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Official or private? Tamil Nadu delegates visit IDPs

Oct 18 (SL) Politics makes for startlingly strange bed fellows! Despite the obvious signs and the hugely well-attended meetings held during the recent Southern Provincial Council election campaign, the UPFA were able to feel the stark reality of voter maturity at their own doorstep. In essence, the voters of Hambantota especially sent a sharp and potent message: the war victory alone would not turn them towards the UPFA in the numbers that the ruling party machinery had the gumption to presume. more..

Experts debate jumbo problem

Oct 18 (SL) Another elephant killed due to gunshot wounds or electrocution has become a piece of news that we see almost every day. The deaths of wild elephants and humans seem to be increasing, with no immediate solution at hand. But while government authorities discuss possible solutions Sri Lanka’s elephant population continues to decline at an alarming rate. As of August, 140 elephant deaths have been reported. more..

CEB’s Kerawalapitiya headache

Oct 18 (SL) Lanka Transformers Limited (LTL), a state owned entity, is at the center of controversy with allegations of corruption and irregularities being levelled against it by other state institutions as well as the COPE. Many controversies surrounding LTL, of which the Ceylon Electricity Board (CEB) holds a 63% stake, have come to light with a conflict between CEB and LTL over an alleged attempt by LTL to earn an additional Rs.1 billion from more..

Rajaratnam surfaced in U.S. terrorism probe

Oct 18 (WSJ) The hedge-fund billionaire charged as part of a vast insider-trading case surfaced in an earlier, separate probe into U.S. fundraising by a Sri Lankan terrorist group, people familiar with the probe said. As part of that investigation, federal agents said they uncovered documents showing that Raj Rajaratnam, was among several wealthy Sri Lankans in the U.S. whose donations to a Maryland-based charity made their way to more..

Sri Lanka shocked by fund manager fraud charges

Oct 18 (AFP) Sri Lankan traders reacted with shock at the weekend to US fraud charges laid against a billionaire Sri Lankan-born hedge fund manager who had big interests in the island's stock market. The US Justice Department filed insider trading charges against Raj Rajaratnam, who spent his childhood years in Sri Lanka, and five others on Friday following an extensive wiretapping investigation. more..

Hey, no chance of being presidential candidate!

Oct 18 (LB) For a deliciously brief window of time, Sri Lankan politics had seemed less complicated than usual. People had united around a common cause: To defeat the LTTE and to get down to the business of living without the evil spectre of the suicide bomb. Differences were cosmetically set aside in support of the war. Opposition parties swallowed their words and grudgingly threw their weight behind the military effort. more..

Ah, that General’s kerfuffle

Oct 18 (LB) It’s almost an understatement to say that this was a decisive week for the president. The country’s political future would take shape resulting from the political outcomes of the last seven days - - and the president had reason to be concerned and anxious. About the good, but less than expected performance of the government in the southern province, almost everybody is well aware now. But what was less clear was that the government had something to learn from this election. more..

Denazification: how the West removed a virus

Oct 18 (TC) One of the longest wars ever in the entire world ended in May by the military defeat of the LTTE. But there are disturbing signs that the beast may rise again. The TNA, especially over the last decade had a unanimity of views with the LTTE and was its spokesman. The TNA's recent electoral victory in the Vanni should be a cause for worry. The reports that tens of thousands of LTTE supporters are missing from IDP camps more..

Polonnowita behind Maggona cricket ground fiasco

Oct 18 (LB) Close on the heals of President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s recent bashing of Sri Lanka Cricket over the Maggona cricket ground, Soil Tech, who owns the contract to lay the turf at Surrey sponsored cricket ground, has lashed out at the national curator Anuruddha Polonnowita for causing an unprecedented delay in the completion of the project by rejecting the pre-approved soil type. England based Surrey Cricket Club donated half a million pounds collected more..

Why only money wins elections now

Oct 18 (LB) Since President Mahinda Rajapaksa assumed power in November 2005, Sri Lankan politics has descended into a frenzy of election campaigning and polls. Starting in March 2008, elections have been held on seven separate days throughout the provinces and in some local government areas. More are yet to come. Presidential and parliamentary polls will be held in 2010 and the government has gone on record saying elections will also be held to the remaining local authorities in the north. more..

