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Muthuhettigama beseeches justice from gods

Oct 16 (CT) Councilor-elect Nishantha Muthuhettigama has turned to gods for justice, beseeching punishment against, whom he alleged, had rigged his preferential votes at recent southern polls. Associated by a group of his supporters, he visited Seenigama Devale yesterday and made the appeal to gods. Mr. Muthuhettigama told the media that before the release of the final preferential votes result, he had 81,000 votes, although it had come down by around 10,000 votes at the final release. more..

2010 tough for Lanka: UNP

Oct 16 (LNP) The main opposition UNP yesterday said next year would be a tough one for the country financially as the total loan instalments and interest would exceed the total government revenue for the first time in the country s history. UNP MP Lakshman Kiriella told a news conference the country s total loan instalments and interest would be Rs. 850 billion compared to the projected government revenue of Rs. 650 billion in 2010. more..

SPC Polls: Cough and Consumption

Oct 16 (LNP) This is a peculiar country where no party accepts electoral defeats. They have stock excuses ready for being thrashed. The SLFP kept trotting them out from 1977 to 1994 and only succeeded in duping itself but not the people. Yes, the JRJ and Premadasa governments abused power and rigged elections but the main reason why the SLFP continued to lose was more internal than external. more..

'Country at crossroads'

Oct 16 (LNP) UNP Deputy Leader Karu Jayasuriya, in a statement issued yesterday on the present post-war scenario in Sri Lanka, said that the country stood at a crossroads `One path leads to growth, prosperity and heralding of true peace and the other to our collective destruction and that of all which we hold sacred,` he said. more..

Golden Key case: Suspects refused bail

Oct 16 (DN) Mount Lavinia Chief Magistrate and Additional District Judge Harsha Sethunga refused applications for bail in respect of 11 suspects remanded in connection with the alleged Golden Key Credit Card fraud and remanded them till November 12. The Judge directed Fiscal Officers to produce the suspects on October 28 to extend the remand order. The Judge told the Counsel who appeared for the depositors to make their complaints, if any, more..

Rubella vaccine death in March: Charge sheet on person who administered vaccine

Oct 16 (DN) The Healthcare and Nutrition Ministry has issued a charge sheet to the person who administered the Rubella vaccine to the student Peshala Hansini who died in March. Investigations are going on into the second death of another student from Kurunegala who died last week. Investigations were held into the death of Peshala Hansini who died after receiving Rubella vaccine in March this year. more..

At the expense JVP, NFF; Left parties in UPFA get boost at SPC polls

Oct 16 (Island) In an unexpected turn of events, the traditional left which was considered moribund vis-a-vis competition from the JVP has shown signs of revival in the Southern Province. Minister D.E.W. Gunasekera yesterday said that Saturday’s elections for the Southern Provincial Council (SPC) had given a tremendous boost to leftist political parties by way of six slots in the 55-member council. more..

'Park and ride' goes up to Wadduwa from Nov 1

Oct 16 (DN) The Cityliner premium bus service 'Park and Ride' which operates from Moratuwa to Colombo Fort will be extended up to Wadduwa from November 1 as a measure to curb the traffic congestion and man power loss. National Transport Commission (NTC) Advisor M.B.S. Fernando said the NTC has also selected a site to develop a "Park and Ride" in Kadawatha following good public responses. more..

Five students detected with Novel Influenza

Oct 16 (DN) The Epidemiology Unit of the Healthcare and Nutrition Ministry warned the public of a possible outbreak of Novel Influenza (A)HINI (Swine flu) after five students infected with the virus were detected at a leading international school in Colombo yesterday, a Healthcare and Nutrition Ministry spokesman said. According to the spokesman, the Unit says the virus can travel within the country spreading the disease. more..

Now, JVP talks of different strategies for presidential and gen. elections

Oct 16 (Island) JVP MP Vijitha Herath yesterday said that their strategy for presidential and parliamentary elections would be different. He said that the JVP would do anything to defeat President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s re-election bid but declined to comment on the possibility of the JVP throwing its weight behind the UNP-led joint opposition fielding a common candidate at the presidential elections. more..

