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SF family aware of Prez-Tiran talks on pardon

Dec 19 (Island) DNA MP Tiran Alles yesterday said that he was having a dialogue with President Mahinda Rajapaksa in a bid to secure the release of imprisoned former Army Chief Gen. Sarath Fonseka. MP Alles said that he had had several discussions with President Rajapaksa over past two months in this regard. "We discussed the obstacles to the release of Gen. Fonseka," he said refusing to to divulge details of talks. more..

Editorial: LLRC - Learning lesson the proper way

Dec 19 (DM) When Sri Lanka put a stop to the thirty-year-old bloody war in May 2009, it would have never felt the need to establish an institution such as the LLRC had not the international pressure compelled the govt for such an establishment. After many months of fact-finding, the committee members can heave a sigh of relief as the report is now ready to make its appearance in public. The report which was tabled in Parliament last Friday stated that the current political more..

UNP backs Colombo slum evictions

Dec 19 (wsws) After posturing during elections just two months ago as opponents of the govt’s plans to evict tens of thousands of slum dwellers from central Colombo, the opposition-dominated Colombo Municipal Council (CMC) has revealed its collaboration in the process. The complicity of the UNP-led council emerged as the national govt of President Mahinda Rajapakse prepared to remove 400 poor families living along a fuel pipeline. The evictions are being more..

Sumathipala withdraws from SLC elections

Dec 19 (CI) Former Sri Lanka Cricket president, Thilanga Sumathipala, has pulled out of the race for the presidency, leaving his main rival Upali Dharmadasa as the most likely to win the election on January 3. "I have decided not to contest for personal reasons," Sumathipala told ESPNcricinfo after accompanying the rest of his team to hand over their nominations to the Ministry of Sports earlier today. The said ministry will conduct the elections. more..

Stocks down 25-pct from peak

Dec 19 (LBO) Stocks closed 0.5 percent lower Monday down 25 percent from a peak earlier in the year with steep corrections in several illiquid stocks. All Share Index shed 31.7 points to close at 5,860.9, down 0.54 percent and the Milanka Index of more liquid stocks fell 29.7 points to close at 5,105.4 points. Turnover was 537 million rupees. The benchmark is index was down 25 percent from a peak reached of 7,811.8 points reached on Feb 14 and is down 11.7 percent from December 2010. more..

'Tough for Sri Lanka to comeback'

Dec 19 (CI) Allan Donald, South Africa's bowling coach, believes Sri Lanka will struggle to make a contest out of the remaining two Test matches in the series. The visitors were blown away by an innings and 81-runs in Centurion, being bowled out for under 200 in both innings, and Donald said that although they have a quality line-up, things will not get any easier for them. "What they have in the tank and what they bring to the party on a different surface will be different but more..

Sri Lanka Tourism achieves 800,000 arrivals in 2011

Dec 19 (GDI) Achieving another remarkable milestone in the country’s booming tourism industry, Sri Lanka Tourism welcomed the arrival of 800,000th tourist in year 2011 at the Bandaranaike International Airport today evening. This is the first time ever; the tourism industry has received number of arrivals exceeding 800,000 in any given year, making it a ground breaking figure in tourism records. Chairman of Sri Lanka Tourism- Dr.Nalaka Godahewa and more..

Sri Lanka boat builders face skilled labour shortage

Dec 19 (LBO) Sri Lanka boat building industry is growing fast with export earnings doubling in recent years but faces a shortage of skilled labour that is required to expand and remain competitive, industry officials said. The end of the island's 30-year ethnic war, lifting of restrictions in the marine sector and revival of tourism and fisheries has led to higher demand for marine transport and water sports equipment, they said. The boat building industry badly needs more..

‘Sevanagala sugar industries to be re-privatised'

Dec 19 (DM) Sevanagala Sugar Industries Ltd which had been taken over by the Govt under the Act to Acquire Underperforming and Underutilised Assets was to be handed over to a private sector agro business company, its chairman Daya Gamage charged. He said one of the directors of this agro business company had been included in the committee that was to be given authority of the Sevanagala Sugar Industries Ltd. He said the head of a business chamber had also been appointed to this committee. more..

Govt. at fault for failure in finding missing dissidents: JVP

Dec 19 (DM) The JVP today found fault with the government for its failure to find a clue on the disappearance of its dissident group members Lalith Kumar Weeraraj and his colleague Kugan Murugananthan who have been reported missing. JVP MP Vijitha Herath who was speaking during the committee stage debate on the budget in the House charged that the government had failed to uncover as to what had become of these two persons. more..

