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Education: where do we go from here?

Dec 1 (DN) Sri Lanka is credited with a high literacy rate reckoned as the highest in South Asia, and one of the highest in Asia. Sri Lanka is deemed a Third World country, yet its literacy rate at 92 percent is higher than what is commensurate with a country of that designation. Lest we read too much into these assessments these indices merely indicate that our population numerically as a whole is educated at the rudimentary level. more..

Committee to review legal administration in North

Dec 1 (DN) A high powered committee has been appointed by Justice and Law Reforms Minister, Milinda Moragoda to review the current situation and recommend reforms to the legal administration system in the Northern Province. The Committee will be chaired by Supreme Court Judge, Sripavan. The thirteen member committee also includes Justice Ministry Secretary, Suhada Gamlath, Vice Chancellor, University of Jaffna, M.P. de Silva and Jaffna District Secretary, K. Ganesh. more..

President Mahinda Rajapaksa: Common man’s choice

Dec 1 (DN) President Mahinda Rajapaksa had united many political parties of all communities of the country. He is the common candidate of the common man. As such his victory is a foregone conclusion, said Media Minister Lakshman Yapa Abeywardena speaking to the Press at the Media and Information Ministry yesterday. Minister Abeywardena said the main challenge the President faced and succeeded was the wiping out of terrorism and more..

'I bowled Carrom Ball before Mendis'

Dec 1 (MD) Over the last two decades or so, there has been a dearth of quality left-arm spinners in international cricket. But the few that are around including the likes of Daniel Vettori, Shakib-Al-Hasan and Rangana Herath keep on assuring fans that the art of left-arm spin is far from finished. The remarkable perseverance and variations that Herath showed in India's first innings during the second Test at the Green Park more..

Editorial: Getting cross with crossovers

Dec 1 (Island) Promises are being made in some quarters to introduce new laws to ban crossovers which have come to characterise Sri Lankan politics at every level. Political pole-vaulting is perhaps as old as the hills but the Proportional Representation (PR) system has precipitated the situation with weak governments desperate for raising the required numbers in Parliament with the help of defectors from the Opposition benches. more..

Beruwala Mosque killing: Court allows bail for 68 suspects

Dec 1 (Island) Kalutara High Court Judge Sarath Edirisingha allowed bail to 68 suspects, who were identified at the parade from among the 136 suspects in remand over the death of two persons during a clash between two Muslim factions at a Mosque in Beruwela, in which 11 others received serious injuries a few months ago. The suspects were allowed bail bail in Rs 680,000 and certified bail of Rs. 340,000. more..

Fonseka tells prelates he intends to cleanse administration

Dec 1 (Island) The common Opposition candidate at the forthcoming Presidential Election General Sarath Fonseka told the Malwatta and Asgiriya prelates yesterday that his ambition was the formation of a just and efficient administration free of bribery, corruption and vice. General Fonseka paid homage to the Sacred Tooth relic at the Sri Dalada Maligawa and called on the most Venerable Tibbatuwawe Sri Siddhartha Sumangala Mahanayake Thero of Malwatte. more..

Wimal’s media operation attracts Tamils towards the General

Dec 1 (LNW) A survey conducted by the State Intelligence Service (SIS) has revealed that the media campaign launched against the JVP by NFF Leader Wimal Weerawansa has attracted Tamils towards General Sarath Fonseka. SIS Head DIG Keerthi Gajanayake states that comments made by Weerawansa against the JVP following statements to the media by General Fonseka on the 13th Amendment and Velupillai Prabhakaran’s parents have had a negative impact on the president’s election campaign. more..

The General speaks his mind

Dec 1 (DM) Ending weeks of speculation General Sarath Fonseka RWP RSP VSV USP, former commander of the Sri Lankan Army and Chief of Defense Staff has formally declared his intention to be the candidate of the combined opposition for the post of president of the repblic. In doing so, he has broken ranks with his former commander in chief, whose re-election effort he will now contest and oppose. more..

