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East PC polls, most corrupt in history - UNP

May 11 (LD) Polls for the Eastern Provincial Council will go down in the country's election history as the most corrupt of its kind, the UNP has said. Irrespective of the outcome, the UNP will go to courts against the election, the party's General Secretary Tissa Attanayake said in a statement. All three districts to the election experienced massive vote rigging and intimidation of voters, but the law enforcement authorities failed to take any preventive action, he said. more..

MCNS head, armed bodyguards, enter Trinco counting centre

May 11 (LD) Government strongman Lakshman Hulugalle and his armed bodyguards have entered the counting centre at the Trincomalee District Secretariat and are inquiring into counting activities of today's Eastern Provincial Council polls. Mr. Hulugalle is the Director General of the Media Centre for National Security and head of Sath FM radio channel. more..

Mihin, BoC directors face court action

May 11 (SL) Following The Sunday Leader's exclusive expos last week of the Bank of Ceylon's virtual dumping of one billion rupees of public depositors' funds into the defunct Mihin Lanka, several public advocacy groups have begun to prepare to take legal action against the directors of both Mihin and the Bank of Ceylon (BoC), who are personally liable for their actions under the Companies Act Number 7 of 2007. more..

Bogollagama continues illicit land filling

May 11 (SL) The Urban Development Authority (UDA) is to send a final warning to Deepthi Bogollagama, wife of Foreign Affairs Minister Rohitha Bogollagama before instituting legal action for illicit filling of land in Pitakotte. The family property of Deepthi Bogollagama in Samarakoon Gardens in Pitakotte is being illegally filled despite several directives issued by the UDA to stop the illicit filling. more..

Stage set for no holds barred battle in the east

May 11 (SL) For a government that has showcased the east both locally and internationally as its prime trophy in two and a half years of putting the country through a deadly war and economic ruin, the up coming eastern polls is crucial. Having pegged the east as an indicator of his political success and the May 10 hustings as a barometer of his government's democratic intent, President Mahinda Rajapakse has placed all his eggs in the Pillayan basket. more..

Questions over NIC tender conditions

May 11 (SL) The National Identity Card (NIC) is one of the greatest vulnerabilities in the country's national security system. In the last year, several LTTE cadres who were caught - not to mention some who blew themselves up taking scores of innocent civilian lives - have all been found to be using forged NICs. In this light it is commendable that the government is getting underway a programme of replacing our ageing NIC with a new 'eNIC' which more..

Govt banks on defectors to beat Tigers

May 11 (AFP) K. Nanthakopan is a marked man, being roughly the political equivalent of a top Al-Qaeda member who has defected to Washington. The 38-year-old is part of a group of Tamil Tiger rebels who in 2004 split away from the movement to set up a splinter group, helping the ethnic Sinhalese-dominated government win control over the island’s east last year. On Saturday he is standing in provincial council elections as an ally of Colombo’s hawkish government, almost certainly viewed by his former comrades as a traitor who should die. more..

Who gave Ranil a run-down chopper?

May 11 (LB) On Monday afternoon, Ranil flew to Sammanthurai for an election rally before boarding the chopper to come back to Colombo. But his return journey was rudely interrupted when the helicopter started shuddering alarmingly in the skies over Mahiyangana. The two pilots struggled to keep the aircraft under control. “Sir, we are experiencing technical difficulties,” the pilot told Ranil. “We don’t have time to reach the airport. more..

President wields powers of the bahubootha viyawasthawa

May 11 (LB) Article 70(1) of the Constitution outlines the procedure for the prorogation of Parliament. It says it is the prerogative of the President, who “may, from time to time, by Proclamation summon, prorogue and dissolve Parliament”. But, it is also an accepted norm in parliamentary democracies, that such powers be exercised with great discretion if they are not to be interpreted as acts of political thuggery - especially when the existing constitution of the county is already deemed to be flawed. more..

Is it a frogman or an underwater scooter?

May 11 (LB) Two hours after dawn on May 09, a powerful explosion rocked the commercial harbour of Trincomalee. As a fireball engulfed the logistic ship A 520, sailors on duty had their eyes and guns directed towards the night sky. Their first guess was that it was an air raid. It was only two weeks ago that the nascent air wing of the LTTE bombed, though largely unsuccessfully, the forward defence localities of Weli Oya. more..

