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Kotelawala and board members bailed

Jan 7 (DM) Ceylinco group chairman, Lalith Kotelawala and ten other directors of the Golden Key Credit Card Company were released on bail yesterday while its Deputy Chairman and two others were remanded in connection with the alleged Rs.26 billion financial scam. Mount Lavinia Chief Magistrate Harsha Sethunga imposed a personal bail of Rs.25 million on Mr. Kotelawela and the others while Deputy Chairman Michael Khavan Perera, more..

World Bank housing project found wanting

Jan 7 (IRIN) When Typhoon Nisha lashed northern Sri Lanka in the last week of November 2008 it caused extensive damage to the roofs of thousands of newly constructed homes, forcing the World Bank to reassess the type of roofing used in its multi-million dollar housing projects. Jaffna was hit hardest, according to the National Disaster Management Centre, with nine killed and over 290,000 affected by flooding. Some 34,000 houses were damaged. more..

Don’t jail military deserters, but rehabilitate them: UNP

Jan 7 (DM) The main opposition UNP yesterday requested the government to rehabilitate army deserters instead of arresting them and sending them to jail. UNP General Secretary Tissa Attanayake told parliament during the emergency debate that there were a sizable number of army deserters in Sri Lanka. “We are told that the deserters are imprisoned after being arrested. Why can’t they be rehabilitated?” he asked. more..

Army military intelligence unit suspected for attack on Sirasa

Jan 7 (TC) The Sri Lankan Police tasked with the responsibility of investigating the attack on MTV/MBC studio (Sirasa) at Pannipitiya are displaying a marked reluctance to discharge their duties satisfactorily in probing the incident and apprehending the culprits responsible. The Police who failed to arrive on time to prevent the attack despite being informed repeatedly are now showing great lethargy in investigating the incident in spite of more..

'No fighting force has withdrawn 95 percent of land as a tactic like LTTE'

Jan 7 (MoD) Lieutenant General Sarath Fonseka, Commander of the Sri Lanka Army said if the claim of the LTTE supporter in South India that the terrorist outfit's defeat at Kilinochchi is only a temporary one and it is only a tactical withdrawal engineered to surge back like an unwavering wave is true, no fighting force like the LTTE has ever withdrawn from 95 percent of the land mass it occupied as a strategic move. more..

Tiger rebels 'near extinction': Govt

Jan 7 (AFP) Tamil Tiger guerrillas are "near extinction" as troops press home their initiative after capturing the rebels' political capital, the defence ministry said Wednesday. Government forces have advanced towards the final remaining strongholds of the LTTE since the Tigers' headquarters at Kilinochchi fell on Friday. Troops were also close to taking a key land route to the northern peninsula of Jaffna, and more..

Tigers vow to beat back army offensive

Jan 7 (Reuters) Sri Lankan soldiers pressured the Tamil Tigers' last stronghold on the Jaffna Peninsula on Wednesday, while the separatist rebels vowed to overcome the latest in a series of battlefield losses. Soldiers began sandwiching the LTTE Tuesday from the north and south of the bottleneck linking the island to the peninsula, and skirmished Wednesday, military spokesman Brigadier Udaya Nanayakkara said. more..

Kachchathivu island is ours, there is no dispute: Sri Lanka

Jan 7 (IANS) Claiming that there was 'no dispute over Kachchathivu island', Sri Lanka Wednesday said that the island located in the Palk Strait off Rameshwaram belonged to the island nation according to the 1974-76 bilateral agreement between India and Sri Lanka. Sri Lanka's acting foreign secretary Prasad Kariyawasam said: 'It is purely a matter for Indian government to deal with and does not apply to Sri Lanka at all.' more..

Tigers in Dunkirk-type evacuation from Jaffna Peninsula

Jan 7 (DBJ) “Operation Dynamo” was the codename for the successful exercise that succeeded in evacuating trapped soldiers from the beaches and harbour of Dunkirk in France in May-June 1940 during world war two. I don’t usually like to compare battles fought by the Sri Lankan armed forces against the LTTE to those of world war one and two. When comparisons were made between the fight for Kilinochchi and the siege of Stalingrad, I pointed out that the similarity was only superficial and more..

End Game

Jan 8 (SP) The government lost control of most of northern Sri Lanka in the late 1990s, during a series of embarrassing defeats. Since then, the army has become better trained, equipped and led, while the LTTE has suffered morale and leadership problems. A civil war within the LTTE three years ago cost the organization over a third of its combat forces. The Tamil population became disheartened by over a decade of sacrifice, and not much to show for it. more..

