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'President will announce polls date soon'

Nov 22 (SO) President Mahinda Rajapaksa will announce the date soon if he is going to face an early Presidential poll UPFA General Secretary and Minister of Education Susil Premajayantha said. He said that President Rajapaksa and his Government were confident that people would elect him again as the President of this country. “The UPFA would have a landslide victory in whatever polls”, he said. more..

'IDPs taken for questioning do not return'

Nov 22 (LeN) Only Rice, dhal and sugar are being distributed among the IDPs in the camps in the North.They cannot go out of the camps. How can they get the other accompaniments?. Some complain that they cannot forever eat dhal, and they have not seen vegetables for months. Some others allege that they have not eaten a piece of fish for the last ten months. TNA M.P M.K.Sivajilingam made these disclosures when speaking about the sufferings and miseries of the Tamil population in the camps. more..

North heading towards prosperity

Nov 22 (SO) In varying degrees the bitter war of the LTTE fought against peace loving Sri Lankans made the country suffer for nearly three decades. The war mainly affected the entire North and the East imposing a heavy burden on the economy. Especially in the threatened villages in the North misery was higher than in any other part of Sri Lanka. In addition, both provinces had to bear the brunt of the 2004 Tsunami and it was the Northern and Eastern coastal belt that suffered relatively a severe damage. more..

Violence against women: Time to put a fullstop

Nov 22 (SO) They say the hand that rocks the cradle rules the world. Each and every earth-dweller still believes in this age old saying as the female gender of the human race has proven it beyond any doubt over generations. It is the woman who transmits the knowledge and experiences of the present generation to the future, bridging the generation gap moulding youngsters, thus leading the way to the future. That’s how they ruled the world with their soft touch, and more..

Royal remains supreme

Nov 22 (SO) Being a member of a ‘Royal Family’ is indeed a matter of great pride. Anyway seldom do ordinary people get a chance to share their happiness or victories. But the pride of Royalists was shared by all when their school was selected as one of the best schools in the world by Microsoft, on the eve of its 175th anniversary! “This is not only an achievement for Royal College alone but for the entire country.” says Upali Gunasekera, Principal of Royal College, Colombo. more..

A truly Sri Lankan art

Nov 22 (SO) Angampora, the traditional martial art of Sri Lanka is known to be one of the oldest fighting disciplines in the world. It’s a deeply spiritual form of combat that draws a lot of its philosophies from different aspects of nature and astrology and also has a strong connection to music and employ rhythmic, flowing movements. Loosely translated the word ‘Angampora’ means ‘unarmed combat’. more..

Ranil to contest as UNF candidate

Nov 22 (NS) With the strong possibility of Ranil Wickremesinghe coming forward as the UNF’s Presidential candidate, the big hullabaloo created by the opposition about former Chief of Defence Staff Gen. Sarath Fonseka becoming their common Presidential candidate is now proving to be a smokescreen. Political observers said that Wickremesinghe launching his virtual manifesto this week titled “Future Challenges,” wherein he is clearly appealing to woo back the more..

SB, supporters to back MR or retire

Nov 22 (NS) The National Organiser of the United National Party S.B. Dissanayaka and many more UNPers are threatening to either resign from politics or support President Mahinda Rajapksa, if Gen. Sarath Fonseka is picked as the common candidate of the UNP-led opposition alliance. A close colleague of Dissanayaka, who is a UNP Parliamentarian, told The Nation that they are against the decision to appoint Fonseka, since it could lead to unwanted issues. more..

Fonseka rejects UNF conditions

Nov 22 (NS) General Sarath Fonseka has rejected the conditions laid down by the opposition United National Front for him to be their common presidential candidate, political sources revealed. He had made it clear that he cannot agree to the condition to abolish the Executive Presidency in 180 days and give up the presidential immunity in 30 days on being elected as the President. more..

Curious case of the Dehiwela Zoo

Nov 22 (NS) 2009 has been an awesome year for the administrators of the Dehiwela Zoo. A record number of people visited the zoo, bringing in tens of thousands of rupees daily, but it has been a pretty lousy one for the animal residents. Among the 20 odd animal casualties were two baby hippos, as well as the last of the 20 baby anacondas that brought so much fame. The main reason for these deaths is the unhygienic condition of the zoo. more..

