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Ethnicity-based devolution: A mine field

Mar 20 (SLW) Advocates of maximum devolution under the 13th Amendment better think twice before urging the government to act on it. Recent developments in India as well as not-so-recent events there serve us as a warning on this issue. Constitutional pundits better pay attention to them before making irreversible decisions. On February 29 an unidentified armed gang attacked the office of the well-known veteran Hindi movie star Amitabh Bachchan in Mumbai. more..

PCB confident of sorting money issues with Sri Lanka

Mar 20 (IANS) Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) officials are confident that they would confirm a five-match one-day series at home against Sri Lanka later this week despite money being a problem. According to The News, a PCB official told the paper that the Sri Lankan cricket officials have given positive vibes over a Pakistani proposal for a One-Day International (ODI) series but added that there is a 'slight' disagreement on the 'fees' involved in such a venture. more..

End of an era in ancestral politics in Sri Lanka

Mar 20 (LR) Death of Anura Bandaranayaka marked the end of ancestral politics by privileged families in Sri Lanka. Family politics is no stranger even in contemporary international politics. The famous Kenedy family once influenced USA politics and rather infamous Bush family has influenced both American and world politics today. Now we are witnessing Clinton family politics in USA in the form of husband to wife. more..

A Punchi Problem

Mar 20 (GV) Dr. Rohan Edirisinghe, in a recent paper he compiled quoted G.K. Chesterton in ‘The Point of a Pin’ – it isn’t that they don’t see the solution, it’s that they can’t see the problem. This line echoed in my head for all the nights that I sat on stage observing the audience during Ruwanthie De Chickera’s ‘Forum at the Punchi’ last week. For the unitiated forum theatre is a dramatic genre which compels the audience to involve themselves in the action on stage, suggesting methods in which the plot and characters can develop. more..

Terror financing suspect a 'very nice guy'

Mar 20 (VS) Bespectacled and balding, with a salt-and-pepper beard, Prapa Thambithurai seems an unlikely candidate to become the first person charged under a Canadian law banning terrorist financing. A 44-year-old father of three, he immigrated from Sri Lankan two decades ago, studied accounting, installs satellite dishes and lives in the suburbs north of Toronto not far from the Canada's Wonderland theme park. more..

Whereabouts of a man is unknown after arbitrary arrest

Mar 20 (AHRC) The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has received information that four police officers from the Wanathawilluwa Police Station arrested a farmer from his house and took him away during the night of 28 February 2008. Since then, his family members have searched for him but his whereabouts remain unknown. Mr. Pitchchai Thambi Marikar Faiz, returned to Sri Lanka after working in the Middle East for about one and half years. more..

Kandana police allegedly tortured a man and warned him not to report the incident

Mar 20 (AHRC) The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has received information regarding the alleged torture of a man by Kandana police on 6 March 2008 in Sri Lanka. Police allegedly beat him while recording a statement from him in the station and warned him not to make any complaints regarding this assault. On 6 March 2008, Mr. M.L. Basil Perera was taking a cow to be handed over to a buyer and was walking in the Negombo Road near Welisira. more..

Govt illegally influences police and medical staff

Mar 20 (AHRC) The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has received information regarding the assault and sexual harassment of a woman allegedly by a man employed in the Divisional Secretary's office, Kataragama on 3 February 2008. Subsequently the office allegedly influenced the police officer handling the victim's complaint and the doctor who examined the victim. Ms. Thanuja Lakshmi is the mother of 14 year old Kaushalya Ratnayake and one and half year old Sashini Sehara Ratnayake. more..

Sri Lankan Navy rescues three stranded Tamil Nadu fishermen

Mar 20 (AT) The Sri Lankan Naval cadres saved three Tamil Nadu fishermen, who were struggling in seawaters, treated them at the forces hospital in Sri Lanka and sent them back to Tamil Nadu by air, on 14th March. Three fishermen of Ramanathapuram – Lion (25), Sunil Selvam (20) & Nagaraj (25) – went for fishing from Rameshwaram on 11th February. They were fishing near Ramar Bridge and their boat, had rammed against a sand dune there and was broken in to three pieces. more..

Arthur C Clark's cultural and scientific contributions were immense: President

Mar 20 (AT) President Mahinda Rajapaksa paid tribute to Sri Arthur C Clark for making important intellectual, cultural and scientific contributions to Sri Lankan development, while engaged in his scientific research and creative writing that earned him well deserved praise the world over. He had been a resident of his adopted country, Sri Lanka, since 1956. The people of Sri Lanka were touched by the passion he had for this country, and more..

