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Opposition cries foul - Minister

Oct 22 (DN) At a time when the Government is engaged in various development activities aimed at providing relief to the innocent Tamils who were battered by the three decade long terrorism unleashed by Prabakaran, certain opposition elements are crying foul over these people's unfortunate situation under the pretext of inquiring into their well-being. Minister Dinesh Goonawardena said, more..

'Unauthorised' fee: Isipathana under investigation

Oct 22 (DN) Education Minister Susil Premjayanth said in Parliament that he would take appropriate action against the acceptance of unauthorised fees charged from few students at Isipathana College, Colombo, once he received the audit investigation report over it. The Minister made this comment in reply to a question raised by Anura Kumara Dissanayake MP. Dissanayake had alleged that a student had been charged Rs. 12,000 in two instalments at this school and more..

Customs bust counterfeit cigarettes smuggling racket

Oct 22 (DN) A massive haul of illicit cigarettes, more than five million sticks in quantity worth over Rs. 36 million was taken into custody during the last three months by the Sri Lanka Customs. These counterfeit cigarettes were imported to Sri Lanka on several occasions over a three month period under famous brand names of cigarettes but were not genuine products. The cache was identified as a counterfeit product by the Ceylon Tobacco Company. more..

Special survey on State sector job vacancies

Oct 22 (DN) Finance Minister Ranjith Siyambalapitiya told Parliament yesterday a special survey is underway on the existing job vacancies in the State sector to provide employment to graduates next year. The Government has provided State sector employment to 57,764 graduates from 2004 todate. In addition many new job opportunities have been created by considering a degree as the key qualification, he said. more..

Trade unions divided over special treatment to state bank employees

Oct 22 (Island) The State-sector trade unions demanding a salary increase in keeping with an agreement between them and the government ask why only a section of their membership is receiving the increase. Unions representing Ceylon Petroleum Corporation (CPC), Ceylon Petroleum Storage Terminals Limited (CPSTL), Banks, the Ceylon Electricity Board (CEB), Water Supply and Drainage Board, Universities more..

Gen. Fonseka won’t accept Sports Secy post

Oct 22 (Island) Chief of Defence Staff General Sarath Fonseka on Tuesday told Sports Minister Gamini Lokuge that he could not accept the post of Secretary to the Sports Ministry due to his heavy workload. The former army chief explained his inability to shuttle between Army headquarters and the Sports Ministry, when they met at the Welisara Navy grounds, where the Defence Services team defeated more..

Now, govt seeks Rs 10,600mn more

Oct 22 (Island) The government yesterday sought Rs. 10,600 million to pay interest and meet loan flotation expenses as the expected revenue for this year had dropped by Rs. 132 billion. The government moved a supplementary estimate in this regard. In a note submitted in Parliament for the supplementary estimate, the government said it was difficult to control expenditure corresponding to the shortfall in revenue owing to increase in Defence expenditure during more..

Transfers for public servants every 5 years: Govt.

Oct 22 (DM) Public servants will not be given mid-year transfers from 2010 while every officer including Ministry Secretaries will be restricted to serve only five years at one place, Minister Sarath Amunugama said. He said the Government has taken a policy decision in this regard to streamline the recruitment, transfer and promotion procedure as the existing one was complicated and affected the service negatively. more..

Action against deserters failing to de-list

Oct 22 (DM) Action would be taken against the deserters in the Armed Forces who fail to enlist themselves in the de-listing process, the spokesmen for the Armed Forces told the Daily Mirror. Brigadier Udaya Nanayakkara said that 20,756 army deserters were involved in the de-listing process. “There are several army deserters who still have not de-listed themselves. If they do not get involved in the process we will be forced to find and take action against them,” more..

Insecurity, jobs drive Sri Lanka's boat people

Oct 22 (AFP) Fear of persecution and a lack of jobs at home are driving thousands of Sri Lankans to risk perilous boat rides to developed countries, according to officials and politicians. Two separate boats carrying a total of over 300 illegal immigrants believed to be members of Sri Lanka's minority Tamil community were detained last week, apparently headed for Australia and Canada. more..

