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TNA seeks direct foreign aid to N-E

Mar 13 (DM) The TNA in its election manifesto has called for extensive power sharing arangement within a unit of a merged North and East under a Federal structure, yesterday. The party publishing its Election Manifesto yesterday said it wanted the power to deal with direct foreign investment in the North and the East as this would be a source for new industries and other employment opportunities for Tamil youth. more..

'Allowing monitors counting centres a good move'

Mar 13 (DM) Minister of Education and the General Secretary of UPFA Susil Premajayantha said yesterday allowing election monitors at the counting centres at the general elections is a good move. Mr. Premajayantha made this point responding to a question asked at a forum organised by Caritas Sri Lanka SEDEC on ensuring that the upcoming general elections is a free and fair one. more..

'Teachers forced to attend UPFA campaign meetings'

Mar 13 (DM) An Elections Department official said yesterday even though the majority of candidates are grossly violating election laws they are unable to take any action against them beyond warning and advising them in writing. Elections Department consultant Bandula Kulatunga said that they have received several complaints regarding the usage of public servants in election campaigning meetings but in spite of the warnings the activities have continued. more..

UN, hands off!

Mar 13 (IL) An Elections Department official said yesterday even though the majority of candidates are grossly violating election laws they are unable to take any action against them beyond warning and advising them in writing. Elections Department consultant Bandula Kulatunga said that they have received several complaints regarding the usage of public servants in election campaigning meetings but in spite of the warnings the activities have continued. more..

Military courts against Yoshitha Rajapaksa and Army Commander?

Mar 13 (LNW) It is understood that moves are underway by legal experts and rights activists to appoint an alternative military court against Yoshitha Rajapaksa, Army Commander Lieutenant General Jagath Jayasuriya, Major General Shavindra Silva and other senior military officers who were actively engaged in politics while wearing uniform. The move is considered after authorities failed to bring in any serious charges against General Fonseka more..

'Detention of Fonseka analogous to illegal detention of winning candidate in Myanmar'

Mar 13 (UNP) The main Opposition party the UNP which issued a statement yesterday (12) on the arbitrary arrest and continued illegal detention of Gen. Sarath Fonseka , the Presidential candidate at the last Presidential candidate said , Gen. Fonseka’s detention is akin to the illegal detention of Aung San Suu Kyi in Myanmar after the elections. more..

'Working class can't be taken for a ride'

Mar 13 (DN) President Mahinda Rajapaksa said the working class proved themselves at the last Presidential Election that they cannot be taken for a ride by giving false promises. The working class was with the Government when some elements were trying to deceive them by promising a salary hike of Rs 10,000, he added. The President said that the proletariat is not prepared to betray the country for a salary hike and more..

'Remove Banners, Cut-outs'

Mar 13 (DM) Elections Commissioner Dayananda Dissanayake has directed IGP Mahinda Balasuriya to remove all illegal cutouts and banners before March 15 and to stop buses displaying stickers of candidates from plying. He had also directed him to confiscate those buses if they fail to remove those display material. He gave these directions when he met the IGP together with political party leaders more..

'Fresh UN move against Lanka: Its all Fonseka’s foll'

Mar 13 (Island) Minister Mahinda Samarasinghe, yesterday blamed defeated Opposition presidential candidate Gen. (retd) Sarath Fonseka for giving an opportunity to some foreign governments, and a section of the media, to refresh alleged war crimes allegations against the country. He said that Fonseka and his political associates had caused irreparable damage by playing politics with national security. more..

Sri Lanka lifts taxes on gold imports

Mar 13 (LBO) Sri Lanka has lifted taxes and levies on gold imports from to promote jewellery industries in the country, the central bank said. "The removal of all applicable import taxes and other levies on gold imports will reduce the gold prices in the market and contribute to promote gold and jewellery industry in the country," the Central Bank said in a statement. more..

TNA drops separatist demand

Mar 13 (AP) Sri Lanka's main ethnic Tamil party on Friday dropped its demand for an independent state and said it is ready to accept regional self-rule, following the defeat of separatist Tamil Tiger rebels in a 25-year civil war. The TNA, which backed the rebels, said in its platform for April 8 parliamentary elections that it would accept a "federal structure" in the north and east provinces with power over land, finance, and law and order. more..

