treat for you. more..

In Pictures: Kokkattichcholai Sivan Temple

Mar 16 (HA) Lord Shiva is the destroyer or transformer. He is viewed as the supreme deity in Hinduism. There are five famous Eashwarams-Sivan temples in Sri Lanka. They are Thirukoneswaram in Trincomalee, Thiruketheeswaram in Mannar, Naguleswaram in Jaffna, Munneswaram in Chilaw, and in Batticaloa. The temple in Kokkattichcholai is a “Thaanrhondreeswarar”. It means a Sivalingam ’sprung up by itself’ and a temple was built later by the villagers in the vicinity over the course of time. more..

Sri Lankan national in court over Heathrow security alert

Mar 16 (AT) Mystery surrounds why the twenty seven year old Sri Lankan Tamil Ketheeswara Uthayakumar has committed one of the worst security breaches at London’s main Heathrow Airport. He was scheduled to appear at Uxbridge Magistrate court in West London to face a charge of aircraft endangerment after being arrested by police near the Northern runway last Thursday. The security breach came less than 24 hours before Queen Elizabeth II declared open a 4.3 billion new terminal, more..

Ganesan assails Sri Lanka's rights record

Mar 16 (TN) Mano Ganesan, Leader of Western People’s Front and Convener of Civil Monitoring Commission (CMC) in a meeting with visiting officials of the European Union, pointing to the culture of impunity prevailing in Sri Lanka, rejected Colombo's proposal to appoint a SAARC commission to monitor rights in Sri Lanka as a "ploy to buy time," and flayed Judge Tilakaratne investigation into disappearances as an exercise to "deceive the nation and the international community." more..

Jayawardene says Sir Lanka ready for Windies

Mar 16 (AFP) Mahela Jayawardene believes Sri Lanka has the firepower, experience, and talent to win their first Test series in the West Indies. The Sri Lanka captain was speaking after his side arrived in the Caribbean for a series of two Tests and three One-day Internationals against Chris Gayle's West Indies. Jaywardene acknowledged that he and his side could be hamstrung throughout the series by the absence of the fast bowling triumvirate of more..

Three arrested in million dollar drug haul

Mar 16 (MN) A Sri Lankan couple and one Maldivian man have been arrested trying to smuggle Rf 12 million (US$1 million) worth of heroin into the country. Maldives Customs Service says the four kilograms worth seized is the largest amount of narcotics ever intercepted in a single haul. The two Sri Lankans were caught at Male' International airport after travelling from Colombo, Sri Lanka, according to police, but the narcotics are believed to have come from Pakistan. more..

India-Sri Lanka power transfer project feasibility report soon

Mar 16 (BL) New Delhi, March 15 The feasibility study for the proposed $450-million mega undersea power transmission link between India and Sri Lanka is slated to be ready shortly. The 200-km submarine cable would enable India to export electricity to the island nation and is likely to be set up with a capacity to wheel around 1,000 MW of electricity, government officials involved in the exercise said. more..

Ramanayake is Bangladesh's fast bowling coach

Mar 16 (CI) Champaka Ramanayake, the former Sri Lankan fast bowler, has been appointed the fast bowling coach of Bangladesh for the next two years. Bangladesh have also roped in the services of former Sri Lankan offspinner Ruwan Kalpage as their high performance head coach to run their National Cricket Academy, which will be set up shortly in Mirpur, Dhaka. more..

Fighting leads to exodus, school closures in North

Mar 16 (UCAN) Another Catholic school in a war-torn northern diocese has closed indefinitely, as the resurgent civil war intensifies. Thadchanamaruthamadhu Roman Catholic Tamil School has been closed since the end of February. Mannar diocese runs the school in Thadchanamaruthamadhu village, about four kilometers from the Shrine of Our Lady of Madhu. "The school is abandoned," Gnanamuthu Esarway told UCA News over the phone on Feb. 28. more..

'Urgent need to protect tropical forests as strategy for preservation of global climate'

Mar 16 (AT) Dr. Palitha Kohona Secretary to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs addressing a major major discussion on climate changed stressed the need for immediate action. He pointed out that Sri Lanka had proposed a number of initiatives to the world, particularly during the Climate Change Convention in Bali. He said that we proposed that the developed world owes a carbon debt to those countries of the world that more..

Gag yourself, it's an order

Mar 16 (LB) The Presidential Secretariat has issued a fresh gag order to all public officials following a similar notice that was circulated by the Foreign Ministry among its missions. The latest circular, signed by Secretary to the President Lalith Weeratunga was issued earlier this month to the secretaries of all Ministries and pertains to the release of official information to mass media or the public by public officers. more..

The govt may have to face more than just soft music

Mar 16 (LB) Though the government was being very positive and optimistic about the way the local government election in the east was held, the euphoria on that count was short lived. When Cabinet met last week there was self congratulation about the Batti election - but before the backslapping could end, murmurs arose about other issues such as the electricity tariff hike and the demand for salary and festival advance increases for government servants. more..

