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Towards A Sovereign, Independent, Banana Republic

Feb 8 (LG) Readers of this column should pardon us for thumping ourselves vigorously on our backs. They will recall that in many recent columns of Serendipity we regularly went back to two quotations of Al Capone, the Chicago gangster who specialised in many things including vote rigging during those prohibition days. One was: ‘Vote early vote often’. The other was: ‘It’s not the voting that matters but the counting’. more..

Rumours of Saudi Arabian ban on domestic workers rejected

Feb 8 (GDI) Sri Lanka has rejected rumours that the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has imposed a ban on recruiting maids from the country. Chairman of the Sri Lanka Bureau of Foreign Employment, Kingsley Ranawaka told Arab News that they do not feel such a move will even take place since there is a great demand for Sri Lankan maids in Saudi Arabia. more..

196 houses given for Tsunami homeless in Sainthamaruthu

Feb 8 (PSM) 196 houses for homeless Tsunami victims were handed over to them today in Sainthamaruthu. These houses were built on a grant given by Venezuela govt. on the land provided and reclaimed by the govt. on the effort of minister of housing and common amneties and leader NUA Ms.Ferial Ashraff. The Venezuela govt. granted US 70 million collected from the people of Veliverian, Venezuela on an MoU signed at the ministry of housing in 2005. more..

First Psychosocial Centre for War Affected Children inaugurated

Feb 8 (MoD) The first Psychosocial Centre in the newly resettled areas in the Northern Province, a long-felt need for addressing issues, related to mental well-being of children in war-affected areas, was recently opened at Mallavi Central College, Thunukkai in the Mullaitivu District by Maj. General Kamal Gunaratne, Commander, Security Force Wanni & Competent Authority for IDPs. more..

No formal decision by EU on temporary suspension of "GSP" yet

Feb 8 (TC) 1. No formal decision on “temporary suspension” of GSP+ has been taken by the European Council. They have time till later this month. 2. Clearly many of the concerns that had given rise to the European Commission’s psychological impetus to review Sri Lanka’s suitability for the continuance of the GSP+, have already been addressed on the ground. more..

Sri Lanka consolidates status as top cinnamon supplier

Feb 8 (GDI) Sri Lanka continues to enjoy the status of top cinnamon supplier of the world by providing 80% of the requirement, the Ministry of Export Development and International Trade revealed. The Export Development Board has taken measures to modernize production units by introducing a procedure known as “Good Manufacturing Process” which is hygienic and efficient. more..

Why the Supreme Court is wrong about the President's first term of office

Feb 8 (TC) Seven Judges of the Supreme Court are reported to have conveyed to the President their opinion that his first term of office will extend until 19 November 2010, on which day his second term will commence. Acting on this opinion, the President will presumably not take his oath or make his affirmation, which the Constitution requires him to do within two weeks of the commencement of his second term. more..

Child soldiers 'to be released soon'

Feb 8 (BBC) All detained former Tamil Tiger child soldiers will be released by May, officials in Sri Lanka say. Head of the Child Protection Authority (CPA) Jagath Wellawatta told BBC Sandeshaya that the government is committed to hand over all former child soldiers to parents and relatives after a one-year rehabilitation programme. more..

Kilinochchi 'not ready' for resettlement

Feb 8 (BBC) Jaffna Bishop Rt Rev Thomas Sounderanayagam says that churches, houses and buildings in Kilinochchi and Mullaithivu districts in northern Sri Lanka are badly damaged during the recent war. He made this observation after returning from a conducted tour to these areas for the first time since the LTTE was defeated in May last year. “We were able to see public properties and vehicles damaged during the final battle more..

Bangladesh win T20 cricket gold by upsetting Sri Lanka in SAG

Feb 8 (APP) Junior Tigers from Bangladesh snatched a gold medal in T20 cricket of the 11th South Asian Games by upsetting favourites Bangladesh in the final under lights by six runs at Sher-e- Bangla National Stadium here on Sunday evening.All-rounder Shabbir Rehman was architect in his team’s triumph,scoring an enterprising 21 off 19 balls with one four and one six and took four wickets for 31 runs more..

