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Lankan envoy: I will strive to boost bilateral relations

Dec 13 (AN) New Sri Lankan Ambassador to the Kingdom Ahmed Aflel Jawad said that his mission in Riyadh would serve as a beacon to all Sri Lankans by looking after their interests in Saudi Arabia and promoting bilateral relations between the island and the Kingdom. “I will try my level best to take Saudi-Lanka ties to a new high,” said the envoy. The ambassador, who arrived here on Monday, told Arab News that his mission is to work for the welfare of the 500,000 Sri Lankan workers in the Kingdom and more..

President orders IGP to remove his posters and cut outs immediately

Dec 13 (GDI) IGP, Mahinda Balasuriya today announced that President Mahinda Rajapaksa had instructed him to remove all posters,banners and cut outs of the President displayed in public even before the date of nominations to ensure that election laws are carried out to the letter. The IGP said he met the President for two succesive days up to yesterday and the President was firm on the need to hold a free and fair election." more..

Rajapaksa regime attracted more foreign investment

Dec 13 (GDI) A prominent feature of the Mahinda Chintana policy is to build a stable and successful industrial sector. The Board of Investment is giving a new life with maximum contributions in that respect. Throughout the 31 year old history of the Board of Investment, the previous government succeeded in attracting investments worth 2.7 billion US dollars. However, during the four-year administration, the total investment has risen to 2.8 billion dollars. more..

'JVP demanding ransom overseas like the LTTE'

Dec 13 (GDI) A conspiracy of the UNP and the JVP with international is now bared. This conspiracy is afoot against Sri Lanka is mooted with the help of countries where the LTTE is still present. In the past, LTTE terrorists staged protests near foreign missions abroad in support of Prabhakaran. Similarly, the JVP had requested the Police in Italy to hold a protest opposite the Sri Lankan Embassy against the President who is the Commander-in-Chief who liberated the motherland. more..

Gen Sarath Fonseka's media briefings prohibited to the state media

Dec 13 (GDI) The media briefings conducted at Jaic Hilton by opposition candidate, retired General Sarath Fonseka has been prohibited to the state electronic and print media. When two representatives from Government Special Media Unit went to cover Gen. Sarath Fonseka's media briefing this morning at Jaic Hilton they were turned away by the security at the entrance perusing the media identities of media personnel. more..

Pillayan and TMVP pledges fullest support to President

Dec 13 (GDI) Eastern Province Chief Minister, Sivanesathurai Chandrakanthan alias Pillayan has pledged his fullest support and cooperation to the candidature of President Mahinda Rajapaksa at the upcoming election in January. He said that he dismissed newspaper reports that he and his party swayed to keep options open. "We are firmly behind the candidature pf President Mahinda Rajapaksa and there's no change in that stance", he asserted. more..

SB enhances President’s firepower

Dec 13 (NS) President Rajapaksa made a prize catch this week, when he got UNP National Organiser and Opposition Leader of the Central Provincial Council S.B. Dissanayake to come over to his side, to strengthen his re-election campaign. Dissanayake, though a controversial character, who ensured the collapse of the Chandrika Kumaratunga government in 2001, when he led a group of rebels to the UNP and more..

Eravur market illegally occupied, police inactive, case filed

Dec 13 (PSM) Newly built shops in the Eravur Main Street market owned by the Eravur Pradeshiya Sabha, has been illegally occupied by some Sinhala businessmen without any formal regulations. Sources reveal that this has been carried out with the help of the Eravur Police. The Eravur Pradeshya Sabha (PS) has filed a case in the court against this since the police have failed and neglected to entertain the complaint of the PS. more..

Nearly 42,000 displaced in Ampara

Dec 13 (LP) The heavy shower experienced in the Ampara District for three days last week displaced 41,700 families in the area. Many places in Kalmunai, Sainthamaruthu, Karaitivu, Addalaichenai, Akkaraipattu, Pottuvil and Pathiyatalawa in the district were submerged. The Kalmunai-Ampara Road was impassable at Mawadippalli and the Kalmunai-Chawalakkadai Road at Kittangy. The students sitting the O/L exam were highly inconvenienced as the school examination centres were flooded. more..

US tilt in pre-election period welcomed by govt.

