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Committee appointed to look at improving discipline in Parliament

Dec 18 (Island) Speaker Chamal Rajapaksa has appointed a seven-member committee to recommend ways to improve discipline as well as maintain security within the parliamentary chamber in the wake of the unruly scenes that took place when the President presented the Budget last month. The Committee will be headed by Minister D.E.W. Gunasekera and will consist both govt and opposition members, Deputy Speaker Chandima Weerakkody announced more..

Returnees Questioned On Return

Dec 18 (SL) The 58 Sri Lankans who returned to Sri Lanka on Friday from the UK were questioned before being released, an official said. “The returnees were yet to be released as of Friday evening. Inquiries are going on,” the official, who requested anonymity, said. He added that none of the returnees would be arrested. “They are not deported people, they have returned of their own free will,” he remarked. It is said that 48 of the returnees are male. The returnees’ more..

Parent seeks HRC intervention to find whereabouts

Dec 18 (SL) JVP dissident Lalith Kumara Weeraraj’s father, A. Weeraraja, requested the Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka (HRCSL) to intervene and inform of his whereabouts and allow the family members to meet him. Weeraraja on Friday made the request from the HRCSL following a statement made by Minister Keheliya Rambukwella to the media that Lalith Kumara and Kugan Muruganadan who have been missing since the 9th were “not missing.” more..

My sole aim is to unify party says Karu

Dec 18 (Island) UNP Deputy Leader Karu Jayasuriya has in a letter to members of the party’s working committee has said that his decision to contest tee leadership of the party had been unfortunately portrayed as a personal encounter between himself and Mr. Ranil Wickremesinghe. Jayasuriya asked members of the working committee for their votes "with the sole objective of unifying the party and making it a viable, non-compromising, democratic opposition." more..

Free crates for registered farmers

Dec 18 (NS) Registered farmers will receive free plastic crates shortly to transport fruits and vegetable. The crisis that arose due to the mandatory compulsion to use plastic crates to tranport fruits and vegetables is now over, according to the Government. Discussions held between representatives of farmers and traders with President Mahinda Rajapaksa and Minister Johnston Fernando on Wednesday (14) ended postponing the implementation of the policy by one month. more..

LLRC calls for Rule of Law, not rule of men

Dec 18 (ST) More talks on the final report of the LLRC began last week just after President Mahinda Rajapaksa, returned from attending the Asia Pacific Democracy Forum in Bali, Indonesia. There was a change of mind over President Rajapaksa tabling the report in Parliament and making a statement as revealed in the Sunday Times. In fact the outlines of such a speech, govt sources said, were being put together by External Affairs Minister G.L. Peiris. more..

SJGH Board members stop enhanced allowances they had bestowed on themselves

Dec 18 (Island) In what appears to be a comedy of errors, the Sri Jayewardenepura General Hospital (SJGH) has decided to "stop until further notice" the enhanced allowances to the Chairman and the Board, the payment of which the directors themselves generously bestowed on themselves one month ago. At the very first meeting of the reconstituted SJGH Board on Nove 16, 2011, the Members unanimously gave the green light to increase the allowance paid to more..

Parliamentary Scholarship Board to be axed

Dec 18 (Island) The Parliamentary Scholarship Board set up in 2002 to fund Sri Lankans engaged in higher studies and research will be abolished as it has become "white elephant’, Deputy Speaker Chandima Weerakkody announced in Parliament yesterday. Draft legislation to repeal the Parliamentary Scholarship Act has been prepared and will be presented to Parliament shortly, Mr. Weerakkody said in response to a query by MP A.H.M. Azwer who questioned why the Board was more..

Talk at the Cafe Spectator

Dec 18 (ST) Residents in main cities, including Colombo, were without vegetables - the result of a work stoppage by distributors countrywide. Such shortages normally occur only once a year, during National New Year when shops close and life comes to a standstill. However, this time around, it was because Trade Minister Johnston Fernando had decreed that plastic crates instead of polythene sacks should be used to pack vegetables. more..

Harry bought oil from blacklisted Swiss giant; probe by minister

Dec 18 (ST) A Cabinet Minister has been called upon to probe allegations that the Ceylon Petroleum Corporation awarded tenders violating procedures. Minister Susil Premajayantha, said “in addition to this move, we have also set up a Stock Review Committee to closely review the tender process.” He said they would function in addition to the already existing Technical Review Committee. more..