Power struggle

Mar 16 (LB) The proposed new tariff structure for electricity consumers was submitted at last week’s cabinet meeting. Minister W D J Seneviratne explained that consumers who use less than 90 units of electricity will not have to pay higher charges. He claimed that this will exempt 75 per cent of electricity consumers from the new charges. Minister Felix Perera asked cabinet why no effort was being made to maximise the use of solar energy in Sri Lanka. more..

Another split in the UNP?

Mar 16 (LB) UNP Secretary General Tissa Attanayake - who recently flew to India after being excluded from a meeting with President Mahinda Rajapaksa - in an interview with LAKBIMAnEWS fails to deny that a group within the party is trying to oust him. Excerpts: Ln: Is another split brewing in the UNP? TA: There is no split in the party. We are discussing various issues openly. So such differences cannot be considered as splits. more..

Assassinating Tamil parliamentarians: The unceasing waves

Mar 16 (TC) Fifty-one year old Kiddinan Sivanesan was the latest in the long line of Tamil Parliamentarians and ex - Parliamentarians to suffer death through assassination. Sivanesan, a former co - operative society store manager and trade unionist, was returning home to Mallavi after attending Parliament when a claymore mine exploded. Both theTamil National Alliance MP and his vehicle driver were killed. more..

LTTE throws ceasefire bait to Mahinda as HR noose tightens

Mar 16 (SL) Even as the government gets ready to hold provincial council elections in the troubled east in May amidst allegations the recently concluded local government polls in the area was a farce, President Mahinda Rajapakse finds himself coming under increasing pressure by the international community to address the country’s deteriorating human rights record. With a casualty figure of 900 security forces for February alone the government is finding that the war for Wanni is not an easy fight while more..

Govt. and directors caught in legal net as Mihin Lanka crashes

Mar 16 (SL) President Mahinda Rajapakse's cash strapped government refuses to let go of one of its most diabolical projects - Mihin Lanka as it continues to infuse Treasury funds into the humbug budget carrier. The latest extravagance? To bring in a large consignment of expensive ground handling equipment for the carrier that has now virtually shut down. Last month, Mihin Lanka was to lose its A321 leased from Best Air, Turkey, due to more..

Barbarians at the door

Mar 16 (SL) THE old belief is that lightning would strike not once but twice. But lightning strikes many times in certain instances, and ever since Non Cabinet Labour Minister, Mervyn Silva was given a dose of his own medicine within the SLRC premises along with his 'security' goon, with lightning speed, SLRC employees have come under attack, five times so far. Since that fateful day, December 27 last year when Silva was at the receiving end there has been systematic victimisation of SLRC employees, one by one. more..

Abductees reveal abduction horror

Mar 16 (SL) Two of the abducted, one a former UNP parliamentarian and another, a young videographer from Kotahena, were lucky to return home last week. While they should count their blessings for their lives being saved, they still have to contend with the trauma and the perpetual fear of their ordeal. As for young Aseervatham Sooriyakumar (22) who was abducted on February 16, it is indeed a cause for celebration that he was finally released after 23 days in custody. more..

Four frontal strategy to vanquish the LTTE demoralizing to the army

Mar 16 (LG) The Sri Lankan government in its undue haste to win the support of the Sinhalese people and the coalition partners, has taken President Rajapaksa’s manipulations and maneuvers since coming to power in 2005 not very far despite all the fanfare and talk. If he continues to misguide and misdirect the armed forces in the manner he does he will go nowhere. His armed forces have gained minor victories since he came to power, but more..

The Wolves (Part 01)

Mar 16 (LG) December 18th 1985 at Kolavil (A small village in Batticaloa-East of Sri Lanka). It is only a week before Christmas. The Christian family next door seems to have begun making short eats and sweetmeats. Activities in their house attracted Kumar’s attention. They paid no attention to their neighbours. Neither did he have time to notice them. Today the weather has been dull and dreary. It was raining the whole of last week. This whole week, it has worn a sad look. more..

President wants to see 'Prabhakaran'

Mar 16 (LG) President Mahinda Rajapaksa has expressed his interest in watching 'Prabhakaran', the debut film of young filmmaker Thusara Peiris. The film revolving around a suicide bomber who escaped from the LTTE which is slated to be released in April was recently watched by senior military officials including Military Spokesman, Brigadier Udaya Nanayakkara. Special screening of the film was held at the Ridma theater, a cinema hall at the National Film Corporation last week. more..

The sad plight of the ordinary man

Mar 16 (LG) Dear Mr. President, I thought of writing to you as you seem to be blissfully unaware of how we, (the ordinary citizens) are suffering under your administration. Someone should tell you that the cost of living has soared beyond the bearable stage. While you lavishly throw millions of our public money on maintaining your comic band of ministers, advise­rs, sycophants and other hangers-on and carry on an unending war, we are close to starvation. more..