Plantation workers contribute much towards country’s economy – DMJ

Oct 16 (Island) Plantation Industries Minister D. M. Jayaratne recently said that estate workers should not feel that they had been isolated as the government was doing everything possible to appreciate their contribution to the country’s economy. Speaking after vesting the Rockchild and Helboda estate housing project, in the Gampola electorate, in the people of the estate sector, Minister Jayaratne said more..

National Immunization Programme faces collapse – GMOA

Oct 16 (Island) The Government Medical Officers’ Association (GMOA) yesterday warned that the National Immunization Programme could collapse over the death of Asanthi Watsala (13) of Wariyapola, who died after receiving the Rubella vaccine. This is the second death which occurred within the year and it may raise an alarm in the minds of parents when it comes to having their children vaccinated. more..

Focus on two ‘Saraths’: Mangala

Oct 16 (DM) The JVP yesterday said it would not hesitate to introduce a common candidate or create an alliance with any other political party of the country to contest the forthcoming Presidential Elections. In the meantime, at a separate news conference, SLFP (M) Convener MP Mangala Samaraweera said there were several figures to be considered as common candidates for the Presidential Election and two of them were ‘Saraths’. more..

Canadian MPs denied visa to Sri Lanka

National Drug policy: SC grants time till Jan.18

Oct 16 (DM) The Supreme Court yesterday granted the Health Minister time till January 18, 2010 to inform Court as to the progress made on the proposed legislation aimed at implementing a National Medicinal Drugs Policy with the objective of providing quality drugs to all people at affordable prices. This directive was made in the Fundamental Rights applications filed by the People’s Movement for the Rights of Patients and Yohan Bibile, more..

Auditing of almost 2000 deposits completed

Oct 16 (DM) The Mt. Lavinia Chief Magistrate was informed that the auditing of almost 2,000 deposits had been completed, when the case against the ten suspects (including Lalith Kotelawala) accused of misappropriating Rs.26 billion was taken up yesterday. State Counsel Dhamith Totawatte, stated that the auditing of almost 2,000 deposits had been completed and that the remaining accounts would be completed in the near future more..

Fresh landslide fears in the hills

Oct 16 (DM) The Disaster Management Centre has warned of fresh landslides in Peradeniya and, especially, along the Kandy-Gampola Road. The warning came after some stones fell on the road blocking the railway tracks on the Kandy Rambukkana line. Disaster Management Centre Emergency Operations Unit Coordinator Keerthi Ekanayake told Daily Mirror that the NBRO had issued these warnings on Wednesday night. more..

MPs asked to visit island nation again

Oct 16 (Hindu) The Sri Lankan government has asked the delegation of MPs from Tamil Nadu to visit Sri Lanka again after three months “to see for themselves that Sri Lanka has not violated the promise that Sinhalese will not be settled in Tamil areas.” Congress MPs E.M. Sudarsana Natchiappan and K.S. Alagiri, who were part of the delegation, said Basil Rajapaksa, had denied the allegation that his government was trying to change the demographic character of the Tamil areas. more..

Sri Lanka Army celebrates 60 years

SRI LANKA: Fighting over fish

Oct 16 (IRIN) The seas off Batticaloa in the country's former war-torn east are home to one of the most fertile spawning grounds off Sri Lanka, and fishermen rarely had to travel far for a good catch. But of late, traditional fishermen who use boats powered by outboard motors or canoes to fish have complained of meagre harvests. "I went out on five consecutive days, and only yesterday did I return with some fish, but only 6kg," said Tamil Chelvam, more..

China to encourage domestic companies to join Sri Lanka's reconstruction: PM

Oct 16 (Xinhua) Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao said Friday that the Chinese government will encourage domestic companies to cooperate with Sri Lanka and take part in the war-hit country's reconstruction as well as economic and social development. Wen made the remarks in a meeting with his Sri Lankan counterpart Ratnasiri Wickremanayake on the sidelines of an international trade and investment fair, which opened Friday morning in Chengdu, more..

