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Ragging to be whipped

July 18 (SL) The Higher Education Ministry has banned university ragging with immediate effect and those who are found guilty of such activities in future would be expelled from university, Higher Education Minister S.B. Dissanayake told The Sunday Leader. According to Minister Dissanayake, Sri Lankan universities have brought disrepute to the country over the years as a result of ‘dishonourable ragging’ and more..

People's Premier

July 18 (NS) Sri Lanka is likely to come up with a truly homemade Constitution with an executive prime minister elected by the people, replacing the current executive president. The idea of this far reaching Constitutional change is the direct result of the consensus reached between President Mahinda Rajapaksa and Opposition Leader Ranil Wickremesinghe, when they met recently at Temple Trees. more..

Fresh moves to break LTTE ‘backbone’ abroad

July 18 (SO) Fresh moves are under way with the assistance of Interpol and other intelligence agencies abroad to break the `backbone’ of the LTTE’s international terror network which is believed to be still active in certain countries, according to informed sources. Interpol has already issued red notices on two hardcore LTTE terrorists. The Interpol action is based on the secret documents which were recovered from the LTTE’s international link spot known as ‘Castro’ office in the Wanni more..

OPA’s second essay in constitution-making

July 18 (Island) On 26 May 2001 the OPA, as an item in its annual sessions, presented a draft of a 17th Amendment to the Constitution for public consideration. The proposed draft was sent to all political parties, and no doubt it would have received due consideration when the Government of the day and Opposition parties got together to compose the 17th Amendment for enactment on 24 September 2001. more..

Thousands of devotees trek through Kumana

July 18 (SO) Over 15,400 devotees on the Pada Yathra, the traditional foot pilgrimage to Kataragama from the North and the East entered the Kumana National Park from July 2 - 16, said the Park’s Warden Ajith Wasantha. The Wildlife Department has taken steps to provide basic infrastructure facilities to the pilgrims on a directive by Economic Development Minister Basil Rajapaksa. more..

Editorial: A healthy dialogue

July 18 (SO) The leaders of the UPFA and the main Opposition - the UNP who had a fruitful round of talks last week, came to a general agreement on the executive presidency, established during the J.R. Jayewardene regime in 1978. The two major political parties in Sri Lanka agreed to create the post of executive prime minister, responsible to Parliament through a Constitutional amendment in the near future. more..

'Agitation against Indian film stars baseless'

July 18 (SO) The agitation by some of those in the South Indian film industry and organisations against the Indian film stars who visit Sri Lanka is baseless, said leading film star Ravindra Randeniya. He said that Sri Lanka and India have very strong friendly ties in cultural, economic and political affairs at present. The annual trade turnover between the two countries is more than Rs. 4 billion. Sri Lanka is a good market for Hindi and Tamil films. more..

State banks to share teller machines

July 18 (SO) Three State banks are hoping to come to an understanding to share their electronic teller machines. At present if a customer withdraws cash from a teller machine of another bank a fee is imposed on each transaction. Chief Executive Officer, People’s Bank, P. V. Pathirana said that they are holding discussions with the other two State banks, Bank of Ceylon and the National Savings Bank to waive this fee. more..

'Sri Lanka was in the news for wrong reasons: It s time to talk positively'

July 18 (LNP) I am glad to have this opportunity to speak with you at this plenary session of the Sri Lanka Economic Summit. I trust that the Summit thus far has been a very fruitful one for all of you, and I hope that this session will be similarly productive. Not so long ago, Sri Lanka was in the news mostly for the wrong reasons. It was mostly terrorist attacks through car bombs, bus bombs and suicide bombers, attacks on military camps and on civilians that kept this country in the headlines. more..

Editorial: Crack the whip on Dengue breeders

July 18 (NS) Dengue, the deadly mosquito borne disease is on the rampage once again. The statistics are too grim to merit repeating here, but it suffices to say that over 20,000 cases have been reported countrywide, and the death mounting with nearly 200 for the year already. Almost daily, we hear of heartrending stories of children succumbing to the disease, and last week, even a doctor at the Badulla General Hospital died. more..

here to there... and in-between

July 18 (NS) During colonial times, Sri Lanka, or Ceylon, as it was then known, had to face the challenge of protecting its resources as well as its traditions, which had been passed onto us by our ancestors. However, the British rulers also brought about many positive changes in our country. The Sri Lankan Railway network is one such bequest of the British. What started as a means of transporting tea and coffee from the hill country to Colombo, more..

