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'Sri Lanka ready for any eventuality'

Feb 21 (SO) Human Rights Minister Mahinda Samarasinghe, in an exclusive interview with the Sunday Observer, highlights the Government’s response to issues such as the white flag incident, Channel 4 video and the forthcoming HRC session in Geneva. Excerpts from the interview: Q: You met Human Rights Commissioner Navinetham Pillay recently in Geneva? What was her response to your concerns? more..

Judicial system to be revived in Kilinochchi, Mullaitivu

Feb 21 (SO) The judicial system will be re-established on March 1 after two decades in the districts of Kilinochchi and Mullaitivu where the LTTE administered its own ‘Kangaroo’ Court with its judges and police force since 1987. High Court Judge Jaffna R. T. Vicknaraja told the Sunday Observer that re-establishing the judicial system in the Kilinochchi and Mullaitivu districts was remarkable as far as paving the way for law and order in those war ravaged regions. more..

CGR on right track

Feb 21 (SO) The Ceylon Government Railway (CGR) has launched a massive development drive to upgrade the railway service considering all aspects of the service, said the General Manager (GM) of the CGR P.T. Wijesekara in an exclusive interview with Sunday Observer. Following are excerpts from the interview: The largest investment has been made for the development of Northern railway track which was abandoned for decades. more..

Sri Lanka needs GSP+ trade benefits

Lankan students eye slots in Qatari team for scrabble championship

Feb 21 (TP) Sri Lankan students are seriously eyeing slots in Qatar’s team for the upcoming World Youth Scrabble Championship 2010. The Sri Lankan International School (SIS) has reached an agreement with Qatar Scrabble League (QSL) to make scrabble part of the rigid training that potential students, who have mastery of English words, will undergo. The partnership was struck after the successful holding of more..

Four Sri Lankan fishing boats apprehended

Feb 21 (Hindu) Coast Guard ship Sarang apprehended three Sri Lankan fishing boats from near Ramayapatnam and another Coast Guard ship Priyadarshini apprehended one fishing boat from near Krishnapatnam in Andhra Pradesh coast in the last couple of days. The Coast Guard launched an extensive anti-poaching operation in the sea adjoining Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh coasts where large scale fishing activity by Sri Lankan poachers was noticed. more..

Rich legacy of artistic expression in motion picture

Feb 21 (SO) This week, we carry an interview and a brief evaluation of Dr. Lester James Peries' work to mark his 90th birthday. In an exclusive interview with Montage, Dr. Peries, Sri Lanka's most celebrated filmmaker, reflects on his life and times in Sri Lankan cinema and provides his personal insights into the evolution from formula films to present day films that explore complex social and other issues. more..

Two Malaysians killed in Lankan crash

Feb 21 (TS) Two Malaysian women holidaying in Sri Lanka were killed after a tour bus knocked into them. Both victims, Foo Sook Har, 47, and Khoo Swee Mai, 61, were with a tour group visiting Sigiriya, an ancient rock fortress located in the central Matale district about 142km from Colombo on Wednesday. The two women were walking back to their bus in the car park when another tour bus, driven by the driver’s assistant, knocked into them, killing them on the spot. more..

More powerful than JR, more Buddhist backing than the Mahanayakas

Feb 21 (LB) Well, it has to be said. The story of this pre-election week was the story of the governing UPFA consolidating its hold and becoming more powerful, with the opposition showing it cannot hold together its new found unity - at least not in the ideal form that was seen at the presidential election. This might be a portend of things to come in this country - a one party state, a strong government, and a splintered frustrated opposition trying eternally to cobble itself together. more..

Nomads in the time of peace

Feb 21 (EB) A group of labourers are engaged in a massive repair work along one stretch of a road that is arterial to the island-nation’s economic reco­very as well. What remained long unusable patches along the A9 Highway which links Vavuniya and Jaf­fna via Kanakarayankulam is being readied for transportation. There’s huge foreign aid coming in, now that Sri Lanka is through with its bloody quarter-decade-long civil war. more..