GMOA urges govt. to declare nationwide pandemic threat

Dec 1 (DM) The Government Medical Officers Association yesterday urged the government to immediately declare a nationwide epidemic situation due to the number of diseases spreading throughout the country. President of the GMOA Dr. G. Dasanayake said that currently the number of epidemic spreading in the country include, AH1N1 (Swine flu) Rat fever, virus flu, dengue, etc. and that the government had failed to control the situation so far. more..

Eye witnesses describe ‘copter crash

Dec 1 (DM) An eye witness of the helicopter crash at Rilakandura off Badalkumbura in Lahugala last Friday giving evidence at the magisterial inquiry into the death of the four Air Force officers who died in the accident said that she and her husband were working in their Chena when they saw a helicopter flying unusually low and crashing into the nearby forest. The magisterial inquiry was held by Monaragala District Judge and more..

Buddha Statues of Sri Lanka part 05

Champika points out differences among partners

Dec 1 (Island) The UPFA yesterday revealed that the then President Chandrika Kumaratunga’s government, in concurrence with India, planned to abandon the Jaffna peninsula shortly after the fall of the strategic Elephant Pass base. Had that happened, the LTTE would have achieved Eelam a long time ago. Minister Dallas Alahapperuma told the media, that in this regard initial talks between Sri Lanka and India had been held to work out a plan to evacuate about 50,000 government security forces and police personnel. more..

How to abolish Executive Presidency before presidential poll 2010

Dec 1 (DBS) This is just a brief introduction to another thought-provoking piece by writer, journalist and activist Kusal Perera. Present trends indicate that the question of abolishing the executive presidency will be the central theme of the current presidential election. Many opposition parties including the UNP and JVP are extending support to Gen.Sarath Fonseka on the understanding that he would take steps to abolish it if elected. more..

The president and the general

Dec 1 (Himal) The Sri Lankan military won the war against the Tamil Tigers over six months ago. But since that time, the island has been steadily losing the peace that the people – Muslim, Tamil and Sinhalese – so deserve. The main hurdle towards lasting peace has been the continuing war mentality and ultra-nationalism on the part of the Rajapakse regime – for this is what we have to call it. more..

Ajantha Mendis misses out in Mumbai

Dec 1 (CI) Ajantha Mendis has been omitted from Sri Lanka's playing XI for the decisive third Test in Mumbai, with the captain Kumar Sangakkara backing a third seam bowler at the Brabourne Stadium. Mendis was included for the second Test in Kanpur as the management opted for a three-pronged spin attack, but after taking 2 for 162 he has been axed. "Mendis will have to sit out," said Sangakkara. more..

India go for first rank, SL for first win in India

Dec 1 (CI) Test cricket returns to a stadium originally designed to be the Lord's of India, which retained the exclusivity of Lord's but lost touch with the common man somewhere down the line. It houses the Ranji Trophy in its foyer and is built for storytelling, from the one when Abbas Ali Baig was kissed by a fan during an innings to the legendary Vijay Hazare-Vijay Merchant rivalry back in the day, and many in between. more..

Freedom of movement for IDPs welcomed

Dec 1 (IRIN) In a development welcomed by the UN and NGOs, thousands of IDPs, who have been held for months in camps in Sri Lanka's north, are free to come and go as of 1 December. "It is a welcome action on the part of the government," Jehan Perera, executive director of the National Peace Council, told IRIN. "It is timely and it is something which should have happened earlier, but nonetheless we welcome it." more..

Canadian authorities eye aid from Tamil Tigers to identify migrants

Dec 1 (G&M) Canadian authorities are considering tracking down known Tamil Tigers – some outside the country – to help them distinguish potential terrorists from genuine refugees among the 76 Tamil men who arrived in a boat off Vancouver Island in October. The government is also considering seeking assistance from the Sri Lankan government as it attempts to delve into the backgrounds of these men who claim to be refugees fleeing postwar Sri Lanka. more..

‘Tinpot dictators’ don’t hold early polls, Dallas tells Sarath

Dec 1 (Island) Responding to former Army Chief General Sarath Fonseka’s pledge on Sunday to defeat President Mahinda Rajapaksa, whom he called a tin pot dictator, Minister Dallas Alahapperuma yesterday said that the Opposition had conveniently forgotten that dictators did not believe in elections. He challenged the Opposition to explain why Rajapaksa had called a presidential election two years ahead of time had he believed in a dictatorial rule. more..