Residents to go overboard

July 18 (NS) The Sri Lanka Ports Authority (SLPA) has given a three-month notice to occupants of Bloemendhal housing scheme to vacate their houses, saying that the SLPA requires these premises for a mega development project. However, the letters make no reference to alternative accommodation nor specify any compensation to be paid in lieu. The notices were issued to the house owners in June, and SLPA sources said the evacuation process will take place in two phases. more..

Political pursuit of permanent interests

July 18 (NS) Although it has been said that, ‘in politics, there are no permanent friends or permanent enemies, only permanent interests’, some of the paradoxical alliances forged for various political purposes would surprise even the hardened political veteran. We saw the two major Opposition parties, the right-of-centre UNP and the leftist JVP, formerly, two sworn political enemies, form an alliance for the purpose of promoting General Sarath Fonseka at the last presidential election. more..

Dengue awareness programme in Colombo

July 18 (NS) Responding to the need of the hour of preventing the further spread of Dengue in Colombo, the Colombo Municipal Council (CMC) in collaboration with the Rotary Club launched a special awareness programme in CMC areas yesterday. Colombo is the most affected district with 529 cases reported during the past two weeks alone. The programme was launched under the patronage of CMC special Commissioner, Omar Kamil more..

Accurate voters’ registry vital for free and fair poll - PAFFREL

July 18 (Island) Work relating to the voters’ registry for this year (2010) is in progress and its first phase is expected to end on July 31. Maintaining an accurate registry is important for a free and fair election. Revisions undertaken will have a decisive significance and further confirmation of residency is vital, says Rohana Hettiaratchchi, Executive Director of People’s Action For Free and Fair Elections (PAFFREL). more..

Editorial: The Spoken English initiative

July 18 (Island) There is near unanimity locally on the need for the widespread use of English in Sri Lanka, but what seems to be in dispute is what kind of English needs to be inculcated in particularly the young of the land. Is it ‘Sri Lankan English’ or what some sections of our intelligentsia refer to as Standard English? As could be gauged by the current content of newspaper opinion columns, more..

Executive President or Executive Prime Minister?

July 18 (Island) Although President Mahinda Rajapaksa and the UNP have quickly agreed on the abolition of the executive presidency and electoral reforms, they are yet to reach agreement on the 17th Amendment to the Constitution, authoritative political sources said yesterday. "Negotiations are still at a very early stage though a section of the press has already depicted a rosy picture of SLFP-UNP consensus," they said. more..

Minister SB Error? or Mistake

July 18 (Island) Newspapers published the news about a protest staged by students, when Minister S. B. Dissanayake went to declare open a building at the Peradeniya University on July 12th. No one remembers now, what happened when JR went to open a Private Medical College, during his tenure of office as President. Professor Stanley Wijesundera, Vice Chancellor of the University of Colombo, was assassinated inside his own office. more..

Court Injunction fear grips UNP

July 18 (Island) The UNP reform proposals will be taken up by the party working committee tomorrow. As matters came to a head within the party, a rumour floated around that party seniors were negotiating a ‘dignified exit strategy’ for beleaguered party leader Ranil Wickremesinghe. There has been no shortage of people wanting to negotiate a dignified exit for Wickremesinghe and we have been hearing of this for a decade. more..

Another young life snuffed out by dengue

July 18 (SO) The number of dengue cases and deaths due to the disease has been increasing steadily in Sri Lanka over the past few months. The long hands of death have not shown any impartiality towards people from different walks or stages of life. Innocent young children yet to bloom in life, elderly people who have seen and been through much, robust adults, qualified professionals... they have all contributed towards the 149-figure death toll Sri Lanka has racked up so far. more..