TNA Finds Contradictions In LLRC Report

Dec 18 (SL) The TNA says the LLRC has severely contradicted itself in the conclusion of its report. TNA MP M.A. Sumanthiran said the party was currently studying the full report and would make an official response once the examination is concluded. However, Sumanthiran said that at first glance it was noticed that the Commission has severely contradicted itself by concluding that the civilians had not been deliberately targeted by more..

UNP: No election today

Dec 18 (ST) The much hyped elections to office-bearers, including the leadership of the UNP, will not take place today as expected, party sources told the Sunday Times. This is because, unless incumbent Leader Ranil Wickremesinghe is unanimously re-elected as party leader for the ensuing year by the party's highest policy making body, the Working Committee which meets at 12.30 pm today, will need to fix another date for more..

Hot air over Priyani’s appointment to UNP WC

Dec 18 (Island) Heated arguments ensued in Parliament yesterday over the appointment of a former Secretary General of Parliament Priyani Wijesekera to the UNP Working Committee with a senior govt member saying that the appointment compromises the sovereignty of Parliament. Chief Govt Whip Dinesh Gunawardena said that former SGs of Parliament are granted many perks and privileges even after their retirement so that they would not dabble in politics after more..

Diaspora’s anti-deportation campaign losing steam

Dec 18 (Island) In spite of a conducting an expensive propaganda campaign targeting the Sri Lankan govt over human rights issues, the Tamil Diaspora seems to be losing ground in Europe, with the UK stepping up deportations. Senior External Affairs and Defence Ministry officials said said that the international community shouldn’t accommodate bogus political refugees and those entering countries using fraudulent travel documents. more..

Norway’s dual role led to CFA breakdown – LLRC

Dec 18 (SO) The LLRC in its final report to the President which was tabled in Parliament last Friday criticised the role of Norway, that their actions contributed significantly to breakdown of the CFA. It observed that the Nordic peace makers’ dual role as the facilitator and the monitor of the peace process did not synchronise well and this decision to play two opposing roles led to a conflict of interest and failed strong action by more..

Remove 'Race' from all documents: CR

Dec 18 (ST) The LLRC had made an inadvertent omission from its final report presented to President Mahinda Rajapaksa and tabled in Parliament on Friday, its Chairman C.R. de Silva PC said. He said the commissioners had discussed at length their main focus of the need to "develop a Sri Lankan identity" during their deliberations and regretted they had not included in their report the recommendation to do away with the classification of 'Race' in all official govt forms more..

Sri Lanka prepares report to UN

Dec 18 (SL) The government has commenced preparing the report to be presented to the UNHRC for its Universal Periodic Review (UPR) in October 2012. Minister Mahinda Samarasinghe has received Cabinet approval to commence preparation work on Sri Lanka’s report to be submitted to the UNHRC for the Universal Periodic Review scheduled for next year. The Minister said that the country’s report has to be submitted to the Council by March 2012 to more..

President rejects UN funds for HR

Dec 18 (ST) President Mahinda Rajapaksa has directed that the implementation of Sri Lanka’s National Human Rights Action Plan (NHRAP) should be carried out only with govt funds and not funds from a UN agency. The directive, just two days ahead of the official release of the LLRC final report, came at the weekly Cabinet meeting. Minister Keheliya Rambukwella announced that the Cabinet had approved the implementation of the plan. more..

Driver error, most common cause of accidents

Dec 18 (SO) Six persons die every day on Sri Lanka’s highways as a result of motor accidents which adversely affect the country’s economy as well, said Additional Secretary of the Ministry of Health Dr. P. Mahipala said. He said when analysing the cause of accidents, they realised that 85 percent of them have occurred due to the fault of drivers while 15 percent was due to mechanical defects in vehicles. He said road accidents can permanently incapacitate or kill persons. more..

‘Plastic crates - not a hasty decision’

Dec 18 (SO) Internal Trade Minister Johnston Fernando told Parliament that the decision to introduce plastic crates was not a hurried decision and the subsequent gazette notification which was issued in January this year. Winding up the committee stage debate on his ministry, Minister Fernando said though the gazette was issued in January, the President had given a one year grace period to implement it, in response to a request made by farmers and traders. more..

Family of four hacked to death

Dec 18 (DM) Four persons including three women were hacked death inside their house in the Katiyawa area in Eppawala, last night. Police media spokesman Ajith Rohana said that the suspect, who is the brother of the of the owner of the house (49) was taken into custody a short while ago. During investigations it was revealed that a long standing land dispute had lead to the tragic incident. The victims were identified as Seetha Hemalatha (55), more..

