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Editorial: LLRC shows the way

Dec 19 (Island) The LLRC has, with its final report now in the public domain, made its critics including some international human rights groups that questioned its credibility, badmouthed some of its members, pooh-poohed its mission as a ruse and expected it to come out with a whitewash of the govt so that they could justify their call for an international war crimes probe, eat their words. Equally, it has disappointed those who wanted it to echo the govt's views on the war. more..

'It’s our duty to protect the public'

Dec 19 (NS) Q: The enforcement of the new law on transportation of vegetables you had said would not be changed had to be postponed by the govt for one month. Don’t you agree it was a setback for you? A: Not at all. Some of the critics say the law was suddenly clamped down without any prior notice. But it was about four years back that the govt addressed the problem of vegetables perishing and spoiling in the lorries. The cabinet approved the law and more..

Balance-of-payments crisis looms despite export growth

Dec 19 (ST) The balance-of-payments anxieties are escalating rather than declining. Statistics confirms that the massive trade deficit is continuing to strain the balance of payments. In the first nine months of 2011, the trade deficit swelled to US $ 6,865 million and is likely to reach around US$ 9,000 million for the year. This large trade deficit has been incurred despite earnings from exports increasing by 27.7 per cent to US $7,820 million by the end of September. more..

Happy (recycled) Christmas!

Dec 19 (ST) Mrs. Anumaana has been feeling the pinch of the skyrocketing cost of living this festive season. She's bemoaning the fact that she may not be able to afford gifts for all the friends and relatives on her list this year. What would people think? Sunil having heard this lament going on for some time said "Amma haven't you heard about "recycling?" Everybody does it. You know that vase you got for your birthday last year - don't you think that would be a perfect gift for more..

Weighing the LLRC report in the scales of justice

Dec 19 (ST) Stripped of all ambiguities, the moral question regarding state accountability for civilian casualties during the last stages of the war between govt troops and the LTTE was whether the govt deliberately pressed ahead with its military offensive despite knowing full well the terrible toll that it would take. Past govts had hesitated to go this far, being fully aware of the consequences. But this govt did go that distance and more..

Central Bank spends US$ 1.1bn in three months

Dec 19 (Island) The Central Bank sold US$ 514.05 million in the month of September to maintain a stable exchange rate in the face of severe import demand, latest data released by the Central Bank last Friday showed. Accordingly, the bank has sold a total of US$ 1,128.64 million in July, August and September alone to keep the exchange rate stable. These dollar sales are affecting domestic interest rates which continue to come under pressure as rupee liquidity contracts. more..

More Pettah textiles look to emulate Ranjanas

Dec 19 (BL) With increasing tourist arrivals most of the established shopping outlets from Pettah and the suburbs are likely to move into up market areas of Colombo targeting the high end tourists. At least two to three more family-owned retail dealers in textiles along Pettah's busiest street, Main Street are looking to emulate the recent strategy used by Sri Lanka's six decade old fashion store, Ranjanas (Pvt) Ltd in trying to capture the niche market segment by more..

Thiru trims Hilton!

Dec 19 (FT) The Board of Directors of Hotel Developers (Lanka) Plc led by Chairman Thiru Nadesan has succeeded in negotiating a highly-favourable new deal for Colombo’s premier five-star with its management partner Hilton Worldwide. The deal, firmed up following several rounds of negotiations, envisages total fees to be charged by Hilton Worldwide and its Singapore regional office in managing the Colombo property to 11.75% of Gross Operating Profit (GOP) more..

Man wanted to sell wife’s kidney!

Dec 19 (Island) The Teldeniya Magistrate ordered a suspect who assaulted his wife demanding that she agree to sell one of her kidneys to a patient for Rs 500,000, to be remanded till December 21. The suspect Palitha Bandara (46) of Swashakthi village, Rajawella was a father of three and an alcoholic, the police said. One of his daughters had been receiving treatment at the Teldeniya hospital and when he visited her in the hospital a stranger had approached him and more..

Passenger arrested over killing of train inspector

Dec 19 (Island) A passenger has been arrested over the killing of a railway inspector on Saturday night on the postal train plying from Badulla to Colombo. The police arrested the suspect on the train at the Rambukkana station yesterday morning. The 42-year –old inspector, a father of three children, had got into a fight with the suspect in the train and had been injured. On an urgent appeal made to the Hatton Station Master to ready a vehicle to take the injured more..

