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The Cabinet Brief - 07.05.2009

May 7 (GDI) Cabinet approved a Memorandum submitted by the Minister of Highways & Road Development, Mahinda Rajapaksa, to award the Contract for Rehabilitation and Upgrading of Puttlam-Trincomalee Road (A-012) from Puttlam to Nochchiyagama Contract Package RDA/NHSP/ICB-01 to Messrs. Maga-CDIG JV for a Contract Sum of SLR 2,592,058.194.05. The project is to be implemented under National Highways Sector Project (NHSP) more..

Save power...water level recedes...

May 7 (GDI) The Ministry of Power and Energy requests consumers to use electricity sparingly, especially between 6.30 and 9.30 pm as the Water levels at reservoirs feeding hydro power plants were receding and the overall water level in these reservoirs had already decreased by nearly 16 per cent, the Ministry of Power and Energy revealed. Hydro power plants across the island generate only 10 per cent of the country’s electricity requirement. more..

Security tightened during Vesak

May 7 (GDI) The Security Forces and the Police have arranged to implement a program to intensify scrutiny of to ensure public security during Vesak. It is expected that the public would extend their fullest cooperation to the members of the Security Forces and the Police to execute their duties, the Media Centre for National Security said. This is a possibility that the terrorists in desperation in the hour of defeat may launch sudden attacks in any part of the island. more..

Nation’s liberation no cake walk

May 7 (GDI) Twenty months ago, Defence Secretary, Gotabhaya Rajapaksa made a firm pledge to the nation when he addressed a passing out parade at Galkiriyagama. He assured the nation that the war would not be passed onto the future generations. Rajapaksa, a battle hardened soldier who encountered the treacherous LTTE during his military career, told the soldiers at that passing out parade that the Government had a firm determination to eliminate terrorism to establish permanent peace. more..

Address by the President to the Diplomatic Community on current developments

May 7 (GDI) I am pleased to address you this morning at a time when humanitarian operations in the North are coming to an end and the country is about to be salvaged from the scourge of terrorism. The war with the LTTE is rapidly nearing its conclusion and it is my hope that this will create the space for democracy to flourish in the North again. more..

Troops capture part of the LTTE built earth bund

May 7 (MoD) Troops of 58 Division engaged in world's largest hostage rescue mission further advanced into the No Fire Zone confining LTTE terrorists a mere 6 Sq Km, defence sources said. Infantrymen of 10 Gajaba Regiment (10 GR) advanced towards Karayamulliavaikkal yesterday, 6 May, have captured a part of the LTTE built earth bund by early hours this morning following heavy confrontations, defence sources added. more..

Bringing people together to build new infrastructure for Batticaloa

May 7 (PISL) Steady progress has been made in restoring normalcy to the Eastern Province in the two years since combat operations ended. Infrastructure is a priority, because of the damage and neglect suffered during the conflict, and various projects in the road, power, irrigation and other sectors are underway. One of the key needs identified, soon after the local elections, by the Municipal Council in Batticaloa, headed by the young and dynamic Mayoress Sivageetha Prabhakaran, more..

Weerawansa acts like Mervin at Aththanagalla

May 7 (LeN) The security guards of National Freedom Front (JNP) Chairman Wimal Weerawansa, MP, attacked the Sirasa Gampaha correspondent Thushara Saliya Ranawaka within the Aththanagalla magistrate court premises. Mr. Ranawaka was in the Aththanagalla magistrate court to video JNP MP Piyasiri Wijenayaka and others accused of killing JVP cadre Nandana Balage being brought to the court from remand prison. more..

The 49th baby elephant born at the Pinnawala Orphanage

May 7 (AT) The 49th baby elephant was born in the night of 5th May at the Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage, in Sri Lanka. This female baby elephant was born to the She-elephant Lasanda. The orphanage in Pinnawala, Sri Lanka is considered the best elephant orphanage in the whole of Asia. It is a place for abandoned and wounded elephants to recover. A large herd of elephants can be seen at close range when the orphanage opens daily for visitors. more..