Sri Lanka migrant labour seen safe from downturn

Oct 22 (LBO) Sri Lanka's migrant workers and their remittances are unlikely to be seriously affected by the global economic slowdown, the Institute of Policy Studies said in a report. "Despite the emerging evidence that there will be a sharp decline in global remittance flows, Sri Lanka appears not to be at significant risk of experiencing a sharp downturn in inflows in the near term," it said in a report. more..

Sri Lanka's high taxes said to encourage illegal economy

Oct 22 (LBO) Sri Lanka's complex tax structure and high rates are working against the government by pushing consumers to move towards the informal economy that doesn't pay taxes, a senior economist said. "The Central Bank estimates that revenue losses at import entry points due to illegal importation and under valuation of imports are in the region of 300 million rupees a day," Saman Kelegama, executive director at the think tank, more..

President embarks on a three day state visit to Vietnam

Oct 22 (GDI) President Mahinda Rajapaksa who embarked upon a three day state visit to Socialist Republic of Vietnam was warmly received at the Noibai International Airport by Nguyen Van Chien, Chairman of the President’s Office in Vietnam this morning. The President was accorded a Guard of Honour on arrival. The visit follows an invitation by the President of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam, Nguyen Minh Triet. more..

Another group for UN Peace Keeping Mission

Oct 22 (LP) The passing out of another group of 200 Defence Persons took place yesterday at the Armed Corps Regimental Centre parade ground. The group included including 07 officers and 101 other ranks of the Army from the Army, one officer and 45 sailors of Sri Lanka Navy and one officer and 45 airmen from Air Force. The group is scheduled to take part in the UN Peace Keeping Mission in Haiti on the 08th of November 2009. more..

Evidence unearth of LTTE gunrunning for other terrorist groups in Assam

Oct 22 (MoD) Evidence that LTTE terrorists were also gunrunning weapons for other separatist terrorist groups in India using its boats for profit has been unearthed in the Indian state of Assam. "There was a noting in one of the accounts statement that the ULFA paid Rs.2.3 million to the LTTE towards purchase of weapons," an Indian army commander said, after unearthing a cache of arms belonging to the United Liberation Front of Assam, more..

5-day programme to reawaken Jaffna

Oct 22 (MoD) "Thalmal Varuna" will be staged in Jaffna for five days. "Thalmal Varuna" a novel programme launched under the Jaffna reawakening effort will be staged in Jaffna for five days and it is being arranged by the"Tharunayata Hetak" Organization. After receiving the blessings of the Maha Sangha including Chief Incumbent of the Gangarama Temple in Hunupitiya, the Ven. Galabada Gnanissara thera, more..

Galleon funds to close amid insider trading scandal

Oct 22 (AFP) The head of a multi-billion-dollar US hedge fund at the center of an insider trading scandal announced he was winding down the firm. In a letter to investors, published by US media Wednesday, Raj Rajaratnam, head of Galleon Management LP, said it was in the best interests of investors to "conduct an orderly wind down of Galleon's funds while we explore various alternatives for our business." more..

Questioning leadership

Australia denies 'terrorists' on asylum boats

Oct 22 (AFP) Australia's Prime Minister Kevin Rudd Thursday angrily denied extremists were among hundreds of asylum-seekers arriving in the country, as another two boats were stopped off the northern coast. Rudd demanded that opposition leader Malcolm Turnbull withdraw support for renegade backbencher Wilson Tuckey, who said there were "narrow odds" some of the rickety vessels harboured terrorists. more..

Sri Lanka 'to free 40,000 Tamils'

Oct 22 (BBC) More than 40,000 Tamil refugees will be released imminently by the Sri Lankan government from the main camp for displaced people, officials say. The release is expected to be one of the largest single batches of people to be freed from the Manik Farm camp since the Sri Lankan war ended in May. Some of those due to be freed are from areas previously controlled by the rebels in Mullaitivu and Kilinochchi. more..

Passenger wanted in Sri Lanka

Oct 22 (NP) One of the 76 migrants who arrived off the British Columbia coast in a cargo ship last weekend is wanted in Sri Lanka for terrorism, according to two sources familiar with the investigation. The sources said the man was Kartheepan Manickavasagar, a 26-year-old who is the subject of an Interpol notice issued by Sri Lankan authorities. He is wanted for an unspecified terrorism offence. more..

