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General dilemma

Dec 26 (DM) Hot on the heels of many crossovers a senior SLFP politician from the hill country, who held a powerful portfolio during the tenure of President Chandrika Kumaratunga is slated to extend his support to Opposition Common Candidate Gen. Sarath Fonseka soon, political sources claimed. The politician had earlier planned to appear on the stage of Gen. Fonseka’s inaugural rally in Kandy on December 18. more..

TNA – UNP – General discussions successful

Dec 26 (LT) The discussions held between the UNP, the TNA and Common Presidential Candidate Gen. Sarath Fonseka held yesterday (25th) have been successful. At the discussions TNA has agreed for a programme of national consensus. The discussions held at the residence of UNP Leader Ranil Wickremasinghe was participated by Gen. Sarath Fonseka, Leader of the Parliamentary group of TNA R. Sambanthan, more..

Sri Lanka opposition presidential candidate defends economic prowess

Dec 26 (LBO) Opposition presidential candidate, a former military general, defended his ability to manage the economy in a future administration saying he had the backing of the main opposition UNP. The UNP opened Sri Lanka's closed economy in 1977, paving the way for an industrialization drive, giving opportunities for people to break free from subsistence agriculture which is tied to land. more..

Resettled areas to get 53 post offices

Dec 26 (MoD) Moves are under way to open 53 new post offices in resettled areas. Steps will be taken on a priority basis on President Mahinda Rajapaksa's instructions, said Posts and Telecommunication Deputy Minister M.S. Sellasamy. From January, 53 post offices will operate in Kilinochchi and Mullaitivu districts, he added. He said new postal workers will be appointed and those who serve on a temporary basis made permanent after the Presidential Election. more..

Sri Lanka labour force growth to lag region

Dec 26 (LBO) Sri Lanka's labour force has grown an average 1.0 percent from 1990 to 2008, and is projected to grow by only 0.3 percent a year till 2020 trailing other Asian nations, with low female participation, a government report has said. "This is driven by expected declines in the adult male participation rate and in the participation rates of young women and men," the report Labour and Social Trends in Sri Lanka said. more..

'We look back with sadness, but we look forward with hope'

Dec 26 (HP) This time of year is a period for reflection for many people around the world. For the people of Sri Lanka it brings back acutely painful memories, but also for the first time in many years, a genuine sense of hope. On December 26, 2004, one of the worst natural disasters in modern times befell our country and we required aid and other support from the world on an unprecedented scale. more..

Education, top priority

Dec 26 (DN) The Government never neglected the Education sector in spite of the heavy defence expenditure involved in a costly war. In fact more and more funds were allocated for the development of the education sector by the Government, President Mahinda Rajapaksa said. “The biggest allocation of Government funds was for defence. The second highest allocation had been for the health and education sectors and this proved the high attention paid by the Government for children’s education,” he said. more..

Depleted bowling cost us the series: Sangakkara

Dec 26 (PTI) Sri Lankan captain Kumar Sangakkara, today blamed his side’s depleted bowling unit for the team’s ODI series defeat against India. Having already conceded the five-match series to India who have taken an unassailable 3-1 lead, Sangakkara said his team fought tooth and nail but the home side’s superior bowling made all the difference in the series which concludes here tomorrow. more..

Minister defends Sri Lanka’s human rights record

Dec 26 (Hindu) Minister of Human Rights and Disaster Management Mahinda Samarasingha on Saturday said that the three forces and the police did not violate international laws in the course of the 34-month war with the LTTE. Addressing the National Safety Day event at Kurunegala the Minister referred to the controversial charges made (subsequently withdrawn) by the former Army Chief and Presidential contender, more..

How has Sri Lanka coped with the Asian tsunami and a civil war?

Dec 26 (DW) After Indonesia, Sri Lanka was the country most affected by the Asian tsunami. More than 35,000 people lost their lives and half a million were left homeless, affecting both Sinhalese and Tamils alike. It was thought the disaster would bring the two groups together, but the hopes of the international community were not realized. Neither the 2002 ceasefire nor the catastrophe ended the decade-long conflict between the groups. more..