Sri Lankan Society meeting in Riyadh

Mar 14 (AN) Andrew Sinnen, the new president of the Sri Lanka Expatriates Society, has assumed the leadership of the 18-year-old organization from outgoing president Nirone Fernando. Fernando himself installed Sinnen during the society’s 18th annual general meeting at the Sri Lankan Embassy in Riyadh last week. A new committee of 15 members was unanimously elected for the current year at the meeting, . more..

UN intervention sought in Rizana case

Mar 14 (AN) The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) is to seek the United Nations High Commissioner’s intervention in resolving the case of a Sri Lankan maid who has been in prison since 2005 on allegations that she murdered a Saudi baby in her care. “The last hearing of Rizana Nafeek was held on Dec. 21 last year and was postponed until Jan. 19, but the case has still not come up for hearing,” more..

'Sri Lanka rice import barrier too high'

Mar 14 (LBO) Sri Lanka is expected to re-erect an import barrier soon to keep cheaper rice out of the reach of the island's consumers, but the country's 25 rupee a kilo duty is too high, consumer affairs minister Bandula Gunewardene said. A kilo of rice spiked over 70 rupees at the beginning of the year and a popular variety of premium 'Samba' rice went over 85 rupees a kilo at the end of 2009 and more..

'We Tamils are ever friends with you...'

Mar 14 (SLW) Sitting in the train to Jaffna on that August day in 1973, discovering a landscape I had never seen before is vivid in my memory. The 4th Kandy Boy Scout Troop from St. Anthony’s College headed by Scout Master Senarath Basnayake was on an adventure of discovery. It was an exciting trip, like going to another country - men in white vetties, women in colourful saris, the rickshaws, many Austin A 40s parked in a row, more..

UK's AID makes real difference for the lives of IDPs

Mar 14 (LG) The humanitarian aid programme in Sri Lanka initiated by UKaid of the Departmemt for International Development (DFID) has made a huge difference to the lives of the civilians recently displaced by the conflict in Sri Lanka. Since September 2008, DFID has committed £12.5 million to the humanitarian response to Sri Lanka. Mike Foster, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the DFID on his visit to Sri Lanka more..

Trade unions in forefront in the fight for justice for Tamils

Mar 14 (LG) According to the government news media, President Mahinda Rajapaksa has informed the United Nations Secretary General Ban K- moon, the move to appoint an expert panel to advise him on Sri Lanka was ‘totally uncalled for and unwarranted.’ He has emphasized that in the backdrop where there is no such action against countries with continuing armed conflicts, more..

Ethics and Politics

Mar 14 (LG) Socrates (469 – 399 BC) taught that the most important thing for us to learn in life is how to live in harmony with others. To live in harmony with others we have to do things that are helpful to others and avoid doing things that are harmful to them. Who judges whether or not the way we live is helpful or harmful to others? "Others, of course", is the obvious answer. The problem is that what we do and don’t do may not make us more..

On ‘The End Justifies the Means’ and other damaging beliefs

Mar 14 (TC) Having read the comments on my previous article, – ‘Whither the new Sri Lanka proclaimed by the triumphant Head of State?’ – posted by transCurrents on 26 February 2010, the need has arisen to clear the misconceptions and misunderstandings of some Sri Lankans, which reinforce the concern for the future of the island nation. In this regard, the vital points made earlier are reiterated in order to pinpoint the fundamental issues that need addressing. more..

April Polls: IDPs to get the silent treatment again

Mar 14 (SL) Tens of thousands of IDPs may not be able to vote at the April parliamentary election, just as in January’s presidential poll, election monitors said. Even the IDPs whose names are included in the 2008 electoral list have problems, as most of the people do not possess identification cards. The Department of Elections has announced that temporary cards are to be issued so that all people will be able to vote. more..