Clueless IDPs and govt. resettlement plans

Feb 21 (LB) The government pledged to resettle former residents of Wanni, in their former villages by the end of January 31. They were earlier herded into tightly guarded camps in Vavunia. On the surface, the government seems to have lived up to its undertaking —at least a part of it. Civilians have been granted freedom of movement and many of the once teeming camps have now been emptied. But, in the resettled villages, it is a different spectacle: more..

Just how do you Court Martial a four star General?

Feb 21 (LB) During his heydays in office, general Sarath Fonseka, the first ever four star General of the Sri Lankan military, vied to be a field marshal, a rank too big to be accommodated in a third world military. Though he couldn’t realize his self confessed dream, his seniority in the military means that the court martial of the former general is set to trigger a legal conundrum. more..

A cow in my lap

Feb 21 (ST) The instructions to me from the Sergeant at the military checkpoint at Omanthai, from where the A9 begins its journey to Jaffna through territory formerly held by the Tamil Tigers, had been friendly but abundantly clear early that morning. 'Your pass is for only a day. That means you have to be out of here by midnight.' With the ruthlessness displayed by Sri Lanka's military in the final stages of the war fresh in memory, more..

Jayasuriya’s politics no issue for selectors

Feb 21 (LB) Chairman of national cricket selection committee Asantha de Mel is firmly of the view that the reported entrance into party politics by former skipper Sanath Jayasuriya will be an issue the player concerned has to grapple with and his selection to the team will hinge on form and fitness as it is with all players. Veteran left-handed opener Jayasuriya who is no longer active in Test cricket but plays only ODI and T20 cricket is more..

Bribery Commission may disappear due to CC issue

Feb 21 (LB) The future of the commission to investigate allegations of bribery and corruption hangs in the balance as the term of the commission is set to expire in five weeks and the constitutional council which appoints members to independent commissions is defunct. The bribery commission was appointed for a five -year- term in March 29,2005 under the Commission to Investigate Allegations of Bribery and Corruption Act of 1994. more..

Lokubandara still with UNP?

Feb 21 (LB) Rumour was rife that former speaker W.J.M.Lokubandara would join the UPFA, but when asked he denied such a move. The President’s media division said that WJM Lokubandara and his wife were among the distinguished persons who participated at yesterday’s SLFP working committee meeting that took place at the Bandarawela Town Hall. When contacted, former Speaker denied rumours that he had crossed over to the SLFP more..

Alternate group meets in Jaffna to discuss reformation of TNA

Feb 21 (TN) Around 300 prominent persons including TNA former MPs Sivajilingam and Gajendran met Saturday at the Common Hall in Point Pedro Sivan Koayil to discuss the need to reform TNA as it fails to act according to its original principles, sources in Jaffna said. The representative of the Public Organizations in Jaffna peninsula and former principal of Point Pedro Hartley College, Sripathy, too participated in more..

On the way to a garbage-free island

Feb 21 (GDI) Several measures have been taken to create a garbage free Sri Lanka by 2012. Minister Champika Ranawake said that all local government institutions should extend support towards this programme.He made this observation while participating in the foundation laying ceremony of the Compost project at Nagoda in Kalutara. The programmes launched under the National Solid Waste Management project will be simultaneously implemented with this programme. more..

Over 500,000 tourists visit Jaffna

Feb 21 (MoD) The number of local and foreign tourists visiting the Northern Province has recorded a remarkable increase and nearly 550,000 local and foreign tourists had toured Jaffna via A-9 road during last week. After 30 years local and foreign tourists are able to visit Jaffna and other key places in the North freely due to moves taken by the Government to eradicate terrorism, Tourism Minister Achala Jagoda told more..

Sri Lanka to recover archaeological treasures taken overseas

Feb 21 (GDI) A programme has been launched to recover Sri Lanka’s archaeological artifacts that are currently in foreign countries. According to the Buddhasasana Commission report, a Committee of scholars has been appointed to look into the matter. A report consisting of their observations was presented to Minister Dinesh Gunawardena by Committee Member Dr. Roland Silva recently. more..

