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Japan, Saudi Arabia fund Moragahakanda project

Jan 8 (DN) The Government has allocated Rs. 3750 million for the work of Moragahakanda- Kaluganga Reservoir Project, which is the largest and the final agri-reservoir project in Sri Lanka under the Mahaweli Development Scheme. Minister Maithripala Sirisena yesterday said Japan and Saudi Arabia have come up to fund the project. He said so after ceremonially opening a new project office at Moragahakanda, which was built at a cost of Rs. 67 million, Mahaweli Authority sources said. more..

'Northeners freed from LTTE taxes'

Jan 8 (DN) Fisheries and Aquatic Resources Minister Felix Perera said yesterday in Parliament that the Government had redeemed the people of the North from paying taxes through extortion by the defeat of the LTTE. Speaking on the Nation Building Tax in Parliament yesterday the Minister said the LTTE collected Rs. 5 million from illegal taxes each month from the people who used the A-9 Road. He said today we are discussing the Nation Building Tax Bill proposed by the 2009 budget. more..

Speaker happy Govt. ready to face No Faith motion

Jan 8 (Island) Speaker W. J. M. Lokubandara told parliament yesterday he was happy that the government had agreed to allocate time for the debate on UNP sponsored no-confidence motion. If the government did not agree to allocate time for the debate, he as the Speaker would have taken action it, he said. The Speaker said this during a lengthy argument between the government and opposition over a privileges issue raised by the Chief Government Whip, Minister Dinesh Gunawardena. more..

Obtain temporary Identity cards – Polls Chief

Jan 8 (Island) Commissioner of Elections Dayanada Dissanayake yesterday requested voters who did not possess necessary documents for identification to obtain temporary identity cards before February (7), 2009 and not to complain later that they were not allowed to cast their vote. Those who do not possess alternate documents to prove their identity could apply for an identity card to the elections department through the Grama Sevaka and this identity card could be used for for the purpose of voting, he said. more..

Military success not due to Karuna Amman’s defection, says Army Chief

Jan 8 (DM) Army Commander Lieutenant General Sarath Fonseka says it was ‘shameful’ for anyone to try connect Karuna Amman leaving the LTTE with the recent success of the Army on the battlefield against the LTTE. The Defence Ministry website quoted the Army Chief as telling State electronic media that Karuna Amman and LTTE leader Velupillai Prabhakaran fell out because of ideological differences and that by the time the Sri Lanka Army started retaking the Eastern Province he was left with about 200 cadres. more..

Japanese official discusses East development with Pillayan

Jan 8 (DM) A senior official of the Japanese Embassy in Sri Lanka yesterday met Eastern province Chief Minister Sivanesathurai Chandrakanthan at the latter's office in Trincomalee for discussion on the economic development of the liberated Eastern province. Mr. Masayuki Taga, Counsellor Head of the Economic Co-operation Section of the Japanese Embassy held talks which lasted for an hour with the Chief Minister. more..

Bruce Fein dodges debate

Jan 8 (PISL) Bruce Fein, the American lobbyist who challenged SCOPP Secretary General Prof. Rajiva Wijesinha to a debate on the allegations he has been spreading about the Government of Sri Lanka, now appears to be trying to wriggle out of what he must have realised would be a thoroughly embarrassing ordeal for the representative of Tamils Against Genocide. The exchange of letters is carried below. more..

US interested in helping develop Eastern Province – US Ambassador

Jan 8 (USE) Honored guests, students, faculty, members of the media, and others here today who believe strongly in the value of a free and professional press, thank you for inviting me to speak on such a happy occasion. Today we are here to congratulate all of the students starting the one-year Journalism Diploma Program through the Sri Lanka College of Journalism. To the students, I would like to congratulate you on this important occasion which marks more..

Sunday Leader Editor Lasantha Wickrematunga shot dead

Jan 8 (TC) Lasantha Wickrematunga, the courageous and Independent editor of the English weekly “The Sunday Leader” was shot and hacked to death by gunmen in civilian garb riding motor cycles. The shocking incident occurred near the Bakery junction at the land side end of Temple road in Attidiya. Fifty year old Wickrematunga was first taken to Kalubowila general hospital where emergency surgery was done. more..

Coconut growers seen giving up cultivation

Jan 8 (LBO) Sri Lankan coconut growers are giving up cultivation and selling estates for housing as prices of nuts have fallen too low to be remunerative, a left-wing parliamentarian representing cultivators said. "Coconut cultivators want a stable price that will cover their production costs," said Namal Karunaratne, convenor of the Joint Organization of Coconut Cultivation and a lawmaker of the JVP. more..