Police intelligence officer nabbed for bribery

May 7 (CT) A sub inspector in charge of the Chilaw Divisional Intelligence Bureau was nabbed by a special Bribery Commission team yesterday (May 06) for allegedly demanding a bribe of Rs. 300, 000 from a woman in Chilaw, in return for finding her abducted husband. He was arrested while obtaining Rs. 150, 000 near the Chilaw Post Office. ASP Sarath Somaweera Lokuge said the suspect has obtained Rs. 50,000 earlier. more..

Worst butchers as good family men

May 7 (LNP) There are lessons that we could draw even from monsters. One is how to lead a good family life. The world has seen many a butcher who would snuff out any number of lives unflinchingly but play the role of a dutiful husband and father at home. We had JVP leader Rohana Wijeweera`s death-dealing oprichniki wreaking havoc on the country in the late 1980s. Thousands of fathers were put to a violent death, many of them in front of their children. more..

British MPs appreciate Government relief efforts

May 7 (DN) The group of British Parliamentarians led by Des Browne MP welcomed the Government’s agreement to allow the UN to visit the conflict zone to assess the humanitarian needs of the people there and to plan the evacuation of the remaining civilians. They urged all parties to facilitate this agreement without delay. “We recognize the scale of the challenge facing the Government in delivering humanitarian relief to more..

Over Northern re-settlement

May 7 (DN) The Government which has taken up the massive challenge of re-settling civilians rescued through humanitarian operations in the North in their original lands has decided to re-settle another batch of 3,000 people belonging to 771 families in the Mannar district. People in welfare camps in Mannar district are being re-settled under the first stage of this program ‘Uthuru Vasanthaya’ supervised by Presidential Senior Advisor Basil Rajapaksa, more..

Partial, provisional, unconfirmed - UN Resident Coordinator

May 7 (DN) The UNOSAT images released to the media as well as comments on them regarding civilians in the No Fire Zone (NFZ) are partial, provisional and unconfirmed, says UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator Neil Buhne in a letter addressed to Human Rights Minister Mahinda Samarasinghe on May 4. Buhne says that he did not authorise the UNOSAT comments as the images and comments on them could be “misinterpreted” as a ‘UN finding’. more..

Sri Lanka rupee at right level: CB Governor

May 7 (LBO) The rupee is at the right level, central bank governor Nivard Cabraal said as the local currency floated between 116.50 to 117.70 rupees against the US dollar in spot trade Thursday. "This is the right level. It has a good balance from all sides," he told LBO shortly after returning from Libya. Sri Lanka is negotiating a 500 million US dollar 15-year loan from the country. more..

'Budget deficit can expand to 9.0-pct of GDP'

May 7 (LBO) An International Monetary Fund (IMF) report says low income Asian nations with dollar pegs and weak state finances have few options to 'stimulate' demand, and Sri Lanka's budget deficit could go over 9.0 percent of the economy. Among five Asian low income countries featured in a report on the Asia Pacific region's economic outlook, Sri Lanka has had the worst deficits in the past three years, followed by Mongolia and Bangladesh. more..

Sri Lanka launches space programme

May 7 (ANN) The government has begun work on a space programme hoping to launch two communication satellites, the Director General of the Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (TRC) of Sri Lanka Priyantha Kariyapperuma said. "The University of Surrey specialises in satellite technology having created about 35 satellites. They have made a presentation to President Mahinda Rajapakse and have entered into an agreement to transfer technology and knowledge to our universities," more..

UPFA MP remanded over child abduction

May 7 (Island) Close on the heels of the Attanagalle Magistrate remanding MP Piyasiri Wijenayake in connection with the recent killing of JVP activist Nandana Balage in the run up to the WPC polls, UPFA MP Sarana Gunawardena was remanded by Court yesterday over an alleged child abduction case. The Gampaha District UPFA MP had allegedly fired in the air and abducted a 12-year-old student after pistol whipping his father. more..

Sajith interested in post-LTTE development plan

May 7 (Island) Although the UNP is sceptical about the Rajapaksa administration’s development plans for the Northern and Eastern provinces in the immediate aftermath of the defeat of the Tigers, Sajith Premadasa, MP, seems to have taken a contradictory view. Premadasa on Tuesday (5) missed the parliamentary debate on the extension of emergency for another month to participate in a forum on investment opportunities in the two war-ravaged provinces. more..