'Street brawls are not amusing'

May 11 (LB) Some people remember a time when Sri Lankan parliamentarians behaved like parliamentarians ought to. Priyanee Wijesekera is one of them (though she doesn’t say it in as many words). For someone who had spent nearly sixteen years surrounded by chatter, Priyanee is a woman of remarkably few words. She speaks in measured sentences and is perceptibly calm. more..

The Butcher of Matale

May 11 (LG) Finding a grave-site in the yellowed pages of the old register at the Mahaiyawa Cemetery Office, in Kandy District, proved easier than finding the real thing. The cemetery office curator Sarath spent close to two months looking for a certain Albert Watson’s grave, and when he did, it was quite by accident: an ordinary-looking grave with a simple granite cross in the Anglican section of the old Mahaiyawa Cemetery. more..

Who gobbled 100,000,000 loaves of bread?

May 11 (LG) True to the Buddhist concept of Metta (loving kindness), the Mahinda Rajapakse government extends this kindness to all living beings including: proven failures, rogues, scoundrels, racketeers (political and financial) and others of similar ilk. This serendipitous perception (now popularly known as Chinthanaya) dawned on us as we were glancing through the week's newspapers. more..

Vignettes of the Public Service: The Plantation Industry

May 11 (LG) The plantation industry as a whole functioned as though it was a state within the state. That applied to the management of the estates and factories as well as to all the ancillaries that sustained them. These included the import of fertilizer, packing material, the running schedules of goods trains, banking facilities, insurance, shipping, brokering or setting prices, and the use of the cess fund. more..

Oral History of SL-Israel Relations

May 11 (LG) For me S. W. R. D. Bandaranaike was the only statesman produced by Sri Lanka in the twentieth century. I have in mind here the widespread notion that the politician thinks only of the next election while the statesman thinks in terms of the next century. Admittedly Bandaranaike could muck things up as a politician, but he had a statesman’s vision of Sri Lanka’s future and also a gift for seeing the future. more..

Sri Lanka`s first Regional Producers Directory launched

May 11 (LNP) For the first time in Sri Lanka, a directory identifying and listing small and medium scale producers from the regions throughout the country will be launched on May 13. These entrepreneurs are mostly members of Sri Lanka`s network of regional business and are therefore easily accessible through this network enabling fast business connectivity. The Regional Producers Directory is published by the Business for Peace Alliance, more..

Karuna likely to be deported to Lanka

May 11 (SAMN) Britain is on the verge of deporting LTTE rebel leader Vinayagamoorthy Muralitharan alias Col Karuna to Colombo after he was prematurely released from prison last week. Karuna, an embarrassment to the British government from the time it was known that he had travelled to Britain on a Sri Lankan diplomatic passport issued under another name, was serving a nine month sentence when he was given an early release and transferred to an immigration detention centre, believed to be at Harmondsworth. more..

WFP suspends Food-for-Work Programme

May 11 (SAMN) The World Food Programme (WFP) has temporarily suspended its Food-for-Work Programme while also reducing the quantity of rations given to the Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) and economically affected families. WFP Deputy Country Director Jean Yves said the organisation had to suspend its Food for-Work Programme as it did not have sufficient resources to fund the project. more..

Public servants told to use UL, Mihin

May 11 (SAMN) Sri Lanka’s public sector officers travelling overseas on official tours have been ordered to travel on SriLankan Airlines or Mihin Lanka with immediate effect, irrespective of the source of financing such travel. A senior official of the Finance Ministry said this directive was issued to promote the national carrier and Mihin Lanka. He noted that a similar procedure was followed 10 years ago and when Air Ceylon was in operation. more..

Weerawansa Group gets Govt. perks

May 11 (SAMN) The secret dealings between the government and the 10 dissident JVP MPs have been revealed following the large number of perks afforded to the JVP defectors at state expense after the split. The JVP defectors who earlier claimed that they would function as independent members in parliament have now requested for special privileges and perks usually enjoyed by government ministers. more..