Outer circular highway to start soon

Nov 22 (NS) President Mahinda Rajapaksa is to officially flag-off the commencement of work of the much protracted Outer Circular Highway Project (OCHP) with the laying of the foundation stone on December 7, 2009. Cabinet approved a memorandum submitted by Minister of Highways and Road Development, President Mahinda Rajapaksa, to award the Rs.25 billion contract for the Stage One of OCHP to China Harbour Engineering Company (CHEC) Ltd. more..

Absorbing political battle in coming weeks

Nov 22 (NS) The talk of the town is election fever these days, but speculation surrounding the polls has been confounded by a series of non-events that were expected to materialise this week, but did not. It was widely expected that President Mahinda Rajapaksa would announce which polls - presidential or general - would be held first. The declaration was expected at the annual convention of the SLFP last Sunday, but even before the event, more..

Attempt again to merge Northern & Eastern Provinces

Nov 22 (LT) It is reported that the government has agreed to merge the Northern and Eastern Provinces that were merged in 1987, without any referendum, merely on pressure from India and were later de-merged on a court order in 2006. In 1987 the two provinces were merged by the then UNP government stating a referendum would be held later to decide whether to have them merged or not. However, this referendum was not held. more..

'Military victory enhanced by success of development and welfare activity'

Nov 22 (Island) The simultaneous focus on eradication of terrorism, rapid development in every significant sector like highways, irrigation systems, ports and the power and energy sector, and continuing commitment to welfare represents the hallmark of the first four years of President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s tenure of office, Professor Minister G.L. Peiris said in Bingiriya last week. more..

Lanka editor ordered to CID

Nov 22 (LT) The Chief Editor of "Lanka Irida Sangrahaya" Chandana Sirimalwatte has been directed to call over at the CID head quarters at 2.00 pm tomorrow in connection with a story published in this week’s issue of the newspaper. Mr. Sirimalwatte said he got this directive on the telephone from a person who identified himself as Inspector Ranjan. The story related to an alleged plot to assassinate former Chief of Defence Staff General Sarath Fonseka, more..

Thugs attack Ravi’s ‘Bala Mandalaya’

Nov 22 (LT) Thugs attacked the electoral council meeting of the UNP for Colombo North organized by MP Ravi Karunanayake held yesterday. A spokesman for the UNP said the attack had been carried out by thugs of former UNP organizer for Colombo North and present UPFA Member of the Western PC Duminda Silva. Four people participating at the council meeting including a Member of Colombo Municipal Council were admitted to hospital with injuries sustained at the attack. more..

UNF’s aim to end "Rajapaksa family rule" and restore democracy - Ranil

Nov 22 (Island) The primary objective of forming the United National Front (UNF) is to end the "Rajapaksa family rule" and restore democracy through the election of a people-friendly government, Opposition and UNP leader Ranil Wickremesinghe said. "We have jointly prepared a program of action to guide this nation towards prosperity", Wickremesinghe told the party’s Executive Committee meeting more..

President increases IDP resettlement allowance to Rs. 50,000

Nov 22 (Island) The President has decided to double the resettlement allowance paid to IDPs with effect from December 15, 2009, senior presidential advisor, Basil Rajapaksa, MP, said in Chettikulam, Vavuniya yesterday. "This means that IDPs will receive 50,000 rupees instead of the earlier 25,000 paid to them after they are resettled in their homesteads in the North", he told journalists. This resettlement allowance is being paid in addition to other existing financial assistance to acquire fishing and agricultural gear, he noted. more..

'Central Bank cannot make 75% repayment to Golden Key depositors due to insufficient funds'

Nov 22 (Island) The quantum of cash credited to the special dedicated fund so far is sufficient to repay only 100,000 rupees of Golden Key depositors who had invested one million rupees, a senior Central Bank official said. "We have to make do with what we have at this juncture as we don’t have the money to pay more", he conceded. "That’s why we did a calculation and imposed a maximum ceiling of 100,000 rupees on payments". more..

Health sector worries

Nov 22 (Island) It is welcome news that Health Minister Nimal Siripala de Silva is seeking to expedite delivery of the Bti bacteria from Cuba with a view to containing any future outbreaks of dengue. It is not clear whether the bacteria in question would prove the most effective answer to the dreaded fever which has been breaking out with disconcerting frequency over the past few years but the public could take some consolation from the fact that more..

