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Yet another 'Commission!'

May 30 (SL) The Rajapaksa government has, according to the Daily Mirror of Tuesday, May 18th, decided to appoint an eight-member Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission, “to probe what happened between February 2002 and May 2009 (and) …whether any persons, groups or institutions directly or indirectly were responsible for what happened during the period and to recommend measures to be adopted to prevent the recurrence of such incidents and to promote unity.” more..

Beautician’s dreams charred by a gas cylinder

May 30 (SL) Domestic aides have always caused an unbearable anguish to beautician Rosanne Ossen. Perhaps it was all symbolic of what was in store for her — for a domestic aide to be the cause of a dying pain. Mother of three, Rosanne Ossen took great pride in her large two storeyed home situated at Kohalvila Road in close proximity to the Kelaniya temple. “We refurbished our first floor for our daughter,” she told friends happily about eight months ago, more..

'Prisoners over-60 to be released'

May 30 (SL) In order to ease the congestion in prisons, new legislation is to be brought in to release prisoners over 60 years of age who are serving jail terms for minor offenses, Rehabilitation and Prison Reforms Minister D.E.W Gunasekera said. Minister Gunasekera told The Sunday Leader that he has called for a report on prisoners over 60 years of age from the Prisons Commissioner. more..

Foreign funds re-enter bourse

May 30 (SL) The Colombo Stock Market received a further boost last week, with the re-entry of Janus and State Street, two U.S. based funds into the market, but a stock market analyst cautioned that hotel stocks were overheated. “They are being traded on the basis of envisaged profits for next year, which is not healthy,” he told The Sunday Leader. The re-entry of foreign funds is after a lapse of several weeks, he added. more..

No winners as Channel 4 claims war crimes on both sides

May 30 (SL) Britain’s controversial TV channel, Channel 4 has once again claimed that the Sri Lanka Army engaged in acts tantamount to war crimes during the campaign against the LTTE. In a programme broadcast last Tuesday, reported on by the Channel 4 Foreign Affairs Correspondent, Jonathan Miller, the programme claims that in excess of 30,000 largely Tamil persons were killed in the last stages of the war. more..

'I am worried about the Tamil community'

May 30 (SL) A veteran Tamil political leader known for his moderate stance in ethnic politics, TULF Leader V. Anandasangaree says that he is concerned about the plight of the Tamil people in the country given the outcome at the April general election. While Anandasangaree failed to secure a seat in parliament, the TNA managed to secure 12 seats in parliament. more..

Sithuvili: On war’s end and a year later…

May 30 (GV) A war was thus fought. It all started decades ago, when the colonial alcohol was well-absorbed into her, leading to inevitably sheer tipsiness, and the long-lasting ‘hangover’ was just about to begin. As some said Sinhala should be the national language of independent Ceylon and Buddhism the state religion, some others felt insecure and concerned for their future in the island. Insecurity is a dangerously devastating feeling that’s always better avoided but more..

From necessary war to sustainable peace in Sri Lanka

May 30 (GV) Interestingly of the four best pieces I have read on the first anniversary of the war, three are by Indian analyst/commentators, of whom two are military professionals: Gen Ashok K. Mehta’s Manekshaw paper No 22 for the Centre for Land Warfare Studies (New Delhi) on ‘How Eelam war 4 was Won’ (which cannot be read by any patriot or anti-fascist without a lump in one’s throat or mist in one’s eyes), the piece by Col R Hariharan more..

From HSZ to Vesak Zone: Jaffna celebrates Vesak in peace

May 30 (SO) The ‘Dhamma Zone’ replaced the High Security Zone; depicting Karuna, Meththa, Muditha and Upekha (kindness, loving-kindness, delight and equanimity) with the appearance of the Vesak Full Moon on May 27. It was the first mega spiritual event which made more than 200,000 people in Jaffna as well as people from various parts of southern Sri Lanka mingle freely, more..