Sri Lanka tsunami aid misappropriated: watchdog

Dec 26 (AFP) Nearly half a billion dollars in tsunami aid for Sri Lanka is unaccounted for and over 600 million dollars has been spent on projects unrelated to the disaster, an anti-corruption watchdog said Saturday. Berlin-based Transparency International demanded an audit of the money received by the Sri Lankan government to help victims of the Asian tsunami which hit the island on December 26, 2004, killing 31,000 people. more..

5 years after tsunami: Sri Lanka's 'new normal' by the sea

Dec 26 (CBC) As you watch surfers tumbling down foamy breakers in the setting sun, it's hard to cast the mind back to the scenes of devastation beamed around the world that Boxing Day Sunday five years ago. I was in Sri Lanka just a few months after the tsunami hit. About two-thirds of the country's shoreline had been severely damaged in one way or another. Tens of thousands had died. more..

India look to break dead-rubber jinx

Dec 27 (CI) It's dead-rubber time again. Since MS Dhoni became captain, India have won seven of the eight bilateral ODI series they have played. Keeping aside the series against England, Australia and West Indies - where last matches could not be played out - India have played four dead-rubbers and lost all four. With Dhoni coming back from his ban, India would want to set that blip right in Delhi. more..

The Election, the War and the Tamils

Dec 27 (AT) A war masquerading as a humanitarian offensive, an all out assault against an enemy stronghold teeming with desperate civilians billed as a hostage rescue operation cannot be fought in the open, under the full glare of media lights. The end phase of Eelam War IV had to be fought under a cloak of selective invisibility because the whole truth was politically unaffordable. In accordance with the Rajapakse-Fonseka law on the conduct of war, more..

Notebook of a Photojournalist: The wave of killer, and the wave of compassion

Dec 27 (TC) The aftermath of the Dec 26th 2004 tsunami and the continuing devastating impact on all affected communities in Sri Lanka’s North, South and Eastern provinces have been brought via pictorial journals on since January 2005. No other journal has covered all areas of Sri Lanka in this extensive manner. HumanityAshore featured places such as Pathirajagama in the South, more..

Signs of 15 lakhs voters losing voting rights

Dec 27 (CaFFE) There is a possibility of 15 lakhs of voters in Jaffna and Wanni whose names are not in the electoral registers of 2008 and have no identity cards losing their right of voting at the Presidential elections 2010. The deadline for the registration of IDPs of the North to vote at another place has expired on the 24th.. It is a big question as to how many have forwarded their applications for such registration. more..

'Winning for Sri Lanka is what I enjoy the most'

Dec 27 (CI) Q: You made your international debut in the same ODI as Mark Taylor and Taylor retired 10 years ago. How have you kept going? A: I retired from Test cricket recently to play ODIs a little bit longer. I have always enjoyed my cricket. I'm still enjoying it and I've worked hard on it. And I still want to perform. The sad thing is, I don't know whether the Sri Lankan cricket board is even aware that I'm completing 20 years today! more..

Sanath makes batting easy

Dec 27 (CI) My oldest memory of Sanath Jayasuriya is of the time he was asked to open in Tests, and he scored a century, in Adelaide. Later that year, he had the whole nation glued to the cricket during the 1996 World Cup. Immediately he was one of the big stars, up there with Aravinda de Silva and Arjuna Ranatunga, but to us, youngsters in their formative years, Sanath was much more. Here was a man from a humble background, more..

Sanath Jayasuriya - the entertainer

Dec 27 (CI) On the 20th anniversary of Sanath Jayasuriya's international career, Cricinfo picks out some of his best performances. 6 for 29 v England, Moratuwa, 1993: A couple years before he would begin tormenting bowlers the world over with his ballistic approach up the order, Jayasuriya gave England a torrid time in Moratuwa - with the ball. Hardly a front-line slow left-arm spinner, a young Jayasuriya nabbed six wickets. more..

Lost and found: Recovering from Sri Lanka's tsunami

Dec 27 (BBC) Five years after the Indian Ocean tsunami many Sri Lankans still find the losses hard to bear - but with help from outside, some are picking up their livelihoods again. Sarath Kumara lost a lot in the tsunami, but his livelihood survived On a plantation in the island's south-west, Sarath Kumara and his men harvest the cinnamon crop as the birds of the forest sing. more..