Ranil says he got no letter from prelates

Dec 19 (Island) UNP Leader Ranil Wickremesinghe yesterday denied having received a letter from the Mahanayake Theras, of the four Buddhist Chapters, asking him to quit the leadership while continuing as Opposition Leader. Wickremesinghe had informed yesterday’s Working Committee Meeting at "Sirikotha" that the letter purportedly written by the four Mahanayake’s and released to the media by the Karu Jayasuirya camp, was not delivered to him. more..

SL, SA to exchange construction know-how

Dec 19 (DN) 'The South African and Sri Lankan govts have agreed to exchange knowledge, technology and cooperation in the construction field,' Minister Wimal Weerawansa said after a discussion held with South African High Commissioner Geoffrey Quinton Doidge at the ministry premises recently. According to the High Commissioner, a large number of South African investors are willing to invest in the construction field in Sri Lanka with the peaceful situation in the country and more..

Crates issue should be looked at from public angle - Piyasiri

Dec 19 (DN) Even though it is a good decision on the part of the Trade Ministry to introduce creates for transporting vegetables and fruits, the method that is being implemented is faulty leading to the present crisis, JNP Politburo member Piyasiri Wijenayake said. He said, the Trade Ministry has introduced and implemented the new system for transporting vegetables and fruits without any study of the present vegetables and fruits transporting system in the country. more..

'We are working extremely hard'

Dec 19 (Island) Captain Tillakaratne Dilshan says his batsmen are working extremely hard to come out of the batting slump and need to take more responsibility to produce results in Test cricket. Sri Lanka were crushed by South Africa by an innings and 81 runs at Centurion on Saturday as they lost the Test inside three days. None of the Sri Lankan batsmen were able to post a half-century as the tourists were shot out for 180 runs in the first innings more..

Mahanayakes 'want change of Govt.'

Dec 19 (BBC) The most senior Buddhist leaders in Sri Lanka have expressed their desire for a change in the govt, says the main opposition. The general secretary of the UNP said the party discussed a request by Buddhist Mahanayakes to hand over the party leadership to Karu Jayasuriya. However the Working Committee agreed, said Tissa Attanayake, MP, to abide by the party constitution. "The Mahanayakes theros have stressed the need for strengthening the UNP indirectly indicating more..

Upper Kotmale commissioning before January end

Dec 19 (DN) The Power and Energy Ministry has announced that around 92 percent of the construction in the Upper Kotmale hydro power plant has been completed. Power generation will commence before the end of Jan 2012. This hydro power plant will add another 150 mega watts to the national grid. The Upper Kotmale Power plant is the final and the largest hydro power plant in Sri Lanka. filling of water to the Upper Kotmale reservoir commenced on Dec 15. more..

Veggie, fruit farmers boxed in by ‘Crate Law’

Dec 19 (ST) Cultivators, transporters, traders ‘go to town’ against the injustice while shortages, price hikes dampen festive spirit. Nadia Fazlulhaq and Damith Wickremasekare report. Pandemonium reigned last week, when angry traders, transporters and farmers protested against the law on ‘plastic crates’, by closing down roads and economic centres, which created a severe shortage and a consequent price hike in vegetables, during the festive season. more..

Leaked Queensland govt document reveals Commonwealth Games cost blowout

Dec 19 (CM) The Bligh Govt has been secretly forced to find millions of dollars from within its already bruised budget to fund underlying Commonwealth Games costs. A leaked briefing note from within the Department of Premier and Cabinet has revealed the Govt must fork out more than $17 million to games associations this financial year. However, the documents also show only $10 million was originally set aside by the Govt for the Games in 2011-12. more..

Indian fishermen suspend stir

Dec 19 (Hindu) The family members of fishermen, who continued a fast for the second day on Saturday demanding the State and Central governments to secure the release of five fishermen of Rameswaram from Sri Lanka, suspended the agitation following assurances from the authorities. Though the protestors were given permission by the authorities to observe fast only for a day on Friday, a section of fishermen along with their family members continued the relay fast on Saturday also. more..

Sri Lankan army commanders 'assassinated surrendering Tamils'

Dec 19 (DT) The claims are contained in a sworn deposition, seen by The Daily Telegraph, made by a career officer who rose to the rank of major general before he fled the country in fear of his life to seek asylum in the United States. He is the highest ranking person to assert that atrocities against Tamil rebels and civilians were sanctioned at the highest echelons of the govt. The source had the highest security clearance and close contact with more..