List of shame

Mar 14 (SL) Artists, intellectuals, professionals, distinguished civil servants, representatives from minority and underprivileged groups, are some of the people you won’t find on the National Lists submitted by the government and main opposition for this year’s election. Which is somewhat surprising, as it was precisely to allow these groups to enter parliament and influence the government’s decision making process that the National List was introduced. more..

Elections as teachable moments

Mar 14 (SL) Last December, as the presidential election campaign was heating up, I had to ponder the meaning of elections in Sri Lanka. A Burmese graduate student from the National University of Singapore had come to study with me. She was stunned by the plethora of graphic advertisements on display. They have no elections in Burma and no illegal and environment-polluting posters and cut-outs in Singapore. She asked: “They sell candidates like candy?” “Is this, what elections are about?” more..

'Development drive an asset to the nation'

Mar 14 (SL) In the months following the end of the war the government has launched what has been described as the largest development drive in the country’s history. In every part of the country new roads, power plants, ports and airports are rising out of the dust. The cost of these projects is also rising and the debts the government has accrued in order to fund these projects now run into hundreds of billions of rupees. more..

Same law, same crimes with Rajapaksas hung on an Indo-China rope

Mar 14 (SL) There is little doubt the war crimes issue would have any impact on this parliamentary election. The April 8 election has nothing serious on its platforms. It’s all about athletes, film stars, cricketers, journalists and also lumpens, and more about these “wonderful” personalities. What is nevertheless important is how the Rajapaksas would avoid facing war crimes investigations. This leads to the question whether General Fonseka would play a role in complicating the situation. more..

Young Sri Lankan professionals in the U.S. raise funds for Haiti

Mar 14 (SLNN) The Sri Lankan Young Professional Association (SLYPA) became one of the latest to join the growing list of international organizations raising funds for relief efforts in Haiti. The young men and women of the U.S.-based organization have so far raised more than $11,000 to aid the ailing country as it struggles to recover from a devastating earthquake. On Feb. 25, SLYPA hosted a Haiti fundraising event that took place at more..

A new commonsense for a new era

Mar 14 (SL) One year ago, Sarath Fonseka was the infallible hero, a Lankan version of the Nietzschean Superman; and any who dared to criticise him was a traitor. Today Sarath Fonseka is the arch traitor, a betrayer of the nation, a danger to society; and any who does not endorse the witch hunt against him is a traitor. Once, Gotabaya Rajapaksa took some media personnel sternly to task, for implying that more..

“Mony talks’’, and other election habits...

Mar 14 (LB) Election monitors and veterans in the subject point out that candidates and supporters always violate the act because legal provisions lack the gumption that is required to effect the laws. As election fever hots up, violation of elections laws can be seen islandwide. Despite the regulations enacted by the elections commissioner for a free and fair election from time to time, candidates and supporters continue their work, violating all these regulations. more..

'We don’t need a CHAP'

Mar 14 (LB) There will be no Common Humanitarian Action Plan for 2010, said Prof Rajiva Wijesinghe last week. The CHAP had fallen within his purview while he was secretary to the ministry of disaster management and human rights. “The government’s position is that we don’t need a CHAP and we’re not going to have a CHAP,” he told LAKBIMAnEWS. “It is a coordinating mechanism introduced at a time when more..

'Rewarding system will resurrect athletics'

Mar 14 (LB) South Asia’s fastest man Shehan Ambepitiya suggests that only a rewarding system could bring back the golden era of athletics which helped Sri Lanka reach new heights in the late 90’s as most of the young athletes are a demoralized lot at present. While attending a pre-season training session along with some 20 athletes, Ambepitiya said more..

'To change political psyche, my aim'

Mar 14 (LB) UNP Western Provincial Council (WPC) member Ruwan Wijewardene says that people are rallying behind the UNP-led United National Front (UNF) in their numbers to oust the UPFA government at the forthcoming Parliamentary polls. Wijewardene - a scion of two political dynasties here (Senanayake, Jayawardene/ Wickremasinghe) maintained that people have begun to really suspect and doubt the outcome of the January 26 presidential elections this-year. more..