India's Bharti objects to Sri Lankan mobile phone prices

July 18 (AFP) India's Bharti Airtel has petitioned Sri Lanka's Supreme Court to stop a new minimum mobile phone price plan announced by the telecom regulator, an official said Sunday. The Telecommunications Regulatory Commission on Thursday fixed a floor price of two Sri Lankan rupees (0.2 US cents) per minute for outgoing calls on mobile networks, after two years of stiff competition plunged the industry into massive losses. more..

Surprise talks to resolve Ranil-Sajith row

July 18 (ST) Talks to resolve the feud between two factions within the main opposition UNP will begin today. The surprise move for reconciliation is the result of suggestions made by deputy leader Karu Jayasuriya and a group of senior UNPers to Sajith Premadasa, who heads what is being described as a dissident group. Others who made the call for reconciliation include former speaker Joseph Michael Perera, General Secretary Tissa Attanayake and more..

Imprisonment will not deter us, says Vaiko

July 18 (Hindu) The Sri Lankan Tamils' Protection Movement will relentlessly fight for the rights of the Tamils in the island nation. Its members will not be cowed down by the oppressive measures or deterred by imprisonment, said Vaiko, general secretary of the Marumalarchi Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam. He was speaking to presspersons immediately after his release, along with P. Nadumaran of the Tamil Nationalist Movement and more..

Ban adds muscle to UN panel

July 18 (ST) United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has raised his stakes with plans to set up an eight person secretariat, headed by a senior official at a director level (D-2), to facilitate the work of his advisory panel on alleged war crimes in Sri Lanka. The move comes after he ignored the abortive “fast unto death” outside the UN complex in Colombo and a vociferous charge that he has exceeded his administrative authority. more..

'My decision to stage a fast unto death was not a sudden initiative'

July 18 (TC) I believe these are, to say the least, controversial times for me, my party and the government because of the events of the past week. The fast unto death that I staged gave rise to a lot of discussion and there were many bouquets and brickbats that came my way. I therefore think that it is only correct that I should provide not only an explanation for what happened but that I should also put the record straight with more..

SL upbeat ahead of labour rights talks with US team

July 18 (ST) The government is to hold talks with a top-level US delegation that is due to arrive here later this month in a bid to save tax concessions for local exports to that country, a senior official said last night. Labour Secretary Mahinda Madihewa said that the government had already briefed US officials on workers’ rights and welfare. The issue is believed to be a pre-condition for more US GSP Plus tax concessions and more..

Sangakkara and Paranavitana punish India

July 18 (CI) The Test is only a day old but already it appears as though it's Sri Lanka's game to lose. As expected, the lambs were led to slaughter. The Indian bowling attack defined mediocrity and Sri Lanka bossed it around in style to reach a strong position by the end of the opening day in Galle. Kumar Sangakkara and Tharanga Paranavitana sealed well-compiled tons as the hosts galloped towards gaining more..

Dramatic turn in UPFA-UNP ties

July 18 (ST) The lift off for two Air Force Mi-17 transport helicopters from the Army grounds in Fort last Wednesday came at 7 a.m. Instead of troops or lethal weapons, the cargo, for the first time, was 30 Sri Lanka cabinet ministers. They headed to Kilinochchi, the centre of power for Tiger guerrillas until last year. An hour later, the two choppers landed at the Air Force base in Vavuniya. Base commander, Air Commodore Rohinta Fernando greeted the visitors and ushered them to a buffet breakfast more..

UN delays peace jobs for Lankans

July 18 (ST) A United Nations plan to recruit more than 100 Sri Lankan police officers for its peace-keeping force has been put on hold indefinitely with no reasons given. Two UN officials were scheduled to arrive in the country on June 18 to interview and recruit some 100 police officers from the rank of inspector and above. But the officials had still not come and no reasons were given for the delay, a police officer said. more..

Arsonists attack village in Ampara

July 19 (BBC) Residents of a village in the Ampara district have fled their homes after an unidentified group, armed with weapons, assaulted the villagers and burnt telephones on Saturday night. The armed group has destroyed several houses and attacked villagers in Ragamwela, Panama, Potuvil who fear an attempt to grab land. The Valukarama temple in Ragamwela had also come under attack. A Buddhist monk, Unawatune Vajirawansa thero, is among the victims of the attack. more..