Ranil joins Podi Hamuduruwo’s initiative to secure SF’s release

Dec 19 (Island) Beleaguered UNP leader Ranil Wickremesinghe on Saturday declared his support for a fresh initiative by Chief Sanganayake of Colombo Nava Koralaya and chief incumbent of Gangaramaya, Ven. Galaboda Gnaneswara to secure the release of imprisoned defeated presidential candidate, General Sarath Fonseka. Wickremesinghe has, in a letter to Ven Gnaneswara, assured the backing of his entire parliamentary group for the initiative, while more..

‘Final solution only through PSC’

Dec 19 (DN) UPFA MP Sajin Vass Gunawardena emphasized that any final solution to the Tamil question will only be through the PSC process. MP Gunawardena who is the Secretary of the committee appointed to have discussions with the TNA said there was no deadline agreed to or even discussed as to the committee proceedings. He was responding to a news item published in a Sunday weekly under the heading TNA demands solution before New Year, decisive talks tomorrow quoting TNA MP M A Sumanthiran. more..

President pays special tribute to Lankan migrant workers

Dec 19 (DN) President Mahinda Rajapaksa yesterday took part in a walk to mark International Migration Day that commenced from Galle Face Green, as a tribute to Lankan migrant workers, who are the main contributors to the national coffers. He was joined by around 1,000 Korean job aspirants from Sri Lanka. The walk was organised by the Foreign Employment and Welfare Ministry together with the Sri Lanka Foreign Employment Bureau. more..

Special security plan for Christmas and New Year

Dec 19 (DM) The police have taken a number of steps to prevent accidents and robberies during the Christmas and New Year season. Police media spokesman Ajith Rohana said that they will take more action against traffic offenders. “People who are speeding and driving after consuming alcohol will be dealt severely by law,” he said. “Eight to 10 accidents take place daily in Sri Lanka due to these reasons. During this season a large number of people will be more..

MPS to seek EU intervention

Dec 19 (DM) The Movement for People’s Struggle (MPS), a breakaway faction of the JVP, yesterday said it would seek the support of the European Union (EU) this week to secure the release of its Jaffna District organiser Lalith Kumar Weeraraju and Kugan Maruganathan who were abducted in Jaffna recently. The two members were abducted by an unidentified gang on December 9, 2011 while organising a rally in Jaffna. The MPS blame the incident on the govt. MPS Political Affairs Secretary more..

LLRC a waste of time and money: JVP

Dec 19 (DM) The JVP today charged that the LLRC process was a waste of time and money as the government did not appoint the LLRC to solve the national question that still existed even after the war is over. The party politburo in a statement claimed the LLRC was appointed to rescue the President from the crisis he was faced with. It said the government tabled the LLRC report in Parliament last week as a result of external pressure. more..

Police families commend LLRC report

Dec 19 (BBC) Family members of the missing policemen in Sri Lanka have welcomed the recommendation by a presidential panel for a full investigation into the alleged killing of six hundred policemen. The LLRC has recommended that the killing of nearly 600 policemen in the east by who surrendered to Tamil Tigers in 1990. Retired police officers and representatives of victims have told the LLRC that deputy minister Vinayagamurthy Muralitharan widely known as Karuna, more..

Sri Lanka war report lays blame on both sides

Dec 19 (SMH) Sri Lanka's civil war reconciliation commission has blamed both Sinhalese and Tamil leaders for the violence that gripped the country for more than a quarter of a century, but it has refused to criticise the army for the violence at the end of the conflict, in which it is alleged civilians were targeted and up to 40,000 non-combatants killed. The LLRC, the govt-backed tribunal that took evidence in thousands of interviews and dozens of public hearings across more..

Reconciliation bid fails, Karu challenges Ranil for UNP leadership

Dec 19 (Island) Attempts by UNP seniors to amicably resolve the leadership crisis failed yesterday, with Ranil Wickremesinghe and Karu Jayasuriya submitting their nominations to the party General Secretary, to contest today’s election to the post of leader. Nominations for the leadership closed at 3 p.m. yesterday, while applications for the posts of Deputy Leader and National Organiser will be accepted until 10.00 a.m. today. more..

Working with UNP: DNA to decide soon

Dec 19 (Island) The Democratic National Alliance (DNA) hierarchy will meet soon to deliberate over its former MP General Sarath Fonseka’s comments yesterday to UNP co-Deputy Leaders that he will be joining their Party. Our party members met the General only yesterday morning, but it was to the UNP co- Deputy Leaders, Karu Jayasuriya and Sajith Premadasa, that he has revealed that he wanted to join them. That is what we will be deliberating on, DNA MP Tiran Alles said more..