Govt’s duty to protect civilians - Sampanthan

May 7 (Island) TNA leader R. Sampanthan on Tuesday said that protecting the lives of civilians and providing them with welfare assistance was the duty of the government. Participating in the emergency debate in Parliament, MP Sampanthan said that Tamil civilians have become destitute as a result of war and have to beg for food from the government. The Tamils were not a community that lived out of the hands of government. more..

Cabinet to shelve controversial Bill

May 7 (DM) Cabinet yesterday decided to shelve the Local Authorities Elections (Amendment) Bill due to the controversy over the cut off point of 12 percent votes polled for a member to be elected to any local body. The government presented this Bill in Parliament a few months ago to introduce a new election system for local bodies. The Bill is to provide for holding the elections to the local bodies according to a mixture of the First-Past-the-Post system and the Proportional Representation System. more..

Govt. rejects abuse allegation

May 7 (DM) The Government yesterday strongly refuted claims of abuses taking place in camps for Internally Displaced People (IDP) in Vavuniya and termed some of these claims as mere Tiger propaganda. Defence Spokesperson Minister Keheliya Rambukwella told the Daily Mirror that pro- LTTE groups under the guise of journalists had infiltrated the IDP camps in Vavuniya and were carrying out a pro-Tiger propaganda to tarnish the image of the security forces. more..

Govt. to seriously consider their ‘leave permission’

May 7 (DM) The government said yesterday that Parliament should seriously consider whether it should grant leave permission for the MPs campaigning in certain world capitals for a separate state here. Chief Government Whip Dinesh Gunawardena raised this issue in the House after TNA MP, S. Cyril asked for three-month leave permission for his colleague MP M.K. Sivajilingam not to attend sessions for three months. more..

Delay in military operation would have led to 'Eelam': Lanka

May 7 (PTI) A separate 'Tamil Eelam' could have been a possibility had not the government launched military operations against the LTTE in 2006, when the rebel outfit was strong, a top defence official said. Gotabhaya Rajapaksa, the powerful Defence Secretary and brother of Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa, said that had not the security forces started the "Wanni humanitarian operations" against the LTTE on time, "they (the Tigers) would have already set up the Eelam state." more..

Church workers aid people caught up in Sri Lanka conflict

May 7 (Ekklesia) Churches in Sri Lanka are helping desperate families looking for loved ones missing in the civil war that is raging in the country. Government troops cornering Tamil militants have forced around 200,000 people into refugee camps. The UCA News service in Asia reports that many families have been split up and have little or no way to find mothers, fathers, brothers and sisters, or even to discover whether they are dead or alive. more..

What matters in Sri Lanka

May 7 (MM) As the 26-year war in Sri Lanka nears its end, every busybody in the world is urging the Sri Lankan government to stop. Spare the poor civilians trapped in the combat zone, declare a cease-fire, it’s time to negotiate, they all implore. Even the US government has joined the chorus. The White House said that it was “deeply concerned about the plight of innocent civilians caught up in the conflict between the government of Sri Lanka and the Tamil Tigers and the mounting death toll”. more..

Despair among Sri Lanka's refugees

May 7 (BBC) In Sri Lanka they're known simply as IDPs, or Internally Displaced Persons. The true figure of the total number of war refugees is unknown but the UN now calculates that 192,000 people have fled the conflict zone in north Sri Lanka in recent weeks. Families appear to be comfortable but talk about missing their homes Aside from the terrible humanitarian cost, this is a crisis which has proved particularly heavy for a relatively small country and its 20 million population. more..

Sri Lanka's Tamils pray for peace, change

May 7 (AFP) Bare-chested Tamil men push a chariot bearing a statue of Lord Vishnu through Sri Lanka's tightly guarded capital, an annual religious event marked this year by an upsurge in the island's ethnic war. Members of the minority group lined up along the route of the statue of the Hindu preserver of peace, which was decked with flowers and fairy lights -- and the focus of intense prayers for greater rights and an end to the bloodshed. more..

Rebels using suicide bombers: Sri Lanka military

May 7 (AFP) Sri Lanka's Tamil Tigers are using suicide bombers to hold back government forces who are close to overrunning the last patch of rebel-held territory, the military said Thursday. The Tigers have deployed hundreds of suicide bombers to devastating effect in the past 20 years, claiming several high-profile victims, including the then president Ranasinghe Premadasa in 1993. more..