WikiLeaks: President Rajapaksa is courting the UNP – Karu to US

Dec 19 (CT) “In a discussion with pol FSN, senior UNP official Karu Jayasuriya assessed that Rajapaksa is trying to garner majority support in parliament, which means courting the UNP, the second largest political party.” the US Ambassador Robert O. Blake informed Washington, ten days before Karu Jayasuriya joined Mahinda Rajapaksa govt with a group of UNP MPs. The cable is classified as “CONFIDENTIAL” and written on Jan 10, 2007 by the US Ambassador to Colombo more..

Sri Lanka report falls short of addressing war crimes

Dec 19 (AI) The final report of Sri Lanka’s LLRC, released publicly today, acknowledges serious human rights problems in Sri Lanka but falls short of fully addressing the war crimes and crimes against humanity committed during the final phases of the conflict between the govt and the LTTE, Amnesty International said today. Sam Zarifi, Amnesty International’s Asia-Pacific director said: “A preliminary review of the report suggests that it acknowledges the more..

WikiLeaks: Basil’s dirty tactics and Karu Jayasuriya’s crossover

Dec 19 (CT) “But support for the President will be brittle at best, not least because of the rough tactics Basil has tried to employ. The most likely casualty of the current political tempest is the SLFP-UNP MoU, which held out the prospect of a broadly based “southern consensus” on a devolution proposal to drive the peace process forward.” the US Ambassador Robert O. Blake wrote to Washington. more..

EU says careful study of LLRC report needed

Dec 19 (DM) The European Union has said that a detailed and careful study of the measures proposed in the LLRC report was needed, including what had been recommended with regard to the issue of accountability. Issuing a statement, a spokesperson for Catherine Ashton, High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and Vice President of the Commission stated: "The High Representative takes note of the presentation of the LLRC report to more..

Sri Lanka passes highest ever defense budget despite war ending in 2009

Dec 19 (Xinhua) Sri Lanka's parliament passed the highest ever defense budget for 2012 despite the country ending a three decade war in 2009. President Mahinda Rajapaksa presented the 2012 Budget to parliament on Nov. 21. In it were recommendations to increase the defense budget from 215 billion rupees in 2011 to 230 billion rupees in 2012. The govt has justified the amount by insisting that it is needed to maintain over 200,000 personnel and pay back loans that more..

Ranil wins election for UNP leadership

Dec 19 (Xinhua) Ranil Wickremesinghe has been elected as the Leader of the UNP. Sajith Premadasa was elected as Deputy Leader, while Daya Gamage has been elected as the UNP National Organiser. The UNP leader Ranil Wickramasinghe received 72 votes while Karu Jayasuriya received 24 votes. Deputy Leader Sajith Premadasa received 52 votes defeating Ravi Karunanayaka who received 44 votes. Daya Gamage defeated Dayasiri Jayasekara by receiving 56 votes against 40 votes more..

Three arrested for robbing steel on E01

Dec 19 (DM) Three persons including a school boy were arrested for robbing a large number of steel brought to build a bridge in the Nalawana area on the Southern Expressway which is presently being extended to Godagama from Pinnaduwa. They were taken into custody following a tip-off received from the area. At the time of the arrest iron bars 12 feet in length, were being transported in a tractor. The suspects are residents of Pinnaduwa and Kananke, Matara. more..

Alvitigala gets Sri Lanka call-up

Dec 19 (CI) Seam bowler Nuwan Kulasekara won't be joining Sri Lanka's Test squad in South Africa and instead the uncapped Kanishka Alvitigala will fly out along with Dhammika Prasad ahead of the second Test in Durban. Tillakaratne Dilshan, the Sri Lanka captain, had said that both Prasad and Kulasekara would be added to the touring party to bolster the pace-bowling options following Nuwan Pradeep's injury, but the sports ministry hadn't approved the selections and more..

Sri Lanka News Debrief - 19.12.2011

Sri Lanka: New test of India's global influence

Dec 19 (GP) The Sri Lankan govt's efforts to erase from history the final months of its 25-year-long war against Tamil separatists hit a snag this week, as humanitarian organizations blasted the report of an internal probe into alleged human rights violations and possible war crimes as a whitewash. Now, the fight for clarity, if not justice, may well depend on India. The Sri Lankan govt's LLRC posted its report on the last months of the civil war Dec. 16. more..

