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Casino goons manhandle Magistrate

May 4 (NS) Several security personnel attached to a Colombo casino who manhandled the Kalutara Magistrate on Friday evening near his official residence have been remanded by the Kalutara Police. Magistrate Anura Seneviratne had been on his way to his official residence at around 4:15 p.m. on Friday when a number of persons in a van had blocked his way. Since they had not moved away, the Magistrate had tooted the horn of the car in which he was travelling, which had sparked off a controversy. more..

Rajapaksa sticks with divide and rule policy

May 4 (NS) Muhamalai and Piliyandala grabbed the headlines last week despite the elections in the east and fracas in the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) as the LTTE sent another forceful message against the continued prosecution of the Eelam war. Muhamalai was being called a military debacle where the Sri Lanka Army reportedly walked into a Tiger trap, losing a disputed number of lives in the process. more..

'Govt. is engaged in a dangerous and divisive agenda'

May 4 (NS) The forthcoming provincial poll is gaining momentum in most parts of the east. The battle is between the UPFA and a combined UNP and SLMC. Sri Lanka Muslim Congress (SLMC) heavyweight and Party Leader Rauf Hakeem appears comfortable with news reaching him that the latest swing is towards his party. Expressing confidence that victory is at his doorstep, he also suspects foul play by the government at the eleventh hour. more..

Foreign investment in Treasury Bills to be permitted

May 4 (Island) The Monetary Board at a meeting on Friday decided to permit foreign investment in the Treasury Bill market limiting such investment to 10% of the Bills in issue in a move that is expected to push down interest rates and free capital for local investment, a senior Central Bank official said yesterday. The bank in February last year liberalized the bond market permitting foreign investment first up to 5% of the Treasury Bonds in issue and more..

Zoo animals in the clutches of the careless

May 4 (Island) A humanist had once suggested that at the end of a visit to a zoo everyone should be invited to enter a final enclosure to see the most vicious and untrustworthy of all animals. He enters and finds himself before a mirror looking at his own image! To anyone with a little humility it could be a humbling moment. In the case of our National Zoological Gardens (NZG) at Dehiwala, we wish we could put the zoo authorities through such a ritual each day to more..

Bandula expressed hopelessness saying

May 4 (Island) Amidst protests by consumers that big-time players in the bottled palm oil trade have so far failed to reduce prices despite a hefty import duty concession, Commerce Minister Bandula Gunawardena last week expressed helplessness saying "it was not possible to regulate the price of every conceivable commodity". Bulk importers of palm oil have already fallen in line with the government's drastic duty adjustment -- down to 5% from a whopping 28% more..

Golden Years of Health Education in Sri Lanka

May 4 (Island) There was a time in Sri Lanka, when nobody, not even health professionals, took health education seriously. Prior to the seventies, traditionally, it was a subject handled almost exclusively by Public Health Inspectors (PHI), some of whom were later designated as full time Health Educators. As a medical student in the sixties, I remember a solitary one-hour lecture given by a senior Health Educator. more..

JVP claims it has Weerawansa confessions

May 4 (ST) At least for members of the JVP, all roads led to the Town Hall grounds in Colombo last Thursday. A big turnout made theirs the largest attended May Day rally. That apart, fears that a section of the party would yet take a different road from the majority in their party's political journey became clear on May Day. It is now certain that the breakaway faction led by their parliamentary group leader, Wimal Weerawansa, backed by eleven other MPs, would form a "Patriotic National Front." more..

After Muhamalai debacle, war on free media

May 4 (ST) Just yesterday, the United Nations-designated World Press Freedom Day, to create greater awareness on the role of media in democracy and development, was observed worldwide. In Sri Lanka, listed by many international media rights groups as a country where media freedom is violated with impunity, the Free Media Movement (FMM) will mark the occasion on Tuesday with a vigil for journalists and media workers killed in action. more..

Probing the hand that Doles Out

May 4 (ST) What is the expectation of a mother or a father of a sick child who submits a prescription from a doctor to a pharmacy in any part of the country? Dispensation of the prescribed drugs by a qualified pharmacist. But what of the ground situation not even in a village off the beaten track but in several areas quite close to the capital? Drugs being dispensed by so-called pharmacists who are unqualified or hardly qualified, more..