Mervin’s thugs attack JVP meeting

Nov 22 (LT) The meeting to elect JVP members for Kiribathgoda JVP electoral ‘Bala Mandalaya’ was to be held at Kribathgoda today. Before the meeting commenced thugs of Labour Minister ‘Dr’ Mervin Silva broke into the venue where the meeting was to be held, destroyed all decorations and assaulted those who were already there making arrangements. A member of the JVP injured in the attack has been admitted to Ragama Teaching Hospital with severe injuries. more..

Rajapaksa vs. Fonseka

Nov 22 (ST) President Mahinda Rajapaksa is set to sign a proclamation tomorrow evening declaring a Presidential Election. Nominations are to be called within two weeks after tomorrow, possibly on December 9 or 10. After six weeks of campaigning, the polls are now likely on January 23. Despite his firm insistence on having a Presidential Election first, Rajapaksa was under heavy pressure up to yesterday to opt for a General Election. more..

One million more voters for Presidential poll

Nov 22 (ST) More than 14 million Sri Lankans will be eligible to vote at the upcoming Presidential Election — an increase of more than a million voters since the last poll in November 2005, according to officials at the Department of Elections. The new figures emerged as President Mahinda Rajapaksa is set to sign a proclamation tomorrow declaring a Presidential Election. It is expected to come later tomorrow and will trigger the official process for the poll. more..

Health officials rush to the hills

Nov 22 (ST) A controversy over the closure of all schools in the Central Province to curb the spread of the H1N1 virus will be resolved after a Health Ministry team visits the province tomorrow, it was decided yesterday. The Health Ministry team will be sent to the Province tomorrow to assess the HINI threat level faced by each school and then decide by the end of the week which schools should continue to remain closed and which should be reopened. more..

Don't say no to the people's right to know

Nov 22 (ST) Chief Justice Asoka de Silva has come forward, refreshingly, supporting the need for a Right to Information Law in Sri Lanka. Such a law has been on the fire for nearly a decade now. It's been prepared, cooked, kept simmering, taken off the fire, then re-cooked and so on and so forth but never served on the table as a piece of legislation. A Right to Information Law is not a law that only benefits the media. more..

Recovered Gold jewellery worth millions to banks

Nov 22 (LP) Gold Jewellery recovered by the troops during their humanitarian operations was handed over to the authorities of the Bank of Ceylon (BoC) and the People’s Bank with details of their owners. The valuables belonging to innocent civilians which had been in the possession of Tiger terrorists were recovered and the total value amounted to Rs 659.5 million. The jewelry given to the BoC valued Rs. 40.8 million while more..

Sri Lanka eye elusive Test win in India

Nov 22 (AFP) Sri Lanka will renew efforts to win their first-ever Test in India when the second match begins here on Tuesday, after being frustrated by a flat wicket in the opening tie. The islanders, who have never won a Test on Indian soil in six previous series, gave themselves a fair chance of scripting history at Ahmedabad by stacking up a huge 760-7 declared in their first innings. But India wiped out a 334-run deficit on first innings, more..

'Sri Lanka resettlement plan needed'

Nov 22 (AFP) The government has failed to make adequate welfare provision for the 136,000 Tamil civilians it plans to release from internment camps, rights activists and opposition parties said Sunday. Heeding international calls for the camps to be closed, the authorities said the remaining detainees -- held since the military finally crushed the Tamil Tiger rebels in May -- would be allowed out. Many observers welcomed Saturday's announcement, but warned the government that it must organise a structured resettlement programme. more..

Fonseka threatens to approach court seeking more security

Nov 22 (Hindu) Amid indications that the Government would announce the date for Presidential election on Monday, the just retired General Sarath Fonseka and a possible opposition candidate against President Mahinda Rajapaksa has threatened to file a fundamental rights case seeking more security personnel in his security contingent. The former Army chief had been offered 25 security men as an initial measure more..

UN welcomes decision to grant freedom to displaced Tamils

Nov 22 (IE) UN Chief Ban Ki-moon has welcomed Colombo's decision to grant freedom of movement to the displaced Tamils living in the military guarded camps at the Northern Vayuniya district in Sri Lanka. "The Secretary-General welcomes the decision by the Government of Sri Lanka to grant increased freedom of movement to IDPs still residing in camps in northern Sri Lanka," said a statement more..