Sri Lanka asylum seekers end boat hunger strike

Oct 18 (AFP) A group of more than 250 Sri Lankan asylum seekers whose boat was stopped in Indonesian waters en route to Australia ended their two-day hunger strike on Saturday, officials said. The group -- among which it was the 150 men who were on hunger strike -- had accepted food late afternoon after a meeting with Indonesian officials, local immigration chief Harry Purwanto told AFP. more..

H1N1 traumatizing Colombo schools

Oct 18 (SLW) The authorities confirmed the detection of five school children with H1N1 virus infection. Meanwhile the total count of students tested positive for H1N1 virus for the last one week mounted to 13.The growing fear of a runaway infection of epidemic proportions seems to increase rapidly by the day. With the continual spread of virus and the government’s on going insistence on precautionary measures against the disease to be organized within Colombo schools, more..

Ceylinco Shriram repayment hits snag

Oct 18 (LBO) A repayment plan proposed for Ceylinco Shriram Capital Management Services, a unit of Sri Lanka's troubled Ceylinco group has not met with customers who put money in the company, a media report said. The Sunday Times newspaper said Colombo's Fort area magistrate courts was told by lawyers for depositors the proposed settlement discussed a settlement amounting to 3.0 billion when a total of 6.8 billion rupees was involved. more..

Autocracy preferred to autonomy

Oct 18 (LG) The victory in the south further consolidated the chauvinist Mahinda regime. There is no doubt about that; but underneath this calamity one could see a silver lining that should not be neglected. It is nothing very much to talk about; nevertheless the shift in the voting is significant. Firstly, though the Left Front did not mobilize more than a hundred votes in Galle, the candidates from the government list who appeared to support the 13 plus devolution and more..

Deepavali - prelude to the ‘divine war’

Oct 18 (SO) Deepavali, the festival of lights, is celebrated by Hindus all over the world with pomp and pageantry. However, according to sociologists, the lamps that were lit in the ancient days during the North-East monsoon season to keep away the dark gloomy atmosphere in the Indian subcontinent had later turned into a festival with the addition of the spiritual touch. more..

Red Cross spends Rs. 700 mn on IDPs

Oct 18 (MoD) The Red Cross Movement has spent Rs. 700 million from January-October 2009 in responding to the humanitarian needs of IDPs in the Vavuniya, Mannar, Jaffna and Trincomalee districts. At a joint news conference held in Colombo, The Sri Lanka Red Cross Society (SLRCS) and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) reiterated their commitment to continue to meet the urgent humanitarian needs of the IDPs. more..

President declares open 'Army tattoo' at Kettarama

Oct 18 (MoD) The Army tattoo, the final event organized in connection with the Army 60th Anniversary celebrations was ceremoniously declared open Saturday evening at Kettarama stadium by His Excellency the President Mahinda Rajapaksa who graced the occasion as Chief Guest. Chief of Defence Staff General Sarath Fonseka and Commander of the Army Lieutenant General Jagath Jayasuriya received the President on his arrival in the venue. more..

Basil not resigning

Oct 18 (SLW) Contradicting the earlier reports, it is now been said that Basil Rajapakse has decided not to resign his seat in Parliament. Reports earlier said that Rajapaksa had decided to resign from Parliament in order to devote his time to organizing the presidential campaign which may come up in the near future. Hemal Gunasekera who got the highest preferential vote list from the UPFA in Matara was to be Basil’s successor in Parliament. more..

“I never said that I’ll come into Politics”- Gen. Fonseka

Oct 18 (SLW) Today’s “Irida Diveine” reports that Gen. Sarath Fonseka has given an exclusive statement to their paper last Friday 16th, by phone. In this interview the General has confirmed to reporter Norman Palihawadana, that he has not told anyone that he is going to take into politics, and that he will continue to serve in his position as the Chief of Defence Staff. Following is the full interview given to the Sinhala paper “Irida Diveine”: more..

Mangala Samaraweera rejects the messenger sent by President

Oct 18 (LS) Reports published there are prospects in Sri Lanka, to conduct the Presidential election before the General Election, after the information circulated that President’s Advisor Basil Rajapakse, intended to resign from the Parliament membership. The initial assignments due to this is on the process is according to information. Meanwhile the attempt initiated by President Mahinda Rajapakse with SLFP’s Peoples Division more..