Ray of hope for Northerners

May 11 (SO) The newly appointed three-member Task Force Committee for the Northern Development (TFCND) by President Mahinda Rajapaksa commenced its activities last week by giving the Northerners a ray of hope for a speedy development process with the people’s participation. Minister of Social Services Douglas Devananda said that the unlimited powers entrusted to the Committee would be used effectively to bring development to the North. “Sky is the limit for my powers,” he said more..

Kekulu and Nadu rice more popular -Survey

May 11 (SO) Most people prefer Kakulu and Nadu rice while less than one-fifth of the population prefer Samba rice according to a recent survey by the Department of Censes and Statistics. The household survey revealed that main three sectors of the society urban, rural and Estate sectors consume more Kakulu and Nadu rice than Samba rice. According to market sources the wholesale price of a Kilogramme of samba dropped to Rs. 60 last week. more..

PC Polls smooth: UNP in desperation

May 11 (SO) No major incidents were reported by the three Returning Officers of the three districts except for unconfirmed allegations levelled by two anti-government election monitoring organisations. But the main opposition UNP has made several unsubstantiated allegations of vote rigging. Health Minister Nimal Siripala de Silva, in Ampara, said the voter turn out was slightly lower than expected due to LTTE’s terror acts. more..

INGO ‘concerns’ and their ‘unimpeachable’ sources

May 11 (SO) Words are interesting things. They can be used to communicate. They can be used also to lie, to distort, misrepresent, vilify and obfuscate. All words subject the communicator to appraisal. All words should be taken with a pinch of salt, I believe. The amount of salt employed depends on one thing: clarity in the statement of bias. If stories are lies, then a good story-teller is also a good liar. more..

Election neither free nor fair, says opposition

May 11 (NS) The much hyped Eastern Province Provincial Council elections, which concluded last evening, were marred by widespread rigging, intimidation, impersonation and other election-related violence, including acts of attempted murder, despite an estimated voter turnout of 60%. Opposition parties, including the UNP, JVP and the SLMC, declared that the elections were neither free nor fair. more..

Mihin’s antics compromise Lanka’s safety record

May 11 (NS) Grounded budget carrier, Mihin Lanka, is at the final stages of bringing in two Airbus A-320 aircraft to Sri Lanka in order to resume flights again. The government-owned airline has currently suspended flights due to the unavailability of aircraft. However, both the aircraft currently tarmacked in Chateaurouk-Deols (LFLX) France are each over the 15-year threshold for passenger jet aircraft imposed by the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO). more..

Free and fair poll: Bone of contention

May 11 (NS) The outcome of the Eastern Provincial Council elections will be known when these comments are being read. Nevertheless, the run up to the poll saw and interesting development: the Supreme Court was petitioned by an organisation asking for a “free and fair poll,” and specifically requesting that the use of arms by unauthorised groups be prevented. Any action that promotes democratic mechanisms such as elections are most certainly welcome, and more..

CEB, SLPA and CPC fall victim to election abuse

May 11 (NS) Frontline state-run institutions, the Sri Lanka Ports Authority (SLPA), Ceylon Electricity Board (CEB) and Ceylon Petroleum Corporation (CPC), have fallen victim to yesterday’s Eastern Province Provincial Council elections, with government members allegedly abusing resources, ranging from vehicles to the workforce for the polls. The SLPA yesterday charged the government of misusing state resources belonging to the Ports Authority for the Eastern Provincial Council elections, more..

Trinity’s governors go to court over quit order on principal

May 11 (Island) The Board of Governors of Trinity College Kandy is challenging in court the order of the Controller of Immigration and Emigration requiring Mr. Rod Gilbert, the Principal of Trinity College, to leave the country by May 15. Gilbert announced to the school last week that he has been required to leave and he was complying with the order. But he hoped to return soon to complete his five-year contract which is due to end in December this year. more..

Samantha Algama – the other side of the story

May 11 (Island) It’s no secret that Sri Lanka Cricket is full of political sidekicks who get in there for either financial gains or to boost up their social status. Arjuna Ranatunga last week kicked out one such unskilled individual who was holding the prestigious post of Media Manager. Suddenly, all hell broke loose and Ranatunga yet again became public enemy number one to a section of the local media. What followed was a lot of baloney praising the axed man. more..