Sri Lanka fines US embassy

Oct 16 (AFP) Sri Lanka's main water utility said Friday it had fined the US embassy in Colombo more than US$3,000 (S$4,193) for illegally tapping supplies from the national network. The National Water Supply and Drainage Board said it found that the supply to US ambassador Patricia Butenis' official residence in Colombo bypassed the water meter. The US authorities were fined US$3,222 after the unusually low water bills for the building aroused suspicion and prompted an inspection. more..

Newly reopened IMF office launches budget probe

Oct 16 (IPS) The IMF’s new resident representative in Sri Lankan is likely to receive his baptism of fire once he settles into his new post this week. Newly minted IMF country representative Koshy Mathai—who arrived in this capital from Washington last weekend—will have to look into the Sri Lankan government’s decision to postpone presenting the full national budget next month to Parliament, because it has opted instead to go for a vote-on-account in view of the impending election. more..

Military denies rift between former commander, govt

Oct 16 (DPA) Military Friday denied widespread reports of a rift between the government and the former army commander who led the troops in the war against Tamil rebels. The statement followed reports that Chief of Defence Staff General Sarath Fonseka had fallen out with the government. Brigadier Udaya Nanayakkara said in a statement false news was being published, alleging differences between General Fonseka and thegovernment. more..

War between men and elephants in the central regions of Sri Lanka

Oct 17 (AN) The government of Sri Lanka should address the problems caused by 8 thousand 500 elephants living on the island. More and more frequently there are cases where the elephants are destroying villages and crops and in some a real war between humans and elephants regions is now under way. In villages such as Minneriya, Sigiriya, Mahasengama, Pidurangala, Gallinda and Kaayanwala the population is at the end of its tether. more..

Rama’s Bridge: The 30-mile sandbank that divides two cultures

Oct 17 (EG) Rama’s Bridge, also called Adam’s Bridge, is a 30-mile-stretch of 103 sandbanks that form a natural connection between the island of Rameswaram in Tamil Nadu, India and Mannar in northwestern Sri Lanka. Geological evidence suggests that the bridge is a remnant of a former land connection between India and Sri Lanka. Though usually a symbol of connection and peace, this particular bridge has caused controversy galore between more..

Bogollagama meets his Singapore counterpart

Oct 17 (LG) Minister of Foreign Affairs of Singapore, George Yeo, and his delegation had a bilateral discussion with Minister of Foreign Affairs of Sri Lanka, Rohitha Bogollagama, at the Ministry in Colombo. Minister George Yeo was accompanied by the High Commissioner of Singapore to Sri Lanka and the Directorate of South Asia of the Foreign Office of Singapore among others. The bilateral discussion lasted approximately half hour and more..

The days of monsoon madness

Oct 17 (LG) It was in the mid-1950s that I saw "Do Bigha Zamin" (Two acres of land) the groundbreaking, monumental and touching film by Bimal Roy that is credited with launching a new genre of Hindi films, before the name Bollywood was born. Inspired by Pearl S Buck’s novel "The Good Earth", Bimal Roy located the story in Bihar with its massive poverty among the peasants ad the harsh climate that made people long for rain. more..

Liberate universities from terrorists

Oct 17 (LG) The worst form of terrorism in this country has been effectively neutralised and the people now can move about freely without fear of being blown to bits or maimed for life. Numerous attempts to rid the country of the scourge of terror by peaceful means came a cropper and the evil flourished. The country finally had no alternative but to grasp the nettle and speak the language the terrorists understood. That method worked. more..

A gang claiming to be from CID breaks in to ‘Lanka Irida’

Oct 17 (LT) A gang of people claiming to be from the CID broke into the office of ‘Lanka Irida’ week end newspaper today at about 9.30 p.m. states Chief editor of the newspaper Chandana Sirimalwatta. The gang of four was headed by a person calling himself Superintendent of Police Gajasinghe. Usually no outsiders are allowed to come into the ‘Lanka Irida’ office but this gang had threatened the security and entered the office. more..