CWC proposals to benefit plantation workers - Muthu Sivalingam

May 30 (SO) The Ceylon Workers’ Congress (CWC) will submit proposals and recommendations to the Government, shortly to create more Divisional Secretariats and delimit the existing boundaries to ensure proportional representation for the plantation community in local Government bodies, CWC President and Deputy Minister of Economic Development Muthu Sivalingam told the Sunday Observer. more..

Two-thirds of poor in Lanka own phones

May 30 (SO) About 40 percent of the population in Sri Lanka (eight million) is classified as the Bottom of the Pyramid (BoP) folks earning less than two dollars a day. Of these poor, two-thirds (64%) of ‘BoP households’ claim ownership of phones (mobile or fixed - or both) which is twice the same rate in India (38%), according to a recent Tele-use survey. Also, among the BoPs, growth in mobile ownership increased by a significant 33 percent in 2008. more..

Louise Arbour on Sri Lanka

Tri Star employs 150 IDPs

May 30 (SO) Tri Star Apparel Pte. Ltd. of Ratmalana has extended its fullest co-operation to the Government in providing employment to several internally displaced youth. These female former LTTE cadres rehabilitated by the Ministry of Rehabilitation had sought the help of private sector organisations to give them employment. The first batch of 150 displaced girls will be given permanent employment at Tri Star's Ratmalana Garment factory. more..

Census on unauthorised dwellers near waterways

May 30 (SO) The Irrigation Ministry has ordered an immediate census of unauthorised dwellers near waste water canals, irrigation waterways and wetland in districts worst affected by recent floods including Gampaha, Colombo, Kalutara, Nuwara Eliya and Galle. The census is to be carried out as a precursor to an expedited program to relocate these unauthorised dwellers as a solution to the flash flooding experienced in cities after a heavy rain, more..

'UNP reforms will not see the light of day'

May 30 (SO) Hemakumara Nanayakkara, a one time firebrand Minister in the UPFA Govt., was one politician most sought after by the media for his outspoken nature. Wearing the green satakaya to represent his political views, he was always in the news, either as a back bencher in Parliament or as Minister. As a member of the UNP dissident group who rose against Ranil Wickremesinghe’s dictatorial rule, more..

Managing water, preventing floods

May 30 (TC) Pre-monsoon rains in May wreaked havoc in as many as five Provinces. The Western Province was the worst, with all three Districts, Colombo, Gampaha and Kalutara recording significantly high rainfall over long durations. Puttalam District in the Northwestern Province, Galle District in the Southern Province as well as parts of the Sabaragamuwa and Central Provinces also received heavy rainfalls. more..

Translations: ‘Attempting the art of the Impossible’

May 30 (LG) We are here today to celebrate the 88th birth anniversary of Regi Siriwardene, a translator par excellence, especially of poetry that he passionately loved. Regi was that rare translator who became so enamored of the poetry of Pushkin that he learnt Russian in order to be able to read Pushkin in the original. Having done so, he then went on to translate his favorite Russian poems into English for us. more..

Rediscovering the youth link in Sri Lanka’s post-war reconciliation process

May 30 (TC) A young boy from a border village in Polonnaruwa had fiercely sworn to hate the Tamil race. Living on the borderlines of the conflict, he lost his mother and father to a brutal LTTE attack in the height of the war. Rationality not prevailing, he blamed all Tamil people for the loss of his parents, and the pathetic state of his life for years afterwards. more..

State capitalism to overcome cyclic crisis

May 30 (LG) The global crisis, which we are experiencing right now is the deepest and the most widespread crisis, since the 1930s by any reckoning. It has changed the attitude of pundits of global capital. The glory days of free market are gone with the crisis. Then, we were told by writers, artists and academics that “Greed or desire is good. Greed is right. Greed works. Greed clarifies, cuts through, and captures the essence of the evolutionary spirit.” more..

Rapid Turnovers

May 30 (RW) The recent rapid progress with regard to resettlement of the displaced from Welfare Centres is immensely welcome. It is also indicative of a coherent planning process that was carried out without concern for disruptive pressures that took no account of national needs. Thus until May 2009 it was obvious that government had to be extremely careful about the possibility of an LTTE resurgence in the Vanni. more..