Indian MPs report - Omission of expelled Muslims irks

Oct 18 (PSM) Muslims in Sri Lanka and South India have expressed their serious concern on the report of Souht Indian MPs made after their visit to Sri Lanka last week. This report has made no reference to the 20 years old expelled Mulsim refugees from the North despite the MPs being briefed on the plight of these Muslim refugees. This fatal omission of another victimised community has made the report, a biased report, more..

Mahindananda & Muthuhettigama entertain Royal diners!

Oct 18 (LT) Nishatha Mutuhettigama, who was elected to Southern PC, who also has complained that he has been harassed by certain stalwarts in Rajapakse government and Deputy Minister Mahindananda Aluthgamage had exchanged blows at Royal College old boys’ dinner at Hilton on Friday. According to eyewitnesses Mr. Muthuhettigama had been invited on stage by Gypsies Band leader Sunil Perera and had asked him to sing. more..

Rotary club president fined for tapping electricity illegally

Oct 18 (LT) Murugesu Rajendram, President of Colombo South Rotary Club has been fined Rs.10,000 for tapping electricity illegally and ordered to pay a fine of Rs. 120,364 to compensae the loss suffered by Lanka Electricity Company (LECO) by Mt. Lavinia Additional Magistrate Ruchira Weliwatte. Mr. Rajendran was taken into custody by officers of the Mt. Lavinia police from his house at Soysapura Housing Scheme, more..

Jaffna schools send strong message

Oct 18 (CI) The second day of the Glucofit Cricket sixes easily belonged to the underdogs creating all sorts of surprises and unexpected early exits for some of the tournament favorites. Tons of runs were scored and a near hat-trick, along with spectacular fielding summed up the order of the day. Jaffna Combine Schools started off strongly by eliminating Lyceum International School with ease on Friday, before knocking off St. Thomas College, Mt. Lavinia, by four wickets. more..

Siddharthan tells TN where missing IDPs have gone

Oct 18 (NS) The leader of a former Tamil militant group has refuted reports that 10,000 people from the IDP camps in Vavuniya had disappeared. The alleged disappearance of so large a number of displaced persons had made news worldwide and several human rights watch organisations had expressed concern over it. A prominent advocate of the human rights of Sri Lankan Tamils across the Palk Straits more..

Govt. refutes TNA allegations

Oct 18 (SO) The Ministry of Nation Building and Estate Infrastructure Development, in charge of de-mining operations in the North, rejected as false the allegations of the TNA that the Government is not availing itself of the services of foreign de-mining organisations for this purpose. The Government has engaged the Sri Lanka Army's - Humanitarian De-mining Unit and eight international de-mining agencies, more..

Jaffna celebrates bountiful Deepavali

Oct 18 (MoD) For the first time in 30 years the people of Jaffna celebrated Deepavali festival with goods bought at the same price as they are in other parts of the country. Informed sources said that for the past 30 years, all goods including clothes, food items, and fuel were sold in the area at exorbitant rates as they had to be shipped from the South. Following the re-opening of the A-9 highway early this year and more..

Expanding women writers’ potential through reconciliation and networking

Oct 18 (SO) A group of women writers have, perhaps, for the first time, gathered to claim their rightful position in the realm of writing in Sri Lanka. Panhindaka Sanhida, an ambitious workshop sponsored by the Norwegian Embassy in Sri Lanka and led by Enokaa Sathyangani Keerthinanda, would open up avenues for women writers to realise their potential and to make a meaningful contribution to the nation. more..

Children and Families Speak Out Against Poverty

Oct 18 (SO) Investments in children and the realization of their rights are among the most effective ways to eradicate poverty. In recognition of the upcoming 20th anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, the 2009 observance of the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty on October 17, focused on the plight of children and families living in poverty and the need to fulfill children's rights in partnership with them and in keeping with the Convention. more..

“Conspiracy to destabilise country being staged at US embassy”

Oct 18 (NS) At the centre of controversy since last week were comments made by Gen. Sarath Fonseka at the Army’s 60th anniversary celebration ceremony held at BMICH. Added to that is the offer made to the General to accept the post of Secretary to the Ministry of Sports. Speculation was rife, to varying degrees, that General Fonseka was ready to join the proposed grand alliance of the opposition parties and more..

