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Sri Lanka port seen part of China shipping protection strategy

Jan 2 (LBO) A port being built in southern Sri Lanka near the main shipping route across the Indian Ocean is part of a Chinese effort to project influence and protect vital trade lanes, a US military study said. The study lists the commercial-shipping container port at Hambantota being built by Chinese contractors as part of China's so-called "string of pearls" strategy to gain political influence and more..

Sri Lanka hopes hike import taxes to finance 'stimulus'

Jan 2 (LBO) Sri Lanka is hoping to hike import taxes as international prices fall to cover part of the cost of a 16 billion rupee 'stimulus' announced by the government to boost economic growth in 2009. The government announced a series of measures this week, including cheaper diesel and furnace oil, cheaper electricity for leisure, leather and apparel industry, cheaper fertilizer for small tea farmers and more..

For a quieter Colombo - Ban the bus horns!

Jan 2 (GV) Close your eyes and imagine a horn free Colombo - no loud ‘fog horns’ from all those buses - bliss !!. As I sit here in a café in the centre of Windhoek, Namibia, I have not heard a horn all morning. This is developing country but the road behavior is definitely ‘developed’. In the last six months, I have been working in several African countries and one thing that stood out for me is the good road discipline and how little they use the horn. more..

Tamil Cinema in 2008: A Quick look

Jan 2 (DBJ) The year 2008 was a year of mixed fortunes for Tamil cinema. A total of 110 films were made or dubbed in Tamil. Of these only a few were successes. Quite a few were flops. With the remainder just squeaking through with meagre profits or going under water with minor losses. The colossal flop for 2008 was “Kuselan” directed by P. Vasu starring the super star Rajnikanth. more..

Beginning to blog after thirty two years of journalism

Jan 2 (DBJ) I want to begin my first post on this weblog with greetings for the new year in my mother tongue – Thamizh. “Vanakkam! Puthaandu Vaalthukkal!! Let’s hope the advent of 2009 will see a bright future emerge for us all. As for me the dawning of the new year heralds an exciting new venture. After considerable thought I have launched my own blog under my own name. more..

Young Sri Lankan has world in a spin

Jan 2 (IHT) The most vivid sporting memories are generally seen in the flesh, but there was little more memorable in 2008 than a glimpse on television of a match being played halfway round the world. It was a one-day international between West Indies and Sri Lanka. Its sole novelty was a young Sri Lankan spin bowler named Ajantha Mendis. more..

President takes over media ministry

Jan 2 (IANS) President Mahinda Rajapaksa Thursday took over the media ministry and appointed the former media minister to handle the investment promotion portfolio, a top government official said. 'The president has taken over the ministry of mass media and information and appointed former media minister Anura priyadarshana Yapa as minister of investment promotion,' more..

Daminda fires Ragama CC to top spot

Jan 2 (CI) Ragama CC roared back into contention in Premier League Tier A when they pulled off a stunning three-wicket win over Bloomfield at Reid Avenue to regain top position, as the race for the championship hotted up. In a top-of-the-table clash, Ragama were indebted to a magnificent bowling spell by 25-year-old right-arm seamer Dinesh Daminda and seasoned campaigner Indika de Saram for steering them to an important victory. more..

BCCI jeopardising Sri Lanka's Pakistan tour: media reports

Jan 2 (IANS) Pakistan's hastly-arranged home series against Sri Lanka has fallen into scheduling problems because of Indian cricket board's interference, according to media reports here. A report in the daily 'Jang' claimed Thursday that the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) has forced Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) to make tough demands regarding the tour. more..

49 Tamil civilians reach security forces - Kilinochchi

Jan 2 (MoD) 49 more Tamil civilians have reached to security force personnel in Task Force 1 seeking safety for their lives this morning, 01 January, defence sources said. According to the defence sources, two groups of civilians have reached security forces in north of Paranthan separately during the morning hours. The first group of Tamil civilians who were able to escape LTTE's grip comprised 16 males and 17 females reached security forces. more..

Shell unit says new tax prevents further price cut

Jan 2 (LBO) Shell Gas Lanka, the Sri Lankan unit of the Shell multinational, said a new government tax and its inability to buy locally made liquid petroleum gas is preventing it from further reducing prices. It said in a statement that the government has imposed a special tax of eight rupees per kilogramme and 100 rupees for a 12.5 kilo domestic gas cylinder from December 31, 2008. more..

