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MR puts country on poll footing

Nov 18 (BL) President Mahinda Rajapaksa last evening told UPFA MPs to start working from today itself to face an election, even though he has not specified the nature of the election; whether Presidential or Parliamentary. However, a highly placed government source, who took part in the discussion said, even though the President did not name which election was to be held first at last evening’s meeting, the first would most likely to be a Presidential election. more..

Top UN official visits camps housing Sri Lanka’s conflict-displaced

Nov 18 (UN) The top United Nations humanitarian official kicked off his visit to Sri Lanka today with a stop at camps housing some of the civilians uprooted during the country’s decades-long conflict to see what progress has been made in terms of releases and the remaining problems. The three-day visit is the fourth to the country this year for Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs John Holmes, who has raised the issue of IDPs with officials on several occasions. more..

Lanka invited for BBC nation branding conference

Nov 18 (BL) Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau (SLTPB), Managing Director, Dileep Mudadeniya was invited to speak at the Nation Branding Global Masterclass event, which took place on November 12 at the World Travel Market in London. He discussed Sri Lanka Tourism’s recently concluded re-branding of communication. The talk highlighted the particularly interesting challenge that SLTPB faced in the re-branding exercise, more..

Four Bills passed amidst opposition

Nov 18 (BL) Opposition MPs protested the government’s move to take up four important and separate Bills in Parliament on a single sitting yesterday. At one point, the main opposition, UNP walked out in protest while the JVP also criticised the government for not giving enough time to discuss the contents of the Bills extensively. The four Bills, Appropriation (Amendment) Bill (second reading) the Supplementary Estimates for the Ministry of Resettlement and Disaster Relief Services, more..

'Game's pretty even' - Gary Kirsten

Nov 18 (CI) After finishing the first day as much the happier side, day two at Motera was one of hard toil for India. Having lost the last four wickets for 37 runs, the bowling line-up was then slammed to all parts as Tillakaratne Dilshan scored yet another century in his annus mirabilis. It was only impetuous shot selection from Dilshan and Kumar Sangakkara that allowed India a route back into the game. more..

'LTTE win credit goes to political leadership'

Nov 18 (PTI) With the issue of triumph over Tamil Tigers likely to dominate the upcoming Presidential elections in Sri Lanka, there appears to be a race between the incumbent Mahinda Rajapaksa and former Chief of Defence Staff Sarath Fonseka to steal the credit for the rout of LTTE. As the public and political parties await the next move of Fonseka, seen as the likely opposition rival to Rajapaksa, more..

Protest demonstration against assault of Tamil political prisoners in Colombo

Nov 18 (TN) The Democratic People’s Alliance (DPA) staged a protest demonstration outside the main central jail in Colombo Tuesday against the assault of Tamil political prisoners by prison guards and fellow Sinhalese prisoners Friday, sources in Colombo said. The demonstrators demanded the release of Tamil political prisoners or to take legal action against them. Despite the assurance given by Sri Lanka government to United Nations (UN) Commissioner of Human Rights, more..

Malaysia donates RM380,000 to help displaced Sri Lankans

Nov 18 (TS) The Government has donated RM380,000 to assist Sri Lankan Tamils who were displaced in the recent war between the military and the LTTE, reported Tamil Nesan. It quoted Deputy Foreign Minister A. Kohilan Pillay as saying the money was handed to the Sri Lankan government to assist those living in refugee camps in the country. Mercy Malaysia had built two temporary hospitals to provide treatment to the displaced people. more..

Call for Pope to visit Sri Lanka

Nov 18 (CL) A Brisbane priest and a doctor have supported Pope Benedict's recent call to the Sri Lankan Government to free displaced civilians from internment camps. However, both Dominican Father Pan Jordan and Dr Brian Senewiratne believe the Pope must visit Sri Lanka to have any impact on the mistreatment of the estimated 250,000 Tamil people imprisoned in camps in the country's north. Both also say, given the appalling conditions in their home country, it is no wonder that Tamils are fleeing by boat to more..