Rauff Hakeem says police failed in their job in Trinco

May 11 (Island) The UNP Chief Ministerial candidate for the Trincomalee District Rauff Hakeem has complained against the conduct of the police in the Trincomalee district on election day. There were widespread violence and the violation of elections laws perpetrated by a large number of goons brought into Trincomalee from outside by several Ministers. They were seen openly engaging in intimidating and assaulting voters going to cast their votes at polling booths in more..

Diplomatic promotion to FM’s brother-in-law

May 11 (Island) Foreign Minister Rohitha Bogollagama’s brother-in-law Palitha Ganegoda has been appointed Sri Lanka’s Deputy High Commissioner to New Delhi. Ganegoda who held the rank of Minister at the New Delhi mission has been promoted and given a post which had been always held by senior career diplomats. He has replaced Sabarulla Khan, a career diplomat with over 15 years service who had been moved to Riyadh as Deputy Ambassador. more..

Bullet vs. ballot: Answer from the East

May 11 (ST) The Eastern Province, though seldom playing a crucial role in national affairs and not often on the centre-stage, became the cynosure of all political parties during the past few weeks and especially last week. Almost the entire giant cabinet led by President Mahinda Rajapaksa himself went to the East for a full-scale, full-steam campaign to win the crucial Eastern Provincial Council elections. more..

Mass rapid electric rail transit system coming soon

May 11 (ST) A solution to the maddening rush hour traffic gridlock in Colombo is now a few years away with the Government expected to finalise, within 90 days, all aspects of the construction of an electric Mass Rapid Transit System by an Indian investor. Adiga S. Nagaraj, a Director of NEB Rapid Infrastructure Projects Pvt. Ltd. which has come forward to launch the billion dollar venture told The Sunday Times on Friday that more..

Official apathy adds to patients’ agony

May 11 (ST) Administrative apathy in solving a dispute between doctors and nurses of the Ratnapura Hospital, that dragged on for about two weeks, left a trail of suffering for hapless patients, with three people also dying. Work in this hospital that usually performs around 50 general surgeries, 8-10 planned surgeries and 4-5 emergencies on a daily basis, came to a standstill following an incident on April 25 where a male nurse had allegedly verbally abused a female intern doctor. more..

Fair turnout, but monitors cry foul

May 11 (ST) A turnout of 55 to 65 percent was reported in the crucial and keenly-fought Eastern Provincial Council elections yesterday – but the polls were marred, especially, by alleged large-scale ballot rigging by the government ally, the Pillayan group in the final hours. While independent monitors also reported large numbers of cases of assaults, threats, intimidation, impersonation and forcible removal of polling cards, more..

Mervyn Silva seizes Russian Embassy-owned prime land

May 11 (LD) Labour Minister Mervyn Silva and his supporters have seized a prime plot of land at Bauddhaloka Mawatha in Colombo owned by the Russian Embassy in Sri Lanka, 'Irida Divaina' reports. The newspaper quoted a government spokesman as saying that the seizure was now likely to become a diplomatic issue between the two countries. The four-acre plot close to the BMICH had been purchased in 1986 by the then government of the Soviet Republic. more..

Sri Lanka Yala national park await sloth bear season

May 11 (LBO) Sri Lanka's Yala national park in the south of the country is seeing a more visitors after a recent slump, just ahead of sloth bear season next month when wild berries ripen bringing the shy animals out to the open. Officials say tourist visits to the Yala National park is picking up since the re-opening of the park in January this year, after a closure over security grounds. more..

Military says 18 rebels killed in latest clashes

May 11 (AP) New fighting near the Tamil Tiger rebels' stronghold in northern Sri Lanka left 18 insurgents dead, the military said Sunday. A military official said the clashes occurred Saturday in the northern Jaffna, Vavuniya, Mannar and Welioya regions. The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of government rules, said a few soldiers were wounded in the battles. Rebel spokesman Rasiah Ilanthirayan was not immediately available for comment. more..

Election Results - Details

May 11 (GDI) The UPFA won the first ever Eastern Provincial Council election, securing 20 seats to the UNP's 15. The JVP got one seat from Trincomalee while the TDNA won one seat from Batticaloa. The UPFA held sway in Batticaloa and Ampara while the UNP scored a narrow win in Trincomalee. The election saw a healthy 65.78% voter turnout, underscoring the enthusiasm of the people in the province for democracy, more..