Dec 13 (Island) Although the government is wary about the possibility of at least a section of the international community throwing its weight behind the Opposition candidate former Army Chief General Sarath Fonseka at the presidential election, a change in the US policy vis a vis Sri Lanka in the run up to the January 26 election has given a tremendous boost to the UPFA government. more..

'Family rule or Democratic rule?'

Dec 13 (TN) “The time has come for the people to decide whether they want the Rajapakse family rule to continue or democratic rule to be restored in Sri Lanka,” Leader of the opposition, Ranil Wickremasinghe, who is in Jaffna canvassing support for Sarath Fonseka, the common candidate of the opposition parties in the presidential election, said Saturday speaking among the students of the private College of Education near the Buddhist temple in Jaffna. more..

Thugs deployed to attack JVP supporters see stars

Dec 13 (LT) A group of supporters who were engaged in propaganda work announcing the electoral ‘Bala Mandala’ meeting to be held today at Polgahawela were attacked by thugs lead by the electoral organizer of the UPFA for Polgahawela Tikiri Adhikari on three instances. On the first and second instances the thugs had assaulted three JVP supporters and had run away. When the JVP supporters began their propaganda work for the third time the thugs had come and more..

“We are not going to start another armed struggle” – PLOTE Sitharathan

Dec 13 (TN) “We are not preparing ourselves to launch another armed struggle. The accusations that we had abducted minors from Vavuniyaa camps are baseless,” Sitharathan, the leader of PLOTE said in a press meet held Saturday in PLOTE office in Jaffna. He further said that after the talks held with President Mahinda Rajapakse his party has decided to support him in the forthcoming presidential election, sources in Jaffna said. more..

Opposition parties obstructed in their election campaign

Dec 13 (UNP) The SLMC which was to hold a discussion in Kurunegala was forced to change its original venue as the owner of the reception Hall which was booked was threatened by unidentified elements. They had threatened to set fire to the Hall if they allow the meeting to be held. The SLMC leader Rauff Hakeem said, even after paying an advance to the owner, they had to change the venue as the owner was frightened. more..

Expat Tamils endorse bigger mandate for President

Dec 13 (SO) More than ninety per cent of expatriate Tamils domiciled in Europe and Scandinavia have vehemently condemned the United National Party (UNP) and its coalition the United National Alliance saying that the party was responsible for the conflict in Sri Lanka for three decades, and urged the Tamils in the North and the East to re-elect President Mahinda Rajapaksa in the Presidential poll in January next year. more..

'Baseless statement against Defence Secretary'

Dec 13 (GDI) Minister Mahinda Samarasinghe today described a statement by retired Gen.Sarath Fonseka to the "Sunday Leader: newspaper making a claim that Defence Secretary, Gotabhaya Rajapaksa ordered then Brigadier Shavindra Silva to execute the killing of LTTE frontliners, Pulidevan and Nadesan who had reportedly surrendered with white flags in hand, was the greatest ever betrayal based on more..

Sri Lanka Army’s first women paratroopers

Dec 13 (SO) Mother Nature creates each human being to be unique and magnificent while some are made to become extraordinary. Each character adds a unique colour to the web of life and this itself is the secret of a wonderful world. Traditionally, women are expected to be soft and tender in nature, bringing smoothness to life with their soft touch. Women themselves may not know how wonderful their characters could be until more..

Focus on improving education of displaced Muslims

Dec 13 (SO) Displacement has severely affected the livelihood and proper education of Muslims. Greatest attention should be paid to improve the education standards of the displaced Muslim children, a survey conducted by All Ceylon Muslim Education Conference revealed. It said, the education standards of the Muslims which was at a peak was brought to zero due to refugee life and the insufficient economy. more..

Shesha Palihakkara- the indefatigable actor

Dec 13 (SO) I remember quite vividly an old man with a bald head seated at the verandah of the Fort YMBA hostel on most evenings and reading an English novel or the Reader’s Digest Magazine. He was so deeply engrossed and did not bother even to look up at those who came in and left the hostel. As a matter of fact few persons read English novels at the YMBA except Old Eddie who had been a lodger for many years. Anyway I was curious to find out who this gentleman was. more..