SriLankan Airlines launches SMS alert facility

Jan 2 (KT) SriLankan Airlines reaffirmed its focus on customer convenience as the airline launched an ‘SMS alert’ facility to keep passengers informed of flight updates. Inga Rodrigo, Customer Service Manager, said: “SMS Alert is yet another value addition from SriLankan Airlines to enhance passenger convenience. Passengers will find it very useful to receive notifications of flight schedule updates on their mobile phones.” more..

Hope for Sri Lanka's child victims

Jan 2 (GW) Torture has become routine in criminal investigations in Sri Lanka, with even children suffering abuse under interrogation. At a small human rights unit in Kandy city, a Catholic priest has created a vital support system for the young victims of police brutality. Father Nandana Manatunga relates the – often tragic – cases he has tried to help with. Our torture act passed 1994, but until about 2000 there was not a single case filed against anybody for torture in Sri Lanka. more..

Jaffna Bishop urges international community to bring peace

Jan 2 (LG) Bishop of Jaffna, Rt. Rev. Thomas Saundaranayagam, in his New Year message for the year 2009 has wished all a peaceful and prosperous new year. The Bishop also urged international community to take steps for bringing peace in the island nation. “The Holy See Benedict XVI had urged President Mahinda Rajapaksa to stop the war and strive for peace when the president met the Holy Pope at Vatican but the war atrocities have only escalated since then,” more..

Importance of implementing Sri Lanka’s agenda abroad highlighted

Jan 2 (LG) It is the primary duty of the Foreign Ministry and Sri Lankan Missions abroad to vigorously implement Sri Lanka’s agenda in every aspect while discharging their duties and functions. Foremost among these responsibilities is the protection of the nation’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, which has been highlighted by Sri Lanka at every high level forum in the international arena. more..

'New year begins with fresh hopes'

Jan 2 (LG) Commander of the Army Lieutenant General Sarath Fonseka during his customary address to members of the Army at the dawn of the New Year 2009, called upon all to join hands together to achieve expected objectives in the coming year. Commander of the Army inaugurated the day’s ceremony at the Army Headquarters premises after hoisting the National Flag. more..

"kilinochchi we are coming": Army closing in from many directions

Jan 2 (TC) The Sri Lankan armed forces on the verge of achieving their long –standing ambition of capturing Kilinochchi town within a few days of this week. For many months now soldiers involved in the complex military campaigns targeting the de – facto administrative capital of the LTTE have kept their morale high through the rousing slogan “Kilinochchi Api Enawa” (Kilinochchi we are coming). more..

How the Army was able to capture Paranthan by the New Year

Jan 2 (TC) Interesting details of how the armed forces were able to take Paranthan by January 1st 2009 are now being revealed by sections of the media. The Task Force I or the 58 Division under the command of Brigadier Shavendra Silva took Paranthan on Wednesday (Dec 31st 2008) evening amidst fierce battles that erupted in the Paranthan West and the Jaffna lagoon front. They were short of only few hundred metres to the key Paranthan junction by Wednesday evening and more..

'Sri Lanka finance companies need no intervention'

Jan 2 (LBO) Sri Lanka has no need for a liquidity facility for finance companies, central bank governor Nivard Cabraal said, as the sector faced a higher level of deposits withdrawals following uncertainty in deposit markets. "At the moment there is no need to do that," Governor Cabraal told reporters this week. "The system is working properly. We not see any danger which needs that kind of intervention." more..

Niagara trash expert takes knowledge to Sri Lanka

Jan 2 (SCS) Dave Smith has tackled some big garbage problems as a waste expert with Niagara Region. Until now, none loomed quite so large as a herd of elephants. The engineer spent three weeks in Sri Lanka in November on a tsunami rebuilding mission sponsored by the Canadian International Development Agency. Four years ago on Boxing Day, a massive Indian Ocean tsunami killed more than 200,000 people in 11 countries and left millions homeless. more..

Tamil Catholic priests compel LTTE to return abducted orphans

Jan 2 (TC) The LTTE have released the sixteen Tamil orphans who were abducted on December 23rd by the tigers to be conscripted as “child” soldiers. The tigers who refused to release the children in the age group of 11 – 14 despite entreaties by the Catholic church were finally compelled to release them because of strong protests by some bold and conscientious Tamil catholic priests. Thirty Tamil catholic priests had planned to commence a “fast unto death protest fast in a Church from January 1st 2009. more..