Innocents in the cross-fire or responsible partisans?

Mar 16 (LG) This article is not about whether the military, by calculated recklessness in aerial bombardment, or the LTTE by outright intent in placing bombs in public places, is killing and maiming a larger number of civilians. Rather, I would like to explore in this piece a different question - to what degree is the civilian population in a country at war a party to that war, maybe not to the same degree as the leaders, but still a responsible party? more..

Italian Police put the lid on LTTE Tamil television channel – Euro Television

Mar 16 (AT) Euro Television channel has been shut down. Italian Police has put the lid on the Tamil terrorists’ illegal propaganda machinery. The illegal TV channel transmission was closed from last Thursday (13 March) onwards. It was another setback for the LTTE. Sri Lanka Ambassador Hemantha Warnakulasuriya thanked the Italian authorities profusely for their immediate action to shut down the illegal propaganda machinery emanating from Italian soil operated by the Tamil terrorists. more..

Respect the political aspirations of our people - TMVP Leader Pillaiyan

Mar 16 (AT) Eastern people hitherto without proper Leadership and now they have spoken clearly and everyone should respect that decision: urges TMVP Leader S. Chantirakanthan alias Pillaiyan. “Our people have very clearly expressed their deep-felt aspirations in the recent elections for the nine Local Government bodies. These were the very people languishing for several decades without proper political leadership, but more..

Rice and Human Rights

Mar 16 (AT) Three developments in the week just ended: the Rajapakse administration came under heavy criticism from the US State Department for human rights violations; employees of the state owned Sri Lanka Rupavahini Corporation decided to suspend all live telecasts in protest against the spate of attacks on several of their colleagues; and just 24 hours after the regime declared that it will not intervene in the rice market, rice oligopolists announced that the sky high prices will not come down, despite a bountiful harvest. more..

3 billion wasted on Mihinair, 22 million on fertilizer subsidy - Ravi K

Mar 16 (SLW) Ravi Karunanayake addressing the Media today (14 Mar) at the UNP Media unit asked whether the Govt. can honestly blame the people’s acute sufferings and country’s abysmal economic despair on the war? Is the war responsible for rampant corruption and profligacy of the Govt.? The Mihinair inaugurated for the fun and frolic of the Govt. is running at a loss of Rs. 3 billion. more..

Egoists, fanatics, terrorists, ‘patriots’ and ‘traitors’ in turbulent Sri Lanka

Mar 16 (FI) With the resumption of the war early 2006, the twists and turns in the political process with a military component have exposed the confusing and contradictory roles of the egoists, fanatics, terrorists and pseudo patriots in turbulent Sri Lanka. Their rhetoric and actions are damaging not only the prospects for securing lasting peace but also the future of Sri Lanka as a stable democratic socialist country. more..

US State Dept. report is an extraordinary rendition of events in Sri Lanka

Mar 16 (FI) A panel discussion titled ‘War, Peace and Human Rights: Sri Lanka after the Eastern Elections’, was held on Friday, March 14th, on the sidelines of the Seventh Session of the Human Rights Council in Room XXIV of the Palais des Nations from 13:20 to 15:05. The discussion was moderated by Dr. Nalaka Mendis, Professor of Psychiatry, University of Colombo. The panel consisted of H.E. Dr. Dayan Jayatilleka, Ambassador/Permanent Representative of Sri Lanka to the UN, Geneva, more..

‘Sunday Times’ fails to tell the truth to its readers

Mar 16 (LG) ‘Sunday Times’ published news under ‘odds and ends’ titled ‘Asking for it’ on its March 9, 2008 edition, giving false and misleading story about a visit undertaken by a nine member delegation recently to Sri Lanka. The write up was a cocktail of personal vendetta against the Sri Lanka High Commissioner in the UK and negative and creative news reporting about the visit by the delegation. The news also had given false quotations of President’s conversations. more..

Mihin Lanka swallows Rs.3B in 10 months

Mar 16 (LeN) Mihin Lanka airline has accounted a massive loss of Rs. three billion within the eleven months since inception. The government launched the airline amidst opposition's protests with investments acquired in dubious ways. Mihin Lanka was launched on 2007 April 24 to provide budget flights to Sri Lankan migrant workers to Middle East. Mihin Lanka business plan shows that the state leaders, their entourages and the passengers to India and Middle East were targeted by Mihin Lanka. more..

Birla Sri Lanka cement deal to be passed to new ministry: report

Mar 16 (LBO) An unsolicited proposal by India's Birla cement group will be forwarded by Sri Lanka's construction ministry to the industrial ministry which is in charge of two defunct plants in the island's Jaffna peninsular, a media report said. Sri Lanka Cement Corporation, a fully state-owned unit and Lanka Cement, a Colombo stock exchange listed firm, have two plants in the Kankasanthurai area of the Jaffna peninsula, which the Indians have offered to refurbish and operate. more..