Double degrees, dollars for docs

May 4 (ST) Sri Lanka, mainly known for the export of unskilled labour, will venture into hitherto uncharted territory with plans underway to send out skilled or professional labour in the form of medical officers. A Foreign Placement Coordinating Centre (FPCC) for medical officers has already been established at the National Hospital in Colombo, with its website being launched yesterday. more..

'Ranatunga should have acted more maturely'

May 4 (CI) Samantha Algama, Sri Lanka Cricket's (SLC) media manger who was sacked recently, said the interim committee chairman Arjuna Ranatunga could have avoided all the unnecessary bad publicity he was bringing to SLC if only he had shown some courtesy in asking him to resign. Ranatunga's untimely sacking of Algama became an international issue with the ICC also expressing their concern. more..

No royal treatment for Lanka’s snooker king

May 4 (KT) Sri Lanka’s undisputed snooker champion Susantha Boteju lambasted the governing body of the sport back home for the shabby treatment accorded to a sportsman of his talent and calibre. “I’m angry and disappointed at the way they have treated me,” said Boteju speaking to Khaleej Times after winning his opening match of the 24th Asian Snooker Championship against UAE’s Obaid Khalifa here yesterday. more..

39 Tamil rebels, 8 soldiers killed in heavy fighting

May 4 (AP) Heavy weekend fighting between government troops and Tamil separatists in Sri Lanka's contested north killed 39 rebels and eight soldiers, the military said Sunday. The latest battles erupted Saturday along the front lines in the Welioya, Mannar and Vavuniya regions, the military said. In the worst fighting, soldiers killed 13 Tamil Tiger rebels in Welioya, said a Defense Ministry official. more..

Sri Lanka military denies report that 2,000 troops killed in 2007

May 4 (AFP) Sri Lanka's military Sunday denied a report saying more than nine times as many of its soldiers have been killed in clashes with Tamil rebels in 2007 than officially stated. The English-language Sunday Times said Sri Lanka's top army general Sarath Fonseka told a briefing of military commanders last week that 2,000 troops were killed and 4,000 injured during in 2007, compared to an official tally of 213 dead and 829 injured. more..

Media culture: the responsibilities of the stake-holders

May 5 (LG) Is the media a blessing or a curse? The question sounds very much like an O/L essay topic. It is certainly something that has been discussed over and over again, not just in school essays or inter-school debating competitions but in more mature and serious forums as well. Its abiding topicality, I offer, stems from the fact that the public by and large wish that it was a blessing instead of the curse they perceive it to be. more..

Ethnic divide reflected in Sri Lanka media coverage

May 5 (TN) The polarization between Sri Lanka’s ethnic communities is also reflected in coverage of the island’s protracted conflict and has rendered ‘the truth’ an inevitable casualty of war, several speakers argued last week at the annual conference in London of the International Association of Tamil Journalists (IATAJ). The day-long event at the University of Westminster was attended by one hundred invited participants and was addressed by journalists, academics and media activists, more..

Power cut in Jaffna peninsula impact Jaffna education

May 5 (TN) The daily power cut from 6:00 p.m to 8:30 p.m in an alternating arrangement imposed on the entire Jaffna peninsula badly affects the education of the students in the peninsula who number more than 90,000, education officials in Jaffna said. The power cut will likely last 6 months to a year, and the woes of nearly 70,000 families affected by the cut is likely continue for these six months, Sri Lanka Electricity Board (SLEB) Jaffna office sources said. more..

Most incidents of election violence directed towards UNP -PAFFREL

May 5 (TN) Commenting on the sharp rise in the incidents of election related violence in the East, PAFFREL, a monitoring group has stated that so far Forty one complaints of election related violence have been reported from the three districts in the East. Excerpts from the press release follow: “Many of the candidates contesting in the forthcoming Provincial elections have been making use of their supporters and more..

President's brother "ruling NE"

May 5 (BBC) The leader of the opposition in Sri Lanka has accused President Mahinda Rajapaksa of handing over the powers to control north and east to his younger brother. Addressing the national convention of Sri Lanka Muslim Congress (SLMC) in Kathankudy, Batticaloa, Ranil Wickramasinghe said Basil Rajapaksa is handed effective control in the war-torn region. more..