Australian High Commissioner in SL bids farewell

Dec 18 (GDI) Mrs. Kathy Klugman, High Commissioner of Australia in Sri Lanka is scheduled to leave for Australia on Monday, 19th upon completion of her assignment in Sri Lanka. Prior to her departure she paid her farewell call on minister Basil Rajapaksa today (16). Mrs. Klugman is a senior career officer with the Department of Foreign Affairs Australia and before posting to Sri Lanka as high Commissioner she held the post of Assistant Secretary, South and West Asia Branch. more..

Over 75,000 families to be moved

Dec 18 (SL) The UDA is to relocate over 75,000 families from “underserved settlements” in the Colombo city limits. The underserved settlements include slums, shanties, relocated housing, low cost flats, old deteriorated quarters and unplanned permanent dwellings. The Defence Ministry, under which the UDA operates, said that in order to cater to the issue at hand, the UDA has planned to construct 25,000 housing units within the next three years and will be completing it in 2014. more..

UNP appoints chairman, asst. leader without contest

Dec 18 (SL) The UNP today elected without contest its chairman and assistant leader, but deferred the appointments to the other key positions. Gamini Jayawickrama Perera was elected the chairman at the party’s working committee meeting at Sirikotha, while Joseph Michael Perera was elected as the deputy leader. Tomorrow, a vote will take place for the positions of UNP leader, deputy leader and national organizer. more..

Three killed and seven injured in lorry-van collision

Dec 18 (DM) Three persons were killed and seven others were seriously injured when a van transporting members of a popular music group in Chilaw, collided with a lorry head-on in the Arachchikattuwa area on the Colombo-Puttalam main road. The incident took place yesterday at 3.30am. The injured were admitted to the Chilaw Hospital by the residents of the area. The three victims were members of the ‘HeartBlack’ music group in Chilaw and were returning home after performing more..

Govt to monitor Internet

Dec 18 (SL) The govt is to strictly monitor the internet from next year to crackdown on child abuse, Women and Children’s Affairs Minister Tissa Karaliada said. Minister said that new laws will be introduced next year which will seek to control internet including the use of Facebook. Karaliada said that his ministry will work closely with the Ministry of Justice to tackle child abuse on the internet. He noted that there has been a drastic increase in child abuse in more..

Heroin worth Rs.9.5 million seized at BIA

Dec 18 (DM) A Sri Lankan youth was taken into custody with 1.3 kilogrammes of brown heroin worth Rs.9.5 million. The youth was arrested when the Airport Customs officers conducted a raid at the BIA last night. The suspect had attempted to smuggle the heroin to the country from Chennai. The 33 year old suspect is a resident of Maligawatta and had confessed to the customs officers that the heroin was given to him by a person he met in Chennai. more..

Nondescripts clinch Premier Tier A limited-overs title

Dec 18 (CI) Nondescripts CC, led by Sri Lanka opening batsman Upul Tharanga, regained the Premier limited-overs Tier A title after five years when they defeated arch rivals Sinhalese SC by 32 runs in the final at the P Sara Oval on Saturday. The former champions, who last won the title in 2006/07, put up a commendable batting performance to run up 268 after being asked to bat first and then defended the total successfully dismissing SSC for 236 in the 48th over. more..

Bail refused to Jeena again

Dec 18 (DM) The Colombo High Court refused to grant bail to Rosemary Jude alias Madam Jeena on Friday for allegedly running an up-market brothel in the Liberty Plaza Shopping Complex. Colombo High Court Judge Sunil Rajapaksa overruled a bail application filed by the Counsel for the accused Rosemary Jude alias Jeena and observed that on several occasions the High Court had refused to release the accused on bail. Therefore, he said the counsel appearing for the accused more..

Two Narcotics Bureau officers remanded

Dec 18 (DM) Two Narcotics Bureau (PNB) officials who were arrested in connection with the alleged death of a 30-year-old youth who had visited the PNB office to sign the case book were remanded till December 21 by the Colombo Fort Magistrate. The Fort Police had arrested Sub Inspector Ruwan Kumara and Police Constable Nehinna in connection with the incident. However, the suspects were receiving treatment at the Kalubowila Hospital and more..