Visit of the EU-Troika delegation to Sri Lanka

Mar 20 (LG) A six member delegation from the EU Troika headed by Ambassador Janez Premoze Director for Asia, Africa and Pacific in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Slovenia representing the current EU Presidency, Mr. Didier Leroy, Head of the South Asian Division in the Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs of France, representing the incoming EU Presidency and Mr. James Moran, Director for Asia, External Relations Directorate representing the European Commission concluded a successful visit to Sri Lanka. more..

Warnapura cements Test spot with half-century

Mar 20 (AFP) Malinda Warnapura became the favourite to open the batting in the first Test starting on the weekend when he retired out on 50 in Sri Lanka's second innings against the Guyana Cricket Board President's XI on Wednesday. Warnapura made 132 in the Sri Lanka first innings and he retired out for the second time in the match, as Sri Lanka, leading by 244 on first innings, reached 177 for six before the three-day tour match more..

Wild elephants fall victim to Sri Lanka war strategy

Mar 20 (Reuters) Shaking his head at an elephant carcass rotting by a lush paddy field in north Sri Lanka, park warden J.A. Weerasingha counts the cost of a state initiative to arm villagers against Tamil Tiger rebels. While Sri Lanka has long wrestled with a human-elephant conflict that kills dozens of animals and people annually, elephant deaths are up sharply -- and it's clear why. more..

Tigers shell Thirukkeatheesvaram : Mannar

Mar 20 (SLW) LTTE directed a heavy artillery barrage at SLA controlled Thirukkeatheesvaram in Mannar. Thirukkeatheesvaram is inside the High Security Zone declared by the army. However DefenceNet learns that reports by pro LTTE media which claimed the Forward Defence Lines in this region being broken were inaccurate. Also, there were no ground clashes in the area despite the artillery duels. more..

A ten-year long case of child abuse; a sad story of a father

Mar 20 (LeN) There is a saying that the delay in justice is similar to injustice. The delays in Sri Lankan courts raise the question how far the justice is delivered through them. A father who came to our office related a distressing story of a child abuse case that delayed for ten years and an appeal on the guardianship of the child that dragged for three years. Mount Lavinia Magistrate Court is hearing two cases related to this issue and another is in Appeal Court. more..

Diplomacy, for What Purpose?

Mar 20 (LeN) Making drastic changes in the Sri Lankan Missions abroad has been an on going debate for a long time. Yet, there seems to be no tangible solution presented by the Government or the officers of the diplomatic service to put an end to corruption, malpractices, misappropriation of Government funds, misuse of office, mismanagement of resources, inefficiency, and lack of vitality. more..

Sri Lanka Army Chief visits Buddha Gaya

Mar 20 (LE) More than 30 members from the Elite Indian special Commando unit, the National Security Guard (NSG), popularly referred to as the Black Cats, were guarding the Sri Lankan army chief Lieutenant General Sarath Fonseka when he took time off from his busy official visit to India, to visit Buddha Gaya the place where Lord Buddha attained enlightenment. Ten minutes before his arrival at the site the whole temple complex was cleared of pilgrims as well as visitors and more..

Anura Bandaranaike: Right-of center politician who avoided epicenter of Sri Lanka’s power

Mar 20 (AT) The visiting United States Democratic Congressman from New York Stephen J. Solarz sounded like he was propagating several planks of the agenda of the separatist Tamil Tigers of Sri Lanka. The American lawmaker mixed Sri Lanka’s much debated minority Tamil grievances and the protracted military onslaught of the LTTE or popularly known as Tamil Tigers despite Anura Bandaranaike’s repeated comments that they were two separate issues. more..

National Lotteries Board head replaced

Mar 20 (LD) The president has decided to replace Chairman of the National Lotteries Board (NLB) Upali Liyanage with Sajin Vaas Gunawardena, who presently heads Lankaputra Development Bank, with immediate effect. Liyanage is to receive the chairmanship of the Development Lotteries Board (DLB), sources at the Presidential Secretariat say. Current DLB chairman Sarana Gunawardena is the president’s choice to fill the parliamentary seat that is vacant following the death of Anura Bandaranaike. more..

Ex-Army officer appointed as admin chief in SLRC

Mar 20 (LD) Retired Army Major General Sunil Silva has been appointed to a newly-created post of Additional Deputy Director General (Administration) of the state owned Sri Lanka Rupavahini Corporation. The appointment has been made on the recommendation of Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa, and Silva is expected to assume duties today (Mar. 20th). Before his retirement on January 18th 2008, Maj. Gen. Silva was in charge of the Signal Regiment, more..