'Prabhakaran's extradition call shows India's stand on LTTE'

Jan 8 (IANS) Sri Lanka has said that neighbouring India 'clearly demonstrated' its stand on the island's war against the Tamil Tiger rebels in the north, by calling for the extradition of LTTE chief Velupillai Prabhakaran, if captured alive. Minister of Agriculture Development Maithiripala Sirisena made these remarks Tuesday, pointing out that the call for Prabhakaran's extradition was made by India's ruling Congress party, especially after the fall of Kilinochchi. more..

Seylan attracts five buyers: official

Jan 8 (LBO) Five potential investors have expressed interest in Sri Lanka's Seylan Bank including two foreign buyers, after its controlling Ceylinco group said it would sell its stake, an official said. "There are interested parties, one from the Middle East and one from Singapore and three of Sri Lanka’s very eminent business groups are also interested," says Seylan Bank's chief executive Ajita Pasqual. more..

Nov 08 industrial exports rise; tea, rubber shipments fall

Jan 8 (LBO) Sri Lanka's exports in November 2008 rose 11.6 percent to 645 million dollars from a year ago, led by industrial exports, especially garments, but tea and rubber export earnings slumped, the central bank said. Total imports fell during the month, as a result of which the trade deficit contracted for the first time in 2008, by 22.9 percent to 332.6 million dollars in November 2008, the bank said more..

Unfolding the terror path of Prabhakaran and LTTE

Jan 8 (MSN) Veluppillai Prabhakaran, the founder leader and supreme chief of the LTTE is again in focus. The tigers though they call themselves the freedom fighters for a free and independent Tamil territory in Sri Lanka, LTTE is better known as a terrorist organisation and is declared as the one by many a internatinal crime investigating agencies, including Interpol. more..

Tea output to November 2008 ahead of year before

Jan 8 (LBO) Sri Lanka's tea production up to November last year was almost 300 million kilos, well ahead of the year before, according to statistics released by the Sri Lanka Tea Board. The increase came mainly from low grown teas, which account for the bulk of the crop, and also from high growns. However, tea production fell sharply in the last two months of 2008 when producers cut back on plucking after prices crashed at the Colombo auctions. more..

Cruising the A9 to reach Jaffna

Jan 8 (LB) With the fall of Kilinochchi, the Sri Lankan armed forces appear to be in control of much of the A9, the road to Jaffna. This wasn’t always so. For years, the Jaffna peninsula had been with the government, but its writ ran only over patches of that important trunk road that cut through a swathe of LTTE- territory. Even as I write this, the LTTE are holding on to the Elephant Pass causeway, the choke-point through which the A9 enters the peninsula. more..

Lankan refugees get a second chance

Jan 8 (DNA) The ongoing unrest in Sri Lanka has rendered hundreds of children homeless. Many of them have discovered a new home in India. DNA’s S Shiv Kumar, K Ramanujam and Sudipa Chakraborty visited Indira Gandhi International Academy in Jakkur, Bangalore, which provides free education to Sri Lankan refugees. Although they like the new place, they yearn for their old home. Which is why, they are always praying for peace in their homeland. more..

The last dance of the Tamil National Alliance

Jan 8 (PISL) Predictably enough, the recent successes of the armed forces have led to a plethora of allegations about what are now described as their ‘war crimes’, according to a TamilNet headline. Most prominent, apart from old perennials like the Asian Human Rights Commission, is the Tamil National Alliance, which has now decided to jump on the genocide bandwagon that Bruce Fein has been paid to push. more..

Government opens up securities market

Jan 8 (LBO) Sri Lanka has appointed five domestic banks and a primary dealer of government securities as lead managers to sell government securities to expatriate citizens, the Central Bank said in a statement. Under the scheme Sri Lankans with permanent residence, employed or with businesses overseas, those with dual citizenships and professionals living in Sri Lanka or abroad who earn in foreign currency would be permitted to invest. more..

Govt. shouldn't bow to Indian intimidation

Jan 8 (LD) The Patriotic National Centre has demanded the government immediately declared its stance with regard to an aerial surveillance mission by India in the Sri Lankan airspace. Noting the dignity of the sovereign Sri Lankan state was insignificant to India, PNC chairman Ven. Dambara Amila Thera also asked patriotic masses to urge the government not to remain in cowardice in the face of intimidations by New Delhi. more..