Tamils rally for war refugees

Nov 23 (TS) A Tamil Canadian protester chokes back tears as she recalls a cellphone conversation she had several days ago with a cousin detained in a Sri Lankan camp holding Tamils displaced during the country's civil war. "She doesn't know where her husband is. Her children have had no school for the past six months. There is no food or medication," said Uthayakumary Prapaharan, one of the roughly 600 people who gathered Saturday to protest more..

Sri Lanka took their foot off the gas

Nov 23 (CI) The first Test started with three good days of hard-fought cricket before sadly fizzling out. This was primarily because the pitch was so docile, but I also think Sri Lanka could have shown greater positive intent. They showed they could compete, took the fight to India and displayed a lot of character, but they will travel to Kanpur ruing a missed opportunity. The lack of intent was most pronounced on the third evening and fourth morning. more..

Power generation up in August

Nov 23 (LBO) Sri Lanka's power generation rose 1.3 percent in August 2009 to 845 GigaWatt hours from a year earlier, with hydro power increasing its share, the latest official data showed. In the first half of the year power generation contracted in line with a slowing economy, though official gross domestic product estimates were still in positive territory. In the first quarter the economy officially expanded by 1.5 percent (down from 6.2 percent a year earlier). more..

‘U’ turns of Mahinda’s regime

Nov 23 (LG) President Mahinda Rajapaksha is expected to announce the Presidential election on Monday evening. After unbelievable dithering and poor handling of the internal conflicts within his party over General Fonseka’s resignation, the compelling circumstances have made the President to call the Presidential election. The regime which based on ‘Mahinda Chinthanaya’ has somersaulted one hundred degrees and all attempts have been made now to appease the Tamil people. more..

The future of President Mahinda Rajapaksa

Nov 23 (LG) If President Mahinda Rajapaksa is not able to make a serious change in his attitude, style of governance and actions after genuinely looking back at his first four years of governance, it is unavoidable that he will crumble as a leader, speedily heading towards obliteration even though he will be able to win the next presidential election. The President should have critically looked back and more..

The photograph that has a mysterious story behind it

Nov 23 (LG) The brotherhood of Muslims and Tamils enacted in Zurich , Switzerland on the 20th., to the 22nd., of November was indeed a special event to consider in the present scenario of political challenges that are thrown to the turf of national politics in Sri Lanka. Was the political playing arena in Sri Lanka not enough to stage this drama in Colombo or was it that the cools of the autumn of Switzerland was needed to nurse this bondage of more..

Degenerative duplicity and a government’s response

Nov 23 (LG) Last week, this column outlined the contextual background to the Government of Sri Lanka’s formal response to the critical European Commission report on the factors negatively affecting the renewal of the GSP Plus trade privilege. It made the point that the Government’s bitter accusation that this was a ‘tit-for tat’ reaction to its resolve to militarily finish the LTTE masked a far more unpalatable truth. more..

Degenerative duplicity and a government’s response

Nov 23 (LG) Last week, this column outlined the contextual background to the Government of Sri Lanka’s formal response to the critical European Commission report on the factors negatively affecting the renewal of the GSP Plus trade privilege. It made the point that the Government’s bitter accusation that this was a ‘tit-for tat’ reaction to its resolve to militarily finish the LTTE masked a far more unpalatable truth. more..

A tribute to ' Punchu Hamine': My mother extraodinaire

Nov 23 (LG) I am about to leave Brisbane after arriving in Australia on 4 Nov. to see my mother lying on a bed “living” her last [?] days at the Mater Hospital. The five khandhas (aggregates)—material form (rupa), sensation (vedana), perception (sanna), mental formations (sankhara) and consciousness (vinnana)—constituting my mother (in the Buddhist sense) are preparing to move onto a new namarupa discarding her worn-out old body (matter). more..

Tamils, Muslims 'to go beyond 13 amendment'

Nov 23 (BBC) Tamil and Muslim political leaders in Sri Lanka say they have agreed for wider devolution of power for Sri Lanka's minorities. Mano Ganesan, leader of Democratic Peoples Alliance (DPA) told BBC Sandeshaya that the leaders who met in Switzerland during the week end agreed for devolution that goes beyond 13 amendment to the constitution. "Although the war has ended, the struggle for Tamil rights have not," said the DPA leader. more..