Majority of displaced have no vote

Dec 27 (SL) Thousands of displaced persons in the north will be deprived of exercising their franchise at the January 26, 2010 presidential election, given the small number of registration forms received by the Elections Department and the Department’s decision not to extend the December 24 deadline for the displaced persons to register to vote. The Election Commissioner’s Department has received only about 20,000 to 25,000 registration forms more..

'Mahinda Rajapaksa will get over 70% of the votes'

Dec 27 (SL) SLFP General Secretary and Agriculture Development and Agrarian Services Minister Maithripala Sirisena says President Mahinda Rajapaksa would record a ‘great victory’ at the January 26 presidential election given the pledges fulfilled by him including the defeat of terrorism within a period spanning less that three years. more..

UDA Continues To Flout Election Laws

Dec 27 (SL) The Urban Development Authority (UDA) has once again flouted election laws by offering space for some 120 shops at a prime location in Pettah for party supporters. The offer comes despite the Elections Commissioner’s strict directives banning such deals, but according to the sources, Minister of Urban Development Dinesh Gunawardena allegedly directed the UDA to make arrangements to give away these shop spaces soon after the presidential election was announced. more..

Forgotten Suburban Tsunami Victims

Dec 27 (SL) All of us here have nothing. The tsunami washed away our houses. We took shelter in a nearby temple, eventually an NGO came and built us this temporary camp — we were promised aid, but five years later we are still in the camp, we have no place. We can’t return to our original homes because of the 50 meter rule. The camp is falling apart, and no one from the government or from any NGOs come to visit us now,” explains Kusuma Ariyadasa, more..

The Year In Review

Dec 27 (SL) One thing can be said for 2009 — it was certainly action-packed. The decisive defeat of the LTTE is only the tip of the iceberg. Looking back, it can be said that it was a roller-coaster ride of events. As a presidential election looms on the horizon and former friends turn political competitors, who knows what could happen in 2010? Before looking forward, however, perhaps it is appropriate to look backward. more..

Stealing Steel

Dec 27 (SL) The Kelaniya right bank water treatment plant is yet another of the government’s mega projects. Costing a staggering Rs. 8 billion and funded by Danish aid, the enormous water tank complex being erected at Pitiwela will eventually treat and supply water to the densely populated residential areas north of Colombo. The project is vital and timely as the majority of the country’s residents, even those living in close proximity to Colombo, more..

Commissioner waiting for horse to bolt?

Dec 27 (LB) The Elections Commissioner, Dayananda Dissanayake is likely to appoint a Competent Authority to monitor state media coverage during the presidential election in the coming weeks, Elections Department sources said. Accordingly, Rupavahini, Lake House and SLBC will be monitored by the Competent Authority. The Elections Commissioner has the power to appoint a Competent Authority to more..

No answers on missing $472 million tsunami bucks

Dec 27 (LB) As the country commemorated the fifth tsunami anniversary yesterday, Transparency International Sri Lanka (TIS) urged the Sri Lankan government to immediately explain the issue of missing USD 472 million in tsunami funds. TIS were demanding an immediate audit inquiry to be held regarding the utilization of the missing tsunami money. “From the total of tsunami funds Sri Lanka received, the committed (funds promised by donors) are USD 2,126,771,858, more..

Free and fair election - a pipe dream

Dec 27 (LB) The Elections Commissioner issued a 21 points guideline for media institutions on December 17th which urged the media to grant equal opportunity to all political parties and report in an unbiased manner. But has anything changed in the way the state owned media institutions operate? “Although a week has elapsed after the guidelines have been issued, the news bulletins run as if they are paid advertorials of the President and more..

Opposition in helluva pickle!

Dec 27 (LB) All politics is local. That old adage could best explain the tragicomedy now being played in public over a statement - even after its subsequent retraction - allegedly made by Gen Sarath Fonseka, the former chief of defence staff and the army chief, who interestingly enough happened to be in the forefront of the military defeat of the Tamil Tigers. For the uninitiated, here is the story in a nutshell. more..

