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Welcome to the Islamic Republic of Sri Lanka!

Dec 15 (DM) She went to the Chilaw Food City only to be told that she cannot buy alcohol as she is female. She tried to argue the point as she had never heard of the law that was being put forward by the manager but he merely pointed to a sign which was in Sinhala pasted on the wall (obviously he had never heard of the official languages provisions in the Constitution) and said he was sorry but it was the law. In passing he said, if she brought a man with her, he would be more..

Right of Way: a story yet to be told

Dec 15 (DM) Two things have escaped the general discussion on the highway. The first is the cost and the debt repayment over the next 20-30 years that, given the considerable cost overruns of 100 percent, the delays in getting the highway completed and subsequent maintenance costs, will continue over the years. The return on the tolls seemed to be encouraging initially and it is hoped that this revenue stream will continue to cushion some of the expenditure that the state has more..

'I have not compromised the UNP in any way'

Dec 15 (SL) Following the announcement of his decision to contest for the post of UNP Leader, the party’s Deputy Leader Karu Jayasuriya says his priority is to unite the party to build a vibrant opposition. He said, “My winning formula is to be transparent and honest. I have nothing to hide.” He observes that he is faced with a difficult task since he has to face the full force of opponents from within the party, the state run media and powerful more..

Bell Pottinger and Sri Lanka: A trail of spin doctoring and whitewashing

Dec 15 (GV) Aside from articles appearing last Sunday in the Sunday Times has been curiously silent over recent revelations in the British media on the government’s connections with the infamous British PR firm Bell Pottinger. On 6th December, The Independent ran a story on how Bell Pottinger had written the President’s speech to the UN after the end of the war in 2009. The article noted, “Senior executives at Bell Pottinger told undercover reporters that they more..

42 political activists and HRDs detained

Dec 15 (GV) On December 10th 2011, a group of 42 HRDs and political activists from the South of Sri Lanka were detained by police in the Northern town of Jaffna and prevented from attending a protest to mark international human rights day in Jaffna. Events to mark Human Rights Day including protests in other parts of Sri Lanka such as in Colombo, Kandy and Kurunegela were allowed to take place without disruption. However in Jaffna the police detained HRDs travelling to more..

Serial beggar killer arrested

Dec 15 (NS) Beggars among all sections of human society are the most prone to exposure to quirks of weather, starvation and uncertainty of what tomorrow could bring for them. This transient nature of their way of life is known to almost all people who live in normal society, whatever their status may be. Hence the common sympathy for beggars is found among all of us. But one cannot find among the records of criminal history, ancient or modern any serial killer whose more..

National Languages and Social Integration Ministry must think ‘outside the box’

Dec 15 (TC) Speech at the Committee Stage of the Budget Debate 2011 on the votes of the Ministry of National Languages and Social Integration by Prof Rajiva Wijesinha, MP dviser on Reconciliation to the President on December 9 th 2011. I am grateful, Mr Speaker, for this opportunity to support the budget allocation and the work of the Ministry of National Languages and Social Integration amongst others. In fact my one complaint is that not enough has been given more..

Lalith Ambanwela: A man of exemplary courage and integrity

Dec 15 (DBS) Hello Friends; Many of you may have forgotten the name Lalith Ambanwela. It was on May 20th 2002 that this conscientious and gutty auditor attached to the Auditor – Generals dept had acid flung at him for having exposed the high level corruption by certain Central Provincial Council officials in Kandy. Despite this vicious acid attack that scarred him for life, Auditor Lalith Ambanwela is back at work, as determined as ever to serve the nation and uncover corruption. more..

5th Death Anniversary of LTTE ‘Mathiyuraingar’ Balasingham

Dec 15 (DBS) December 14th is the fifth death anniversary of Anton Stanislaus Balasingham who served for many years as the “Arasiyal Mathiyuraingar” or political adviser to the LTTE movement and its leader Veluppillai Prabhakaran. While the media described Balasingham by various designations such as political adviser, political strategist,ideologue,theoretician etc he was “Bala annai” (elder brother Bala) to Prabhakaran, LTTE cadres and many more..

Comprehensive project plan needed for implementation of Tamil as an official language

Dec 15 (TC) According to Chapter IV of the Constitution of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka, Sinhala and Tamil are the Official Languages. They are also called National Languages. English is the link language. Failure on the part of the Govt institutions to comply with the Constitutional provisions, Cabinet directives and Public Administration circulars relating to the Official Languages have caused immense inconvenience and hardships to more..