LTTE unloaded three shiploads of arms in two months: Report

May 5 (IANS) Despite the Sri Lankan Navy's claim that it had destroyed all 10 arms ships of the Tamil Tiger rebels, the country's intelligence agencies have revealed that the guerrillas unloaded at least three shiploads of military hardware in the last two months, a media report here said Sunday. It said that intense use of heavy artillery shells by the LTTE in the northeastern Weli Oya and northern Wanni and Jaffna fronts has more..

Has the Legal Profession lost its voice?

May 5 (LG) What has happened to the Legal Profession? Once the most exalted of professions in Ceylon and thereafter Sri Lanka, it has now sunk to the lowest possible level. My father often spoke of the Bracegirdle case and of the Sri Lankan legal giants who not only defended him successfully but also defended the freedom of speech and assembly against the might of the British Empire and the order of the Governor. more..

All political parties are running their election campaign freely - President

May 5 (AT) President Mahinda Rajapakse said that all political parties are running their election campaigns in the eastern province freely. He stressed some people being in Colombo are fabricating rumors saying violent activities are occurring in the east. The President said that the TMVP and the Muslim Congress and all other main contesters for the Eastern provincial council election are launching their propaganda activities without any hindrance more..

Lanka wins big projects in Qatar and Bahrain

May 5 (GT) Sri Lanka has laid the foundation to export professional services for the booming construction industry in Middle East countries like Qatar and Bahrain, according to report in a Colombo newspaper. Qatar, with the third largest gas reserves in the world and having the highest per capita income in the world at $70,000, is well placed to both make investments in the island, as well as import Sri Lankan professional skills because of the construction boom there. more..

Record number of maids recruited from Sri Lanka

May 5 (Gulf) The recruitment of Sri Lankan domestic workers in the UAE recorded an all time high this year. "About 886 individual recruitment agreements were attested by the consulate in February and the figure further went up to 998 in March this year. This means the demand for Sri Lankan domestic helpers has gone up this year. It's a record high if we compare the figures in the last five years," said Ahmad Zein, more..

UNP accuses TMVP of issuing illegal ID cards

May 5 (MG) A subtle move by the TMVP to issue special identity card through the Grama Niladaris to Batticaloa and Trincomalee residents came under fire from the UNP-SLMC alliance which said the move would pave the way for election malpractices. UNP General Secretary Tissa Attanayake alleged that the TMVP was distributing the forged identity cards saying they were issued by the Elections Department. more..

Elections in the East - Uphold democracy! Strengthen Tamil Muslim unity!

May 5 (MG) Joint statement released by: Sri Lanka Democracy Forum (SLDF), Sri Lanka Islamic Forum – UK (SLIF) Tamil Forum for Peace (TFP), Social Development Organisation of Sri Lankan Dalits (SDOLD), We appeal to the people of the East to exercise special caution and act with clear purpose on 10 May 2008 when the Provincial Council elections will be held. These elections are likely to have significant long term social and more..

A Referendum, this?

May 5 (LG) The Opposition UNP might have been uncharitable when it charged the Government of President Mahinda Rajapaksa with “leaking military secrets” to obtain political mileage in native Sri Lanka. Whatever that be, the fact remains that crucial military initiatives targeting the LTTE seem to be coinciding with critical political developments affecting the stability of the ruling combine over the past year and more. more..

The ICCPR: the Intermingling of Law, Politics and Policy

May 5 (LG) The recent Supreme Court Opinion on the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) seems to have been welcomed by remarkable silence. Why I say ‘remarkable silence’ is because the ‘Opinion’ was preceded by much excitement. Mr. Rohan Edrisinha wrote about it. I too wrote about it. Then, the President referred the matter to the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court thereafter opined. more..

Honour to whom honour is due

May 5 (LG) The insolence, the intemperate language, the lack of manners of one of the members of the IIGEP on the matter of Justice Bhagwati’s letter to the President of Sri Lanka clarifying certain statements of the final IIEGP report is an unbecoming footnote to the end of a commission that, by its very composition of busy individuals, was doomed to fail in the task of monitoring a long judicial process. more..