Prabhakaran was not our enemy: Chidambaram

July 19 (OI) Union Home Minister P Chidambaram has said slain LTTE leader V Prabhakaran would have been "Mudisooda Mannan" (uncrowned monarch) of the northern and eastern provinces of Sri Lanka had he accepted the 1987 Indo-Sri Lankan agreement as requested by former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi. Addressing a public meeting here last night, Chidambaram said he had met Prabhakaran and talked with him for hours. more..

Horror tales behind Australia's refugee influx

July 19 (AFP) Cowering in the dark bowels of a leaky fishing boat, surrounded by grown men vomiting and catatonic with fear, Sri Lankan refugee Tharumalingam Punniyamoorthy was too weak to cry. He shudders as he recalls the "hell" of his voyage, when he became one of thousands of poor Asian asylum-seekers fleeing to Australia -- unwittingly setting off a public backlash which will dominate next month's elections. more..

Sri Lanka market watchdog looks at broker appeals: report

July 19 (LBO) Sri Lanka's Securities and Exchange Commission is looking at appeal made by rejected applicants for stock broker licenses to trade on the Colombo Stock Exchange, a media report said. "We’re inquiring into these appeals in a very formal and transparent manner and the results will be out within two weeks," The Sunday Times newspaper quoted Indrani Sugathadasa, chairman CSE as saying. more..

London emergencies: Tamil 'very popular'

July 19 (BBC) The Metropolitan Police Services (MPS) in London says that Tamil is among the top ten languages used by the Londoners in accessing emergency services. The police emergency services that receives approx 8,000 emergency calls and 12,000 non-emergency calls every day, use the most popular language lines 1400 times a month, it said. The most popular languages among London's diverse population in accessing emergency services are more..

Sri Lanka exploit toss advantage again

July 19 (CI) One of the rare certainties of this uncertain game is a visiting team's fate when it loses the toss in Sri Lanka. Unless something miraculous happens, the best the said team can achieve is a draw. One of the underrated aspects of Sri Lanka's dominance at home is how they ruthlessly bat out oppositions after winning the toss. They last lost a home Test after winning the toss in March 2001. more..

Tharanga Paranavitana thrilled with maiden hundred

July 19 (CI) Tharanga Paranavitana made a compelling case to be given a permanent slot at the top of Sri Lanka's batting order with his maiden Test century, which put Sri Lanka in a sterling position in Muttiah Muralitharan's farewell Test in Galle. Tharanga was unbeaten on 110, leading Sri Lanka to 256 for 2, when rain brought an early end to the first day. "I have been scoring big hundreds in domestic cricket but have been unable to do so at international level," more..

Bank robbery complainants abducted, assaulted in Batticaloa

July 19 (TN) Two men abducted and assaulted two employees of the National Savings Bank in Ka'luvaagnchik-kudi in Batticaloa district Thursday evening who had complained to police of the robbery of three million rupees Thursday morning by armed men who had grabbed the bag from the person who had just withdrawn the cash, sources in Batticaloa said. Ka’luvaangchik-kudi police had instructed the two complainants to report at more..

Govt restricts movement to Vanni by UN, NGO and INGO staff

July 19 (TC) It is more than one year since the war ended but the government from the end of June 2010 has introduced new restrictions on movement to the Wanni by staff of UN agencies, NGOs and INGOs. Why? While there is no official explanation — as is often the case now — it is speculated the government is worried that negative reports about the ground situation in the Wanni would reach the international community via these “agents”. more..

Unwrapping Moon

July 19 (LG) Last week’s stand-off at the Colombo UN compound was generally seen as a playing into the hands of the anti-Sri Lankan forces in the UN and elsewhere, and the best evidence of this was that Russia, a staunch ally of Sri Lanka’s war against terrorism, for instance, insisted on playing no part in supporting the Sri Lankan minister who was at the centre of this drama, either by issuing a statement, or otherwise. Playing into the hands it really seemed to be. more..