US war report 'unsubstantiated': Lanka

Oct 22 (IANS) The Sri Lankan government Thursday called a US congressional report on the recently ended conflict with separatist Tamil rebels "unsubstantiated and devoid of corroborative evidence". But the US embassy in Colombo defended the report, saying a majority of the incidents cited originated from first-hand accounts from people who had been in government-declared "no fire zones" and locations close to the fighting during more..

'SL will not seize Raj’s assets until proven guilty'

Oct 22 (DM) In the wake of Sri Lankan-born billionaire Raj Rajaratnam’s arrest by FBI agents in the USA on charges of insider trading, the Central Bank of Sri Lanka said that Mr. Rajaratnam’s local investment portfolio would remain unchanged and the CBSL would not seize his assets in Sri Lanka until he is proven guilty of financing terrorism. “currently we are engaged in our own investigations on more..

Minister – Trade union discussions fail – Only 27 bowsers issued by noon

Oct 23 (LT) The discussions held today (22nd) morning between the Minister of Petroleum & Petroleum Resources Development and CPC trade unions have failed states reports. Trade unions have rejected a request made by the Minister to put off trade union action until a discussion is arranged on the 26th with the President. The trade union action is going ahead successfully claim employees of CPC. more..

Ven. Ellawala Thero and Ven. Uduwe Thero hold special discussions with Gen. Fonseka

Oct 23 (LeN) JHU Leader and MP Ven. Ellawala Medhananda and Ven. Uduwe Dammaloka Thero had a special one hour discussion today (22) with Chief of Defense staff and former Army Commander Gen. Sarath Fonseka. When Lanka e news inquired from Ven, Uduwe Dammaloka, hesaid, they just finished the discussion. Both Theros stated that they had inquired from the General as to his intentions more..

Mihin Lanka to get six planes

Oct 23 (LBO) Sri Lanka's loss-making state-owned budget airline, Mihin Lanka, is to buy six aircraft, Ports and Aviation Minister Chamal Rajapaksa said. He made the revelation during a debate in parliament on Sri Lankan Airlines, the national carrier, also state-owned, our sister news website, reported. Rajapaksa did not give further details about the new aircraft for Mihin Lanka, which has been making heavy losses since more..

Sri Lanka furniture exports on the rise

Oct 23 (LBO) Furniture exports from Sri Lanka are growing and there is potential in the business, according to Rainco, a local umbrella manufacturer that has branched off into the furniture business. Fazal Fausz, Managing Director of Rainco Group, said the island has good softwood and hardwood timber, particularly teak and mahogany, while its craftsmen come from families with experience in woodcraft for generations. more..

Debrief News - 22.10.2009

Make Lankan Tamils free: CPI to Centre

Oct 23 (LG) The Centre should raise the Sri Lankan Tamils issue in international fora and pressure the island government to immediately free those in concentration camps on the isle, CPI national secretary D Raja has said. Speaking to reporters in Chennai, Raja said, ‘India has not brought up the issue in SAARC or UN, instead only supported the genocide and ethnic- cleansing in the neighbouring country. more..

Save our fishermen -JVP

Oct 23 (LG) JVP parliamentarian Premasiri Manage coming up with a supplementary question to the Minister of Fisheries, alleged that 43 metric tons of fish have been bought from a foreign vessel. “Since the beginning of this month, our fishermen had caught a large amount of fish. At present, the price of fish has dropped drastically. In this backdrop 43 metric tons of fish had been bought from a foreign vessel on the 17th of this month, said Manage. more..

Importance of being Fonseka

Oct 23 (LG) General Sarath Fonseka has been recently hitting the headlines for reasons other than military. Sections of Colombo media have been speculating on the possibility of the General contesting the 2010 presidential poll as opposition candidate against President Rajapaksa. The speculation has refused to die down despite denials by the General. It will probably gather further momentum as the election storm brews further in the political horizon. more..