New amendments to strengthen Human Rights

Dec 13 (SO) The Government will shortly bring in amendments to replace the present Fundamental Rights chapter in the Constitution, fulfilling another promise of the 'Mahinda Chinthanaya'. Human Rights and Disaster Management Minister Mahinda Samarasinghe said a Draft Bill prepared by a panel of eminent persons headed by constitutional expert Dr. Jayampathy Wickremaratne was now ready and will be handed over to the President. more..

Nuga Gama: The village in the city

Dec 13 (NS) Cinnamon Grand pays tribute to Sri Lanka’s rich traditional heritage and culture with its newest concept, Nuga Gama (meaning Banyan Village) which is now open to the public. Here tradition beckons in an inspiring journey that takes you back to Sri Lanka’s rural roots at ‘the village in the city.’ Bask in the steep traditional atmosphere that hearkens back to a simpler, less urbanised era. more..

Better prospects ahead for resettling Northerners

Dec 13 (SO) The Government's objective is to resettle every IDP by January 31. Soldiers of Sri Lanka Army saved the lives of 283,000 civilians (91,000 families) who were brutally held by LTTE terrorists from mid November, 2008 to mid May 2009. It was always the soldier who was at the first receiving point of the escaping civilians. They even gave their own food to these civilians. The soldiers cared for the sick and the weak amidst more..

Major chicken, egg shortage looms

Dec 13 (NS) A major shortage of chicken and eggs is now expected over the festive season due to unscrupulous elements cornering and manipulating the local maize market, which makes up 50 per cent of the poultry feed. A government ban since July on maize imports to help local farmers is also helping these middlemen who control the local maize market to make a killing. Poultry industry sources said the market was already recording an unprecedented steep rise in egg prices and more..

'Ordinary Tamil people support the General'

Dec 13 (NS) Election heat is on the rise with all major parties declaring their Presidential hopefuls. The candidates have now begun to declare their manifestoes and promises to the people. The Nation met vociferous UNP MP Lakshman Seneviratne, in order to clarify the positions of opposition common candidate Gen. Sarath Fonseka on several vital issues. Following are excerpts: more..

TNA majority for Tamil presidential candidate

Dec 13 (NS) The TNA, which failed to agree on its stand on the forthcoming presidential election despite two meetings on Tuesday and Wednesday, is now definitely tilting towards fielding its own candidate, TNA sources said yesterday. “Chances are very bright for a Tamil candidate,” one TNA source said. Jaffna District MP N. Sri Kantha conceded that out of the 17 TNA MPs who met in Colombo on December 8 and 9, a majority of seven, including himself wanted to field a party candidate, while more..

Moves afoot to fill Attidiya bird sanctuary

Dec 13 (NS) Environment lobbyists allege that an extent of four acres within the Bellanwila Attidiya Bird Sanctuary is to be filled with the involvement of a politician, posing threat to the rich bio diversity of the area. Environmental groups involved in protecting the Attidiya Bird Sanctuary claimed the land has been acquired by the Ministry of Sports and Recreation, to be filled and build a sports ground for the area. “This is a private land, but the owner was once banned from filling the land on an earlier occasion when more..

Government rattled by Fonseka trump

Dec 13 (Island) After a few weeks, if not months of waiting and debating, the UNP-JVP-Mangala combine announced its decision to throw former Army Chief General Sarath Fonseka at incumbent President Mahinda Rajapaksa at the forthcoming presidential election. Although, they called three separate media conferences to announce their individual support to Fonseka with the government making a futile bid to show a rift in the JVP, the unprecedented alliance materialized. more..

Police rooted in transit camp while President cajoles senior officers

Dec 13 (LT) A large number of police officers who are waiting to go to Jaffna after completing their leave are lingering at ‘transit camp’ at Thalaimannar for 7 days as a result of the meeting to be held today between President Mahinda Rajapakse and police officers. This situation has arisen as the buses that were reserved to transport them from ‘transit camp’ at Thalaimannar have been used to transport police officers to Colombo to participate at the meeting of President Rajapakse. more..

President seeks AG’s opinion on acquiring Ceylinco Group assets

Dec 13 (Island) President Mahinda Rajapaksa yesterday asked Attorney General Mohan Peiris to examine the legal aspects of acquiring Ceylinco assets and properties, even through the enactment of legislation, to grant relief to long-suffering depositors of Golden Key and other finance companies of the crisis-hit group. "We are prepared to take meaningful steps to grant redress to thousands of distraught depositors even by taking over the assets of this group", more..