President faces EPDP demands

Dec 1 (DM) The Douglas Devananda-led EPDP, a constituent party of the ruling UPFA, has laid down several conditions including a demand for a political solution and power devolution beyond the 13th Amendment, if it is to support President Mahinda Rajapaksa at the upcoming presidential election. The EPDP has been with the SLFP-led alliances right throughout, and even at the 2005 presidential election, it campaigned for President Rajapaksa. more..

Government opens up refugee camps

Dec 1 (Hindu) Acting on promise to enable greater freedom to about 1.28 lakh war displaced Tamil civilians, currently housed in the Government run temporary relief camps in the north, the Sri Lanka Government on Tuesday morning threw open the heavily guarded barbed wired sites. On the opening day by noon at least 7,000 Tamil civilians had availed of the facility that enables them to travel by a convoy of government buses from Vavuniya to Jaffna to visit their relatives, friends and well wishers. more..

We are backing Murali to turn it around: Sangakkara

Dec 2 (Rediff) If Sri Lanka win the third and final Test in Mumbai, they will not only break the jinx that has seen them go winless in 20 Tests against India, but also end the series on level terms, with some pride restored. They lost last week's second Test in Kanpur by an innings and 144 runs and fell behind 0-1 in the three-Test series. The high-scoring first Test in Ahmedabad ended in a draw. more..

Twelve Burmese fishermen rescued

Dec 2 (Mizzima) The Sri Lankan Navy has rescued 12 Burmese fishermen from two fishing boats adrift in deep sea of Sri Lanka’s eastern coast. A Sri Lankan Naval Headquarter official, told Mizzima on Tuesday that the Burmese fishermen were rescued by the navy after local Sri Lankan fishermen, who were on their way to Tricomalee, tipped them off. Two naval vessels recued the Burmese nationals from two boats about 150 nautical miles from the eastern coast of Sri Lanka. more..

A sense of injured merit

Dec 2 (TI) At a five-star hotel in Colombo last Sunday, Sarath Fonseka, Sri Lanka’s former army chief, regulated the flow of questions from reporters in the same way that he had once commanded troop movements. White had replaced khaki as attire, but there was little change in the stiff countenance of the general. He formally announced his decision to fight the presidential elections in January 2010 as a ‘common candidate’ of more..

Sri Lanka refugees happy to be free

Dec 2 (BBC) Sri Lanka has opened up the vast refugee camps which have been holding tens of thousands of Tamils since the end of the war with Tamil Tiger rebels. BBC Tamil's Ponniah Manikavasagam in Vavuniya has met refugees allowed out of the camps and those who have been permanently resettled. I was not able to go inside but I could speak to the people who were leaving the camps. They were coming out in large numbers. more..

End Tamil boat sit-in, pleads mother of `Alex'

Dec 2 (TA) Pressure for almost 250 Tamil asylum-seekers to end a sit-in on a boat docked in western Java has come from an unlikely source -- the mother of their leader, Sanjeev "Alex" Kuhendrarajah Sathia Rajaratnam has flown from Canada to urge the asylum-seekers to end their protest at the port of Merak, where the boat docked after its interception by the Indonesian navy. more..

Dealing with law and order as an issue of the Presidential elections

Dec 2 (GV) A crucial issue for any type of stability and for good governance in Sri Lanka is the restoration of law and order. Litanies of complaints have been made by politicians and almost everyone else about the pathetic level to which the law and order has deteriorated in Sri Lanka. The joint candidate for the opposition in the coming presidential election has promised that restoration of law and order will be more..

Genetic influences on depression high among Lankan women

Dec 2 (CT) Genetic influences on depression in Sri Lankan women appear to be as strong as in higher-income countries, a study by British Royal College of Psychiatry has found. For men, conclusions of the study are less clear, but suggest a larger role for environments rather than genes. A group of researchers, including Sri Lankans, assessed lifetime depression and a broader measure of depression susceptibility in 3,908 adult twins in Sri Lanka. more..