Mystery murder uncovered after 22 years

Dec 15 (SO) It was one of the oldest unsolved murder cases in the country which was hitherto buried under a layer of silence for more than twenty-two years until policemen from the Galagedera police Intelligence Unit worked tirelessly for six months to crack open the case. The policemen worked under cover as labourers in the village to unravel the mysterious disappearance of a man from the Pallekotuwa in the Galagedera area twenty two years ago. The villagers of Pallekotuwa were more..

All have much to gain from General Fonseka’s release

Dec 15 (Island) President Mahinda Rajapaksa is willing to consider the question of releasing General Sarath Fonseka from prison, according to reports. This gesture on the part of the President is encouraging. And if General Fonseka’s family accepts the President’s invitation to discuss this matter and secures the General’s release, it would then be beneficial to all the parties concerned, the family of General Fonseka, the Govt and the people of this country. more..

Editorial: Brouhaha over a name

Dec 15 (Island) Those who thought a few years ago that the performing arts colossus on the former Nomads Grounds was still born behind a takarang fence stand corrected. It has today blossomed into a magnificent architectural masterpiece of the shape of a lotus with ultra modern facilities thanks to China. It is scheduled to be ceremonially opened today. No state ceremony takes place in this country without a ruckus. The govt has, true to form, named the new performing arts more..

Guarded Smith refuses to call current Sri Lankan attack weakest

Dec 15 (Island) It doesn’t require knowledge of rocket science to call the current Sri Lankan attack the weakest in 20 years. During Sri Lanka’s previous three tours to South Africa, in 1998, 2000 and 2002, both Muttiah Muralitharan and Chaminda Vaas were key members of the touring party. Currently the Sri Lankans have just one bowler who has taken over 100 Test wickets, but South African captain Graeme Smith refrained from making comments on their opposition’s attack. more..

Dilshan not cowed by South Africa challenge

Dec 15 (CI) South Africa's media have not gone as far as Martin Johnson did when he labelled England a team that "can't bat, can't bowl, can't field," but their sizing up of Sri Lanka has come close. From questioning whether the batsmen will be able to stand up, let alone score runs, on green pitches, to wondering if the bowlers will pose a threat at all, they clearly see Sri Lanka as small fries ahead of the upcoming series. The only thing that has more..

The state of State media

Dec 15 (FT) The media is a beleaguered industry in Sri Lanka, but freedom of expression is perhaps more strangled in State-owned institutions. Therefore, it was refreshing to hear MP Namal Rajapaksa asking the State media to be more impartial in their reporting and not concentrate so much on his family. Yet, having said that, one is forced to point out that since his family holds most of the main portfolios of the Govt and are responsible for many of the developments more..

Extra life for old directors in banks

Dec 15 (FT) Over a dozen old directors on boards of commercial banks have received a new lease of life following an injunction obtained by shareholder and good governance activist K.C. Vignarajah staying the application of Central Bank rules requiring them to call it quits by year end. Colombo District Court early this week issued an enjoining order over a case filed last year by Viganarajah. The next hearing is fixed for 27 January. Two specific rules contested were those requiring more..

Disappeared activist 'received death threats'

Dec 15 (BBC) R.Weeraraj, father of Lalith Kumar Weeraraj who disappeared last week in Jaffna says that he received threatening telephone calls before his son's disappearance. Lalith Kumar Weeraraj and Kugan Muruganathan disappeared on the International Human Rights Day which fell on December 10, Saturday. R.Weeraraj said that they have been engaged in helping people held in detention and was able to secure the release of some. more..

Centurion, the most greenish wicket I’ve ever seen – Dilshan

Dec 15 (Island) Sri Lanka captain Tillakaratne Dilshan called the Centurion wicket, prepared for the first Test against South Africa that gets underway today, the most greenish wicket he had ever seen. Dilshan refrained from complaining about the nature of the wicket, but said the team is ready to take up any challenge. "We have played here on South African wickets before but this looks very green and all fast bowlers can enjoy the conditions," more..

Pressure in interest rates, balance of payments under stress

Dec 15 (Island) Benchmark Treasury bill rates came under pressure at yesterday’s auction with entire bids of two of the three tenures were rejected by the Central Bank as interest rates continue to come under pressure on growing credit demand, with the Central Bank continuing to defend the exchange rate in the face of severe import demand. Dealers said the country’s balance of payments was under stress. The exchange rate continues to be defended at Rs. 113.89/90 to a dollar more..