Galleon exits from over 70 listed companies in Sri Lanka this year

Dec 13 (Island) Billionaire investor Raj Rajaratnam who held shares in 73 listed companies in Sri Lanka through his Galleon Funds has completed disposing these holdings in all but two of these companies with Galleon now holding shares only in Touchwood Investments and the People’s Merchant Bank, sources familiar with the account said yesterday. more..

My six months in Beautiful Sri Lanka

Dec 13 (Island) Everyone asks me why I chose to come to Sri Lanka. Unfortunately, unlike a friend of mine, I cannot claim to have spun a globe and my finger landed on Sri Lanka; but what I can say is that I had a choice of a few locations to do my journalism placement and why I decided on Sri Lanka above the other countries I do not know. But I made the right decision! I still remember my first glimpse of Sri Lanka. more..

'Act against abuse of state media'

Dec 13 (Island) The following is the text of the statement issued yesterday by Gen. Sarath Fonseka against the abuse of the state media in the run-up to the presidential election. It has become impossible to ignore and certainly unconscionable to remain silent about this regime’s despicable conduct in the use of state media, even before the presidential race proper has gotten under way. The public, I am sure, shares my disgust at the ugly manner in which more..

Polls commissioner cautions President

Dec 13 (ST) Elections Commissioner Dayananda Dissanayake has declared that it is inappropriate for President Mahinda Rajapaksa to entertain public officials after a Presidential election has been declared. A communication in this regard has been sent to Presidential Secretary Lalith Weeratunga, by Mr. Dissanayake, a senior official in his Secretariat said yesterday. He did not want to be identified. more..

Attacks on media: The story unfolds

Dec 13 (ST) "Are you confident," asked Robert Blake, the senior-most official in the Obama administration to visit Sri Lanka in recent months, from President Mahinda Rajapaksa last Tuesday. "If I am not, I would not have called for a Presidential poll," he replied and added, "come and see me again after I win." Blake, the former US envoy in Colombo, is now Assistant Secretary for South and Central Asian Affairs in the Department of State. more..

Political parties, companies must declare funding

Dec 13 (ST) A Business Times email poll this week asking the Sri Lankan public whether political parties should declare their sources of funding and whether public companies must declare any funding of political parties, came up with an unusually, unanimous response. All the 225 respondents said political parties and public companies must resort to open disclosure. Respondents in the 2-question poll ranged from Chairman and CEOs, to economists, more..

TMVP sways, keeps options open again

Dec 13 (ST) The TMVP, the largest political party in the East, now wants voters to support “a candidate who has the backing of a political party” that would resolve Tamil grievances. This official position of the party was declared in a statement (issued in Tamil) by the TMVP after a politburo meeting on Friday. This announcement retracts the TMVP’s declaration on December 2 that it would support President Mahinda Rajapaksa. more..

Govt. gulps Rs. 2 billion more in two months

Dec 13 (ST) The Government has paid out about Rs 2 billion by way of supplementary allocations within two months. While much of the money has been given for the maintenance of displaced people, millions have been spent on legal fees towards the settlement of hedging dispute, purchase of vehicles and foreign travel for government officials. More than Rs 1101 million was given for recurrent expenditures much of which went towards paying the cost of living and more..

As the battle draws closer media briefings boom

Dec 13 (ST) Full scale campaigning for the January 26 Presidential election will get under way from December 17, after candidates file their nominations at the Elections Secretariat at Rajagiriya on Wednesday. But the two leading candidates, President Mahinda Rajapaksa and General Sarath Fonseka have been participating in numerous public engagements. The Elections Commissioner announced that nominations would be accepted between 9 a.m. and 11 a.m. on the 17th. more..

'Cargo Plane detained in Thailand not headed for Sri Lanka'

Dec 13 (MoD) The Military Spokesperson Brigadier Udaya Nanayakkara denied news controversies of an alleged cargo-plane detained by Thailand security authorities as heading for Sri Lanka. Quoting latest Thai security official reports, the Spokesperson confirmed that the cargo-plane detained in Thailand with tons of war weaponry was not headed for Sri Lanka. more..