Fraud alleged in victory by Sri Lanka governing party

May 11 (AP) The governing party of Sri Lanka won control of the country's tense Eastern Province on Sunday after an election that monitors said was marred by voter intimidation and fraud. The election commission said that the United People's Freedom Alliance coalition won 52 percent of the vote in the balloting Saturday, giving it 18 seats - plus two bonus seats given to the winner - on the province's 37-member council. more..

Ruling party wins Sri Lanka polls

May 11 (AP) Sri Lanka's ruling party won control of the country's tense Eastern Province on Sunday following an election that monitors said was marred by voter intimidation and fraud. The election commission said the ruling United People's Freedom Alliance coalition won 52 percent of the vote, giving it 18 seats - plus two bonus seats given to the winner - on the province's 37-member council. The opposition UNP won 42 percent of the vote and captured 15 seats, more..

President says election win a mandate for war against Tamil rebels

May 11 (AP) President on Sunday hailed his party's election victory in the country's tense Eastern Province as a mandate to push ahead with his war against Tamil Tiger rebels in the north. "I note that the people of the east have given a clear mandate for peace through the defeat of terrorism, the strengthening of democracy and the development of the country," President Mahinda Rajapaksa said in a statement. more..

India clinch fourth successive Asia Cup

May 12 (CI) India, led by Asha Rawat's 114-ball 97 which included 12 fours and a six, thrashed Sri Lanka by 177 runs in Kurunagela to clinch their fourth successive Women's Asia Cup. Mithali Raj won the toss and chose to bat, but India had an early blip when Jaya Sharma was dismissed without scoring by Shiromala Weerakkody. But Rawat and Karu Jain added 71 runs for the second wicket to lay the platform for a big score. more..

Questions over renegade Tamil Tiger

May 12 (BBC) Former Sri Lankan Tamil Tiger rebel Col Karuna has just completed a prison sentence in the UK and is now in an immigration detention centre. The BBC's Frances Harrison looks at his past and what might happen to him next. Col Karuna was once known as the favourite of the reclusive Tamil Tiger rebel leader Velupillai Prabhakaran. He was one of his bodyguards having joined the rebels in their early days when he was aged 17. more..

Sri Lanka 'disowns' motor racing star

May 12 (BBC) Sri Lankan Sports authorities have disowned the country’s rising star in the game of motor sports, Dilantha Malagamuwa. The Sri Lankan motor racing star based in Japan grabbed the headlines by coming second in Asian GT 4 Championships in China on 19 April. Mr. Malagamuwa finished second in his new Aston Martin in the Asian GT 4 Championships at the Shanghai Formula one track in China on 19 April. more..

EU withdrawal of GSP+ to enforce Human Rights

May 12 (GV) Economic sanctions have been used for foreign policy objectives since the time of Ancient Greece. The idea that economic sanctions might be an alternative to the use of force received attention after the First World War, largely owing to President Woodrow Wilson’s advocacy. Since World War II, Economic sanctions have been employed to promote democracy and human rights, to end civil war, to more..

For a creative and innovative nation

May 12 (LG) Today, economic growth is no longer efficiency-driven: it is innovation-driven. Innovators, inventors and entrepreneurs have become the critical human resources of economic development. According to Buckminister Fuller, "All children are born geniuses; 9,999 out of every 10,000 are swiftly, inadvertently ‘de-geniusized’ by grown ups". If this is so, we should create and maintain a conducive atmosphere so that the innate talents and capabilities of our children, our sons and daughters, more..

Our village by night

May 12 (LG) The village by night today is tormented by the TV (apologies to its addicts), this ubiquitous spectre hailing from the West, where lived, too, the inventor of the famous dictum—"early to bed and early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise". Isn’t it thus a great paradox that the more wealth people accumulate the more sleepless nights they experience, not due to TV alone but for fear of losing that wealth too. more..

Buddhism, Health and Well-Being

May 12 (LG) The interdependence of the mind and body and the impact of emotions and thoughts on health and well-being were well known to ancient Buddhists. Buddhism speaks of the power of the mind and how we could control many functions of our bodies with our minds. Buddhism is emphatic on the inseparable connection between the mind and body - the complex interactions that take place between thoughts, body, and the outside world. more..