'Islamic teachings give importance to tolerance, mutual understanding'

Mar 20 (GDI) President Mahinda Rajapaksa in a message to mark the Prophet Muhammed's birthday said: I am pleased to send this message of greetings today as the followers Islam in Sri Lanka, join their brethren the world over, to celebrate the birth anniversary of the Prophet Muhammed. On this significant day in the Islamic calendar it is customary to reflect on the teachings of the Prophet Muhammed, that have through the centuries nurtured important trends in religious, cultural and scientific thinking. more..

Govt. politico under probe for fraud

Mar 20 (LNP) The Presidential Investigation Unit is investigationg a one million rupee fraud alleged to have been committed by a government politico from an irrigation reservoir rehabilitation project in Kurunegala. Senior official sources said the politician had obtained the contract to reconstruct the dam of the reservoir under the name of another person and the work was done hurriedly without maintaining the required standards, to make an unreasonable profit. more..

Sinharaja Forest vies for New 7 Wonders of Nature

Mar 20 (LNP) The Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources has called upon all Sri Lankans to vote for the Sinharaja Forest to be included among the `New 7 Wonders of Nature`. Voting for nominees will continue until 31.12.08. The New 7 Wonders Panel of Experts will then select 21 finalists, from which voters worldwide will elect the New Seven Wonders of Nature. People can vote for the Sinharaja Forest by going to the link: more..

Samurdhi empowerment recipients success

Mar 20 (SAMN) The number of Samurdhi beneficiaries taken into account in 2008 is 80,647 as against the 94,000 recipients registered in the previous year. R. A. Karunapala, the Anuradhapura District Samurdhi Commissioner told Daily News that due to the upper income levels attained by these 14,000 families resulting from successful self-employment ventures and employment opportunities secured in both government and private sectors. more..

Action taken by CM to resolve CMC crisis

Mar 20 (SAMN) The Colombo Municipal Council (CMC) became a moot point at the Western Provincial Council sessions on Tuesday with the JVP charging that the action taken by Chief Minister Reginald Cooray to resolve the crisis in the CMC is illegal. JVP Provincial Council Member Sunil Watagala who made a statement at the sessions said Chief Minister Cooray had not considered natural justice when taking steps towards resolving the CMC crisis. more..

Maruti holds No.1 slot for 5thyr running

Mar 20 (SAMN) Five years after wresting the crown for the most popular brand new family vehicle, import statistics reveal that Suzuki Maruti continues to hold its position at the top of the list. The phenomenon indicates a change in perspective among vehicle owners who had previously preferred reconditioned vehicles to brand new. While the Maruti 800 continues to be the first preference of the price conscious buyer, more..

Anura laid to rest glowing tributes

Mar 20 (SAMN) Former Speaker, Opposition Leader and the son of two Prime Ministers, Anura Bandaranaike was laid to rest at the Bandaranaike Samadhi in Horagolla yesterday amidst glowing tributes from his fellow politicians, the clergy and the general public. The late Mr. Bandaranaike’s political journey which was illuminated by the family tradition of serving the common man and his efforts to safeguard the supremacy of Parliament was recalled and appreciated by the speakers at the funeral. more..

Sri Lanka buildings vulnerable to bomb attack: UK expert

Mar 20 (LBO) Ninety percent of the glass used in Sri Lankan buildings are vulnerable to bomb attacks and can cause excessive harm to occupants in the event of a blast, a British expert said. "Most of the glass you got in Colombo would be plain float or annealed glass [untreated glass] and if you want to have bomb blast protection, this is the last type of glass you should use," Ken Holt of UK Security TPS Consult said. more..

Iranians make Lanka their holiday destination

Mar 20 (DN) A large number of Iranian holiday makers have selected Sri Lanka as their "No-rooz" new year holiday destination commencing from March, 19. Following last year's initiatives by the Sri Lanka Mission in Tehran when five charter loads of Iranians spent their new year holidays, which covers a period of nearly two weeks from March 20, this year the number of direct charter flights from and to Colombo have exceeded 20, an increase of nearly 400%. more..

New technology for deep sea fishing soon

Mar 20 (DN) Modern Technology for deep sea fishing will be introduced to Sri Lankan fishermen shortly and it has also been decided to commence this from the present fleet of multi-day fishing trawlers, said Fisheries and Aquatic Resources Minister Felix Perera. The Minister said this during a field inspection of Ornamental Fish Breeding and Training Centre, National Aquaculture Development Authority, Rambodagalla on Thursday (13). more..