Sri Lanka waging a war without witnesses

May 7 (NP) The road up Sri Lanka's northern coast passes through fishing villages where men haul nets and dump their catch into wicker baskets, and past rows of look-alike houses built after the tsunami. At a lagoon, it stops and a barge powered by a 15-horsepower outboard skims cars across. A few kilometres later, a second ferry traverses another waterway and lands at a military checkpoint on the outskirts of Pulmuddai. more..

Video shows Sri Lanka rebels forcing civilian help

May 7 (AP) Video footage captured from Sri Lanka's Tamil Tiger rebels showed their fighters forcing civilians to assist their war effort and depicted one insurgent in street clothes firing a heavy machine gun, the military said Thursday. The government said the footage, posted on the Defense Ministry Web site, proves that the rebels have been putting civilians in the line of fire and have shed their military uniforms so they would be mistaken for noncombatants themselves if killed. more..

Is the LTTE really finished?

Sri Lanka mulls extending private tea sale curbs

May 8 (LBO) Restrictions on private sales of low grown teas outside the main auctions in Sri Lanka's capital, Colombo, are likely to be extended this year, an official said. The curb are place in the belief that they help prop up prices, though a 'private' sale takes away an equal amount of supply and demand from the auction. Colombo tea auction prices usually come under pressure during times of bigger crops at this time of year. more..

Landang Gua teachers, Sri Lankan captive sighted

May 8 (ABS) A group of civilian volunteers led by three local officials carried out a daring rescue operation for three kidnapped teachers and a Sri Lankan peace volunteers in Akbar town in Basilan province, Wednesday. The Basilan Crisis Management Committee said Basilan Vice-Governor Al-Rasheed Sakalahul, Tuburan town Mayor Duri Kalahal and Mohammad Ajul town Mayor Talib Pawaki led police auxiliary members in a daring rescue operation after more..

Is this the end of the Tamil struggle?

May 8 (GV) For reasons I shall explain later I don’t think what we see at present marks the end of the Tamil struggle for independence. The popular perception may well end up in a mirage. Clearly, a new chapter of the Tamil campaign is in the making, and the signs are that the next episode is going to be even more formidable than the Tamil Tigers’ mini-state project. With South India’s full backing – also, with the international community’s blessings more..

Sri Lanka Seylan gets two bids from short-listed investors: CB

May 8 (LBO) Sri Lanka's central bank said two short-listed prospective investors have submitted their bids for a controlling stake in Seylan Bank. "In response to the invitation by the Central Bank to be a strategic partner of Seylan Bank, two short-listed prospective investors have submitted their bids," the central bank said in a statement. It did not identify the short-listed bidders. more..

Is the LTTE really finished?

Sri Lanka markets regulator puts floor on brokerage fee

May 8 (LBO) Sri Lanka's market regulator, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), said it plans to introduce a 0.1 percent floor on the presently negotiable brokerage fee for trades over 100 million rupees. It said in a statement that it also plans to halve the transaction fees charged by the SEC and the Colombo stock exchange for using the Central Depository System (CDS). more..

Govt. must first invite opposition party to survey and study the plight of IDPs – UNP

May 8 (LG) The UNP M.P. Dr. Jayalath Jayawardena addressing a media briefing on today said the Government must first allow the main Opposition party , the UNP to visit the Wanni and other areas to do a survey. As people’s representatives in a Democratic country, it is the MPs who have the superior right to assess the situation on behalf of the people and look into the problems of the IDPs. more..

Norway must take Erick Solheim to task

May 8 (LG) Has the Norwegian Tiger advocate who has contributed immensely to the military strengthening of the LTTE and the unashamed support he gave especially to people like Thamilselvan alias Zoo-Pah, treating the people of Sri Lanka with utter patronizing and condescending attitude, really recanted from his Norwegian-Sri Lankan stands that under ordinary circumstances would be considered traitorous to Sri Lanka? more..