'Court martial' looms for Sri Lanka's defeated candidate

Feb 8 (AFP) Defeated Sri Lankan presidential candidate Sarath Fonseka could be hauled before a court martial to answer charges of plotting a coup to topple the government, a press report said Sunday. The government has sought legal advice on using a military court to fast-track proceedings against Fonseka, who challenged President Mahinda Rajapakse in the January 26 vote, more..

Sri Lanka under fire after extends emergency rule

Feb 8 (AFP) Sri Lanka faced criticism Saturday for extending a state of emergency giving sweeping powers to security forces to detain suspects ahead of parliamentary elections due by April. A private poll-monitoring body, the People's Action for Free and Fair Elections, said continuation of emergency rule could undermine the vote slated to be held after last month's presidential election, won by Mahinda Rajapakse. more..

Does election victory give cause for ruthless trampling of the losing party and supporters? - whither Democracy ?

Feb 8 (UNP) Following the controversial election victory of the President, the Govt. has been on a witch hunt against the Opposition party supporters and of Gen. Fonseka, the closest rival of the President at the elections. Amidst the recent raiding of Gen. Fonseka’s office by the CID when the office equipments and some of the General’s employees were taken into custody, more..

Lumumba University honors President Rajapaksa with a Doctorate

Feb 8 (IL) President Mahinda Rajapaksa was awarded a Honoris Causa Doctorate by the Peoples’ Friendship University, formally known as Patricia Lumumba University of Moscow in Russia. The PFU is celebrating its Golden Jubilee and to mark the anniversary it has been decided to award the Honorary Doctorate to President Rajapaksa for his contribution for world peace and outstanding success against defeating terrorism. more..

Memories of Miguel

Feb 8 (TC) The call from Cuba came this morning, Tamara excusing herself for the early hour to say she had very bad news and I thought Fidel was gone, but no, it was Miguel – my long link, as it were, to him, our father who art in Havana. Dr. Miguel Alfonso Martinez, Professor Emeritus, jurist, pedagogue and ex-diplomat, my pony-tailed companero in his seventies, had died some hours ago and had already been cremated. more..

Parliament likely to be dissolved soon

Feb 8 (Hindu) Following the extension of emergency laws by another month on Friday, the Parliament is all set to be dissolved in the next few days and the general election is scheduled to be held in the first half of April. “A formal announcement on dissolution of Parliament constituted in 2004 would be made by President Mahinda Rajapaksa next week after his return from his first official trip on his re-election to Russia beginning today [Saturday],” more..

Sri Lanka army denies plan to arrest former chief

Feb 8 (AP) Sri Lanka's military denied Sunday a newspaper report that former army chief and defeated presidential candidate Sarath Fonseka will be tried in a military court for allegedly planning to assassinate the president and take power. Fonseka and President Mahinda Rajapaksa were once strong allies who combined to defeat the Tamil Tiger rebels, more..

“Sinister nexus” abroad: Colombo

Feb 8 (Hindu) Foreign Minister Rohitha Bogollagama on Sunday said that a “sinister nexus” seemed to be surfacing between the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP)-United National Party (UNP) alliance and pro-LTTE groups abroad. In a statement here on protests in London on the nation’s Independence Day, the Minister maintained that such a nexus would be detrimental to the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Sri Lanka. more..

Golden Key Depositors’ Union want President to deliver on his promise to grant relief

Feb 8 (Island) The Ceylinco Golden Key Depressed Depositors Union last week expressed confidence that President Mahinda Rajapaksa, re-elected on a clear mandate from the masses, will initiate action to deliver on his promise to grant immediate relief to Golden Key depositors struggling for survival without their capital nor interest since December 2008. During a meeting with representatives of Golden Key depositors at Temple Trees prior to more..

New TRCSL boss will continue to wear two hats

Feb 8 (Island) The new boss of the Telecommunication Regulatory Commission of Sri Lanka (TRCSL), Anusha Palpita will continue to wear the hat of the Government Information chief as well at least for a few months more. "The President asked me to take over the TRCSL, and as a public servant I am prepared to serve in any institution entrusted to me", he said yesterday. more..