New 8km tourism zone in Trinco

Oct 18 (NS) The Tourism Ministry has come up with a massive project prepared by the Urban Development Authority, to meet the severe demand for land to build new hotels in the Trincomalee District due to increasing inflow of tourists, with the ending of the war. Approximately 500 to 600 acres of state land along an eight-kilometre stretch of the Kuchchaveli coast has been set aside for the new tourism development project in the East. more..

A toy story

Oct 18 (NS) Mad dogs and Englishmen go about in the midday sun, they say. Well, I would not call Geoff Price a mad dog, but he sure is an Englishman, and when he is in Sri Lanka, he too can be found roaming about the toy stores of Colombo, in the midday sun. Toy stores, why on earth one might wonder, because, as you can see from the pictures, he is a long way past his formative years, but in addition to not being a spring chicken, he is also the holder of the world record for his model bus collection, more..

Health officials lock horns on low quality vaccine charges

Oct 18 (NS) The school vaccination programme has raised controversies and concerns once again. Just seven months after the first death of a school girl was reported in Matara following the administering of the Rubella vaccine early this year, a similar death of another girl has been reported after administering the same vaccination under the school programme of the Health Ministry. The first incident was ruled- out as a mere case of allergy and more..

Major boost for Northern economy

Oct 18 (SO) After a lapse of nearly 30 years, a Central Bank Governor will visit Jaffna tomorrow mainly to strengthen the banking sector and meet the business community in the peninsula. Governor Ajith Nivard Cabraal will also open the first ever National Development Bank in Jaffna, a landmark event for the region. The Bank’s principal activities are development financing, merchant banking, leasing, housing finance, venture capital, stock brokerage, more..

Raj was under surveillance in Sri Lanka too

Oct 18 (Island) A move by the Rajapaksa administration to obtain financial assistance from Sri Lankan-born top equity markets investor Raj Rajaratnam to rehabilitate LTTE cadres in captivity is likely to be affected by US action against the US-based investor over a $20 million case of insider dealing. Last month Sri Lanka received an assurance from Rajaratnam, with significant stakes in several companies here both on his own account and through the Galleon Funds he controls, more..

Hardcore LTTE among boat load of Lankans arrested in Indonesia?

Oct 18 (Island) Sri Lanka yesterday said that hardcore LTTE cadres and their families could be among a boat load of Lankans, now held by the Indonesian government, after being arrested by the Indonesian navy on October 11. An authoritative official told The Sunday Island that Sri Lankan investigators should be given access to the detainees to establish their true identity. He acknowledged that this could be a touchy issue in view more..

'Over 30 NGOs given access to IDP camps for visibility and exposure'

Oct 18 (Island) Sri Lanka, having rid itself of the scourge of terrorism and now engaged in building up its economy to ensure a better life for all its people, looks forward to a productive partnership with the government of the Netherlands in confronting the challenges of the future, Professor G. L. Peiris, Minister of Export Development and International Trade, told the Dutch government last week. more..

We need to look afresh at how justice works within the prison system - Milinda

Oct 18 (Island) The government is now giving top priority to tackling the key issues of laws’ delays and congestion in jails as looking afresh at how justice works within Sri Lanka’s prison system is of critical importance, says Justice and Law Reforms Minister, Milinda Moragoda. "We should not only think in terms of new buildings for prisons, but also assess how meaningfully justice plays its vital role within the prisons system in the country", more..

Central Bank awaits certified SC order to start repaying Golden Key depositors

Oct 18 (Island) The process of paying back depositors of the failed Golden Key Credit Card Company will begin after the certified Supreme Court order on the repayment plan is received by the Central Bank, a senior official said. "The Golden Key case made headline news last week", he noted, referring to the Supreme Court directive to seize Rs. 259 million from six bank accounts of Mrs. Sicille Kotelawala, who is still not in custody. more..

The rot goes on

Oct 18 (ST) The elections to the Southern Provincial Council have just been concluded, and the people of this country were witness to the same election violence and election violations that prevailed in the elections in the East, Uva, Sabaragamuwa, North Central Province etc., etc. It was a familiar pattern; the same caravan, the same circus. State vehicles blatantly abused by the ruling party, the law on the display of posters, banners, cut-outs and more..