State and strategy for the North and East

July 19 (LG) My first book had an awful title (Sri Lanka: The Travails Of A Democracy) conferred by the publisher in Delhi, but the subtitle was mine, and it was Unfinished War, Protracted Crisis. Today, that war is finished but the crisis protracts. In a critical review of that first book, Prof A.J. Wilson, Emeritus Professor of Political Science at the University of New Brunswick and son-in law of S.J.V. Chelvanayagam, kindly ventured the opinion that more..

Found: Sri Lankan primate thought to be extinct for 60 years

July 19 (Guardian) A mysterious primate driven to the brink of extinction by Britain's taste for tea has been photographed for the first time. The Horton Plains slender loris, found only in Sri Lanka, was for more than 60 years believed to be extinct. Then one was spotted fleetingly in 2002 when a light shone in its eyes and was reflected. Researchers have now managed to get the world's first pictures of the animal. more..

Is the military above the law?

July 19 (LG) Yesterday, July 15 my father was supposed to be at Parliament at 9.30am for a Health Ministry advisory Committee meeting. Despite a clear order by the courts that this Colombo District MP should be allowed without any hindrance to attend Parliamentary meetings, committee meetings, group meetings and other discussions relating to Parliamentary matters – the Military Commander didn’t allow him to leave the navy head quarters where he is detained. more..

The antics of vulgarly rumbustious rowdies

July 19 (LG) The ugly spectacle that Sri Lanka presented to the world last week in the siege on Colombo's United Nations compound by a constituent party of this government and with unequivocal blessings from the Rajapaksa administration, will not be easily forgotten. For Sri Lanka's detractors, as represented by the powerful pro LTTE lobbies overseas, the sight sufficed to gladden hearts and to prove their passionate argument all along that Sinhalese governments more..

Papaya leaves normalizes blood platelet in Dengue patients

July 19 (LP) Papaya leaf juice is supposed to be a remedy for the Dengue epidemic now spreading fast in the island. A research conducted on more than 70 dengue patients including 10-15 children proves that the use of 10 ml of papaya leaf juice helped them fully recover. The patients have been monitored for a few months and there are no side effects. more..

Electoral reforms or state reforms? Listen to minority communities of Sri Lanka

July 19 (LP) A dialogue is underway between the President and the major opposition UNP regarding the constitutional reforms. This dialogue can at least have an impact on the President Mahinda Rajapaksa's possible backward moves to guarantee a royal future for his son Namal Rajapaksa as his uncontested successor. Opposition can push the President for more democratic reforms even in the context the President may try to achieve his ulterior goals. more..

Rajapaksa plan was to defeat Tigers without giving any political concessions to the Tamils

July 19 (TC) The prime target of Minister Wimal Weerawansa’s delusive fast was neither the UN nor its Secretary General, but the Lankan public. Minister Weerawansa and his political handlers would have known that their attempt at blackmailing the UN Secretary General was bound to fail. And, as even the Sinhala nationalist defenders of Weerawansa’s actions admit, the fast was not really meant to end in, death. more..

Bedi calls for ban on doosra after Murali retirement

July 19 (TOI) Even as Sri Lanka pulled out all the stops to orchestrate a grand farewell for national hero Muttiah Muralitharan on Sunday, former India skipper and legendary spinner Bishan Singh Bedi raised a lone voice of dissent, lashing out at the ICC for refusing to wake up to the menace of suspect actions. Bedi, for long stridently opposed to any leniency in norms for bowlers with unorthodox arm and elbow positions, more..

UPFA and UNP move towards consensus politics

July 19 (TC) According to reports in the newspapers, the UPFA and the UNP have decided to work together on defining the basic principles of constitutional changes. This is a promising start and those who have been campaigning for constitutional change in the past three decades would be happy and relieved notwithstanding the fact that the similar attempts in the past miserably failed as disagreements on minor issues were overemphasized. more..

Seven Sri Lankan Tamil refugees arrested by Lanka Navy

July 19 (PTI) Seven Sri Lankan Tamil refugees were arrested by naval personnel of the island nation when they tried to sail to Talaimannar from a refugee camp in Rameswaram, police said. The navalmen found them near "Seventh Sand dune" and also seized their boat, coastal security police and Q branch police, quoting Sri Lankan officials said tonight. The refugees would be produced before a magistrate there tomorrow and remanded to judicial custody, they said. more..