No need to negotiate with LTTE: U.S. tells Sri Lanka

Jan 8 (PTI) The United States has expressed hope that the fall of LTTEs de-facto capital of Kilinochchi would end decades of ethnic conflict in Sri Lanka and said there was no need to hold talks with the Tiger rebels. "The war which has gripped the island nation for more than 25 years is drawing to an end," the US Embassy said in a statement in Colombo. "Particularly, the liberation of the LTTE stronghold of Kilinochchi can be considered as the final phase in the war against Tamil Tigers," more..

Army 'takes more Tiger territory'

Jan 8 (BBC) Sri Lankan troops say they have taken more territory from Tamil Tiger rebels in the northern Jaffna peninsula. The army says troops seized the town of Pallai, a key Tiger position, after heavy fighting, and that it hopes to capture the entire north soon. Pallai is south of Muhamalai, the northernmost defensive line of the rebels in Jaffna, which the troops captured on Tuesday. The Tigers have not yet commented on the latest fighting in Jaffna. more..

Black flag agitation against PM's visit in TN

Jan 8 (MO) More than 500 volunteers of the Periyar Dravida Kazhagam and Tamil Eelam supporters, led by Mr P Nedumaran were arrested, when they staged a black flag agitation against Prime Minister Manmohan Singh for failing to protect the Tamils in Sri Lanka. The agitators staged the black flag demonstration this morning, when the Dr Singh arrived to the Chennai Trade Centre to inaugurate the Seventh Pravasi Bharatiya Divas. more..

Dengue deaths drop, but health officials urge more vigilance

Jan 8 (IRIN) Four years after Sri Lanka's worst outbreak of dengue fever, fewer people are dying of the mosquito-borne disease, but health officials caution that more public action is needed to prevent epidemics. The number of fatalities has been dropping since 2004 when 88 people of the 15,334 known to have contracted dengue died of the illness. In 2008, some 6,431 people were infected and 24 deaths were recorded, more..

Sri Lankan military captures rebel base in north

Jan 8 (AP) Sri Lankan forces sweeping down from the north captured an important Tamil Tiger base on the Jaffna peninsula on Thursday, further boxing in the retreating rebel group, the military said. The capture of Pallai on the narrow isthmus connecting Jaffna with the rest of the island nation came after the rebels reportedly withdrew much of their artillery and heavy weaponry from the peninsula into their jungle strongholds to the south. more..

Anti-government editor shot dead

Jan 8 (Times) The editor of an anti-government newspaper has been shot dead in Sri Lanka, two days after attackers torched the offices of the country’s privately-owned television station. Lasantha Wickrematunga, editor of the Sunday Leader newspaper, was shot in the chest, head and abdomen while travelling to work in his car this morning. He died several hours later on the operating table. The two men who attacked him were believed to have escaped on motorcycles. more..

'There is a right way and a wrong way to use violence'

Jan 9 (GV) “There will be times when organised violence has to be exercised as a last resort. People will resist with violence. States will use violence against various foes. But there is a right way and a wrong way to use violence.” Watch Dr. Dayan Jayatilleka’s first video interview, conducted over Skype, after presenting his credentials as Permanent Representative of Sri Lanka to the United Nations more..

The murder of Lasantha Wickremetunge and Sri Lanka’s future

Jan 9 (GV) The Editor in Chief of the Sunday Leader and one of Sri Lanka’s best known journalists Lasantha Wickremetunge was murdered this morning en route to work. He was shot repeatedly and succumbed to his injuries at around 2.15pm. The murder of Lasantha comes just two days after after the arson attack against private TV broadcaster MBC / MTV networks that destroyed their Main Control Room and studios. more..

Summary of Cabinet decisions

Jan 9 (GDI) Cabinet approved a memorandum submitted by the Minister of Petroleum & Petroleum Resources Development, A. H. M. Fowzie to transfer back the third player shares held by the Treasury comprising of the 107 filling Stations coming under the "Modern Petroleum Marketers Ltd" a company registered under the treasury and the 1/3rd share of the CPSTL held with the Treasury to the Ceylon Petroleum Corporation with effect from 01.01.2009. more..

Outrage, helplessness at editor's murder

Jan 9 (IPS) A controversial but powerful newspaper editor was assassinated Thursday even before outrage and dismay had died down over the ransacking of the premises of a popular radio and TV broadcaster by masked, armed men. Lasantha Wickrematunga, the respected editor of the English-language ‘Sunday Leader’ weekly newspaper, was shot in the head by unknown gunmen riding a motorcycle as he drove to his office at Ratmalana more..