Sri Lankan refugee camp: pressure and a privilege

Nov 18 (ABC) As with life, sometimes in journalism you have to be careful what you wish for. I had been wishing, and pushing, for a trip to Sri Lanka's notorious Manik Farm internal refugee camp for months. And at about 7pm sitting in my hotel room in Colombo the Australian High Commission rang - I was booked on a military plane leaving early the next morning. The news was a big relief, but also a big burden for what I perceive to be my journalistically narrow shoulders. more..

Crude reasoning

Nov 18 (ABC) Ever since the war in Sri Lanka moved towards a devastating climax early this year the propaganda war has hotted up. With many arms all over the world, the pro-Tamil Tiger elements have easily bested the government of Sri Lanka in this rhetorical game. If one spins lies, it is wise to take up half-truths, and then embellish and mix them with a couple of enormous fabrications. Then repeat these tales ad nauseam. more..

Govt. condemns 'media harrassment'

Nov 18 (BBC) The government say that harassing journalists at a ceremony to mark the end of tenure of Gen Sarath Fonseka was 'wrong'. Minister Lakshman Yapa Abeywardene told journalists that the military who organised the farewell parade for Fonseka should bear the responsibility of the manner in which journalists were treated. BBC's Elmo Fernando was among the Journalists who were kept waiting in front of army headquarters for more than one and half hours more..

Central Bank lowers benchmark rates to boost growth

Nov 18 (BN) Central bank cut its benchmark interest rates to spur credit demand and support a recovery in the island’s economy. The Central Bank of Sri Lanka lowered the reverse repurchase rate to 9.75 percent from 10.5 percent, according to a statement on the Colombo-based bank’s Web site today. The repurchase rate was reduced to 7.5 percent from 8 percent. Sri Lanka will conduct monetary policy “cautiously” to keep inflation below 10 percent while more..

President invokes emergency powers against workers

Nov 18 (wsws) President Mahinda Rajapakse imposed an Essential Services Order from midnight on Sunday on unions and workers at four state-owned corporations, banning their work-to-rule campaign for pay demands in the Ceylon Petroleum Corporation, Ceylon Electricity Board, the Water Board and the ports. Under an Essential Services Order, all strikes and industrial action are illegal. Workers breaching the order can be punished, including by sacking. more..

Cashew cultivation expanded

Nov 18 (GDI) The Sri Lanka Cashew Corporation has thaken steps to launch a cashew cultivation program in the Galewela Divisional Secretariat area. In the first stage 25 acres will be utilised with the participation of 78 growers while a high yield cashew variety will be distributed among growers. The plantation industry has focussed attention on the need to expand the cultivation of cashew. more..

New regulations to protect Fauna an Flora

Nov 18 (GDI) The Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources has taken steps to introduce new regulations for the Fauna and Flora Protection Ordinance with the view of protecting selected historical, memorial and other important trees. The Ministry has identified that there is a risk of several historical, memorial or other important trees being destroyed in view of the recent trends in the field of physical environment Development and more..

Northern people could reach Colombo now without security clearance

Nov 18 (GDI) No security clearance is further needed for Northern civilians to reach Colombo via land routes from today onwards. President Mahinda Rajapaksa has given approval to Secretary of Defence Gotabaya Rajapaksa to implement this move. This step is a bonanza by the President to the Northern civilians to mark his birthday and the fourth anniversary as Executive President in Sir Lanka, more..

Relief to import oil palm seeds

Nov 18 (GDI) The Ministry of Plantation Industries has taken steps to make relief for the duty imposed on the importation of oil palm seeds. At present 60% of the import value (CIF) with customs duty of 28% and other taxes have to be paid for the specific palm seeds (Heart Treated Oil Palm Seeds) imported to obtain seedlings require for oil palm cultivation. Due to this fact, the Regional Plantation Companies that maintain own nurseries are to expand the oil palm cultivation, more..

National Nutrition Action Plan

Nov 18 (GDI) The Ministry of Healthcare and Nutrition has taken steps to develop a national action plan based on the National Nutrition Policy (NNP) and the strategic plan to be implemented thought inter-sectoral cooperation by the provincial health authorities. NNP upon adoption will serve as the base document on which the strategic approaches will be developed leading to the phase of implementation. more..

Will "uncommon" General Fonseka become "common" candidate?