UNP Satyagraha against poll-related violence

May 5 (LD) The United National Party will launch a Satyagraha tomorrow (May 06th), against the government, the Elections Commissioner and the IGP to protest their failure to ensure an environment conducive for fair and free elections in the East. The agitation begins in front of the office of the Elections Commissioner at 2.00 pm, UNP General Secretary Tissa Attanayake said. more..

Soldiers in civics assault Mt. Lavinia residents

May 5 (LD) A group reported to be from the army had stormed several houses at Terrance Road, Mount Lavinia and assaulted their occupants on May 01st. Complaints to the Dehiwela Police and the Military Police say that the perpetrators were around eight personnel from a military post at Mihindu Mawatha, Dehiwela. A few hours earlier, residents had inquired a suspicious person about his identity after he was found frequenting Terrance Road. more..

2 Muslims arrested for extortion

May 5 (LD) Police Intelligence officers of the Western Province have arrested two Muslims on May 02nd for posing as LTTE cadres and extorting money from several businessmen. The suspects are residents of the Kaleliya area and all their victims are reported to be Muslim businessmen. They have been handed over to the Nittambuwa Police and further investigations are underway to arrest the rest of the gang, sources say. more..

President & Prabhakaran fear democracy – JVP

May 5 (LD) The government, which is interfering with the peoples’ right to elect their representatives in a free and fair vote, is paving way for yet another armed group to rule the East, JVP parliamentarian Anura Kumara Dissanayaka said. He said that the government has forced a Provincial Council election on the people and unleashing violence in the Trincomalee district, from where such events are reported on a relatively low scale. more..

Wimal to loose Group Leader Position?

May 5 (AT) JVP will discuss to appoint their parlimentray group leader at a curical meeting which will be held on Tuesday [6] at their party headquarters. According to the party sources this meeting is their parlimentry group meeting, because the parliament will meet tommorrow to extend the state of emergency for another one month period. “Normally parlimentry group meetings are held at the Parliament complex, before one hour for the parliament sittings. more..

Ambassador Kariyawasam insists on preventing flow of Weapons to terrorists

May 5 (GDI) Speaking at the UN Security Council Debate on Small Arms, in New York, Permanent Representative of Sri Lanka to the United Nations, Amabassador Prasad Kariyawasam told that the LTTE terrorists wreaks havoc in some parts of the country and their campaign of terror has continued unabated, despite all efforts by the Government to seek a solution to the conflict by political means of dialogue and democratic accommodation. more..

International election-observers arrive

May 5 (GDI) A total of 17 international monitoring persons have arrived in the island yesterday (May 4) at the invitation of the Commissioner of Elections. They will engage in monitoring the Eastern Provincial Council election which will be held on the 10th this month (May). These observers represent monitoring bodies of the Commonwealth, the European Union and the Asian Election Superintendents Association. more..

Record increase in BOI Investments

May 5 (GDI) There has been a record increase in Board Of Investments (BOI) investments (79% over 2007), according to BOI sources. This is the highest increase ever and comprises of both foreign direct investments and domestic investments. From 2000-2006, the BOI has averaged about Rs 132 billion a year. In 2006, the BOI gained Rs 356 billion in total investments. Foreign direct investments increased by 22% in 2007 to $734 million from $604 in 2006, more..

Defence Secretary urges UN to be on alert for LTTE infiltration

May 5 (GDI) Asserting that substantial measures should be adopted in fresh recruitments and that the activities of the existing employees of the Non- Governmental Organizations should be well monitored as they could be carrying out the tasks of LTTE terrorists, Defence Secretary, Gotabhaya Rajapaksa urged the United Nations country office in Sri Lanka to take adequate steps to prevent the LTTE from using what he called UN cover to mount operations in the South. more..

Floods recede, now focus on controlling outbreak of diseases

May 5 (GDI) Authorities have warned that there is still a danger of an outbreak of mosquito and water-borne diseases although the flood situation in Ratnapura and Kalutara districts has eased. "Polluted drinking water is the main problem in flood affected areas, while several measures have been taken by Divisional Secretariats in these areas to control the spread of disease," sources said. more..

Export earnings from coconut, related products top Rs. 24b

May 5 (LNP) The country has earned an income of Rs. 24 billion from exports of coconut and coconut related products last year. This is an increase of 23 per cent compared to 2006, the Plantation Industries Ministry revealed. Sri Lanka has exported a total of Rs 19,669 million worth of products in 2006 and it has increased up to Rs. 24,096 million in 2007. Sri Lanka exports coconut related products to over 100 countries under 35 main categories, more..