Sri Lanka: New govt report offers hope for reconciliation

Dec 19 (IRIN) Local civil society groups in Sri Lanka view a recently released govt-appointed commission report on the final period of the country’s decades-long civil war as a "springboard" for long-awaited reconciliation, while international human rights groups continue calling for an independent inquiry. "This report will enable the country to move forward, addressing accountability issues and concerns on human rights," said Dinesh Dodamgoda, director of Colombo-based more..

TNA demands international mechanism for accountability in Sri Lanka

Dec 19 (Hindu) Calling upon the international community to “establish” a “mechanism for accountability” to bring to book the perpetrators of war crimes during the last stages of Eelam War that ended in May 2009, The TNA on Monday said that the LLRC report “categorically fails to effectively and meaningfully deal with issues of accountability.” Recalling that many Tamil civilians, direct victims of the war, deposed before the LLRC, more..

Sri Lankan Airlines to double flights from GCC states to Colombo

Dec 19 (Gulf) A substantial increase in inbound traffic, especially from the GCC, has encouraged Sri Lankan Airlines to nearly double their flight frequency to Colombo from the different destinations in the region. “We have seen almost 43.2 per cent increase in passengers coming into Colombo from the GCC states,” Lal Perera, Sri Lankan Airlines Regional Manager for Middle East and Africa. He said that so far until the end of November in 2011, at least 85,990 people had visited more..

Western emotions 'need to be tackled'

Dec 19 (BBC) The Sri Lankan govt says it supports global moves to reduce carbon emissions by the Western powers. Minister Champika Ranawaka told BBC that Sri Lanka, together with emerging economises such as China and India, need to help initiatives to protect environment. “The Asian culture itself is a one that protects environment unlike Euro-centred cultured therefore we believe China and India together have a better chance of creating a new world,” he said. more..

Sri Lanka needs rule of law, public service: LLRC

Dec 19 (LBO) Sri Lanka has to re-build an independent public service and restore rule of law to give freedom to citizens, a commission of inquiry on lessons learnt and reconciliation following the end of a 30-year civil war has said. "A democracy must assure a fair system of governance under the Rule of Law rather than the rule of men," a final report published by the commission of inquiry said. "Respect for the rights and freedoms of the citizens of more..

Sri Lanka targets Russia with specialty teas

Dec 19 (LBO) A specialty tea contest held in Russia recently would help Sri Lankan exporters promote Ceylon teas in the biggest market for the island's main agricultural export, officials said. Hasitha De Alwis, director promotion of the Sri Lanka Tea Board, said the 'Ceylon Speciality Estate Tea of the Year Contest'was held for the first time in Moscow after being held thrice in the United States and once in Japan. "Russia is the biggest market for Sri Lanka despite more..

‘Organized’ attack on Sirikotha carried out by thugs: Tissa

Dec 19 (AD) Proper security had been requested from the IGP for the UNP headquarters as an election was held today, however no such security was provided, says Tissa Attanayake. If the police had looked on while a group of thugs had arrived from outside and attacked the party headquarters while the opposition leader and MPs were inside, it is a “bad example”, he said. Property as well as the vehicles of several MPs was badly damaged due to the tense situation more..

ICC deposits funds directly to Sri Lankan player accounts

Dec 19 (IC) The International Cricket Council (ICC) has deposited US $2 million directly into the bank accounts of Sri Lanka's World Cup players, who have been without pay since April, instead of remitting the funds to Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC). The ICC, instead of allowing the island's crisis-ridden cricket administration to pay the cricketers, chose to obtain the financial information of Sri Lankan cricketers from SLC to pay the cricketers directly. more..

Slrfu 2012: An Augean Stable To Clean Up

Dec 20 (SL) Customarily, the SLRFU holds its AGM in late January or early February; so, the decision to call the 2012 meeting as early as January 7 is a tad curious. AGMs are all about elections, and with intense politicking marking rugby union elections in recent years, it is excusable to suspect political motives behind the decision to bring forward the 2012 meeting by nearly a month. Lest you think the suspicion is that of an alarmist, recollect the controversial AGM of more..

Fake claims on international status and double standards on women

Dec 20 (SL) Keeping up with the Joneses (or as we Sri Lankans say, Pereras or Silvas) is perfectly natural. The Caveman would have no doubt been harangued by Mrs. Caveman to have the granite grinding stone in her kitchen replaced by white quartz which her neighbour had. Today, Mrs. Silva wants her ‘luxury’ re-conditioned Japanese car replaced with a brand new automatic hybrid. Such is the craving among all human beings which Buddhists say is ‘the cause of all suffering’. more..