Life at the Sri Lanka SOS Care Centre for refugee children

Oct 17 (SOS) Since August this year SOS Children's Villages has been running a childcare centre at the huge Chettikulam refugee camp which lies close to the city of Vavuniya and which is still is the provisional home of over 250,000 people. Even though the civil war these people fled officially ended in May 2009, it is still not known when people will be able to return to their homes (October 2009). more..

Sri Lanka may get US$700mn FDI in 2009: official

Oct 17 (LBO) Sri Lanka is in line to receive 600 to 700 million US dollars in foreign direct investment in 2009 and fresh applications are pouring in after the end of a 30-year civil war, officials said. In the first six months of the year, about 297 million US dollars had flowed into the country as foreign direct investment. A war with Tamil Tiger separatists ended in May brightening prospects for the country. more..

Sri Lanka wind power probe to finish soon: official

Oct 17 (LBO) A probe on Sri Lanka's proposed wind power projects would be completed soon, an official said, which could resolve deadlock in the industry that has becalmed the fledgling projects in the pipeline. An investigation was ordered at the highest levels of government on letters of intent (LOIs) issued to several developers by state-run Ceylon Electricity Board, effectively 'suspending' the projects, more..

The SLAS entrance exam: an age-limit of near madness

Oct 17 (GV) This note concerns the government gazette notification on the open competitive exam for recruitment to Grade III of the Sri Lanka Administrative Service (SLAS). The SLAS is unarguably the most crucial of services that falls under the competency of the Ministry of Public Administration. The gazette notification stipulates that the applicants need to be graduates of universities recognized by the UGC of Sri Lanka. more..

Nondescripts stretch lead at the top

Oct 17 (CI) Nondescripts Cricket Club, who were on the verge of demotion last season picked up their second successive win of the season to open up a 12-point lead over defending champions Colts Cricket Club. While the majority of matches ended in draws, Nondescripts and Badureliya Sports Club, who finished at the bottom of the tier last season, were the only two exceptions. more..

Golden opportunity for schoolboys from North and East

Oct 17 (CI) This year's Glucofit Cricket Sixes tournament, starting on October 16, gives schoolboys from the once war-torn North and East the opportunity to rub shoulders with Colombo's elite. This is further evidence on how much this tournament has gained popularity over the years. Six combined school sides will feature players from lesser known schools and districts like Jaffna, Vavuniya, Batticaloa, Anuradhapura, Trincomalee, Nuwara Eliya, more..

'Send us to Jaffna by land'ť - Expelled Muslim refugees appeal

Oct 17 (PSM) “Expelled Muslims from Jaffna have been denied access to Jaffna penisula by land for the past 20 years. This could be acceptable during the war situation. Now the normalcy has returned and A9 high way is open to public transport. So it is not justifiable asking the expelled Muslims to have access to the penisula only by sea or air”, charged Chief of Muhammadiya Jummah Mosque M.U.M. Thahir. more..

Debrief News - 16.10.09

Sri Lanka may lose clothes trade benefits for alleged human rights abuses

Oct 17 (Times) The European Commission is to recommend withdrawing trade benefits from Sri Lanka over alleged human rights abuses in the last stages of the civil war against the Tamil Tigers, The Times has learnt. The decision could affect British shops including Marks & Spencer, Tesco and Next, which have imported hundreds of millions of poundsworth of Sri Lankan-made clothes since the benefits were granted after a tsunami in 2004. The scheme waives import taxes. more..

Young Tamils swap bombs for BlackBerrys

Oct 17 (FT) Bala Muhunthan has that high-class hip-hop look: Dolce & Gabbana jeans, tight polo shirt, chunky silver ID tags worn as pendants and an ever-present, ever-beeping BlackBerry. Privately educated in Denmark and the UK, the 22-year-old lives in London and attends a leading business school. Muhunthan spends his weekend nights at members’ bars or parties in Mayfair. Saturday afternoons, he plays golf or football with his friends. more..