Drinking binge leads to violent assault in Kanneliya

Feb 8 (SL) The Secretary to the Minister of Vocational and Technical Training, Piyasena Gamage led an assault after a drinking binge inside the Kanneliya Forest Reserve last week against the Rain Forest Officer (RFO) of the reserve who has now been hospitalised. A group of 50 people including Minister Piyasena Gamage attempted to enter the Kanneliya Forest Reserve last week but were stopped by more..

Opposition shifts focus to parliamentary poll

Feb 8 (SL) President Mahinda Percy Rajapaksa’s election victory was described as resounding, easy and by the opposition as fraudulent. There was, however, very significantly an almost total lack of proof beyond reasonable doubt to back up the claims. In that light the President’s victory must be accepted in good spirit. However, the Elections Commissioner (EC) confirmed and reconfirmed the result stating that more..

Hambantota in the great game of the Indian ocean

Feb 8 (SL) President Rajapaksa’s visit to Moscow was not seen as an event of much significance by political observers. Last November’s visit of Russian Foreign Minister Sergev V. Lavrov to Sri Lanka resulted in only two agreements between the two countries being signed. One was on cooperation in illicit trafficking of narcotics and psychotropic substances and the other was on natural disasters and mitigatory consequences. more..

'Being framed for Lasantha’s murder'

Feb 8 (SL) Former Army Commander General Sarath Fonseka has accused law enforcement officers of trying to force a confession out of Brigadier D. Keppetivalana in a bid to frame him and the Brigadier in an assassination plot that killed The Sunday Leader Founder Editor, Lasantha Wickrematunge. General Fonseka told The Sunday Leader that Brigadier Keppetivalana was arrested for more..

'Positive stance vital to fulfil N-E aspirations'

Feb 8 (SO) The minority parties, particularly the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) and the Sri Lanka Muslim Congress (SLMC) must talk to President Mahinda Rajapaksa and take a positive stance towards fulfilling the political aspirations of the people in the North and the East said People’s Liberation Organisation of Tamil Eelam (PLOTE) leader Dharmalingam Sitharthan. more..

Resettlement of 97,000 IDPs expedited after polls

Feb 8 (SO) The Government has expedited the resettlement of 97,000 IDPs living in welfare centres and with foster families in Vavuniya, from February 2. It was delayed due to the January 26 presidential polls. Secretary to the Ministry of Resettlement and Disaster Relief Services U.L.M. Haldeen said that resettling IDPs was delayed for one-and-a-half months during the run up to the polls as the Government intended to give the IDPs their right to vote freely. more..

SLMC invited to join Government

Feb 8 (SO) Minister Rishad Badiudeen has invited the Sri Lanka Muslim Congress (SLMC) to join the Government considering the regional development and the rights of displaced people.Minister Badiudeen was addressing a meeting at Alankuda to convey the gratitude of the Government to the masses for the victory of President Mahinda Rajapaksa at the presidential election. more..

Batticaloa Mayor in futile damage control exercise

Feb 8 (NS) Batticaloa Mayor Sivageetha Prabaharan, who rushed to Colombo and pledged her support to common opposition candidate Sarath Fonseka in the presence of UNP and Opposition Leader Ranil Wickremesinghe in the run up to the recently concluded presidential election, now says she is still in the UPFA. She told The Nation yesterday that she never crossed over. more..

Opposition alliance on the rocks

Feb 8 (NS) The Joint Opposition Alliance, formed with much fanfare in a bid to defeat President Mahinda Rajapaksa at the presidential poll, is on the verge of a break- up even before the dissolution of Parliament, informed opposition sources said yesterday. “We may not realise the hope of offering a formidable challenge to the government coalition UPFA at the upcoming general election due to the obstinacy of our leaders,” more..

TULF to go solo

Feb 8 (NS) The TULF is to contest the forthcoming general election without aligning with any alliance. TULF President V. Anandasangaree said that the TULF would definitely contest alone. “We will be contesting definitely. As it is, we are going alone,”. Anandasangaree said that the TNA was misleading Tamils, adding that although the EPDP of Minister Douglas Devananda was contesting alone, people would not vote for it as more..