Vesak 10 - Sri Lanka

Sinhala symbols, war, peace and ethnic reconciliation in Sri Lanka

May 30 (TC) On May 17, 2009 the LTTE, the major Tamil resistance movement, admitted defeat in the war that was waged without any witnesses and vowed to silence guns against the Sinhala-Buddhist state. On May 18, Sri Lanka security forces announced that the LTTE Chief Velupillai Prabhakaran, was killed by Sri Lanka’s military in a firefight that signaled the effective end to one of Asia’s longest-running military conflicts. more..

Fighting windmills? Diaspora and militarism in post-conflict Lanka

May 30 (GV) The weather gods have intervened to arrest the war gods in Lanka. Victory celebrations that were to feature military hardware, air power, and parades scheduled for V-Day on May 18, 2010 on Galle Face Green, while Colombo’s ordinary citizens were subject to yet another security lock-down to protect the Victors have been indefinitely postponed. Pre-monsoon rains and floods have displaced many poor and vulnerable families, living in “unauthorized shelters” more..

'No Big Brother; India should treat us like its little sister'

May 30 (TOI) Ten days ago, Sri Lanka marked the first anniversary of its victory over the LTTE. It was a momentous occasion for the man credited with taming the Tigers, Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa. But the threat posed by the LTTE has not entirely disappeared as demonstrated by the multi-level security checks at Temple Trees, the president’s residence in Colombo. Rajapaksa talks Tigers, ties with India and more..

Minister Peiris meets Senator Casey & others

May 30 (gDI) Minister of External Affairs Prof. G.L. Pereis met with members of Congress and a U.S. Trade Representative Thursday on the third-day of his five-day diplomatic mission to the United States. The Minister has encouraged officials in the U.S. government and members of Congress to give Sri Lanka a “Fresh look,” following the conclusion of the 25-year conflict against terrorism and the government’s efforts to redevelop Sri Lanka. more..

Crew of The Talca return home but Al Nisr crew still held

May 30 (GDI) The Sri Lankan crew members who were onboard the Bermudan-flagged merchant vessel which was captured by Somali pirates, have safely arrived in Colombo. They were in captivity for nearly 2 months. 18 of the 23 member crew captured by Somali pirates on March 23, on board the MV Talca was flown to Colombo from Sharjah. Only 18 of them returned to Sri Lanka while the rest have decided to stay in Sharjah where they have got new assignments. more..

People of Mannar will have pure potable water

May 30 (MoD) The civilians in Mannar will have access to pure drinking water. The first stage of the mega scheme was declared open at Pallimunai. Civilians who were displaced from their places of origin due to LTTE terrorism have now returned to their homes due to the strength provided to them by the Government. They are now in the process of improving their livelihoods. However they are confronted with a major problem, that is finding water in the dry zonal area. more..

Basil uncle and Naamal sonny in stiff competition

May 30 (LeN) Cricket circles report that there has erupted a stiff competition between Basil Rajapakse and Naamal Rajapakse in regard to the appointment of the person for the post of Chairman of the Cricket Board sub Committee. It is learnt that Minister Basil Rajapakse is determined that DS De Silva, the present Chairman of the sub Committee shall continue in the post. On the other hand, Naamal Rajapakse is anxious to bring back the former Chairman Jayantha Dharmadasa to the post. more..

President in Kanthale-meet with devotees of the East

May 30 (LP) Participating in religious functions at two major temples in the Eastern Province yesterday President Mahinda Rajapaksa declared open the new Buddhist Shrine at the Agbopura Rajamaha Viharaya, Kantale. President Rajapaksa took part in the religious observances and offered Alms (Dana) to the priests while the President held friendly talks with the people of the area who participated at the event. more..

Pure water ensured for Mannar civilians

May 30 (LP) first stage of the mega water scheme was declared open at Pallimunai giving access to pure drinking water to civilians of Mannar. The first stage was declared open by Minister of Economic Development Basil Rajapaksa while several other Parliamentarians were present on the occasion. The project is in progress with assistance of the Asian Development Bank (ADB) under the “Uthuru Wasanthaya” development drive. more..