Serendipity in Sri Lanka

Oct 17 (IT) On my backpacking adventures, I’d always enquire among the well- travelled people I’d meet: “What’s the most beautiful country you’ve visited?” and so often, the answer would be Sri Lanka. But every time I was close to booking, there was trouble involving the Tamil Tigers. Earlier this year, I finally succumbed and booked the flights, and sure enough, the conflict intensified. But I went anyway, a little nervously, and I’m glad I did. more..

Sri Lankan Refugees: Victims or Pawns?

Oct 17 (TO) They form the single biggest mass of refugees today, and they face an uncertain fate as a factor in a geopolitical game involving two Asian giants and allied players. For the about 400,000 fugitives from tiny Sri Lanka's Tamil-speaking areas of less than 18,000 square kilometers together, the outlook has only become more unsettling over the past few weeks. The tide of Tamil refugees from the island-state's northern and eastern provinces represents a twin issue. more..

Raj Rajaratnam, arrested for insider trading, also linked to Sri Lanka case

Oct 17 (CSM) The world’s 559th wealthiest individual and hedge-fund owner, who was arrested in New York Friday for insider trading, is not just in trouble with US authorities. Raj Rajaratnam, founder of the Galleon Group, is also connected with an indictment against a Sri Lankan member of Parliament and two others, according to the Daily Mirror of Sri Lanka. more..

Legacy of Abuse in Sri Lanka

Oct 17 (FPIF) For several months during and after the end-game of the decades-long civil war between the government and the LTTE, Sri Lanka's government brushed off Western criticism of its abusive practices. It has relied instead on moral and financial support from states less concerned with such matters, such as China and Pakistan. Countries with similar problems and equally questionable human rights records are paying close attention — has more..

Architect promises a new stadium at Hambantota

Oct 17 (Nation) While the Indian cricket board has already commenced readying the Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai for the 2011 World Cup, to be co-hosted by the BCCI, SLC and BCB, the Sri Lankan cricket officials have commissioned the services of Surath Wickramasinghe Associates Ltd for the construction of a new international cricket stadium in Hambantota. An international stadium was to be built at Kalutara, which is behind scheduled completion by two years. more..

Sri Lanka pressed by US on IP protection, GM food

Oct 17 (LBO) The United States has asked Sri Lanka, ranked high for software piracy in Asia, to better enforce intellectual property rights and also lift restrictions on American imports like genetically modified food. A visiting senior American official, Michael Delaney, assistant US Trade Representative for South Asia, said intellectual property protection was one of the concerns that figured in trade talks this week between the two sides. more..

Denial of rights of SL pensioners abroad - new payment procedures

Oct 17 (TC) Confusion surrounds the payment of monthly pension to pensioners living abroad with the Government of Sri Lanka imposing new procedures with no direct or indirect intimation given to the recipients of pensions. These changes that involve substantial departure from the pre-existing method of payments have been announced by Pension Circular 16 of September 2009 issued by the Director General of Pensions and more..

We should accept Tamils

Oct 17 (Age) It is hard to see why we won't take these Tamils. They are fugitives from a lost civil war, recent massacres and the threat of genocide. They are beautiful, intelligent and English-speaking. There are no Tamil triads menacing western Sydney. There are few Tamils in our gaols. One of our most successful citizens is a Tamil. His name is Kamahl. Yet we think it better they starve to death rather than come here. more..

Time for citizens to set the agenda for reform and change

Oct 17 (TC) The next national election campaigns – general and/or presidential – now begin in earnest, following the conclusion of the Southern Provincial Council election. All provinces have polled except the Northern. To hold one there, given the outstanding issue of some 250,000 of its voters in camps, would be to invite derision and scorn. At the same time, as to how these Sri Lankan citizens will be able to exercise yet another fundamental right and more..

Karu Jayasuriya on current trends

Oct 17 (TC) In light of the many challenges facing Sri Lanka today, we are compelled to draw the attention of the powers that be and the people of this nation to the dire need to act swiftly on several vital fronts to ensure our country’s future. Five months since the conflict in the island’s north and east officially ended, Sri Lanka stands at a crucial crossroads – one path leads to growth, prosperity and more..