Rauff Hakeem lashes out at Israel over Palestinian plight

Jan 2 (FI) SLMC Leader and Parliamentarian Rauff Hakeem has lashed out at the barbarity unleashed by Israel on a defenseless and half starved 1.5 million Palestinians in Gaza. Following is the statement issued by Mr. Hakeem yesterday in this regard: Gaza, which has been under the control of Hamas, ever since they were voted to power in a free and fair election, supervised by former US president Jimmy Carter, has been subjected to cruel Israeli bombardment indiscriminately killing men, women, more..

Fall of Paranthan, Defence of Kilinochchi and the War in Wanni

Jan 2 (LG) Sri Lanka security forces have started the year 2009 with the capture of Paranthan, the key road junction located on the A9 Jaffna-Kandy lifeline between Kilinochchi and Elephant Pass. The fall of Paranthan adds a new dimension to the war because it splits the mutually reinforcing Kilinochchi-Elephant Pass defence complex. It is a moot point now whether the LTTE was right in concentrating on strongly defending Kilinochchi when tactically Paranthan was more vital for this very reason. more..

Don’t give jobs for nannies: Keheliya

Jan 2 (SAMN) Minister of Foreign Employment Promotion and Welfare Keheliya Rambukwella says housemaids should not be given the job of a nanny, as they are not trained to care for babies. Rambukwella also says that the Sri Lankan government is looking into the possibilities of employment prospects in countries such as Norway, Poland, Italy and even Japan, where a more systematic mode of remuneration is possible. more..

"Only Ranil can replace people’s despair with hope"

Jan 2 (LG) Mr. Sathasivam ,a Presidential adviser under Mahinda Rajapakse until just a few days ago, and now contesting the up coming Provincial Council elections as a UNP candidate for Nuwara Eliya, addressing a Media briefing at the UNP Leader’s office at Cambridge place today, stated emphatically that his years of office with the President only went to confirm that it is only the UNP and its Leader Ranil Wickremesinghe who can put the country on the right track. more..

Intercity Train Service between Colombo Fort and Anuradhapura

Jan 2 (GDI) The Government is to commence an intercity train service between Colombo Fort and Anuradhapura with a maximum travel time of three hours. Sri Lanka Railways Department said a rehearsal run will be held tomorrow night to ensure the shortened travel time. If successful the Railway Department hopes to commence this special train service from next month. Currently the time duration for train travel between Colombo Fort and Anuradhapura is five hours.

Danduwam’s four storied house attacked

Jan 2 (LP) Piyadasa Rathnayake alias Danduwam Mudalali’s house has been attacked and ransacked on 30th December. With Danduwam’s fleeing his four storied house in Hungama has been attacked in the night last Tuesday. Burglars have taken away all the valuables in the house. Doors and windows were smashed. His office room was ransacked. There have been cheque books, promiser notes and different types of agreements were among his documents. more..

A/L examinations results will be released today

Jan 2 (LP) The results of the GCE Advanced Level Examination 2008 would be released today, said the Examination Chief Anura Edirisingha. He said this year, the results would be released both to schools and the Examination Department website, simultaneously. The A/L examination was held on the 06th of August 2008 in 1818 exam Centres Island wide including in the North eastern province.94, 754 candidates sat for the G C E A/L exam. more..

President Rajapaksa gets blessings of Jaya Sri Maha Bodhi in the New Year

Jan 2 (LP) President Mahinda Rajapaksa visited the Jaya Sri Maha Bodhi in Anuradhapura yesterday. The President participated in a special Bodhi Pooja conducted by the Maha Sangha headed by Atamasthanadhipathi Ven. Dr. Pallegama Sirinivasa Thera with Ven. Pallegama Hemarathana Nayaka Thera, the Chief Incumbent of Ruwanmeliseya temple and Ven. Ralapanawe Dhammajothi Nayaka Thera, more..

SL itinerary to be finalised next week

Jan 2 (CI) A final decision on the details of the itinerary of Sri Lanka's trip to Pakistan is expected early next week. Sri Lankan officials have confirmed again to Pakistan, however, that their team will be the first country to tour for a Test series since October 2007. "We have already confirmed to our Pakistani counterparts that we will be touring their country. We will definitely honour our commitment. Reports of our possible pullout from the tour are not true," more..