Siyambalapitiya tight-lipped as Anura queries

Jan 8 (LD) JVP parliamentary group leader Anura Kumara Dissanayake says his questions regarding the risks facing the financial sector after the collapse of Golden Key Credit Card Company had rendered deputy finance minister Ranjith Siyambalapitiya speechless in parliament. Mr. Dissanayake said he had made a special statement to the House regarding the current setbacks in the financial sector, and posed the following questions to the finance minister. more..

Will Sri Lanka finally finish off Tamil Tigers?

Jan 8 (Reuters) Sri Lanka's military pressured the Tamil Tiger's last stronghold on the northern Jaffna Peninsula from the north and south on Wednesday, and the army said the separatist rebels seemed to be pulling back. Since the LTTE lost their self-proclaimed capital of Kilinochchi to the army last week, many are asking if the 25-year war is nearly over. Not quite, but here are some scenarios of what could happen next: more..

Karu says deeply hurt by govt. insults

Jan 8 (LD) Deputy leader of the UNP Karu Jayasuriya told Parliament that he felt deeply hurt by government insults targeting him as an enemy, after all the support he had lent to it to overcome difficult times. In a special statement to the House, he said he had made many commitments towards the present regime, protected it when it faced a crisis in 2007 and gave it strength by supporting budget for 2009. more..

Blast on railway track halts train services

Jan 8 (AFP) A powerful explosion ripped through a railway track just outside the capital on Wednesday causing disruption to commuter services, police said. Police said there were no casualties following the blast at Mount Lavinia, but the Colombo-bound track was damaged and train services were suspended pending investigation. "Fortunately there was no train passing at the time," a police official at the scene said. "A part of the track was ripped off and we need to check for any more damage to the track." more..

Sri Lanka hits Tigers again with ban, assaults

Jan 8 (Reuters) Sri Lanka hit the Tamil Tigers on Wednesday with a terrorist designation it lifted as part of ill-fated 2002 truce, as soldiers pressured the separatists' last stronghold on the Jaffna Peninsula. Though largely symbolic since the LTTE are already on U.S., E.U. and Indian terrorist lists and the government routinely calls them that, the cabinet vote is just one more sign Sri Lanka has no plans to negotiate. more..

Will Peace Finally Come to Sri Lanka?

Jan 8 (Nation) In recent days, events of importance to South Asia have been unfolding in Sri Lanka, where decades of civil war have all but destroyed the international reputation of what was once the region's most progressive and democratic country. The Sri Lankan army, on the march against an armed ethnic Tamil movement, has seized the rebels' de facto capital and is closing in on the last strongholds of the group, the LTTE. more..

'Attacks on Media will continue'

Jan 8 (IPS) It was typical of what Sri Lankan media has been facing over the years: a pre-dawn raid on a media house, employees beaten up and costly equipment destroyed. Maharaja TV, the latest victim, was also promised the routine, impartial inquiry by the government. 'I would be happy and pleasantly surprised if anything comes out [of the government investigation]," Paikiasothy Saravanamuttu, political analyst and executive director at the local think tank Centre for Policy Alternatives, told IPS. more..

Army claims Murasumoddai

Jan 8 (Hindu) The Sri Lankan military on Wednesday claimed to have captured Murasumoddai town on the way to Mullathivu amid stiff resistance from LTTE cadre. A statement from the Defence Ministry said here that troops continued their offensive march further eastwards after capturing Paranthan and entered Murasumoddai township despite stiff resistance from the LTTE. more..

New Puntius described from Sri Lanka

Jan 8 (PF) Sri Lankan scientists have described a new species of barb from southwestern Sri Lanka in a recent issue of the journal Ichthyological Exploration of Freshwaters. Sri Lankan naturalists Kelum Manamendra-Arachi, Rohan Pethiyagoda, Anjan Silva, Kalana Maduwage and Madhava Meegaskumbura named the new barb Puntius kelumi. It differs from congeners in peninsular India and Sri Lanka in having a combination of: more..

Santa, Court vacations and a window to Kilinochchi

Jan 8 (SLW) The government's unofficial and voluntary voice the JHU, had its paternal monk who specializes on ancient ruins, Venerable Medhananda on State owned ITN and its radio channel "Lakhanda" on Thursday morning accusing all who sided with the price reduction of petrol as "traitors" and bootlickers of separatist Tigers. "the government's income to fund the war is what they want to take away." more..

Now go 2008, for a better 2009!