Justice Secy on collision course with ex-judges over missing vehicles

Dec 15 (Island) The Justice Ministry and a group of retired judges are on a collision course over the failure on the part of the latter to return official cars. Justice Ministry Secretary Suhada Gamlath alleged that three ex-High Court Judges had ignored repeated reminders to hand over the vehicles. He said that the ministry would pursue this issue, though those holding onto govt property were threatening to move the judiciary against the ministry. more..

SL, only country to provide free education, health - minister

Dec 15 (DN) Although education and health facilities are provided at a price in other countries, Sri Lanka is the only country which provides them free of charge to its people. As each child has been offered an opportunity to pursue the type of education preferred by them under the Mahinda Chinthana, it is the duty of both parents and teachers to provide a sound education to children, said Minister Reginald Cooray. He said so addressing the Biennial Prize day meeting of more..

UN deployment: SL among major contributors

Dec 15 (Island) Among the UN members states, Sri Lanka is currently ranked the 21st contributor of troops and police personnel to the UN Peacekeeping operations in terms of men deployed in several parts of the world, according to the Ministry of External Affairs. Parliament was told yesterday that nearly 1,190 personnel were deployed overseas at the moment. Sri Lankan personnel are deployed in Haiti, Iraq, Chad, Central African Republic, Timor-Leste, Sudan and more..

'Downfall of SL cricket due to politicisation'

Dec 15 (DM) Former Sri Lankan Cricket Captain turned opposition MP Arjuna Ranatunga today charged that the politicisation of Sri Lankan cricket had led to the downfall of it. “Cricket is being politicised today more than ever before,” he told Parliament today. Mr. Ranatunga made this point in response to the charges made by his former colleague turned politician Sanath Jayasuriya that player politics had led to the downfall. more..

Sri Lanka’s fishing industry has become a leading contributor to the National Economy

Dec 15 (AT) Minister Rajitha Senaratne participating in the Committee State discussion of the votes of his Ministry said that the rate of fisheries development has been increased to 21 percent and the Ministry has earned an income of Rs 83,928 million, which had been a historic income. He said that the fishery harvest has been increased to 357,030 metric tons this year, and the consumption of fish per head per day has been increased from 30g to 35g from 2009 to 2011. more..

Sri Lanka Dialog to buy Suntel for US$34mn

Dec 15 (LBO) Sri Lanka's Dialog Axiata, said it will buy Suntel, a fixed access unit of Sweden's Overseas Telecom AB for a little over 34 million US dollars to expand its fixed wireless business. Suntel, which has 382 base stations, will be bought through Dialog Axiata's Dialog Broadband fixed access unit. The merged entity will create the second largest fixed access provider in the country with a 23 percent market share, the firm said in a statement. more..

'Sri Lanka doesn’t need outside help to solve problems'

Dec 15 (DN) Minister Prof G L Peiris yesterday stated in Parliament that Sri Lanka does not need an international policeman to solve its internal matters. He also stated that Sri Lanka is a sovereign nation and can solve its internal issues on its own. The Minister made this observation joining the committee stage debate of the Appropriation Bill under Finance Heads of the External Affairs Ministry in response to a statement made by TNA MP R Sampanthan. more..

Sri Lankan immigrant found in trunk of car

Dec 15 (VS) Two men are behind bars after Border Patrol agents caught them smuggling illegal immigrants from Sri Lanka. U.S. Border Patrol agents arrested Juan Lamas III and Junior Garcia-Amador on human smuggling charges on Monday. Court records show that a Sullivan City police officer pulled over Lamas' 2000 Dodge Neon for a seat belt violation around 2:30 p.m. Monday. Sri Lankan immigrant Ananasekarm Tebanesan was in the back seat while Velupplai Gnanes was in the trunk more..

South Africa must make home advantage count

Dec 15 (CI) When discussion turns to contenders for the top spot in Test cricket, South Africa feature prominently in the debate. Yet they haven't won a home Test series since 2008 - and that was against Bangladesh - having watched leads evaporate against Australia recently and India last year. If they have serious aspirations to return to the top of the table they need to win this series against Sri Lanka. Everything suggests that should be well within their grasp. more..

JVP vows to continue battle against govt.

Dec 15 (DM) The JVP held a protest campaign in front of the Fort Railway Station yesterday with the stated intention of replicating protests launched by millions of people that had gathered at Tahrir Square in Egypt to pressurize the govt to address the needs of the nation, which they claimed was in turmoil. Hundreds of JVP members, supporters and well-wishers had begun the protest by walking from Campbell Park in Borella to the Fort Railway Station more..