President visits Agbopura & Somawathiya

May 30 (GDI) President Mahinda Rajapaksa undertook visits to Kantale and the historic Somawathiya Sacred area. The President visited the Raja Maha Viharaya at Agbopura in the Trincomalee District last morning. He declared open the new Buddhist Shrine room of the temple. Thereafter, the President offered alms to the members of the Maha Sangha. The President also seized the opportunity to have friendly discussions with the devotees at the temple. more..

Records of persons fleeing Vanni destroyed

May 30 (TN) The Special Action Committee (SAC) of Basil Rajapakse, the present Economic Development Minister and the former senior advisor to the President during the war on Vanni, had ordered the records of all persons who fled Vanni at the end of the war to be destroyed so as to conceal the recorded particulars of more than 17,000 persons who were suspected as Liberation Tigers and who had later disappeared without any trace, more..

Sri Lanka lectures to the world on the levity of its war crimes

May 30 (LG) After the UPFA government won the parliamentary election in April this year, Sri Lanka appointed a law professor, G. L. Peiris, as the foreign minister who, for the first time, makes his week-long official visit to the U.S starting May 23. He the met UN Secretary, General Ban Ki-Moon, on May 24th at the UN headquarters in New York, as well as the U.S. Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton on May 28 in Washington D.C. more..

UNP campaign funds purloined-Party insiders

May 30 (LB) UNP leaders have pilfered millions of rupees of funds that were received for recent elections, UNPers charged. A group of UNP MPs and a set of UNP MPs who crossed over to the UPFA during the term of the last parliament charged that the funds that are supposed to have been received by the party are being grossly misused by certain people with vested interests. more..

Editorial: Arithmetic of education

May 30 (NS) It is customary for new ministers, when they assume office to promise to revamp the sectors that they have been entrusted with and we have seen much of that in the past few weeks. In fact, this has sometimes exceeded the norms of decency with the new minister castigating his predecessor’s work. The reforms promised in the education sector though are thought provoking. more..

Dinesh lashes out; Omar remains calm

May 30 (NS) Minister Dinesh Gunewardane pointed finger at the CMC calling the establishment a failed institution. The Minister who was critical of the Council for quite some time, lashed out at the CMC again criticising its performance during the recent floods. Minister Gunewardane, while replying to a question regarding his Ministry’s performance during the floods said that though his Ministry had successfully completed its task, the CMC has failed in carrying out its responsibility. more..

General’s Army loyalists quit DNA

May 30 (NS) The 14 Army officers, who unsuccessfully contested the April 8 general election on the DNA ticket under the leadership of General Sarath Fonseka, have taken a collective decision to quit the party, informed sources said yesterday. Among the Army officers set to sever all ties with the DNA is Captain Senaka Silva who functioned as the Secretary of General Fonseka during the latter’s brief political life since retirement. more..

Lanka faces battle with big powers

May 30 (ST) Some critical economic and political issues relating to Sri Lanka were played out in world capitals this week. These related to economic talks with the European Union, bi-lateral talks with India and mending fences with the United States of America. Important in economic terms was talks in Brussels on the revision and updating of the European Union's scheme of Generalised System of Preferences or the GSP Plus. more..

Political inertia

May 30 (NS) This is the Vesak season and with it, there is a sense of political inertia that has enveloped the government and its leading politicians. The preceding floods also meant that they put politics aside and concentrated on disaster management although the collective opposition was blaming the ruling United Peoples’ Freedom Alliance for tampering with the environment, leading to flash floods in many cities and highways. more..

No kid passes in 56 CP schools

May 30 (LB) Not a single student in 56 schools in the Central Province, had qualified to follow GCE A/Ls this year, education authorities making an astounding revelation about the general failure of education in the country, said. The failure of the students of these 56 schools, out of 1474 schools in the Central Province to qualify for G.C.E A/Ls, has become an intractable problem, more..