'No time for national leaders to play election politics on ethnic question'

Dec 2 (AD) Tamil and Sinhala partners in the Rajapakse government are contradicting each other. The Tamil people demand to know President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s stand in respect these contradicting stands. The President, who is UPFA candidate has to reveal his political formula towards the national ethnic issue before the presidential nominations, says DPF leader Mano Ganesan. more..

Clashes erupt within JVP

Dec 2 (GDI) In a dramatic change of events the struggle between the senior leaders to the JVP has erupted into a massive scale clash with party leader Somawansa Amarasinghe leaving the country in the midst of an appeal by loyalists within the party to extend his support to the decision reached by the Central Committee to promote Gen. Sarath Fonseka. Meanwhile highly placed sources reveal that Amarasinghe’s decision to refrain from attending the public meeting more..

Sri Lanka Tamils: freed from camps, their votes may give them new clout

Dec 2 (CSM) Sri Lanka's government freed hundreds of thousands of Tamils from vast internment camps in the north of the island Tuesday – prompted as much by upcoming elections as concerns over human rights, say analysts. In May, when the Army finally routed the rebel LTTE from their northern stronghold, much of the population of that area – close to 300,000 people - was imprisoned in overcrowded camps. Tuesday morning, fewer than half that number were thought to remain. more..

Fonseka promises Sri Lanka 'feeling of freedom'

Dec 2 (BBC) General Sarath Fonseka says that if he is elected president of Sri Lanka he will give the country's ethnic minorities the "feeling of freedom" after a long civil war. The general retired as armed forces chief shortly after leading the army to victory against the Tamil Tigers. In an exclusive interview with the BBC, Sri Lanka correspondent Charles Haviland asked General Fonseka why Tamils and Muslims who had suffered in the war should consider voting for him. more..

Dhoni upbeat despite Gambhir's absence

Dec 2 (CI) India go into this game 1-0 up in the series, having secured a record innings win in the previous match in Kanpur and eyeing a leapfrog over Sri Lanka and South Africa to the No 1 spot. Yet there is one gaping hole they must contend with - the absence of Gautam Gambhir, India's form player of the year and of this series too. MS Dhoni did not comment on Gambhir's decision to place his sister's wedding ahead of a crucial encounter, saying only it was an "individual's decision". more..

Sri Lanka warns Philippine about compromising

Dec 2 (MT) In resolving the four-decade long conflict in southern Mindanao, the Philippine government should muster great resolve in dealing with separatist sentiments, an official from Sri Lanka said. Rajiva Wijesinha, Sri Lanka’s minister of Disaster Management and Human Rights, gave this advice to Manila during a press briefing on Monday about the ongoing rehabilitation and resettlement process in northern Sri Lanka more..

'Elections should not upset economy'

Dec 2 (BL) With talks of elections round the corner, the country’s business leaders are concerned about both policymakers and the private sector losing the long-term focus on development, which they feel would hamper the economy and its people reaping full benefits of the end of the war. Veteran banker and Chairman of Hatton National Bank, Rienzie Wijetilleke aid that although an election itself did not pose a problem, more..

SF to appear at UNP Convention

Dec 2 (BL) Opposition’s Presidential candidate (Rtd.) General Sarath Fonseka will make his first public appearance since officially announcing his candidature, next Saturday at the 64th Annual Convention of the UNP to be held at Nawaloka Grounds, Peliyagoda. UNP Spokesman Gayantha Karunathilaka said that it will be a very special convention due to the participation of the UNF common Presidential candidate General Sarath Fonseka. more..

Missing student returns home

Dec 2 (BL) Lakmali Chandima Pathirana, who went missing since November 26 midnight, on the day she received her Advanced Level results, has returned home safely. According to Lakmali’s mother, she has rung up home on Sunday and had told that she was safe and sound at a friend’s place and had asked her parents not to worry. “Lakmali has left the house because she was upset about her A/L exam results,” said the mother. more..

Karapitiya ICU closed down

Dec 2 (BL) The Intensive Care Unit (ICU) of the Karapitiya Teaching Hospital was closed down yesterday as the staff at ICU walked out demanding masks to protect themselves against AH1N1 (swine flu). Meanwhile, the All Ceylon Health Services Union (ACHSU) charged that the Ministry of Healthcare should be held responsible for the rapidly rising number of (Swine Flu) victims in the country. more..