Hambanthota port progress impresses IMF

Feb 21 (GDI) Representatives of the International Monetary Fund have been amazed over the progress achieved in the construction of the International Port at Hambantota. A group of IMF representatives monitored the construction work of the Hambantota Harbour recently. More than 95 percent of the construction work on the Harbour has been completed. First stage of the construction was launched on 07th June 2007. more..

Drugs to be flown from India to overcome shortage

Feb 21 (GDI) Measures will be taken to overcome a shortage of essential drugs in the country’s hospitals. The acting secretary to the Ministry of Healthcare and Nutrition Dr. Nihal Jayatillake said that the required drugs will now be imported from India. He pointed out that a shortage of essential drugs was reported by the authorities. A discussion was held with the Minister in this connection and more..

Fight for democracy before we are shackled

Feb 21 (LG) I was told about the Sathyagraha, scheduled to be staged at Hulftsdorp, by Chamil who participated in the opposition discussion on 9th evening. There was no common appeal for mass participation. On 10th morning around 8am several media persons asked me about this planned protest and I told them what I knew about it. By 10.30 in the morning I was informed by Mahendran more..

Protecting the president’s good name

Feb 21 (LG) Dr. Dayan Jayatilleka’s thoughtful essay in Sri Lanka Guardian (Jan 15) titled "The Fonseka affair: A perfect blunder?" merits the serious attention of all those who are concerned with protecting Sri Lanka’s reputation in the world in general and President Mahinda Rajapakse’s good name in particular. Grace under pressure has been a solid attribute of President Rajapakse’s character. more..

President stresses the need for virtuous & honourable politics

Feb 21 (GDI) President Mahinda Rajapaksa has said that he is determined to build the country with the strength of young men and women. The President said that the country’s future development process is virtually based on achieving the objectives of the people exploiting the strength of the youth. He made these statements while addressing the Badulla-Bandarawela SLFP District Organisers’ meeting this morning. more..

Discharged "Lanka" Editor Remains Defiant Despite Detention

Feb 21 (TC) Irida Lanka Editor Chandana Sirimalwatta has been a frequent visitor to the CID in the last few months. The latest attempt to detain Sirimalwatta for 90 days, without any charges, and the attempt to seal the Lanka paper has left many in the country pondering the future of independent media. LAKBIMAnEWS met the Lanka editor to learn more on the latest attempt by the government to silence him more..

On remembering Richard and forgetting Ranjithan

Feb 21 (LG) There were some 60,000 people killed in what is clearly the bloodiest period in post-Independence Sri Lanka, 1988-1990. Our roadsides were turned into crematoriums, our rivers, canals and such into cemeteries. I remember a day in June 1988, in Bingiriya. I remember distinctly thinking this thought: ‘I can’t do anything to stop this!’ ‘This’, then, was an inevitable hurtling of an entire nation over the edge of sanity and into an abyss made of fire and bullets, more..

Postal Department launches 4-hour courier service

Feb 21 (LP) The Postal Department has launched a four-hour express courier service initially in the 15 zones in the Colombo City. The Postal Department said that this programme had inaugurated this service from the main hub at the Central Mail Exchange at D. R. Wijewardena Mawatha, Colombo last week. The motor cyclists will also be used for the courier service and undertake to deliver parcels or mail up to a maximum weight of two kilos. more..

'A time to forget symbols and colours & unite for democracy'

Feb 21 (LT) A time has come for everybody to forget about their political parties, symbols and colours and unite on behalf of democracy says JVP MP Vijithe Herath. He says all parties that supported Gen. Fonseka should continue to maintain their unity to safeguard democracy. When inquired regarding how the JVP would participate at the forthcoming general election Mr. Herath said more..

'Tell the definite decision regarding 'swan' without indulging in media shows'

Feb 21 (LT) JVP MP Anura Dissanayake states the definite decision of the UNP regarding contesting the general election under the 'swan' symbol should be told to the masses without making various statements to the media regarding the general election. He said this commenting on the statement Mr. Tissa Attanayake had made to the media that the UNP had invited Gen. Fonseka to contest under the 'swan' symbol.