Sri Lanka offers permanent secretariat for BIMSTEC

Dec 13 (Hindu) Sri Lanka has offered to host permanent secretariat for the seven-country Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC). The offer was made by Sri Lanka Foreign Minister Rohitha Bogollagama at the 12th ministerial meeting of the grouping which ended in Myanmar's new capital of Nay Pyi Taw on Friday evening. A statement by the Sri Lanka Foreign Ministry quoted Mr. Bogollagama as saying at the meeting, more..

Sri Lankan rebels killed in cold blood: ex-army chief

Dec 13 (AFP) Sri Lankan troops shot dead surrendering Tamil Tiger leaders on the orders of the defence secretary, the former army chief who is now running for president said on Sunday. General Sarath Fonseka said Gotabhaya Rajapakse -- the brother of the current president -- instructed field commanders not to take prisoners in the days before the Tamil Tiger separatists were defeated in May. more..

War of words between two camps

Dec 13 (Hindu) With four days to go for the filing of nomination papers to the January 26 Sri Lankan Presidential election, the war of words in the camps of majority opposition parties’ candidate retired General Sarath Fonseka and the incumbent President Mahinda Rajapaksa has taken a nasty turn. A fresh feud broke out with Sunday Leader, an English weekly, hitting the stands early in the morning featuring an interview with more..

London escapades: colour – bar mishap mats joy of jogging

Dec 14 (LG) The “strangest thing” that could happen to a traveler struck me at about 4.45 p.m. on Friday, July 20, 1990. It shattered the image of London that my father had impressed on me as the “greatest” city in the world. I purchased a few groceries from Marks & Spencer in Hammersmith and was about to leave the store to walk toward the tube station along King Street when a security guard pounced on me to search my waist for “shoplifted goods.” more..

Marking the choice

Dec 14 (MoD) Sri Lanka has been a democracy since its independence from the colonial rules. Its governing body always enjoyed the challenges of a strong opposition except during the Jayawardena era until now. Today Sri Lanka 's main opposition is a hodgepodge of all sorts with a man at the helm who seems to have lost his charm but still hanging on to the top post. He has failed to deliver any hope to the grass roots of the party having lost every election held since 2004. more..

Would you want our votes, Mr. President?

Dec 14 (LG) If at all President Mahinda Rajapakse must be congratulated for steadfastly refusing to provide the proverbial ‘floating voter’ in the country, (to which healthy category this columnist most happily belongs by the way), with any solid basis as to why votes should be cast for him in the first instance. To say this is to be positively, if not satirically, commendatory. more..

President considering Doug a big liability

Dec 14 (LG) The non-Cabinet minister and the paramilitary leader Douglas Devananda (Doug or Doughy) publicly claimed that his ten point proposal to resolve the conflict in Sri Lanka was accepted by the President. According to news published elsewhere and verified with Doug’s party sources, in fact the President had grinned at him when Doug explained and handed over his proposal. At the end of the meeting with the President, Doug has asked for Sally (Money) for his work in the north. more..

Coordinating and supporting recovery

Rajapaksha trying to con India again

Dec 14 (LG) Three Presidential representatives rushed to New Delhi for meetings with the Indian Ministers and Officials on 9th and 10th. Normalcy in Sri Lanka is helping Prime Minister Manmohan Singh government and issues involved in the bilateral relations at present are just irritants compared to various serious issues facing India. The present Indian Government is keen to develop Indo- US relations, enhancing the rural development and more..

Dilemmas of an Imperilled Democracy

Dec 14 (LG) The Presidential election is a ‘do or die battle’ for Lankan democracy. A Rajapakse victory – especially an outright one – will strengthen the Ruling Family’s intent and ability to hollow out the democratic system and ensconce within its shell a despotic rule. A Sarath Fonseka Presidency will be the greatest unknown in Lankan politics. If Gen. Fonseka does keep his promises, Sri Lanka can be saved from the Cimmerian darkness of tyrannical rule. more..

Promises and Experience

Dec 14 (LG) At the heat of the 1970 election just a year after the moon landing, Sirima Bandaranaike promised to bring rice from the moon and some gullible voters believed it. After coming to power people starved without rice. In 1977 JR Jayawardena promised to give 8 grains including popular dhal (lentils) but people got “parippu” (a slang word meaning humiliation). In 1988 R Premadasa promised 2,500 a month but people lost their food stamps and instead some received 1,250 a month. more..