'People oriented politics is what I desire'

Mar 14 (LB) UPFA Central Provincial Council (CPC) member Dilum Amunugama says that the government is 80 to 90 percent confident of obtaining a two-thirds majority at the upcoming general election on April 8. Amunugama who is set to contest the legislative poll for the first-time, next month on the UPFA ticket from the Kandy distinct, maintained that the people have already made up their mind to elect another SLFP-led administration and more..

Hoodlums helped by hustings

Mar 14 (LB) Underworld gangsters are operating freely without a problem, due to lavish political patronage afforded to them. According to police headquarters, underworld gangs are coming out in the open as the election is around the corner, and campaigns are in full swing. Armed underworld gang leaders are openly travelling with political notables, and the police are helpless as these gangsters are ‘protected’ more..

Hybrid Histories of South India and Sri Lanka

Mar 14 (TC) Having lived my life in equal parts in Sri Lanka and Canada, I have often modified the remark by a former Canadian Prime Minister, McKenzie King, that Canada “has too much geography and too little history”, to describe Sri Lanka’s never ending predicament: too much history, too little geography. Much of this old history has been abused as political instruments over the last seventy years to essentialize and perpetuate the ethnic divisions in the country. more..

Exit the "old" western masters: Enter the "new" eastern mandarins

Mar 14 (TC) An article published last week by Gomin Dayasri commences with the three following paragraphs, which represent a populist view of apologists of the present regime. The three paragraphs are a misrepresentation of facts and need to be addressed in order to understand the hostility of the West, the UN and some NGO’s not to Sri Lanka, but the present Sri Lankan regime. more..

The Commissioner of Elections: A close friend’s critique

Mar 14 (GV) One evening we boisterously debated on the conduct of the last Presidential Elections. Some blamed the President and supporters, some Ranil Wickremesinghe / Sarath Fonseka and supporters, R. Samapanthan and Somawansa Ameresinghe and others posthumously bashed Velupillai Prabhakaran for the “sin” he committed in November 2005. Also, Dayananda Dishanayake received enough criticism. more..

Why Rajapaksas see attack as the best form of defence

Mar 14 (LG) They say that Mahinda Rajapaksa does not know the meaning of the word compromise. In that context I’m reminded of what somebody said about that.‘Compromise’, it was said, is an arrangement by which it is assured that no party involved in a deal is happy. Maybe that is why these days Mahinda Rajapaksa is happy. He does not believe in any kind of compromise with Ban Ki- moon or more..

Galle Maritime Archaeological Museum: Epitome of an archaeological legacy

Mar 14 (SO) Remember the 'Ghost from the Grand Banks'? Science fiction has provided a glimpse of how intriguing our own history could be in hundreds or even thousands of years from now. If you know the surprises that real shipwrecks have to offer you would be amazed. Fact is often more awe-inspiring than fiction. The Galle Maritime Archaeological Museum - established by the Ministry of Cultural Affairs and National Heritage more..

'TNA isolates Tamils in North and East'

Mar 14 (SO) The TNA leadership was trying to isolate the Tamil community of the North and the East from the rest of the Sri Lankan society by seeking international intervention and support for its rigid stance on a political solution to the Tamil problem, Minister Prof. Tissa Vitarane said. At meetings in the run up to the April 8 parliamentary election the TNA is seeking the mandate of the Northern and Eastern Tamils for internal self-autonomy based on more..

'Govt ready to effect Constitutional changes'

Mar 14 (SO) SLFP General Secretary Maithripala Sirisena says a constitutional change is essential to expedite the country’s development process and reflect the people’s mandate properly. The Minister in an exclusive interview with the Sunday Observer said according to Mahinda Chinthana Idiri Dekma, President Mahinda Rajapaksa has a set of fresh ideas to make the necessary changes in the country. more..

St. Anthony’s holy relics venerated: Faith moves mountains

Mar 14 (SO) “Faith moves mountains”, goes the popular maxim. This was evident in no small measure as tens of thousands of Catholic devotees from every strata of society, from far and wide thronged St. Anthony’s shrine at Kochchikade, Colombo to set eyes on the 779-year-old holy relic of St. Anthony of Padua which was kept for public veneration from Sunday, March 7. more..