Minister wants WB official replaced

May 5 (SAMN) Health Minister Nimal Siripala de Silva has demanded the immediate removal of a top World Bank (WB) official in charge of a project to combat HIV/AIDS after she allegedly blocked a mega 500-million-rupee grant to Sri Lanka. Silva said he requested the WB to recall the official as there was no purpose in her stay here and added that due to the official’s inaction ongoing programmes to battle the spread of HIV/AIDS would come to a standstill. more..

Gota admits ‘big loss’ at Muhamalai

May 5 (SAMN) Defence Secretary, Gotabhaya Rajapaksa Sunday admitted the military suffered a ‘big loss’ at the recent fighting with the LTTE at Muhamalai, but insisted it was far from being a debacle. In a live interview broadcast over state-run Sri Lanka Rupavahini, the Defence Secretary said the losses suffered at Muhamalai, where over hundred troops were killed and injured, was one experienced by the military after a long period of time. more..

Private teachers to be registered

May 5 (SAMN) The Examination Department has decided to register all teachers who conduct private tuition classes for the GCE Ordinary Level and Advanced Level. This decision has been taken in view of the requirements of the on going reforms of teaching methods, Commissioner General of Examinations, Anura Edirisinghe said Sunday. Every teacher would be given a number after registration and they would be called for awareness programmes, he said. more..

Only foreign observers can enter booths

May 5 (SAMN) The Elections Commissioner has taken a decision to allow only foreign election monitors to enter the polling booths during polling. The local election monitoring organisations will be permitted to observe the poll only from the polling booth grounds. PAFFREL said the Tamil community in the electorate was still showing a lethargic attitude towards the election, while the Sinhala and Muslim communities are engaged in the election campaign with much enthusiasm. more..

Sri Lankan citizen held

May 5 (Hindu) A Sri Lankan citizen who has been living in different places in the northern districts of the State for the past 23 years was arrested from Manathi in the Alakkode police station limits here on Saturday on the charges of not possessing proper documents relating to his stay in the country. The police identified the arrested as E.P. Mujeeb (39), also known as Nagaraj and Ravi, son of Nagalingam who hails from Killinochi in Sri Lanka. more..

Sri Lanka day toasts positive school exchange

May 5 (AN) A STOCKPORT school held a Sri Lanka day to celebrate the success of its exchange programme and wave a fond farewell to some new friends. Castle Hill High School, in Brinnington, organised the event to say goodbye to teacher Ziana Natheer and her daughter Sara Nadah, who are both from the Asian island. Ziana, 39, and Sara, 10, are returning to Sri Lanka after spending two weeks visiting Stockport schools - more..

Vaas blessed with a baby, takes a break from IPL

May 5 (PTI) Chaminda Vaas has taken a short break from the Indian Premier League (IPL) to be with his wife who has given birth to their third child here. "We are blessed with a boy, our third child," Vaas told reporters here on Sunday. Vaas will return to India to join his team Deccan Chargers for their forthcoming matches soon. In a recent column for a Sri Lankan newspaper, the 33-year-old said he is excited to be a part of the "latest experiment in cricket, the Indian Premier League". more..

Fighting in northern Sri Lanka kills 6 rebels, two soldiers

May 5 (AP) A new round of fighting between Tamil rebels and government troops along the front lines of their civil war in northern Sri Lanka killed six guerrillas and two soldiers, the military said Monday. The sporadic fighting erupted Sunday in the Jaffna, Welioya, Mannar and Vavuniya battle zones, the military said. Rebel spokesman Rasiah Ilanthirayan was not immediately available for comment. more..

Intellectual dishonesty in the service of terror

May 5 (PISL) I was sent recently an essay entitled ‘Pax Americana, the EU, and the Tamil Resistance Movement (TRM), written by Peter Schalk of Uppsala University. Prof Schalk has been concerned with Sri Lankan affairs for many years now, and this shows, in his rather dogged adherence to the battles of the seventies. His view is that the EU ban on the LTTE is ‘part of a falling in line with a worldwide pax americana’ which the man explains as analogous to the pax romana, which he also then has to explain. more..