'The Elections Commissioner certainly didn’t leave the premises'

Feb 8 (NS) The University of Colombo School of Computing (UCSC) handled the computer system and software when processing the election results at the recently concluded Presidential Election. Dr. Ruvan Weerasinghe is the Director of the UCSC. He is also one of the most established and well known personalities in the field of IT in Sri Lanka. more..

Re-alignment of political forces in the coming weeks

Feb 8 (NS) The dust has not yet settled on the presidential election, and controversy rages on, but Sri Lanka must soon gear itself for yet another poll: The general election. The six-year tenure of the current Parliament expires late April, and a new Parliament has to be convened. Given the fact that the ruling UPFA candidate, President Mahinda Rajapaksa emerged victorious at the presidential election, more..

Fortune favours the Rajapaksas

Feb 8 (ST) He stood on the dais in his usually immaculate white national dress and the inimitable Kurakkan satakaya (maroon shawl) around his neck. It was on the same soil, centuries ago, the last King of Kandy, Sri Wickrema Rajasinghe ordered the child hero, Madduma Bandara beheaded. Centuries after those historic events, President Rajapaksa, stood there to take the salute from his valiant armed forces, on the 62nd anniversary of Sri Lanka's Independence. more..

Man of many mysteries: Always Dayananda

Feb 8 (ST) I thought I must write to you because you seem to be the man of the moment these days, grabbing headlines even more than Mahinda maama who won the election. Of course, Dayananda, the other reason why I thought I must write to you was because I heard you say that you would continue to hold your job-because if I am not senile and losing my memory like some public officers who should have retired a long time ago- more..

Lawmakers and lawbreakers

Feb 8 (ST) National Day celebrations were rushed through this week almost like an afterthought. Held at short notice, the powers-that-be must have waited till the uncertainty of the Presidential Election was over. Many got their invitations for the event on the morning of the celebrations in Kandy. Would it not have been great if the event had been held this year in Jaffna, in recognition of the fact that we were after so many years of strife, more..

Fonseka coalition falls; UNP wants Elephant

Feb 8 (ST) The coalition of opposition parties that came together to support retired General Sarath Fonseka at the January 26 Presidential Election has collapsed. Its main player, the UNP, will go it alone with its Elephant symbol at the upcoming parliamentary elections, though it is prepared to do so under the United National Front banner. “Our district chairmen and party officials have taken a unanimous decision,” more..

Stars delay Parliament dissolution

Feb 8 (ST) The dissolution of Parliament, expected last Friday, has been delayed due to astrological considerations. Government officials said yesterday that President Rajapaksa would now issue a proclamation for dissolution on Tuesday or Wednesday. “There are two auspicious times on these days. He will choose the best,” a senior official said. Mr. Rajapaksa is due to return to Sri Lanka on Tuesday more..

By voting for Sarath Fonseka I along with 4.17 million people have not betrayed the country

Feb 8 (TC) The Sunday Observer of 31/1/10 carried the headline, "A Bold Reply to those who Betrayed the Country", extracted from a post-election statement attributed to President Rajapaksa, in a reference to those who opposed him at the recent election. By implication, that statement branded me as well, as a betrayer of the country, for on the 26th of January, together with 4.17 Mn. other traitors, more..

NTPC hopes to start on 500-Mw project in Sri Lanka by Feb-end

Feb 8 (BS) With the re-election of President Mahinda Rajapaksa, India’s largest power generator, NTPC, hopes the implementation of a 500-Mw imported coal-based power project in that country should begin by the end of this month. NTPC sources told Business Standard, “All formalities from our government and NTPC have been completed. The opinion of the Sri Lankan attorney general (AG) was awaited. more..

Colombo believed that the American President was personally committed to the downfall of President Rajapakse

Feb 8 (TC) With regard to the UNP performance over the election, there were two schools of thought that seem at first sight distinct. The first is that it shows the enduring genius of Ranil Wickremesinghe, who managed to turn what would have been certain defeat for himself into a campaign to confirm his control of his party. more..