Nov 18 (TC) The serial loser Wickremasinghe, we are told, has recently announced a set of conditions to which General Sarath Fonseka must agree if he is to be nominated for the Presidency by his party. A few days earlier the serial loser’s side-kick Mano Ganeshan M.P. is said to have sent to General Fonseka a questionnaire to enable him (Ganeshan) to decide whether or not to support the candidature of General Sarath Fonseka for the Presidency of this land. more..

'Peace no longer a dream'

Nov 18 (MoD) Peace became no longer a dream for Sri Lankans, due to the collective commitment of those who loved the motherland, President Mahinda Rajapaksa told the nation yesterday. He said that this collective commitment and effort was needed in the present and in the future to drive the country towards economic prosperity and development. He emphasized the need to set aside petty differences on behalf of the motherland and work as one unit to more..

Govt continues rehabilitation of ex-LTTE combatants

Nov 18 (MoD) The government has sought the assistance of the UN agencies, International donors and local business community to rehabilitate over 11,000 ex-LTTE cadres, said Commissioner General of Rehabilitation Maj. Gen. Daya Ratnayake. The government rehabilitated a large number of ex-LTTE cadres who had surrendered themselves over past two years and most of them were sent abroad for the employment after successful completion of vocational training program. more..

Army deserters to be delisted again

Nov 18 (MoD) Army has given another opportunity for its deserters who did not make use of the earlier opportunity to get formally discharged from the service and they can report to the Sri Maha Bodhirajaramaya Panagoda between December 7 and 31, to get delisted. Deserters who wish to make use of this opportunity should bring their NIC to prove their identity and five copies of a stamp size colour photograph since the job description in the NIC had to be altered after delisting. more..

Prestigious award to IFS Scientist

Nov 18 (LP) Dr. Meththika Vithanage, the research fellow at the Institute of Fundamental Studies (IFS) in Kandy has been selected as the outstanding young scientists to receive the 2009 American Geophysical Union Natural Hazards Focus Group Award for Graduate Research. She will be receiving this award for her original theoretical research and field work on the interactions of the 2004 December tsunami floodwaters with more..

Sri Lankans in Georgia express appreciation for embassy outreach program

Nov 18 (LP) Ambassador Jaliya Wickramasuriya recognized members of the Sri Lankan Diaspora for their support for the nation’s post-conflict development and reconciliation efforts during a day-long meeting in Atlanta, Georgia. He expressed gratitude to the Sri Lankan community for their commitment to Sri Lanka both during the recently concluded conflict with the terrorist group LTTE, as well as afterward. more..

'Names of detained prisoners will be out soon'

Nov 18 (SLW) The names of those who were arrested from the camps and where they are being kept would be placed for public view at Vavuniya Katchcheri affirmed Melinda Moragoda the minister for justice and judicial reforms to the TNA members of parliament. The meeting between the MPs of TNA and Basil Rajapaksha leader of working committee for north took place at the parliamentary complex. more..

Colombo experiences highest rainfall

Nov 18 (LP) Meteorology Department said that Colombo experienced the highest rainfall last night after four years and torrential rains lashed lash night flooded most of the areas in Colombo and its suburbs this morning. Ratmalana area received the highest rainfall of 210 millimeters during the last 24 hours. Colombo Municipal Council area has received 207millimeters, while Kandy received 93 mm. According to the Meteorology Department the rains will continue for the next few days. more..

CID arrest heads of resettled IDP families – TNA

Nov 18 (TN) Unidentified persons without uniform posing as personnel of Criminal Investigation Department arrest heads of IDP families who have been resettled in their own villages after detention in camps located in Vavuniyaa. These persons do not provide receipts to their relatives when they remove heads of their families, complained Mr. K. Thurairatnasingham, Trincomalee district TNA parliamentarian, in parliament Tuesday. more..

My Country of Contradictions

Nov 18 (GV) Some years ago, when I was younger, I could see where all the stereotypes about our island came from. I could see why people said Sri Lankans were particularly warm or friendly – they really were. I could see why Sri Lanka was known as an escape, a Shangri La for western tourists and foreigners – it truly was breathtakingly beautiful and pristine. I could see why people liked to live here – I liked it too. The people were nice, the pace was relaxed, and the atmosphere was that of an island. more..