Golden Key depositors reassured again

Mar 14 (SO) Central Bank Governor, Ajith N. Cabraal has reassured Ceylinco Golden Key depositors again that their dues would be settled soon. The Governor who met the Ceylinco depositors last week said the delay in the re-payment was due to Lalith Kotelawala and other Golden Key Directors not declaring clear assets of their Ceylinco properties. Cabraal said that steps have been taken by the Central Bank to settle the depositors and more..

'Fonseka, no threat to UNP'

Mar 14 (SO) The UNP vote base will not be affected by DNA candidate Sarath Fonseka, said Colombo District UNP Candidate, Ex-minister Dr. Karunasena Kodituwakku. He said that the UNP, the oldest political party in the country has a traditional vote base of an average 35 percent in general and 40 percent in the Colombo district. Sarath Fonseka’s DNA campaign is led by the JVP. The JVP is basically a minor political party of adult students and the underpriviledged. more..

Student Unions in Jaffna set up ‘People’s Parliament’

Mar 14 (TN) The first session of the ‘People’s Parliament’, an organization launched by the representatives of various student unions in Jaffna peninsula, at Veerasingham Hall in Jaffna Saturday had to be cancelled as candidates or representatives of TNA failed to turn up, the organizers of the event said. The organizers had invited the candidates of political parties and independent groups contesting forthcoming parliamentary election in Jaffna district more..

Time for Sri Lanka to stop search for external enemies and turn the searchlight inwards

Mar 14 (TC) The Sri Lankan discourse on war crimes, violations of international humanitarian law and human rights in general, divide into two camps, both of which demonise the other. One holds that the entire matter is a campaign by imperialism and its agents; human rights is itself a suspicious Western usage if not a concept invented millennia ago by us Asians more..

Pillaiyan to meet Indian leaders

Mar 14 (NS) Chief Minister of the Eastern Province, Sivanesathurai Chandrakanthan (alias Pillaiyan) is tipped to visit India to meet Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Sonia Gandhi, Leader of India’s Congress, after the general election. Spokesperson for the TMVP Azad Moulana told The Nation that after a cordial meeting with Indian Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao, the Chief Minister was invited to meet with Indian leaders in the presence of the Indian High Commissioner. more..

Home and home battles mar electioneering

Mar 14 (NS) Despite the parliamentary general election scheduled for April 8 only 25 days away, the major political parties in the fray have so far confined their electioneering to media briefings, whistle stops and house-to-house canvassing. The UNP, as a prelude to their propaganda campaign proper, is holding the meetings of the party’s district organisations presided over by the party leader Ranil Wickremesinghe. more..

Serendipity from air

Mar 14 (NS) I took the special air-conditioned express bus from Colombo to Kandalama, where I was picked up by Peter Stewart from the Adventure Asia Company, and driven to the nearby JC’s guesthouse, where I was to spend the night. JCs offered a high standard of accommodation – clean, comfortable and well appointed – considering it only cost me Rs 3,500 a night. After dinner, a shower and a good night’s sleep, more..

General election with a specific target

Mar 14 (NS) Almost imperceptibly, the general election campaign has shifted from a contest between the ruling party and the opposition, and from being a contest on political, social and economic issues, to a rather peripheral issue: A race for a two-thirds majority in Parliament. This issue was first brought to the fore by none other than President Mahinda Rajapaksa himself, who, during the latter stages of the presidential election campaign, more..

'Circumstances forced me into politics'

Mar 14 (NS) Anoma Fonseka, who is running the election campaign for former Army Commander turned politician General Sarath Fonseka, says she believes in incomparable strength a woman has in winning obstacles thrown at her in life and confident that her husband’s party, Democratic National Front, will demonstrate a fair show in the forthcoming general election. Here are the excerpts of her interview. more..

Candidates observe it in the breach

Mar 14 (NS) With less than a month to go for the forthcoming general elections which record an unprecedented number of candidates in the country’s election history, the debate on the effectiveness of the election laws too has become prominent in the political arena. The general public as well as interested parties raised their eyebrows on exorbitant amounts of money spent on election campaigns by the candidates. more..