US embassy defends Congress Report

Oct 23 (LG) The US embassy in Colombo defending the US Congress report dealing with incidents during the final months of the conflict in the north said the information was based on first accounts communicated from persons within the no-fire zone and areas close to fighting. The text of the statement follows; The United States Department of State delivered to Congressional Appropriations Committee staff yesterday a report detailing incidents that more..

Sri Lanka war victims sue Rajaratnam in U.S. court

Oct 23 (Reuters) Accused billionaire Raj Rajaratnam, founder of the Galleon hedge fund, and his family's foundation were sued in a U.S. court on Thursday over allegations they provided $5 million to Tamil Tigers militants in his native Sri Lanka. The lawsuit in U.S. District Court in New Jersey on behalf of 30 people who were victims or survivors of attacks by the LTTE in the South Asian country's civil war said the money assisted "crimes against humanity." more..

Sri Lanka: US war crimes report details extensive abuses

Oct 23 (HRW) A US State Department report on possible violations of the laws of war in Sri Lanka made public on October 22, 2009 shows the need for an independent international investigation, Human Rights Watch said today. The report details violations of the laws of war committed by both government forces and the separatist LTTE from January through May 2009. "The US State Department report should dispel any doubts that serious abuses were committed during the conflict's final months," more..

Boat built for tsunami victims used to smuggle asylum-seekers

Oct 23 (TA) Thirty-two young, smiling men arrived at Flying Fish Cove at Christmas Island early yesterday after a voyage across the Indian Ocean from the east coast of SriLanka, bypassing Indonesia asa staging post on the perilous journey. A sign on the bow of the boat revealed it to be one of 10 vesselsbuilt on contract for Catholic charities Caritas and Misereor to donate to fishermen in a Tamil-dominated region on Sri Lanka's east coast following more..

Sri Lanka: Learning from disasters

Oct 23 (IFRC) Several months after Sri Lanka’s 26-year conflict ended in May, approximately 270,000 IDPs in the northern part of Sri Lanka are still waiting to return home. An estimated 70,000 lives were lost in the conflict - twice as many as from the 2004 tsunami – and hundreds of thousands of people have been displaced. Moreover, some of the conflict-affected people in this island nation were affected by the tsunami as well. more..

Six Sri Lankan fishermen held off Orissa coast

Oct 23 (IANS) Six Sri Lankan fishermen were taken into custody by marine police in Orissa's Jagatsinghpur district Thursday for fishing in the Indian waters, police said. The men were fishing in the Bay of Bengal, 10 nautical miles off Paradip port, in violation of the country's maritime laws. Sub-divisional police officer Shantanu Das said the Coast Guard intercepted the trawler in which the Sri Lankans were found. Police have seized the trawler.

GSP Plus: Minding our business

Oct 23 (GV) The Final Report of the investigation initiated by the European Union under the terms of the GSP Plus concession entitled “The Implementation of certain Human Rights Conventions in Sri Lanka” has been handed over to the Government of Sri Lanka. The GOSL has time till the 6th of November to respond to the report. Two months from that date- 6th January 2010- the Council will take the final decision on the extension of GSP Plus to Sri Lanka, more..

Sri Lanka and the EU: Plus and minuses

Oct 23 (Economist) One way Sri Lanka’s government has bolstered its support among the country’s ethnic-Sinhalese majority is by stoking anti-Western feelings. Now it has to try to persuade the European Union to retain a trade concession, while continuing to appear defiant. This week the European Commission adopted a report accusing Sri Lanka of flouting human-rights standards. It was held in breach of commitments made in return for duty-waivers for its exports under the “GSP Plus” scheme. more..

Sri Lankan President calls on Vietnam President

Oct 23 (IL) President Mahinda Rajapaksa was welcomed by President of Vietnam Ngyeun Minh Triet at President Palace during his three day official visit to Vietnam on 22nd October. The President was accorded a Guard of Honour by Vietnamese Forces at the Palace. President Rajapaksa introduced his Sri Lankan delegation to the Vietnam President and later had bilateral talks with his Vietnamese counterpart, Nguyen Minh Triet and more..