JVP condemns Lasantha's assassination

Jan 9 (LT) The JVP has issued a statement condemning the assassination of the editor of ‘Sunday Leader’ Lasantha Wickramaratne. The statement in full: Journalist Lasanthe Wickrematunga has been shot dead by an unknown assassin. This incident has occurred after the attack on ‘Sirasa’ media institution at Depanama by goons a few days ago. As we have stated earlier we don’t approve the media practice of several of these media institutions and certain journalists. more..

Kilinochchi has fallen: The consequences

Jan 9 (LG) The victory over Kilinochchi by the Sri Lankan armed forces is a decisive victory. There is no question about this. The President proudly announced the fall of Kilinochchi and General Fonseka went into great detail to exemplify the battlefield strategies of the armed forces and crowds in several cities lit crackers to celebrate the victory. We have now been assured that 2009 will be the year when the battles will be over and we can all regain our lost Paradise. more..

Fresh conflicts among SLDF top brass?

Jan 9 (LG) News has just emerged of a major conflict brewing between the top brass of the Sri Lankan defence establishment. The conflict has reached epic proportions so much so that the Chief of Defence Staff (CDF) Air Chief Marshall Donald Perera was not able to defuse the tension. The CDF was forced to request the GOSL President and the Defence Secretary to step in to mediate the conflict. more..

Rubbishing the Dry Zone Argument

Jan 9 (LG) Some are challenging the worth of military victories gained by security forces recently. Unfortunately the battle is between two groups from Sri Lanka and without a doubt it polarised the society. However, there is no truth in the saying that what security forces captured was part of the dry zone and the Sinhala majority is unwilling to live there because it is the dry zone. This is a pro-separatist myth crated by petty minds. more..

Rebuilding north and train to Jaffna….

Jan 9 (LG) The capture of the former administrative capital of the LTTE by Sri Lankan armed forces represents an important point in the 25-year war that has divided Sri Lanka. The voices of unarmed moderate Tamils should become louder at this critical juncture. The news about Seylan Bank has also raised fears that global credit crisis also could add to the turmoil in Sri Lanka in 2009. The government’s economic woes are being compounded by a crisis in the banking and finance sector. more..

Archbishop worries about Catholic migrants in a changing world

Jan 9 (UCAN) The archbishop of Colombo has expressed concern about the negative effects migrant work is having on Catholic families. Speaking to a crowd of 3,000 on the Jan. 2 Feast of Blessings, Archbishop Oswald Gomis acknowledged many parents have gone abroad to work and save for the future. This was the 25th year the Basilica of Our Lady of Lanka in Tewatte, celebrated the feast for blessing labor, tools and machinery. more..

Jaffna Bishop calls for a stop to the bombing of civilians

Jan 9 (UCAN) As the government military push against Tamil rebels in the north intensifies, the bishop of Jaffna has called on the Sri Lankan president to end attacks on civilians in his diocese. Bishop Thomas Savundaranayagam appealed to President Mahinda Rajapaksa after government troops captured Kilinochchi on Jan. 2. The rebels had long used the town as their administrative center. more..

Sri Lanka expects record tea crop despite year-end drop

Jan 9 (LBO) Sri Lanka's tea production and exports fell sharply in November 2008 but export earnings in the 11 months were ahead of the year before and a record annual crop is expected, brokers said. Tea production in November 2008 at 24.6 million kilos was the lowest since 1999 as producers cut output after prices crashed, brokers Asia Siyaka Commodities said. The drop in production came mainly from the low grown sector more..

'Rajapaksa regime killed Lasantha'

Jan 9 (LD) The murder of 'Sunday Leader' Editor is part of an anti-democratic conspiracy, opposition leader Ranil Wickremesinghe has said, claiming that the Rajapaksa regime is rendering the southern people helpless by killing its political opponents. At a media briefing in Colombo, convened by parties in the joint opposition, he said this was similar to the manner in which the LTTE had decimated the Tamils their political, religious and cultural leaderships. more..

PM denies Indian surveillance mission in Wanni

Jan 9 (PTI) Prime Minister Ratnasiri Wickremayanake today said India did not send any surveillance mission comprising officials of its spy agency Research and Analysis Wing to the island's north-eastern Wanni area. "It is not true. No such mission was sent (by India)," Wicremanayake told Parliament after a member pointed to a Indian media report in this regard. Marxist JVP MP Anura Kumara Dissanayake asked the Prime Minister whether such an incident had occurred. more..