GCE (O/L): Exam supervisor sacked

Dec 15 (Island) A female supervisor at the GCE (O/L) exam centre at St. Bridget’s Convent was removed on Tuesday as she did not follow the guidelines given by the Examinations Department. Examinations Chief Anura Edirisinghe said that she had not followed the department’s guidelines on collecting the Sinhala and Buddhism papers on Monday and Tuesday. "The Department decided to remove her after an inquiry," Edirisinghe said. The GCE (O/L) exam commenced on Monday at more..

International Arbitration Centre in Colombo

Dec 15 (DN) The Justice Ministry has taken measures to amend several Acts with the objective of enhancing the quality of justice in Sri Lanka, said Minister Rauff Hakeem. He said under this procedure, the ministry will amend the Criminal Procedure Code Act, Civil Procedure Code Act, Computer Crime and Criminal Procedure Code Act and Children and Young Persons Act after Cabinet approval. He said that an International Arbitration Centre will be established in Colombo to solve more..

Green top awaits Sri Lankans at Centurion

Dec 15 (Island) Struggling Sri Lanka will have no breathing space whatsoever in the first Test against South Africa that gets underway today as the hosts have left whole lot of grass on the pitch here at Centurion. There’s so much grass on the wicket that it’s difficult to differentiate the outfield from the pitch. If Sri Lankan supporters think that the ploy is to unsettle the tourists psychologically and that the grass would come off before the game gets underway today, more..

Sanath blames cricketers for crisis

Dec 15 (Island) Former captain Sanath Jayasuriya blamed players for the cricket crisis and losses. Participating in the third reading stage debate on the budget proposals, under the votes of Sports Ministry, he said it was wrong to lay blame on the govt or the party in power, the President, the Cricket Board and the Sports Ministry if the team keeps losing matches. "It is almost the very same team that played in the World Cup tournament that now represents the country. more..

Vegetable shortage experienced in many parts of the country

Dec 15 (DM) Amid protests in Colombo and the suburbs intensifying yesterday over the use of plastic crates to transport vegetables and fruits, a compromise was reached at the Dambulla Economic Centre among the security forces, traders and farmers to continue with the customary form of packaging. The three-day crisis has caused a severe countrywide shortage of fruits and vegetables with prices of such items sky rocketing. However, Minister Johnston Fernando vowed to more..

Use of plastic crates suspended for a month

Dec 15 (DM) The govt yesterday gave a grace period of one month for the implementation of the new law on the use of plastic crates for transporting vegetables and fruits, Minister Johnston Fernando said. The decision was taken after a meeting between President Mahinda Rajapaksa and representatives of traders’ and farmers associations at Temple Trees. The meeting had lasted till late evening. However, the proposed law will not apply, even after this grace period is over, more..

Marks have been lowered, performance of students have not improved: JVP

Dec 15 (AD) MP Anura Kumara Dissanayake stated that the pass marks for a Simple (S) Pass in Maths in the G.C.E. Ordinary level examinations had been lowered to 17 marks last year. Education qualifications should not be derogated in this manner, he said in Parliament today (15). The DNA Parliamentary Group Leader stated that by lowering the pass marks the education level of the students will break down and that it is “unfavorable” towards the students. more..

Karu committing political suicide - Earl

Dec 15 (Island) Karu Jayasuriya is committing political suicide by contesting Ranil Wickremasinghe for the UNP leadership, said Deputy Minister Earl Gunasekara. He said he was saying so through his knowledge of the fate that befell those who went against Ranil Wickremasinghe. Karu Jayasuriya had challenged Ranil Wickremasinghe and had come forward to contest the leadership election of the UNP. "I must say he was cutting his own political neck," he said. more..

No plans o raise more $ debt

Dec 15 (SL) Though pressure on interest rates and the exchange rate continues to persist despite the recent rupee devaluation, Govt/Central Bank is in no hurry to raise money from international markets to mitigate such pressures, Governor K.G.D.D. Dheerasinghe told this reporter. This proves the veracity of the lead story which appeared on these pages in this publication’s last week edition under the heading “CBSL Withdraws Money Market Intervention.” more..

Sri Lanka insurers stable but claims up, lower investment income: Fitch

Dec 15 (LBO) Sri Lanka's insurers are well capitalized and profitable but investment income is falling and areas such as motor are seeing rising claims amid price competition, Fitch, a rating agency has said. Sri Lanka's insurance sector grew 20 percent in 2010 after contracting in 2009 and in the first half of 2011 premium growth was 11 percent. The rating agency said growth could sustained with life insurance which was relatively under-penetrated. more..