CBK sells her luxury bungalow

Jan 2 (Island) Former President Chandrika Kumaratunga had sold her luxury bungalow at Horagolla. The house, built over a decade ago, near the old Sangabodhi Vidyalaya, on a plot of land given by Mrs. Sirimavo Bandaranaike, had been acquired by a strong SLFP supporter. Informed sources identified the buyer as the proprietor of well-known eatery on the other side of Horagolla along the Colombo-Kandy road. more..

Shakib aims to build on success

Jan 2 (CI) Shakib Al Hasan, the Bangladesh allrounder, is eager to build on his impressive performance in the first Test against Sri Lanka. His second-innings 96 gave the home side an outside chance of chasing down a record-breaking 521 for victory, but although they came up short it was a timely show of competitiveness from Bangladesh. Shakib's all-round success - he claimed five wickets in the first innings - capped off a fine 2008 as more..

K'nochchi capture & end to separatist terrorism

Jan 2 (LD) Sri Lankan armed forces have victoriously captured the LTTE political headquarters town of Kilinochchi. This victory will definitely mark the speedy elimination of separatist terrorism soon," said the JVP. In a statement this evening, the politburo of the JVP said it was the only party that had declared without any reservations that the Sri Lankan armed forces were capable of completely defeating the Tigers. more..

Pass on K'nochchi victory benefit to people - Ranil

Jan 2 (LD) Opposition leader Ranil Wickremesinghe urges the government to immediately pass on to people the benefits of the victory of taking Kilinochchi as they had borne out the burden placed on them for the sake of the commitment of the soldiers and the war. The prices of petrol, diesel and kerosene oil could be brought down further within the month, he told a meeting in Kandy today with UNP candidates and activists in central province who are preparing for the upcoming provincial polls. more..

'Govt.'s relief package, a gimmick for votes'

Jan 2 (LD) The government's relief package is a gimmick aimed at the north western and central provincial council polls, 'Corruption Watch' said. A press release signed by CW spokesman, Shiral Laktilake yesterday, says the fertilizer subsidy entirely targets the central province. "The government was compelled to slash fuel and gas prices after CW intervened in the corrupt hedging deal. Through the courts, we saved Rs. 40,000 million from being embezzled by foreign banks and politicians. more..

Jayalath seeks visit to Wanni

Jan 2 (SAMN) UNP MP Dr. Jayalath Jayawardena has written to Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa seeking permission to visit the Wanni to assess the situation faced by the displaced people in the area. Jayawardena, in his letter to the Defence Secretary which was released to the media, quotes him as saying he would visit areas with officials of the ICRC where food distribution is being carried out. more..

UPFA planning major election rallies

Jan 2 (SAMN) The government will hold six major election rallies chaired by President and 11 rallies by Prime Minister. The ruling UPFA will conduct the campaign under the theme ‘Let’s support the war that protects the country’ (Rata Rakina Satana Surakimu). Minister Alahapperuma said 15 political parties were fielding candidates under the UPFA’s betel symbol for the elections to the North Western and Central Provincial Councils. more..

Govt. probing controversial video

Jan 2 (SAMN) The government is probing a video which allegedly shows a group of security forces personnel acting in an undignified manner in the battlefield around the body of a female LTTE cadre. Government Defence Spokesperson and Minister Keheliya Rambukwella said the government recognised that isolated incidents like this could take place but added that the LTTE also had a history of creating video propaganda detrimental to the security forces. more..

Biz confidence intact - LMD

Jan 2 (DN) The only measure of business confidence in this country, the LMD-Nielsen Business Confidence - or BCI, as it is known - moved up from 87 in the previous month to 94, says business magazine LMD, in its January issue. But there is anxiety about the medium-term economic outlook, LMD reports, with a “growing majority of Nielsen’s sample population now say that the economy ‘will get worse’ “. Sixty two per cent said so, which LMD says is a five-month high. more..

'No order barring Kotelawala from leaving country'

Jan 2 (DM) Ceylinco Group Chairman Lalith Kotelawala’s lawyer Asela B. Rekawa, Attorney-at-Law, has sent the following clarification: “I refer to the article published in your newspaper on 01.01.2009 under the caption ‘Kotelawala barred from leaving the country’ “In the above article it refers to my client Deshamanya Dr. Lalith Kotelawala and his wife being barred from leaving the country. more..