Away he goes on a rope

Oct 18 (ST) Warning: Don’t try this at home. Then again, while at home you can’t really attempt Nilantha Zoysa’s record-breaking exploits. While he’s tried just about every adventure sport that can be done in Sri Lanka, this fearless young man is a professional at abseiling- a technique of descending a cliff or slope with a rope. To date Nilantha, 28, has set seven abseiling records attested by the Sports Ministry including more..

From Hero to Zero: The Fonseka fallout

Oct 18 (ST) The rain clouds over Colombo provided some shade from an otherwise sultry morning last Monday. Below, at its sports grounds, the Sri Lanka Army, celebrating its 60th anniversary, was adding another chapter to its chequered history. Honoured as the first serving Army officer under the new CDS Act to become the Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), was General Sarath Fonseka. more..

UPFA rift booms into blows

Oct 18 (ST) The rift that split the UPFA during the recent Southern Provincial election erupted in full force at a Hilton dinner on Friday with provincial councillor Nishatha Mutuhettigama and Deputy Minister Mahindananda Aluthgamage exchanging blows, eyewitnesses said. They said fisticuffs broke out at the Royal College old boys’ dinner after a heated exchange of words between the two politicians. Prior to this, Mr. Mutuhettigama was seen talking to Opposition leader Ranil Wickremesinghe and more..

Journalist in exile vows to fight on for media freedom in Sri Lanka

Oct 18 (ST) Sanath Balasuriya, former president of the Sri Lanka Working Journalists’ Association, has written to the SLWJA detailing the efforts he and his team of office bearers made in the interests of media freedom during his tenure as chairman. Mr. Balasuriya, who is living in exile, said he was writing on behalf of all those SLWJA members, including himself, who were forced to flee the country after receiving death threats in various forms. more..

The truth behind Basil’s resignation comes to light

Oct 18 (LeN) According to party inside sources, Basil Rajapakse the National list MP‘s sudden decision to resign his Parliamentary post has been prompted by internal conflicts raging within the SLFP party. There had sprung up bitter criticisms against attempts to sideline the seniors in the party and give priority to Rajapakse family. Consequently, disillusionment among senior party members has been mounting whereby there are indications of the party getting split into two. more..

Sri Lanka arrests editor over military rift story

Oct 18 (AFP) A Sri Lankan editor was arrested for reporting on an alleged rift between a senior military commander and the government after the defeat of the Tamil Tiger rebels, police and his newspaper said Sunday. Chandana Sirimalwatte was held for questioning after police raided the offices of his "Lanka" newspaper, a spokesman for the paper said. Police spokesman Nimal Mediwaka confirmed that the editor was arrested on Saturday, but declined to say why he was taken in. more..

People-smuggler arrested on Tamil boat

Oct 18 (Age) A people-sumggling kingpin has been found among Tamils on a boat they are refusing to leave at an Indonesian port, potentially bolstering efforts to disrupt a wave of illegal arrivals in Australia. Abraham Lauhenapessy, known as Captain Bram, has brought more than 1500 asylum seekers to Australia since he emerged as a pivotal organiser of Indonesia's people-smuggling operations in 1999. more..

Canada detains Sri Lankan asylum seekers

Oct 18 (CTV) Seventy-six would-be migrants have been taken into custody in Victoria after the RCMP commandeered the ship that had been carrying them off the coast of British Columbia. The RCMP vessels Higgitt and Lindsay, and the Canadian Navy frigate HMCS Regina, escorted the ship to port after it was intercepted. The vessel was sailing under the name of "Ocean Lady." The passengers are believed to be from Sri Lanka. more..

India offers $100 mln to help Sri Lanka refugees

Oct 18 (Reuters) India offered Sri Lanka on Sunday $100 million to help war refugees return home and rebuild the country's ravaged north, as New Delhi seeks to engage in the island nation's post-war reconstruction and retain influence. Home Minister Palaniappan Chidambaram said India was willing to provide the aid package to Sri Lanka if it submitted a "plan of action" on rehabilitation of Tamil civilians. more..

Obama marches on for war with new brand of oratory camouflaging same old war

Oct 19 (TC) Its funny in a way, that the Oslo based Nobel Foundation decided to award the Peace Prize 2009 to a President of a country that lives on profits from military hardware sales and services. Its funny too, for them to think, this President, Barak Obama of USA, is making “extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and co-operation between peoples”, when he is heading a State that fuels conflict more than promote freedom. more..