Stage set for battle over Secy. Gen post

Mar 20 (Island) Constitutional Affairs and National Integration Minister D. E. W. (Dew) Gunasekera, who heads the Parliamentary Select Committee (PSC), sanctioned to recommend Amendments to the 17th Amendment to the Constitution, yesterday said they wouldn’t be able to finalise their report before the retirement of Secretary General of Parliament Mrs Priyanee Wijesekera on March 30th. more..

UNP reformists seek to regain party’s lost glory

Mar 20 (Island) The UNP rebel group would hold its Badulla District party conference next Sunday (23) at the Badulla Library auditorium, its spokesperson R. A. D. Sirisena told The Island yesterday (19). "Our aim is to gain political victories through positive strategy unlike the UNP and Opposition Leader Ranil Wickremesinghe who lost many elections during the recent past. We seek to revive the image of the largest political party in the country," he said. more..

Four suspects nabbed in alleged plot to assassinate President

Mar 20 (DM) Grandpass police produced before the Colombo Magistrate Court a stock of explosives and weapons alleged to have been brought to Colombo to assassinate President Mahinda Rajapaksa, the Air Force Commander and VIPs. The Police filing a report before court said four suspects were taken into custody for the alleged offence had been detained. The report stated the suspects had brought the explosives and the weapons to Colombo to assassinate VIPs as well as more..

University not a place for thugs and hooligans: Magistrate

Mar 20 (DM) Anuradhapura magistrate, D.T. Ruchira Weliwatte granting bail to four students of Rajarata University said that the judiciary would not allow jungle law to prevail in the universities. He said the university is a place where learned and intelligent men are produced and the judiciary will not allow it to be a place for thugs and hooligans who humiliate the teaching staff. The magistrate expressed these sentiments granting bail to four students including more..

Middle order holds key to series

Mar 20 (CI) Ahead of Saturday's first Test against Sri Lanka, Reon King, the coach of the Guyana President's Select XI which took on the Sri Lankans in the warm-up game, has highlighted the middle order as the series' deciding factor. "The bulk of the experience for both teams is in the middle order and with the likes of Shivnarine Chanderpaul and Ramnaresh Sarwan in our middle order and Mahela Jayawardene and Kumar Sangakkara in [Sri Lanka's]" King said. more..

Military says 25 killed in latest fighting

Mar 20 (AP) Scattered clashes across Sri Lanka's north and a battle in the east killed 24 ethnic Tamil rebels and a government police commando, the military said Thursday. Clashes in which 24 rebels were killed were reported Wednesday in northern Jaffna, Mannar, Vavuniya and Welioya districts in the north, the military said in a statement. Also Wednesday, a police commando was killed in a firefight with rebels in Ampara district in the east, more..

Flash floods displace thousands in war-torn area

Mar 20 (IRIN) More than 50,000 people have been hit by flooding in northwestern Mannar District in Sri Lanka since 12 March, the government said. The area has witnessed intense clashes between government forces and the LTTE during the last six months, restricting access to relief agencies. Eight districts in all have experienced flooding caused by torrential rains, forcing 54,000 to flee their homes and leaving five people dead, more..

Election begins to solidify government control

Mar 20 (IRIN) The overwhelming success of the TMVP, a breakaway faction of the LTTE, in the 10 March local government elections in the eastern Batticaloa District has prompted the group, backed by the Sri Lankan government, to seek additional victories at provincial level. The TMVP won majorities in all nine areas up for election and secured 76 of the 101 seats on offer with its coalition partner, the UPFA, which holds power in parliament. more..

Three journalists released as military man appointed to SLRC

Mar 20 (IFJ) The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) is deeply concerned that Sri Lanka’s Government has appointed a recently retired army Major General to a senior position at the troubled state broadcaster, Sri Lanka Rupavahini Corporation (SLRC). The appointment came as authorities released three journalists who had been held without charge for almost two weeks. Two other journalists arrested at the same time remain in custody. more..

High profile visits not helpful - Govt.

Mar 20 (LNP) The Government is of the view high profile visits to the Wanni had not yielded any tangible progress in taking forward the Peace Process and as such there are serious concerns over providing security for high level international visitors to Kilinochchi, the Foreign Ministry said. A visiting high level EU delegation on Tuesday said it had demanded from the Government to provide access for the Co-chairs and the Norwegian facilitators to the Wanni to more..