Jan 8 (SLW) This year that's fading off not without landmarks, have had a collage of events worth recording. Starting with the Supreme Court that emerged as the only promising option for a society that needed redress from a government they perceived as not worth turning to, to ease day to day governance problems, the list runs far too long for a single year. Keep ticking them from Grade I schools admissions, G.C.E. examination issues, unusually long and extended periods of detention, more..

After Kilinochchi

Jan 8 (LG) The terrorist who had been described as a military genius by Solheim, you remember the guy, has been defeated. It is now only a matter of time before the armed forces and the police that include the special task force will completely defeat the armed terrorist gang that had the support of the west and India at one time or another. I was a participant in a Rupavahini programme recently where I tried to analyse the situation and come to a certain conclusion. more..

Army moves in as Tigers withdraw from Vadamratchy East and Pallai

Jan 8 (TC) The LTTE on Wednesday January 7th 2008 continued withdrawing from entrenched positions in the Jaffna peninsula and evacuating cadres to the northern mainland. The 53 division commanded by Brig. Kamal Gunaratne and 55 division commanded by Brig. Prasanna Silva are currently moving into positions vacated by the LTTE. The 53 division is now moving into Pallai on the A–9 highway that has been vacated by the tigers who have fallen back to areas near the Puthukkaadu santhi more..

What can and should Tamils do if LTTE (Tamil Militancy) fails?

Jan 8 (TC) There are in my view two insuperable and inevitable objections to the militarism advocated by the LTTE. Firstly, it is out of date. The world unfortunately for Mr. Prabhakaran does not look favourable on totalitarianism, especially where it is in tandem with terrorism. The trend increasingly is towards democracy. Maybe, because of a growing conviction that even the worst-run democracy is usually more just, more peaceful, and even more prosperous than the best-run dictatorship. more..

For the LTTE, discretion is the better part of valour

Jan 8 (LG) The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam is a creation of the state terrorism of the Sinhala majority government. The hitherto docile Tamils were forced to take up arms and demand separation, as they seemed to have no other option. The war started by Sinhala Buddhist aggression still goes on. So far over 100,000 people have lost their lives and over a million Tamils have been displaced or forced to go abroad. There are now over 250,000 internally displaced Tamil people. more..

Three "real" reasons behind Govt. proscribing LTTE

Jan 8 (TC) Notwithstanding claims by the government headed by President Mahinda Rajapakse that the LTTE organization was proscribed because it failed to release the people allegedly held through force in the Wanni, the real motives according to authoritative govt sources were different. According to these sources who spoke on condition of anonymity there were three real reasons for the Government to clamp down the ban on January 7th midnight. more..

Fierce fighting in Murasumoddai as Army moves East along A-35 highway axis

Jan 8 (TC) Murasumoddai about 2 km to the east of Paranthan junction along the Paranthan – Mullaitheevu road has become the latest theatre of fierce fighting in the North. The fighting escalated to a very high level on Wednesday January 7th as troops of 58 division who reached the outer limits of the Murasumoddai met with stiff resistance by the LTTE. Contrary to some media reports Murasumoddai has not been taken by the Army. more..

Three different military thrusts repulsed by LTTE

Jan 8 (TC) Three different military thrusts by the Sri Lankan armed forces were repulsed by the LTTE in Kilinochchi, Katsilaimadhu and Ambakaamam. These limited military drives by the army occurred in areas way from the spotlight in Kilinochchi south and Eastern Wanni while media focus is primarily on the peninsula and areas east of Paranthan. In the first thrust soldiers of 57 – 4 brigade broke out of positions in Kanagambikaikulam in Kilinochchi south and moved towards the northern side of Iranaimadhu reservoir. more..

A Post Card from Sri Lanka: Challenges for 2009

Jan 8 (AT) Presidents and Prime Ministers are supposed to lead, not just in military battles, but even more importantly in forging a vision for the people they are leading. George W Bush has failed very badly on both accounts. Tony Blair has left a mixed legacy. John Howard from Australia blew chances to make Australia great and wasted ten good years making the country more racist and intolerant. more..

Military families need more houses, schools

Jan 8 (AT) The Sri Lanka Army is launching a scheme of 5000 housing units. These houses come under projects scattered in different parts of the island – including a housing project of 1622 units at Ipologama Kekirawa. The other two forces- the Navy and the Air Force – too have their own land allocation and housing projects but all three services have found it difficult to cope with the demand. more..