Teacher export move criticised

May 30 (NS) Teacher unions say that a proposition made by the newly-appointed Minister Bandula Gunawardane, to send nearly 2,000 English teachers to South Korea, was nothing short of a farce as schools island-wide are faced with a severe shortage of English teachers while the fail rate in English at the GCE O/L is a staggering 75%. General Secretary of the CTSU, Mahinda Jayasinghe said that almost all rural schools faced a dearth of both teachers of English as a subject as well as more..

Editorial: Environment and conflict of interest

May 30 (ST) US President Barack Obama, under fire for dragging his feet on the continuing Gulf of Mexico oil spill which is destroying the environment and threatening the life and wellbeing of the people in those coastal states was forced to meet the media, and through them address the people of America. This proved two things; that arguably the most powerful man on earth was still sensitive to media criticism, and that he came forward to address the people himself. more..

'Reforms committee has a mandate'

May 30 (LB) Some UNP MPs questioned the legality of the reforms committee appointed by the UNP to look into the amendments to the party constitution, claiming that it has no mandate of the party’s Working Committee. LAKBIMAnEWS spoke to Kurunegala District MP Dayasiri Jayasekara who has been a key mover pressing for reforms, about the latest argument brought forward by more..

Apsara hands over letter to Hillary

May 30 (LB) Apsara Fonseka, daughter of General Sarath Fonseka, has handed over a letter to the US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton last Friday. This letter was handed over to Hillary Clinton’s assistant chief of staff a few hours before foreign Minister Prof G.L Pieris’s scheduled meeting with the US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, on Friday in Washington DC. Apsara Fonseka and three other Sri Lankans, who are co- founders of the more..

State obligated to grant eastern land to Sinhalese also

May 30 (LB) Minorities in the Eastern province are afraid that the government is facilitating and supporting land distribution schemes which have the hidden agenda of changing demographics, says a new report on land issues in the area. The report ‘Land in the Eastern Province-Politics, Policy and Conflict’ also states that, in contrast, the Sinhala community felt they did not have a right to land ownership so the state had an obligation to grant them land and more..

New cricket committee in the offing Sports minister sorting out right men

May 30 (LB) Sports Minister CB Ratnayake is all set to reconstitute the cricket interim committee headed by DS De Silva within the next few days in an effort to put the country’s richest sports body in order before the next year’s Cricket World Cup. However, it was not clear if the entire committee will be sacked or a few controversial figures will be replaced with some freshers. more..

Editorial: The middle path

May 30 (Island) A strong opposition is a sine qua non for good governance and in this context, reports last week of the government considering legislation to protect opposition members of local bodies who supported the government from losing their seats is most disquieting. It had even been suggested that a member should not be unseated except by the majority decision of the concerned local body! more..

Angry Customs trade unions seek meeting with President over DG’s removal

May 30 (Island) Customs Department trade unions, perturbed over the sudden removal of Director-General Sarath Jayatilleka, has sought a meeting with President Mahinda Rajapaksa to discuss the issue. With Mrs. Sudarma Karunaratne, a senior Treasury official, appointed to the top Customs slot, Jayatilleka has sent in his retirement papers after he was transferred to the Finance Ministry’s Policy and Planning Division as Director-General. more..

‘Sri Lanka’s last chance to get rid of Executive Presidency’

May 30 (Island) ‘It used to be said that J.R.J. locked-up the 1978 constitution in a box and threw away the key. The key, it was believed, could not be found. But now the key has been found with the UPFA enjoying an almost two thirds majority in Parliament. With the SLMC, the TULF and the Left parties, all prepared to help President Mahinda Rajapaksa to pass the relevant constitutional amendments, this is Sri Lanka’s last chance to be rid of the Executive Presidency. more..

Private Sector businessmen as Chairmen of State Corporations?

May 30 (Island) The Government has appointed prominent businessmen to head some boards and corporations including Harry Jayawardene as the Chairman of the Ceylon Petroleum Corporation. Will this improve the running of the State Corporations and make them profitable? Firstly it must be said that chairmen are not always the chief executives in state corporations. Often the chief executive is the general manager. more..