Election violence exceeds PC poll levels

Dec 27 (LB) The 2010 Presidential election sees violence increasing dramatically, daily, due to intense battle between General Sarath Fonseka and President Mahinda Rajapaksa. It is the expectation of everyone in the country to see a peaceful presidential election on 26th January 2009. For that expectation to come true, a peaceful environment has to be created. But when looking at the number of incidents involving violence that have taken place so far, more..

Down to the wire?

Dec 27 (LB) While the government was on attack mode the entirety of last week over the now denied statement allegedly made to the Sunday Leader by common opposition candidate Sarath Fonseka, the UNP-JVP combine was trying its best to move away from this particular concern, and bring what they deemed as more relevant nationwide issues to the focus. The opposition’s common candidate said that he would provide fertilizer to farmers at Rs. 350, and more..

'I'd like to play for another six months': Sanath Jayasuriya

Dec 27 (CI) Q: Moving on to the 1996 World Cup - can you talk about the knock against India in Delhi? A: The Delhi match was unique. When India got 275, we never expected to win. But once Kalu [Romesh Kaluwitharana] and I went after the new ball, India didn't know what was going on. My 79 came off 76 balls. It was one of the best things in that tournament, when we chased that target easily. more..

Sri Lanka's never-ending post-tsunami disaster

Dec 27 (LP) Five years ago, on December 26, world wept with tens of thousands of Sri Lankans as tsunami hit the island taking at least thirty thousand lives with the deadly wave. I lived in an area in the southwestern plains many miles away from the coast and the news of sea waves rushing overland did not rouse my enthusiasm as I had never heard of tsunami although I was entering into the fourth decade of my life. more..

Corruption dogs tsunami recovery

Dec 27 (CH) Billions of dollars were pledged after the 2004 Asian tsunami to help people like Pradeepa Niroshani, who waited in vain for money to rebuild her destroyed home. Five years after the disaster, the government in Sri Lanka is under pressure from a leading anti-corruption group to account for nearly half of the $2.2 billion US pledged to the country by official foreign donors. more..

Soldiers followed all humanitarian norms - Maj. Gen. Shavendra Silva

Dec 27 (MoD) "We will never hand over this war to the next generation", President Mahinda Rajapaksa's deep voice vowing to command a fresh battle against the world's deadliest terrorists may have reverberated in the Eastern sky soon after re-opening of the sluice gates of the Mavil Aru. Under new political command, the soldiers who fought with renewed energy had liberated vital areas of the LTTE, including Thoppigala, the LTTE's most strategic point in the East. more..

Emphasis on four areas in Jaffna development

Dec 27 (MoD) The Tamil community has a great deal to lose on account of initiatives, direct and insidious, in various quarters to undermine durable peace in pursuit of partisan political gains, according to Minister of Export development and International Trade, Prof. G.L. Peiris. Prof. Peiris who was in Jaffna made the above observations when he addressed the academics, members of the civil society and the business community there. more..

Facilities for all in North to vote

Dec 27 (MoD) All eligible voters in the Northern Province irrespective of their present places of residence, including IDPs in welfare centres and those living with friends or relatives, will be provided facilities to exercise their franchise at the January 26 Presidential Polls, said GA for Vavuniya P. S. M. Charles. She is Returning Officer for the Polling Districts of Vavuniya, Mullaitivu and Mannar. more..

Evicted Muslims will be resettled by May - President

Dec 27 (MoD) President Mahinda Rajapaksa said all Muslim civilians who were forcibly evicted from the North 20 years ago will be resettled in their original places of residence with all infrastructure facilities. President Rajapaksa was speaking at the All Ceylon Muslim Congress Northern Convention - 2009 at Alankuda, Kalpitiya yesterday. The President in his address at the convention which was organised by Minister Rishard Badiudeen more..

Nation building reach to outer districts

Dec 27 (GDI) The Ministry of Nation Building and Estate Infrastructure Development has taken steps to implement the Second Community Development and Livelihood Improvement Project in Badulla, Monaragala, Hambantota, Ratnapura, Kegalle, Nuwara Eliya and Polonnaruwa Districts. The World Bank has approved IDA Credit of US Dollars 75 million to implement the Second Community Development and Livelihood Imporvement Project of the above Ministry. more..