Sci-fi guru Arthur C. Clarke to be buried Saturday

Mar 20 (AFP) British sci-fi guru Arthur C. Clarke will be buried at a private funeral in Sri Lanka's capital on Saturday, a close aide to the late writer said. Clarke, who captured the world's imagination with his best-known book "2001: A Space Odyssey" and visions of extra-terrestrial civilisations, died at Colombo's private Apollo hospital on Wednesday at the age of 90. more..

Sri Lanka rights group says TV being militarised

Mar 20 (Reuters) The appointment of a retired general to help run a Sri Lankan state television station is a sign of media militarisation not seen for decades, rights watchdogs said on Thursday. The government, engaged in a long-running war with Tamil Tiger rebels in the north of the island, called the accusation a "fabricated lie" and said former army major-general Sunil Silva would help cure chronic management weaknesses at the station. more..

Dilmah aims to reveal tea's health secrets

Mar 21 (FW) Tea company Dilmah has comissioned New Zealand's Riddet Institute to examine the impact of tea on health. Shiromani Jayasekera, a PhD student at Massey University's Riddet Institute, collected tea samples from Sri Lanka's main Ceylon tea growing regions at various times over a 12 month period. The samples were then shipped to Palmerston North, with the assistance of the Tea Research Institute of Sri Lanka and with Ministry of Agriculture approval, for laboratory tests. more..

Why have the Windies Humiliated Sri Lanka?

Mar 21 (TC) Sri Lanka’s encounter with the West Indies is that of a rejected lover. For years, Sri Lankan fans have venerated the West Indian legends ranging from Constantine to Lara. In the pre-test years, cameo appearances in Ceylon by the West Indies were an integral part of the folklore. Old-timers such as Berty Wijesinghe spoke in superlatives when describing the six that Sir Frank Worrell hit out of the Colombo Oval during his monumental 285 in 1951. more..

During Lent, practical help for the poor from the Church

Mar 21 (AN) Prayer, fasting, pilgrimages to commemorate Jesus' way of the cross, but also donations on behalf of the needy in Sri Lanka during Lent. For years, parishes have gathered funds that the Caritas centres of the diocese then distribute to the needy. Donations were gathered on Sunday, March 9, and on the following Palm Sunday. Since Ash Wednesday, Caritas has distributed to parishes, schools, and other institutions envelopes and boxes to collect the offerings, more..

Sri Lanka industry says human rights cudgel could hurt small exporters

Mar 21 (LBO) Sri Lanka's apparel industry said it was confident the government would meet European Union demands to comply with human rights laws to retain critical preferential market access to the region. It warned that any restrictions on access to the EU market would hurt mainly small and medium enterprises which have set up factories in rural areas and generate employment. more..

Obituary: Sir Arthur C Clarke

Mar 21 (BBC) Visionary science fiction writer Sir Arthur C Clarke, author of more than 100 books, has died at the age of 90 in Sri Lanka. Once called "the first dweller in the electronic cottage", his vision of the future, and its technology - popularised in films like 2001: A Space Odyssey - captured the popular imagination. Sir Arthur's vivid - and detailed - descriptions of space shuttles, super-computers and rapid communications systems were enjoyed by millions of readers around the world. more..

UN: Civilians at risk in Sri Lanka

Mar 21 (AZ) As fighting intensifies in northern Sri Lanka, the UN and advocacy groups say there is grave concern for the state of human rights in the war-torn country. A US State Department report issued on March 11 said that in 2007, "The government's respect for human rights continued to decline." It then cited "numerous reports" that the army, police, and pro-government paramilitary groups had "participated in armed attacks against civilians and practiced torture, kidnapping, hostage-taking, and extortion with impunity." more..

SA joins Sri Lanka conflict resolution conference

Mar 21 (BN) South Africa is to attend an international conference aimed at ending the conflict between the Sri Lankan government and the rebel LTTE. Representing the South African government, Deputy Minister of Communications Roy Padayachie will address the two-day International Seminar on Ethnic Conflict, taking place in London on Saturday. "The South African Government has consistently sought to encourage and lend support to the creation of a climate conducive to a finding a lasting solution to the Sri Lankan conflict. more..

Sri Lanka confirm ODI series with Pakistan

Mar 21 (CI) Sri Lanka have agreed to tour Pakistan in April for a series of five one-dayers to fill the gaps in Pakistan's home series itinerary following Australia's pull-out over security fears. The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) will finalise the fixtures shortly. "We are thankful to the Sri Lankan board, who have agreed to tour for a series of five one-day internationals on our invitation," Nasim Ashraf, the PCB chairman, told reporters in Lahore. more..