Russia's foreign minister to visit Sri Lanka on Oct. 26

Oct 23 (LG) Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov will pay a brief working visit to Sri Lanka on October 26, the ministry said on Friday. Ministry spokesman Andrei Nesterenko said that during the diplomat's visit, an international deal on countering drug trafficking and a memorandum of understanding between the countries' emergencies ministries are expected to be signed. more..

Dealing with Tamil asylum seekers illegally arriving in Canada

Oct 23 (LG) The Canadian Tamil organizations have moved into a level of high ``uchchaham" (excitement) with the arrival of a clandestine boat of illegal immigrants to Victoria, BC. The highly organized and well funded Tamil-Tiger terrorist organizations still have many front organizations. Many front organizations have moved into high gear giving press releases and media conferences. They have suddenly found an opportunity to go back to the 1980s and more..

The return of the native : an appreciation of Basil Fernando’s poems –Part VI

Oct 23 (LG) There is no doubt Basil Fernando’s poetry is the poetry of an ardent activist. Sometimes a poem of his is born in between two Urgent Appeals to the heads of states or courts against atrocities, custodial torture, and denial of justice. A spontaneous blend of memory with history becomes a blend of the personal with the social, which is a recurring pattern he uses to maintain the aesthetic balance between more..

Sri Lankan detainees refusing food until UNHCR visits them

Oct 23 (TS) At least six Sri Lankans, including a woman, are believed to have gone on a hunger strike for more than a week at the Pekan Nenas immigration detention centre. The detainees were among 108 Sri Lankans placed in the centre after they were detained for being without proper documents at a hotel here last month. Persatuan Persahabatan Sempa- ruthi, a Johor-based non-government organisation, had been in touch with the detainees on hunger strike. more..

Tamil migrants are legitimate refugees: lawyer

Oct 23 (CBC) Many of the 76 migrants seized from a ship off the B.C. coast last weekend have valid travel documents and legitimate reasons to apply for refugee status in Canada, according to a lawyer who has spoken to them. Human rights lawyer Lee Rankin told CBC News he has met about 30 of the men who journeyed to Canada from Sri Lanka aboard the Ocean Lady, and he believes many have good reasons to seek refugee status. more..

Switzerland pledges action against “illegal activities” of LTTE new Secretariat

Oct 23 (AT) Despite the LTTE not being banned in Switzerland, the Swiss government has pledged to crack down on any “illegal activities” related to the proposed new Secretariat of the outfit to be se up in Geneva. “Illegal activities would in any case be prosecuted by the criminal prosecution authorities,” Head of Chancery and Counsellor of the Colombo based Embassy of Switzerland, Franz Schneider told more..

Thai govt. mulls adopting tactics of Sri Lanka

Oct 23 (BP) The government is considering adopting techniques used by Sri Lanka in dealing with the Tamil Tiger rebels in its efforts to contain the insurgency in the South. Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva yesterday held talks with his Sri Lankan counterpart, Ratnasiri Wickramanayaka, on the Sri Lankan government's success in putting down the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam movement. more..

U.S. govt report adds to pressure for war crimes probe

Oct 23 (IPS) The U.S. State Department released a report Thursday detailing possible violations of the laws of war in Sri Lanka during the first half of 2009, adding to pressure for an independent, international investigation into alleged atrocities committed by government forces and LTTE separatists. "The government of Sri Lanka has said that they are determined to establish a reconciliation process with the people of the north, but more..

Japan: Break silence on Sri Lanka rights abuses

Oct 23 (HRW) Japan's new administration should publicly press the Sri Lankan government to end the illegal detention of approximately 250,000 Tamil civilians, six Japanese and international human rights organizations said in a joint letter to Foreign Minister Katsuya Okada, made public today. The new government should also urge Sri Lanka to ensure justice and accountability for serious violations of international humanitarian law committed by government forces and the LTTE, the letter said. more..

Sri Lankan regime keeps student union convener detained

Oct 23 (wsws) The remand custody of Inter University Students Federation (IUSF) convener Udul Premaratne was last week extended until October 30 by the magistrates’ court in Nugegoda, a suburb of Colombo. He has been in remand prison since being arrested by the police on September 17, along with 14 Ayurvada University students, while protesting in front of the Ministry of Indigenous Medicine in Navinna. more..