Greeting card imports, a blow to manufacturers

Dec 20 (SO) Sri Lankans used greeting cards to wish their loved once since the 16th century. King Megha’s son who lived in Anuradhapura for over 24 years before King Dutugemunu had sent a greeting card to a village damsel who had been in love with him. The greeting written on an ola leaf was sent through a tamed swan. During the colonial era people sent greetings to their loved once, but the massage was not written on ola leaves. They were written on papers. more..

Role of the International Community

Dec 20 (LB) In Libya, Sudan, Ivory Coast, Yugoslavia, East Timor, Aceh, Northern Ireland and elsewhere, the international community or the UN helped remove dictators or settle national conflicts when the local actors were out of control. Sometimes there was war or break-up of a country, sometimes a less violent solution was found within a single state, but in all cases, international influence was significant – though in a some cases painful or harmful. The Rajapaksa regime is in need of foreign approval or seen as a pariah, and more..

Image building gone wrong?

Dec 20 (LB) Melanie Newman and Oliver Wright of The Independent of London reported on 6 Dec 2011, that Bell Pottinger International attended a meeting of Tamil dissidents in London organized by the British Tamils Forum (BTF) and the NSSP. This news item said “Days before President Rajapaksa’s arrival in London in December 2010, Tim Ryan, the chairman of Bell Pottinger International, and a colleague attended an open political meeting in Harrow organized by the BTF and more..

The LLRC report: A critical reading

Dec 20 (GV) For quite sometime, ever since the establishment of the LLRC, the Govt of Sri Lanka has been asking its critics not to pre-judge the work of the LLRC and to await, patiently, the finalization and publication of the Report. The Report has now been published. What do we have here? Is it one that establishes beyond doubt that the Govt’s version of the war, or the human rights situation in the country, is correct? If not, where has it gone wrong? more..

LLRC recommendations: Can the Rajapaksa regime digest?

Dec 20 (GV) Finally, the full report of the long awaited LLRC is in public domain, after it was presented in parliament on Friday (16) by the Leader of the House, Minister Nimal Siripala de Silva. He in fact sounded very certain the recommendations would be carried out to the letter. The report and its recommendations would not satisfy the Tamil Diaspora. There is no mention of war crimes, crimes against humanity and there is no mention of a need to investigate such crimes. more..

Unity Mission Team takes message of integration to Mannar

Dec 20 (TC) As carols and bright lights usher in the Christmas festivities, one group of people- the Ekamuthu Oray Makkal Unity Mission Team is working hard to make this season of peace and sharing all the more special. Plans are being finalized, transport arranged and food, clothing and a lot of love is being stored up in preparation for the Ekamuthu Oray Makkal Unity Camp Three, to be held in Mannar from Dec 27 to 30. The Unity Mission Team which has been in existence since more..

It may soon be water, water everywhere, not a drop in our taps

Dec 20 (ST) In recent months Wellawatte South where I live has had water supply failures very often. My complaints to the National Water Supply and Drainage Board have brought no permanent solution, but water bowsers were offered. There is in fact a serious situation arising. The UDA is best equipped to initiate and monitor action by the National Water Supply and Drainage Board to avoid such a crisis. Only some consumers are aware of the water interruption. more..

Learnt Lessons, Commissioned Reconciliation

Dec 20 (DM) It was a political case, both by the critics of the Govt within and sections of the international community, that the LLRC was not aimed at, or empowered to address ‘accountability issues’ in terms of ‘war crimes’. The absence of a military expert(s) on the panel should have made clear that a tactical understanding of the ground situation at any given hour in a fast-paced war at times was impossible for the commission to comprehend, for it to draw conclusions. more..

Editorial: Judges, lawyers & politicians

Dec 20 (Island) The Bar Association of Sri Lanka (BASL) has passed a resolution vehemently opposing the proposed Parliamentary Select Committee to probe the conduct of Sarath N Silva (whom BASL has refrained from naming for reasons best known to it) during his tenure as Chief Justice. Its contention is that Article 107 of Sri Lanka's Constitution provides for parliamentary inquiry only in respect of sitting judges. The premier organisation of Sri Lankan lawyers knows the law, we reckon. more..

Ironman cometh to Sri Lanka

Dec 20 (ST) After running a hundred and fifty triathlons, Shannon Kurek is no stranger to pain. He’s been on intimate terms with every variety of physical torment an Ironman challenge can inflict – from the cramping of your intestines as they reject the energy drinks you’ve been guzzling down to the knotting of the muscles in your thighs as they refuse to carry you a step further. Just crossing that finishing line represents such a triumph of willpower and more..