EU condemns murder of anti-government journalist

Jan 9 (DPA) A top European Union official Thursday voiced concern about freedom of the media in Sri Lanka following the murder of a senior journalist known for his critical views of the government. "I was deeply shocked to learn about today's assassination of Lasantha Wickrematunga, the chief editor of Sunday Leader newspaper," said EU external affairs commissioner Benita Ferrero- Waldner. more..

Project to send PCs to Sri Lanka is huge success

Jan 9 (SNJ) A project to donate computers to schools in Sri Lanka has been a huge success. Stroud Rotary Club has already sent more than 100 PCs the developing country and hopes to deliver twice that number by May. Rotarian Lakshman Gallage, of Uplands, who moved from Sri Lanka to Britain 11 years ago, devised the project. "The computer is a basic thing in this country but if you go to that part of the world, we cannot afford to buy computers," more..

Grievous blow to Sri Lankan media

Jan 9 (BBC) he murder of newspaper editor Lasantha Wickramatunga highlights the claim often made by human rights groups that the country is one of the most dangerous places in the world for journalists to operate. He is the latest in a long line of Sri Lankan journalists who have been murdered or silenced over the past two decades. Many of the victims have not met their fate in the country's war zone, because for much of the past 20 years independent journalists have been banned from reporting from the conflict areas. more..

The Tigers' last stand

Jan 9 (Economist) FOR the third time in as many months, Sri Lanka’s prime minister, Ratnasiri Wickremanayake, this week avoided revealing to parliament the number of casualties in the bloodiest military operation ever staged against the rebel LTTE. Opening the monthly debate on extending the state of emergency, imposed most recently in 2005, he said the government had entered the “final phase of eradicating terrorism”. Since November, however, he has dropped any reference to deaths and injuries. more..

Amnesty International calls for independent investigation into shooting

Jan 9 (AI) Amnesty International has today (8 Jan) urged the government of Sri Lanka to publicly condemn the killing of Lasantha Wickramatunga, the editor of the Sunday Leader newspaper, and other attacks on media workers, and to launch an independent investigation. Mr Wickramatunga was shot on Thursday morning (local time) by unidentified gunmen while travelling in Mount Lavinia, Colombo. He was rushed to Kalubowila hospital where he died. more..

Committed to political solution: Sri Lanka

Jan 9 (Hindu) Sri Lankan Foreign Minister Rohitha Bogollagama on Thursday maintained that the government does not believe in a military solution to address the genuine grievances of the minority communities in the island nation and is firmly committed to a political solution to the ethnic conflict. At a briefing of the diplomatic corps based in Colombo on the decision of the Sri Lankan government to ban the LTTE, more..

A new phase in an 'Endless War’?

Jan 9 (FEER) Exactly one year after the Sri Lanka government pulled out of a six-year cease-fire agreement with the LTTE and took the fight to the rebels, jubilant crowds in the streets of the capital Colombo were celebrating a major victory by the Sri Lankan military over the LTTE. But it would be premature to believe that this is the end of the bloody secessionist movement that has claimed thousands of Sri Lankan lives over three decades. more..

Dying for Journalism: Lasantha Wickrematunge of Sri Lanka

Jan 9 (Time) Lasantha Wickrematunge, one of Sri Lanka's leading journalists, a freelance reporter for TIME and an outspoken critic of the Sri Lankan government, was shot this morning as he drove to work in Colombo, his country's capital. He later died of his injuries. The attack, by two gunmen on motorcycles in the middle of morning rush hour traffic, was brazen even by the standards of Sri Lanka. more..

Gauging Sri Lanka's inroads in battle against Tigers

Jan 9 (CSM) The Sri Lankan Army made significant inroads against the rebel Tamil Tigers in the past week – seizing their de facto capital and another key town, squeezing fighters from north and south – but these military victories are unlikely to mark the end of the island's quarter-century-old conflict. Like many guerrilla groups, the LTTE can resort to a military Plan B: retreat from towns but continue its battle from the jungle, making it difficult for the government to assert control over the long-embattled north. more..

The ride to Kilinochchi and beyond

Jan 9 (Hindu) On January 6, four days after the Sri Lanka military marched into Kilinochchi, the political head the LTTE, B. Nadesan, dismissed it as an “insignificant development in the three decade long liberation struggle.” He asserted that with the support of the “Tamil community,” the LTTE would overcome all current and future challenges. Five weeks earlier, LTTE chief Velupillai Prabakaran had declared that a capture of Kilinochchi was but a “day-dream” of President Mahinda Rajapaksa. more..