BASL passes resolution against PSC

Dec 18 (DM) The Bar Association of Sri Lanka (BASL) has unanimously adopted a resolution against the government’s decision to appoint a Parliamentary Select Committee (PSC) to inquire into the conduct of retired Chief Justice Sarath N. Silva. BASL Secretary Mahinda Lokuge said the BASL passed the resolution at a Bar Council Meeting convened on Saturday by BASL President Shibly Aziz PC. At the outset of the meeting, President’s Counsel Tirantha Walaliyadda proposed the resolution to more..

Muttiah Muralitharan's retirement has exposed Sri Lanka's batsmen

Dec 18 (National) One of the favourite cliches of coaches is this: "There is no 'I' in 'team'." But if the history of sport teaches us anything, it is that the fortunes of certain sides revolve around the form and fitness of one man. With quarterback Peyton Manning's golden arm directing proceedings, the Indianapolis Colts were perennial Super Bowl contenders. Having lost him to a neck injury, they are 0-13 this season. Sri Lanka won Muttiah more..

One in three women migrant workers physically abused: Survey

Dec 18 (DM) A research has revealed that almost one in three Sri Lankan women domestic migrant workers are subjected to physical abuse such as beating or burning. A research booklet launched by Caritas Sri Lanka SEDEC - the social service arm of the Catholic Bishops Conference - to mark International Migrant Workers Day on Saturday also revealed that while 31% are subjected to physical abuse, 30% of them had complained of non payment of salaries. more..

The Unawatuna story, first hand

Dec 19 (SL) No businesses were demolished in Unawatuna. The beach, however, has been wrecked, at least temporarily. I drove down to Unawatuna on the Southern Expressway and you can see that things are both better and worse than you would imagine. Hotels And Restaurants Are Not Destroyed It is not like Kingfisher is destroyed, just their deck, which was basically in the ocean anyway. Behind that is a three story boutique hotel (less than a year old I think). That is fine. more..

Rent seekers; they are everywhere

Dec 19 (SL) From the guy who ‘helps’ you park at a random location in Colombo and then snidely asks for payment for a service you never noticed him doing, to the hustlers outside airports who get you taxis by yelling and waving their arms about, rent seekers are everywhere. Unless you want to pay someone for waving their arms about, rent seekers are an obvious disturbance. And the menace does not end there. There are rent seekers all over the country, hidden in little nooks and corners of more..

We must match our words by deeds and reach out to the ordinary Tamil people

Dec 19 (TC) As DEW Gunasekera once stated “They are also our people” we need to reach out to them. The ordinary Tamil citizen has gone through real hell since the LTTE and other militant groups started their campaign in the 70s. The Tamil people were not an aggressive people they were a God fearing passive people but Tamil youth who were deprived of opportunity by the Sinhala Only Act and later by Standardization which limited their opportunity to more..

Searching for Democracy in and out

Dec 19 (NS) One reads a lot about the democratic deficit in Sri Lanka. Sri Lankan, as well as western commentators, bemoan the weakness of the Sri Lankan opposition and the gathering of power to the executive through the 18th amendment and the use of urgent bills. We read about the inspiring hunger for democracy in nations like Libya, Egypt and Syria, where people are prepared to die (and kill) for democracy. I thought it might be instructive to see how that democracy thing is more..

Crossovers and potential for a combined administration

Dec 19 (NS) The solo crossover staged in parliament recently by MP Mohan Lal Grero appeared to be different from the collective crossovers that the people witnessed in the recent past. The words he spoke at the time he crossed the floor of the House sounded reasonable. The reason he gave for his decision was that as an educationist he was primarily concerned about the education of millions of children in this country and therefore his intention was to more..

Plastic crates protests in Pettah and night motor races in Fort

Dec 19 (TC) The ‘plastic crates saga’ is a quintessentially Rajapaksa tale. Arbitrariness is a hallmark of the ‘Johnston Law’, decreeing plastic crates mandatory in transporting vegetables and fruits. Amidst the furore over this inane law, Speaker Chamal Rajapaksa told its maker, Minister of Cooperation and Internal Trade Johnston Fernando, “if grass roots level stakeholders are involved a lot of problems can be avoided” more..

Editorial: Long-term plan needed for vegetable packaging

Dec 19 (BL) Minister Johnston Fernando introduced a new law which required all transporters of fruits and vegetables to do so only in plastic containers. He has said that this law is meant only for large scale traders transporting vegetable in lorries to Colombo from the main economic centres. But there have been protests and demonstrations against this legal requirement by the farmers. The transport of fruits and vegetables has consequently come to a halt and more..