Two international bodies to monitor poll

Dec 27 (SO) Two international bodies, the Commonwealth Secretariat and the Association of Asian Election Monitors have responded positively to Elections Commissioner Dayananda Dissanayake’s invitation to observe the January 26 presidential poll. The Officer in Charge of International observers at the Elections Secretariat said they have invited a total of four international organizations including the United Nations and the European Union to monitor more..

Mahinda get hold of Sugathadasa sports hotel

Dec 27 (LNW) It has been reported that the government properties including the Sports Hotel belonging to Sugathadasa National Sports Complex Authority of Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports, the office used by Olympic committee and the quarters of former director is being used unduly as an election camp of the President. Day to day sports activities have been adversely affected because large crowds engaging in president’s propaganda activities have occupied the place and more..

President ahead in the publicity stakes

Dec 27 (NS) The contest for Sri Lanka’s sixth presidential election has begun in earnest, and the campaigns of the two leading contenders, President Mahinda Rajapaksa and General Sarath Fonseka are understandably attracting the most attention. It would be naïve at this stage of the poll, to reach any kind of conclusion as to who the winner would be, but, if the visibility of the campaign is to be a yardstick, then President Rajapaksa is streets ahead at this point in time. more..

Who bought this property ?; in whose name ? -JVP questions

Dec 27 (LeN) The allegations made against the Rajapakse family on platforms as having acquired large amounts of assets is a serious charge. At an interview with a weekend sinhala newspaper, JVP MP Anura Kumara Dissanaayke made a very grave allegation against the Rajapkse family’s amassing wealth. Producing a list of properties he asked who bought these properties and in whose names? more..

More bullet proof cars for President’s election campaign!

Dec 27 (LT) Two BMW bullet proof cars have been brought down today morning for President’s election campaign say reports. The cars have arrived here this morning at about 9.30 by Malaysia Airlines flight No. MH 6145 from Frankfurt. The cost of a car with taxes would be around Rs.53 million said a spokesman for Customs. According to sources at BIA the two cars have been removed by a group from Presidential Secretariat without going through customs.

Plot to arrest General’s supporters

Dec 27 (LT) It has been revealed that a conspiracy has been hatched to arrest active supporters of Gen. Fonseka as intelligence sections have reported that the crowds that throng to rallies of apolitical Common Presidential Candidate Gen. Sarath Fonseka are very much larger than crowds that attend rallies of Mr. Mahinda Rajapakse. Secret plans have been made to arrest such supporters and detain them so that they would not be able to participate in more..

Censorship for Army officers at Panagoda camp

Dec 27 (LT) All Army personnel in Panagoda Army camp were banned from moving out of the camp from 4.00 p.m. onwards on Friday as a rally in support of the Common Presidential Candidate Gen. Sarath Fonseka was held at Homagama that day. The order had been made by a very senior officer in SL Army to prevent soldiers from participating at the rally. There were members of Military Police deployed around the camp and the venue of the rally to arrest any soldier violating the order. more..

'War has brought misery and barbarism to all people of Lanka'

Dec 27 (TC) The local “bourgeois democracy” including Lakthilaka, Victor Ivan and the rump of platform for freedom has decided to save democracy by getting General Sarath Fonseka elected. They have made a pandemonium in educated circles about the prime need to get rid of corruption; and hence pressed the point that the removal of executive presidency is the prime task today, for the Lankan masses. more..

Polluters must pay

Dec 27 (LNP) With the presidential election campaign now on first gear, there have been newspaper reports on the removal of illegal propaganda hoardings, posters and other material on public display. The police were awaiting provision of funds by the elections department to hire labourers for this work, we are told. Such funds, apparently, are now forthcoming. Why should the taxpayer bear the cost of this work? more..

Joyful Christmas in Jaffna

Dec 27 (SO) For the first time in 30 years, the sounds and lights of firecrackers dominated the skies of Jaffna, replacing the deadly sounds of artillery shelling, rocket launchers, aerial bombings and machine guns when the Christmas midnight mass was held in the churches of Jaffna, informed sources said. The Catholic Bishop of Jaffna, Rt. Rev. Dr. Thomas Savuntharanayagam conducted the midnight mass at St. Mary’s Church, Jaffna with more..