CPI demands renegotiation of Katchatheevu agreement

Jan 9 (PTI) The CPI today demanded that the 1974 agreement ceding Katchatheevu island to Sri Lanka be reviewed and renegotiated. The present agreement did not allow the Indian fishermen to fish around the island, CPI national secretary D Raja told PTI here. Raja said that Union Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar had written to him stating that as per the agreement the Indian fishermen can only dry their nets and offer prayers at the St Antony's church in the island. more..

Ramadoss writes to Sonia on Sri Lankan issue

Jan 9 (CO) Stepping up its pressure on the Centre on the Sri Lankan Tamils Issue, PMK, today demanded UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi to direct the Government to intervene immeidately for arranging a ceasefire and negotiations between the warring parties in the Island nation. In a letter to Sonia Gandhi, Dr S Ramadoss founder of PMK, a constituent of the ruling coalition at the Centre, said Tamils in the state had approached the Centre for ensuring the livelihood and security of their 'brothern' in Sri Lanka, but nothing had happened. more..

BBC report censored

Jan 9 (BBC) BBC reports on the killing of Sunday Leader was censored by the government of Sri Lanka. Sections of a statement given by the Media minister Anura Priyadharshana Yapa were among the sections blanked out by the government censorship. The BBC Sandeshaya and BBC Thamilosai reports that included comments from colleagues of the slain editor and the politicians of the government and the opposition were blanked out by the SLBC. more..

LTTE has assassinated Tamil leaders at will

Jan 9 (ET) This question is based on the false notion that it was the unimpaired LTTE that stood between the Tamils of Sri Lanka and the alleged Sinhala-led genocide. The 1948 International Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of Genocide signed by 135 countries including India and Sri Lanka has defined the term. By that definition, we can say there has been no genocide of Tamils in Sri Lanka since 1983. more..

LTTE is a hurdle to securing Tamil rights

Jan 9 (ET) The very premise that the only outfit that could have enabled the Tamils in Sri Lanka to get their rights is the LTTE is wrong. In fact, the LTTE was an impediment to Tamils securing their rights, and was a greater threat to that goal than the Sri Lanka Army (SLA) itself. Physically, the LTTE has eliminated all Tamil leadership because they are a fascistic outfit which cannot tolerate any other leaders. more..

Military win not enough to tame Tigers

Jan 9 (National) A quarter of a century after taking up arms to fight for a separate homeland, Tamil Tigers are now locked in a deadly struggle to hold on to a small patch of jungle, a fraction of the territory they controlled just weeks ago. As government forces close in, some are predicting an end to the bloody conflict, which has claimed 70,000 lives. That is unlikely. It is true that the Sri Lankan military has recently made unprecedented gains, but the LTTE have proven to be a canny and resilient enemy. more..

The war against media and The Sunday Leader

Jan 9 (TC) From its inception in 1994, The Sunday Leader's editors and scribes were presented with a special gift from their publishers: a pledge of editorial freedom. It was this special carte blanche that was most responsible for The Leader's ascension as one of the strongest foci of liberal democratic values in Sri Lanka. The newspaper was quick to discover and indiscriminately expose regular acts of corruption by the ministers and officials of every government that has come into office since, regardless of political complexion. more..

US Condemns Attacks on Media in Sri Lanka

Jan 9 (VOA) The U.S. State Department has condemned the murder of a Sri Lankan newspaper editor critical of the Colombo government, as well as a separate attack earlier this week on a private broadcasting network. Spokesman Robert Wood called the killing of the "Sunday Leader" newspaper editor, Lasantha Wickramatunga, and the attack on a TV station "deplorable acts," aimed at silencing independent voices in Sri Lanka. more..

Sri Lanka needs freedom of information for development: World Bank

Jan 9 (LBO) Sri Lanka needs freedom of information to develop, and Sri Lanka's government should hold full and transparent investigations on violence against the media, the World Bank said. "The World Bank expressed grave concern about the growing incidents of violent attacks on the media in Sri Lanka, including the brutal killings of several journalists," the lender said in a statement. President, Mahinda Rajapaksa, condemned the murder and ordered a full investigation. more..

Seylan bank says it is stable

Jan 9 (LBO) Seylan Bank is now stable and is focusing on improving asset quality, and some customers who earlier withdrew deposits are now bringing them bank, officials said. "The bank is stable and trading normally," newly appointed chairman Eastman Narangoda told reporters. "Our top priority is to manage risk." Seylan's board directors was dissolved and put under state-run Bank of Ceylon by the Central Bank when more..