Mahaweli river expedition

Editorial: Don’t play ‘pandu’ with tourist business

Dec 2 (BL) What was the Maldives before 1973? A nation more or less dependent on the export of Maldive fish. But, after 1973, the Maldivian policymakers realised the potential of their archipelago and started what could be termed as the most successful tourism operation in South Asia. Currently, tourism and related services constitute more than 30% of the Maldives’s Gross Domestic Products. more..

Dilemmas of a nation in war and peace – Part One

Dec 2 (LG) War brought out the best in us. Peace has brought out the worst. War helped us to close ranks and hold us together. Peace has blown this apart. War taught us that we have the capacity to overcome all obstacles and achieve the impossible combating local and external forces. Peace is now throwing us back to primeval politics of wild beasts feeding on each other. In the light of what is happening now, it seems that war was preferable to peace. more..

Nationalism, multi-dimensional

Dec 2 (LG) It’s now being said that the cat should not have been set among the pigeons, that Sarath Fonseka and the president should have never fallen out, and that the ugly mud slinging that would follow — - with charges and counter charges about how the war was conducted —- all should have been avoided. Yeah right, and night should not have followed day? It’s saccharine wishfulness; his candidature is a fait accompli, and moreover, more..

Amnesty International calls on Sri Lankan government to permanently release all civilians

Dec 2 (AI) Amnesty International is calling on the Sri Lankan government to permanently release civilians who have been illegally detained in camps since the end of the civil war six months ago. “The authorities must make good on their declared intentions to free some 120,000 people and must do so unconditionally,” said Yolanda Foster, Amnesty International’s expert on Sri Lanka. more..

Caseworker: Runaway, parents must talk religion

Dec 2 (AP) A runaway Christian convert and her Muslim family must listen to each other's views about religion if they are to reunite, a possibility that appears in jeopardy since the girl continues to refuse any contact with her parents or siblings, a caseworker says. A case-management plan filed Monday said Rifqa Bary and her parents should hear what each has to say about Islam and Christianity as a step toward a possible reunification. more..

Grabbing land for wrecking contiguity of Tamil homeland

Dec 2 (TN) ‘Investors’ may see the eastern coastal tract of the island of Sri Lanka, from Kokku’laay to Kuchchave’li, potential for minerals, tourism and fisheries. But the tract is of utmost importance to Eezham Tamils in linking the north and east of their historic homeland. Tamils wouldn’t have been averse to the idea of anyone coming and investing in this tract had there been a guarantee to the territorial integrity of their nation. more..

e Sri Lanka: Promise realized?

Dec 2 (LBO) 2009 has been year of celebration for the ICT Agency, the entity created to implement the e Sri Lanka program. The capping event is the big regional conference that has come to town, giving ICTA dignitaries an opportunity to strut their stuff on a larger stage. The declaration of 2009 as the Year of IT and English signified Presidential blessing. more..

Sri Lanka must assist war refugees released from camps, UN says

Dec 2 (BN) Sri Lanka must ensure that Tamil war refugees receive assistance now they are allowed to leave transit camps where they were held since the rebel LTTE were defeated in May, the United Nations and human rights groups said. President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s government yesterday ended restrictions on people leaving camps in the north that hold about 120,000 civilians. It plans to return all the displaced people to their home towns and villages by the end of January. more..

Opposition parties seek permission to canvass in north

Dec 2 (Xinhua) Sri Lankan opposition parties on Tuesday requested the government to allow them to enter the Northern Province to canvass for the forthcoming presidential election to be held on Jan. 26. Anura Kumara Dissanayake, parliamentary group leader of the leftist JVP or the People's Liberation Front told reporters that at present only government politicians are allowed to go there and it is very unfair during an election period. more..

No good choices for Sri Lankans

Dec 2 (EB) When Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa set his mind on a snap election, presidential or parliament, he expected a walkover. He must have thought his status as destroyer of the LTTE despite heavy opposition from the Western powers and scepticism openly expressed by the UNP, the principal opposition outfit, ensured that. But politics being what it is, Rajapaksa found himself stepping, not on firm ground, but quicksand. more..