Masses hail Govt's mini-budget

Jan 2 (DN) Many views were expressed yesterday hailing the Government's mini-budget particularly across the broad relief to the public and key sectors of the economy. United Christian Democratic Party General Secretary K.A. John Joseph Alexander Perera commended the mini-budget introduced by President Mahinda Rajapaksa as an immediate measure to minimise the cost of living. He described the mini-budget as a New Year gift presented by the President to the poor. more..

'Foundation laid to implement Bibile drug policy'

Jan 2 (Island) The Health Ministry has laid the foundation to implement the Senaka Bibile Drug Policy, Health Minister Nimal Siripala de Silva said. Addressing the gathering at the opening of the new building complex for the Drugs and Cosmetics Authority (DCA) yesterday (01), he said the pharmacist Bill, which is awaiting approval of the Parliamentary Committee, the recruitment of pharmacology graduates, and more..

UPF threatens to withdraw

Jan 2 (DM) UPFA ally Up Country People’s Front (UPF) which is contesting the upcoming provincial council election has threatened to withdraw from the election and the government coalition following a clash with the CWC - another government ally. According to party sources the clash between supporters of the two rival parties had taken place in Talawakelle on Wednesday minutes before filing nominations for the PC polls. Both the CWC and UPF blamed each other for starting the clash. more..

Suicide blast kills two in Sri Lanka capital

Jan 2 (AFP) A suicide bomber carried out an attack outside an air force base in Colombo on Friday, killing two airmen and wounding 36 other people, police and a hospital spokeswoman said. The powerful explosion came just hours after President Mahinda Rajapakse announced the army's capture of the Tamil Tiger rebels' political capital in the north of the island. "Two airmen died in the suicide blast and another 14 airmen were wounded," more..

Sri Lanka says troops have captured rebel capital

Jan 2 (AP) Government forces captured the Tamil Tigers' de facto capital in northern Sri Lanka on Friday, dealing a devastating blow to the rebels' quarter-century fight for an independent state, the president said. But in a sign the rebels retained their ability to strike back, a suspected Tamil Tiger suicide attacker on a motorcycle detonated a bomb near the air force headquarters in the heart of Colombo during Friday's afternoon rush hour, killing two airmen, more..

Kilinochchi is captured - President tells the nation

Jan 2 (IL) "A short while ago, our brave and heroic troops have fully captured Kilinohchi that was considered the main bastion of the LTTE. Our troops have completely taken over the fortress of the LTTE that has been described by our own leaders and accepted internationally as the most powerful terrorist organization in the world," said President Mahinda Rajapaksa announcing more..

China denies claims over Sri Lankan project

Jan 3 (PW) China has denied claims that its backing for the Sri Lankan Hambantota port and bunker terminal project is part of a strategic plan to project its power in the Indian Ocean region. "It's true that China is conducting cooperation with some Asian countries in various fields including port development, but it's justifiable business for China and the joint ventures are for commercial purposes only," said a spokesman for the Chinese embassy in the United States. more..

Army, Air Force Chiefs dismiss allegations level against security forces

Jan 3 (MoD) Lieutenant General Sarath Fonseka, Sri Lanka's Army Commander and Air Force Commander Air Vice Marshall Roshan Goonetilleke have totally rejected the statements made by UNP leader Ranil Wickramasinghe that quick and complete attention have not been provided to soldiers who are injured at the war front to save their lives. Fonseka said in a statement broadcast by the state owned Independent Television Network (ITN)," more..

Sri Lanka launches Kalpitiya as new tourism destination in South Asia

Jan 3 (IIO) Kalpitiya a stretch of land 150 kilometres North of Colombo is skirted by sea on one side and lagoon on the other. There are many islands - small and large formed within both sea and lagoon. These islands are a treat to see. Most of these, especially the ones by the lagoon, are covered with green mangroves. Sri Lanka Tourism has launched an exciting tourism development project based in Kalpitiya in a bid to place Sri Lanka as one the most more..

Sri Lankans jubilant over fall of Tamil Tigers' headquarters

Jan 3 (Xinhua) Sri Lankans jubilant over the government troops' victory took to streets to celebrate the fall of the former LTTE headquarters. People were seen lighting crackers and parading in streets with the Sri Lankan national flags in the capital Colombo and else where in the island. Some of the busy road intersections traffic were held up as celebrators lit crackers on highway. more..