President indecisive

Nov 18 (LT) At the meeting of SLFP electoral organizers held yesterday to announce whether to hold the presidential election or the general election, the President has failed to state which election would be held first. Instead, he had instructed the organizers to be prepared for any election that would be held on the national level. When electoral organizers asked the President which election would be held first, he had said it would be informed within the next week. more..

Government daily spends over Rs.10 Million for IDPs

Nov 18 (MoD) The Government spends Rs 9.9 million on a daily basis to supply food and drink to IDPs living in welfare centers in Vavuniya, Resettlement and Disaster Relief Services Minister Rishad Bathiudeen reviled yesterday. Apart from that, the government spends Rs. 472, 300 for other daily requirements of these people. The Minister said responding to a question raised by JVP MP Ranaweera Pathirana. more..

Another exam ‘result’ from North-West

Nov 18 (LT) The Sinhalese Language and Literature question paper given to Grade 9 students at the school proficiency examination held by North-Western PC had not only questions but answers to those questions as well. The teachers had known that answers had been printed in the question paper only after the question papers were distributed among the students at the examination. When the teachers found that answers were printed in the second part of the question paper more..

President’s Birthday, General’s Resignation and the Angulimala Piritha

Nov 18 (GV) In November, 2009 I read two notable news stories in the internet. The first was a news story that appeared on 8 November, on a pro-JVP website: “[U]pon the advice of the astrologers the next presidential election would be disadvantageous to the President and to avoid that the Ministry of Cultural Affairs is in Charge of organizing Island wide religious ceremonies on the 18th November that would begin with Angulimala Piritha.” more..

'I can call the Speaker by whistling to him'

Nov 18 (LT) “I can call the Speaker by whistling to him,” says ‘Dr’ Mervin Silva who has entered Parliament with the blessings of the President through the national list and was able to obtain the portfolio of Minister of Labour. While UNP MP Ravi Karunanayake was speaking in Parliament yesterday ‘Dr’ Mervin obstructed him continuously. As this was a common occurrence in Parliament no body took ‘Dr’ Mervin seriously and more..

Govt. moves to win over TNA

Nov 18 (LNP) Close on the heels of the UNP-JVP combine seeking to rope in the TNA to support the candidature of General Sarath Fonseka at the next presidential election against President Mahinda Rajapaksa, the government has moved to win over the TNA. The UNP-JVP alliance was seeking the TNA s support for their candidate. Government sources told The Island that President Mahinda Rajapaksa's government, had the strength to resettle the displaced and more..

UNP walks out in protest - Sri Lanka

Nov 18 (LNP) The UNP walked out of the Chamber of the House yesterday morning in protest against the government s decision to restrict the sittings to one day for this week. Chief Opposition Whip Joesph Miachel Perera said the UNP had wanted the government to have sittings on the 19th and 20th excluding the 18th as the day fell on the 4th anniversary of the President s assumption of office. 'We were willing to compromise on one day but the government did not agree to our demand,' more..

Insurance industry has potential for growth

Nov 18 (LNP) At a time when the Colombo Stock Exchange (CSE), financial and other instutions such as banks and leasing companies were becoming more active due to the low interest rates and opening of the Central Bank capital accounts the insurance industry has much potential for growth in the local and international market, Securities and Exchange Commission, Director General, Channa de Silva told Daily News Business. more..

Common candidate and common enemy

Nov 18 (LNP) The police and the armed forces continue to net key Tigers. Yesterday we reported that the CID had arrested a hardcore terrorist who had driven an explosive laden lorry to Colombo for the attack on the Central Bank. After the defeat of the LTTE, he had entered an IDP centre posing as a war affected civilian and later managed to pull the wool over the eyes of the security forces and walk to freedom. Sellathamby Navaratnam is his name. more..

Debrief News - 17.11.2009

Govt. employee penalized for stating ‘Cremate the King’

Nov 18 (LT) A government servant was punished due to a joke regarding the President. The Samurdhi Officer in Beliatta Divisional Secretarial Office, Mr. D. W. L. Disanayaka has been punished for a joke he had made There has been a chat among officers in Divisional Secretarial Office regarding the forthcoming President’s arrival on the occasion of a Crematorium in Beliatta area to be declared open. more..