North Korean leader Kim Jong-il dead, son hailed as heir

Dec 19 (Reuters) North Korean leader Kim Jong-il died of a heart attack while on a train trip, state media reported on Monday, sparking immediate concern over who is in control of the reclusive state and its nuclear program. A tearful television announcer dressed in black said the 69-year old had died on Saturday of physical and mental over-work on his way to give "field guidance" - a reference to advice dispensed by the "Dear Leader" on his trips to factories, more..

A Field Day for the ‘other cricketers’

Dec 19 (LB) Over the week, much media space was reserved for, and much media hype was generated through a softball cricket match played by a group of parliamentarians. This game – for the “Speaker’s Challenge Trophy” – was contested with much gusto by a “Ministers’ Team” officially led by the Head of State, the president, and another “Parliamentary MPs Team” led by the president’s son. The match was played on the grounds of amity and bonhomie, more..

Widows of war

Dec 19 (SL) Yoganathan Rathika is twenty-six years old, and has a two year old daughter. She lives in a resettlement village in Manthai West, Mannar. Like a lot of women trying to resume normal life after the war, Rathika faces several hardships. But Rathika has one additional burden to bear. She is a widow. There are presently 89,000 widows in the North and East, including many women like Rathika, who lost their husbands to the 30 year civil war. more..

Soldier surrenders after killing four family members

Dec 19 (Island) A 37-year-old soldier surrendered to the Police yesterday morning with an axe which he said he had used to kill two of his sisters, a niece and her husband at Track One, Katiyawa, Eppawela on Saturday night, over a long standing land dispute. The Police identified those killed as Mannani Pathirennehelage Sita Hemalatha (55), M. P. Malani Hemalatha (49), Dissanayake Niluka Chandani Pathirana (23), and more..

Gemunu vows to go ahead with strike

Dec 19 (Island) LPBOA President Gemunu Wijeratne said yesterday that LPBOA had sent a letter of demand to Private Transport Ministry Secretary Victor Samaraweera to revise the bus fare within two weeks. If he failed to implement a fare hike within two weeks, the LPBOA would institute legal action against him because Samaraweera during the last meeting held with the LPBOA had given a letter promising a fare revision within one month. more..

President says his decision-making always centred on country

Dec 19 (DN) President Mahinda Rajapaksa said he never hesitated in taking decisions for the good and well-being of the country, like he did when he took a firm decision to end the 30-year old war and protect the sovereignty of the nation. “We had to decide if we are going to see this country divided or liberated from the clutches of murderous terrorists. The benefit of that decision is being reaped by the people today”. more..

LLRC: impartial and objective

Dec 19 (DN) The final report of the LLRC, would help wipe out the scepticism of certain countries and human rights NGOs over the commission’s impartiality and objectivity, Minister Mahinda Samarasinghe told the Daily News yesterday. The minister noted that those who made such comments even before the release of the report, would have to ‘eat their own words’ since the LLRC has presented an impartial, fair and indepth report. more..

Light Infantry's Kandula saga documented in two new books

Dec 19 (MoD) A distinguished gathering, headed by Mr Gotabaya Rajapaksa, Secretary Defence, Lieutenant General Jagath Jayasuriya, Commander of the Army, Senior officers and others, gathered at the Colombo National Arts Gallery on Sunday evening to receive copies of documented history of the Sri Lanka Light Infantry's (SLLI) "Kandula," the Regimental mascot that has served the SLLI uninterruptedly for 50 years. more..

Range Bandara assaulted in Parliament; UNP stage walkout

Dec 19 (AD) UNP MP Palith Range Bandara has been assaulted by a group of govt MPs in Parliament today. All MPs of the UNP subsequently walked out from parliament chambers in protest. Range Bandara’s speech in Parliament today, during the committee stage budget debate on the Defence Ministry, was met with constant interruption by Ministers and MPs of the government, right from the beginning, more..

President asks Mano Ganeshan to talk to TNA

Dec 19 (DM) President Mahinda Rajapaksa had requested DPF leader Mano Ganesan to convince the TNA to drop its hard line stance, be flexible and cooperate with the govt to find a solution to the national issue. DPF sources said that he made this request when he telephoned Mr. Ganesan to wish him on his birthday. According to sources Mr. Ganesan had told the President to come up with a more..