Sri Lanka pursues power-sharing plan after banning Tamil Tigers

Jan 8 (BN) Sri Lanka will pursue its plan for devolving power in regions previously controlled by Tamil rebels after renewing a ban on the LTTE, effectively ruling out new peace talks with the group. President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s Cabinet will “take a decision on what the political solution to end the conflict will be” once an all-party committee presents draft proposals for power-sharing, more..

Karuna feels humiliated by Gen. Sarath Fonseka's remarks

Jan 8 (TC) TMVP leader and national list MP, Vinayagamurthy Muraleetharan alias “Colonel Karuna” is reportedly feeling humiliated by some remarks made by Army commander Lt. Gen Sarath Fonseka to the media. According to TMVP sources “Col” Karuna feels that General Sarath had deliberately humiliated him. According to TMVP sources Karuna had been of immense assistance to the army in its fight against the LTTE by providing extensive information at many levels. more..

Honour for SriLankan Airlines' service at BIA

Jan 8 (AME) SriLankan is the sole ground handler for all airlines at BIA, and provides facilities and services in check-in, baggage handling, all types of services for aircraft, and cargo handling. The Chairman of Kuwait Airways, Hamad Alfalah, presented the award for 'Excellent Support Rendered to Kuwait Airways over the Past Years' at a gala dinner to celebrate the Middle Eastern carrier's 40th anniversary, at the Fingara Country & Recreation Club in Colombo. more..

'Expelled Northern Muslims' issue a national priority'

Jan 8 (PSM) “The subject of expelled Muslims should not only be confined to the Northern Muslims. It is an issue that has to be dealt with not only by the other Muslims but other communities as well. It is a national issue and if genuine efforts are made by all the stakeholders the return, resettlement and rehabilitation of Muslims to the North can become a reality” said Dr. S.H. Hasbullah at more..

Sinhalese SC grab top spot

Jan 8 (CI) Sri Lanka A captain Thilina Kandamby took defending champions Sinhalese SC to the top of the Premier Tier A table with a sterling batting performance against Badureliya CC, during which he compiled the highest score of the season. Pace setters Ragama CC had a free weekend which enabled SSC to unseat them and occupy the top spot for the first time this season. Kandamby lifted SSC from 58 for 5 to an imposing total of 436 for 9 declared, more..

Pakistan confirms split series against Sri Lanka

Jan 8 (CI) Sri Lanka will split their tour to Pakistan over two legs in January and February, playing in total, three ODIs and two Tests. A gap in between of over two weeks thus paves the way for Sri Lanka to host a potential one-day series against India. After much negotiation and tweaking of provisional itineraries, Sri Lanka will now arrive in Pakistan on January 18 to play three day-night ODIs, leave and then come back on February 14th to play two Tests. more..

'JHU let down Buddhists'

Jan 8 (LD) Vice President of the All Ceylon Buddhist Congress Dr. Praneeth Abeysundara says the JHU has let down the thousands, including himself, who had elected Buddhist monks to parliament with the intention of upholding the rights and heritage of Sinhala Buddhists. He says that the JHU is working to the whims of conspirators of other religions. Dr. Abeysundara was speaking at the launch of the anti-conversion commission report at more..

'Govt. burying democracy, decorum & civility'

Jan 8 (LD) "Though the regimes of Sirimavo Bandaranaike and R. Premadasa killed JVP youth in 1971 and 1989, they did not celebrate it by lighting firecrackers and holding balls in five-star hotels." "However, by doing that after capturing Kilinochchi despite the fact that SLAF air raids have killed thousands of Tamils born in Sri Lanka and disabled many others, the government has insulted democracy as well as decorum and civility of the public," more..

'Two Seylan Directors unsuitable'

Jan 8 (LD) Two appointments made to the new Seylan Bank Director Board after being taken over by the Bank of Ceylon are not suitable for the posts according to banking regulations, parliamentarian of the UNP, Kabir Hashim charged. He was questioning the Deputy Minister of Finance on the Golden Key company in Parliament yesterday (Jan. 07th). Director of the Seylan Bank, Mr. Eastman Narangoda is a member of the committee appointed by the President to more..

Bring Lasantha's killers to book - JHU

Jan 8 (LD) The JHU has strongly denounced the shooting incident that targeted 'The Sunday Leader' editor Lasantha Wickrematunga. In a statement, its secretary Ven. Omalpe Sobhitha Thera describes the fatal attack as a barbaric and inhuman act. The government-affiliate JHU also said it was grieved to hear about the death of Mr. Wickrematunga, who was shot by two gunmen in a motorcycle at Attidiya in Dehiwela around 10.30 this morning. more..