Insurance package for 1.2m public servants

Feb 21 (LP) The Public Administration and Home Affairs Ministry has decided to introduce a new insurance scheme for the benefit of 1.2 million public servants. Minister Dr. Sarath Amunugama held discussions with top officials of the Sri Lanka Insurance Corporation regarding the proposed scheme for the new insurance package for public servants. Since there are 1.2 million Public Servants in the country, more..

An icon among Doormen

Feb 21 (NS) The Galle Face Hotel has many attractions to offer, to both local and foreign visitors. Its architecture, furniture and fittings with their old-world charm, tell of the grandeur of a bygone era. However, this Hotel has another attraction: Ancient in his own right, Kuttan, the doorman. For 68 years he served the Hotel, while being privy to the profound changes that took place around him, both within and outside the Hotel. more..

Symbolic parting of ways

Feb 21 (NS) Nominations for the forthcoming general elections opened this week, and will conclude in the coming week, and the battle lines are becoming clearer, as respective political parties weigh their options and decide on strategy for the poll. The ruling UPFA is busy finalising its Nomination lists and briefing candidates, while at the same time trying to avoid intra-party rivalry. A novel strategy that has been adopted for this purpose is the appointment of District leaders more..

Star-studded line up to contest

Feb 21 (NS) Going by the prevailing political atmosphere the 2010 General Election is bound to be a memorable event for all Sri Lankans. If you look at the nomination lists, one thing that promises to catch your eye is the number of movie stars, singers, sportsmen, and war heroes who will be contesting the election. No other election in the history of this country can boast of such a star studded line up celebrities vying to be a Member of Parliament. more..

TMVP to join with UPFA to contest Ampara

Feb 21 (NS) The Tamil Makkal Viduthalai Pulikal (TMVP) which has decided to field candidates alone in the district of Batticaloa and Trincomalee indicated that they would most likely join forces with the UPFA to contest in Ampara. Speaking to The Nation, Azad Moulana spokesperson of the party cited that the TMVP hopes to gain at least five seats from all three districts. more..

UNP still looking for Opposition unity

Feb 21 (Island) UNP General Secretary Tissa Attanayake yesterday issued an open invitation to all parties, especially the JVP, to run under the UNF banner and the Elephant symbol at the forthcoming parliamentary election. He said that SLMC, DPF and SLFP(M) will run under the UNF livery and he would request all Lankans to join hands to restore democracy and press freedom and eliminate corruption, more..

Cupid stole missing schoolboys

Feb 21 (NS) The sudden disappearance of four school boys from Bandaragama early this week that shook the country though had a happy ending when they were traced by Thursday, the real culprit of the whole episode appearing to be cupid. When a team from The Nation visited the school on Thursday neither the principal nor any of its teachers came up with the reason for four of its pupils taking off in that manner, but a few parents were privy to the inside story. more..

Three TNA victims opt to contest from UPFA

Feb 21 (NS) The mysterious TNA decision to sideline as many as nine of its former MPs has resulted in at least three of those seeking nominations from the UPFA and authoritative government sources identified the three as Sivanathan Kisshor, Sathasivam Kanagaratnam, and Thangeswari Kathiraman from the Batticaloa District. These sources said the government would field these three from the respective districts on the UPFA ticket. more..

Gotabhaya Rajapaksa makes a quiet visit to India

Feb 21 (Island) Sri Lanka’s Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa paid an unpublicized five-day semi-official visit to India last week and met top officials here, The Sunday Island can now reveal. Rajapaksa’s visit to India at this point of time assumes significance. Having swept the January 26 presidential election with an impressive majority, President Mahinda Rajapaksa and more..

Let’s do it better this time

Feb 21 (Island) Will the country go along the familiar blood-spattered track, now that the stage is set for another general election? This is the poser on the lips of the civilized of this land. Their fears are compounded by the consideration that this time around, the usually demented scramble among candidates for the popular vote would be far more barbaric in view of the unboundedly coveted ‘preference votes’. more..