LTTE supporters attack Chinese embassy in London

May 8 (PTI) After Indian and Sri Lankan embassies it was the turn of China to face the ire of LTTE sympathisers with some 150 of them carrying flags and chanting slogans attacked the mission of the Communist nation. Supporters of banned Tamil Tigers attacked the Chinese Embassy here yesterday and smashed up many windows of the office as they tried to enter inside the building, police said on Thursday. Three protesters were arrested but later released on bail. more..

'Will ensure creation of Eelam'

May 8 (PTI) With both AIADMK and DMK keen to score brownie points on the Eelam issue, Jayalalithaa on Thursday intensified her pitch saying she would ensure creation of separate homeland for Sri Lankan Tamils if a government which listens to her is formed at the Centre, hours after Karunanidhi too made a similar pledge. The AIADMK chief said a separate Eelam would be formed on the lines of Bangladesh. more..

Lankan troops just 800 meters from LTTE leadership

May 8 (PTI) Sri Lankan forces on Thursday fought their way to just 800 meters from the area where an estimated 10,000-15,000 Tamil civilians are trapped along with the top LTTE leadership, capturing a Tiger fortification and killing a number of rebels. The government troops pushed into the rebel-held village of Karayamulliavaikkal, advancing over areas heavily mined by the Tigers and fighting off attacks from their suicide bombers. more..

Sri Lanka talks tourism to Mideast investors

May 8 (Reuters) Sri Lanka is in talks with Middle Eastern investors to develop resorts in the country, as it looks to boost tourism after war ends, a government official said on Thursday. Sri Lanka says it is fighting the closing battles of a costly 25-year war against the Tamil Tigers rebels. Faiszer Musthapha, deputy minister of tourism told Reuters that with "peace dawning ... there's a lot of interest in the investment side" more..

War with LTTE about to end: President

May 8 (IANS) President Mahinda Rajapaksa on Thursday said the fight-to-finish military campaign against Tamil rebels was fast nearing its end and troops are gaining ground into the last rebel strongholds. "The war with the LTTE is rapidly nearing its conclusion and it is my hope that this will create the space for democracy to flourish in the north again," Rajapaksa said in an address to the Colombo-based diplomatic community. more..

UN Secretary General's offer of assistance should not be ignored

May 8 (AHRC) The world's attention at the moment is fixed on about 192,000 IDPs and another 50,000 - 100,000 civilians trapped within a five square-kilometer area in what used to be called the no-fire zone. BAN Ki Moon, the Secretary General of the United Nations, in a press release issued after a telephone conversation with the Sri Lankan president stated that this issue is among the highest of priorities internationally. more..

Intimate life of Prabhakaran exposed

May 8 (MoD) Following images may be shocking and even more embarrassing for the ‘do-gooders’ of terror, saviors of the victim industry, defence ‘experts’, and politicians who continued to cuddle the tigers while unleashing abominable lies against their very own country. Those who enjoyed making lucrative business, routine foreign tours while seeking years of asylum in the Western countries sanitizing a terrorist cause may be extremely disturbed by more..

Tiger leader's photos on display

May 8 (BBC) The Sri Lankan defence ministry has released what it says are recently captured pictures of the Tamil Tiger leader, Velupillai Prabhakaran. It says that the images "unravel dark corners of Mr Prabhakaran's duplicitous and pampered life style" and show him to be "smiling psychopath". The ministry does not say how or when it obtained the images. There has been no word on the images from the rebels, who are now surrounded by the army in the north-east. more..

ICRC ferries sick and wounded from Sri Lanka war zone

May 8 (Reuters) The International Committee of the Red Cross evacuated 495 sick and wounded people and their helpers by ferry from a northeastern Sri Lanka war zone on Thursday, its first medical evacuation in a week due to heavy fighting. Dozens of people requiring treatment still need evacuation from the tiny coastal area where thousands of civilians remain trapped, the neutral humanitarian agency said. more..

'Majority rule actions detrimental to minority Tamils'

May 8 (AT) Assessment of Needs in the Conflict Affected Areas of Northern and Eastern Provinces prepared by Asian Development Bank, United Nations and World Bank has been estimated at US $ 3,085.8 million, said Douglas Devananda, Minister of Social Services and Social Welfare while he was addressing the 21st Business for Peace Forum organized by the Federation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry of Sri Lanka (FCCISL) more..