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‘We can already see signs of a change’

Feb 9 (NS) With the LG elections nearing, UNP Deputy Leader Karu Jayasuriya in an interview with The Nation spoke on his party’s preparations to face the event as well as several other national issues which have taken centre-stage today. Following are some excerpts. Q: Now that the local government election battle has begun, we would like to know about the UNP’s plans and preparations, for the party to emerge victorious? more..

Our side of the fishing story

Feb 9 (NS) Last week I highlighted the political fallout of the deaths of fishermen Veera Pandiyan and Jayakumar in the forthcoming Tamil Nadu Legislative Assembly election. I also pointed out the competition that had emerged between the ruling Dravida Munnettra Kazhagam and the main opposition Anna Dravida Munnettra Kazhagam. That is only one side of the story. The other side of the story involves Sri Lanka, particularly the Sri Lankan Tamil fishing community. more..

Without external degrees, students may revolt: UNP

Feb 9 (DM) The University Grants Commission (UGC) must withdraw the circular stopping all external degrees, since only 20% of the students who passed the G.C.E. Advanced Level examination had been admitted to universities, UNP General Secretary Tissa Attanayake said yesterday. “The UGC must immediately withdraw the circular and allow the 80% of the student population who were denied University admission, to be able to do an external degree,” Mr. Attanayake said. more..

Sri Lanka establishes diplomatic relations with Dominican Republic

Feb 9 (GDI) The MoU establishing diplomatic relations between Sri Lanka and Dominican Republic was signed by Carlos Morales Troncoso, Minister of External Affairs of the Dominican Republic who is in India on an official visit, and High Commissioner for Sri Lanka in India, Prasad Kariyawasam in New Delhi. Sri Lanka and Dominican Republic will shortly designate concurrent Ambassadors to represent the two countries, more..

With UN panel blocked from Sri Lanka, Ban says there was an agreement

Feb 9 (ICP) On Sri Lanka, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon on Tuesday insisted to ICP that “there was an agreement” and that his “Panel will visit Sri Lanka.” But not only have seven weeks gone by since Ban praised President Mahinda Rajapaksa for his “flexibility” and announced his Panel on Accountability would go -- since then, a range of UN officials have acknowledged that Sri Lanka has now refused to let the UN Panel go and speak with Rajapaksa's LLRC. more..

Now SLFP blames Punchi Borella attack on UNP factions

Feb 9 (Island) The government yesterday said that it should not be held responsible for the UNP’s internal squabbles which had led to violence. SLFP General Secretary Maithripala Sirisena, responding to a query by a journalist on whether an attack similar to the one directed at a group of UNPers last Friday at Punchi Borella could take place during a protest called by the UNP today (9) to pressure the government to respect their right to engage in political activity, more..

Tamil boat costs Canadian taxpayers at least $25 million

Feb 9 (TS) The arrival of the MV Sun Sea off the coast of British Columbia last August has cost Canadians at least $25 million, so far. The ship arrived in Canadian waters in mid-August after a three-month journey from Thailand. The ship brought 492 ethnic Tamils from Sri Lanka to Canada claiming refugee status. The govt released supplementary spending estimates Tuesday morning that show the arrival of the MV Sun Sea had the biggest impact on more..

Not enough land in Mahaweli zones

Feb 9 (Island) There is an acute shortage of land in the Mahaweli zones due to high population growth, Director General of the Mahaweli Authority, D.M.C. Dissanayake said. "Currently there are about 100,000 families without land and steps will be taken to provide them with land in the Vavuniya and Polonnaruwa districts," he said. The reason for the shortage is the distribution of land among the third generation of Mahaweli farmers. Originally, a Mahaweli land could be divided only into two blocks. more..

TNA reiterates call to remove emergency

Feb 9 (Island) The TNA, in parliament on Tuesday, reiterated its long standing call for the removal of emergency regulations. TNA Jaffna District MP A. Vinayagamoorthy said that emergency was declared only when there was an emergency situation in the country. According to the Section 2(1) of the Public Security Ordinance; "Where in view of the existence or imminence of a state of public emergency, the President is of the opinion that it is expedient so to do in the interests of public or for the maintenance of more..

Economist wants govt. plans reviewed following Rs. 50 bn flood damage

Feb 9 (Island) Now that the govt has estimated the damages caused by floods at over Rs. 50 bn, it should take tangible measures to cut down on waste, corruption and irregularities to save money needed for relief programmes, says UNP MP Dr. Harsha de Silva. Minister Mahinda Amaraweera, made the flood damage assessment, while warning that the actual losses could be much higher. MP de Silva urged the government to review all its ongoing projects more..

Karu says emergency used against Opposition, killers roam free

Feb 9 (Island) The UNP on Tuesday (8) lashed out at the government over the continuation of the state of emergency in spite of its repeated claims that terrorism had been eradicated. UNP Deputy Leader Karu Jayasuriya told the debate on emergency that the government needed draconian laws only to target the Opposition. MP Jayasuriya said that there couldn’t be any valid reason to extend state of emergency almost two years after the conclusion of the war. more..

Plano couple, family accused of using threats to force Sri Lankan woman to work for them

feb 9 (DMN) A Plano couple have pleaded not guilty to federal charges that they and other family members hid a Sri Lankan woman in their home and used threats to force her to work for them. Nagham Hasan Burgotti, 30, and her husband, Adam Mohammad Barguthi, 40, face up to 95 years in prison if convicted on all charges in a seven-count federal indictment returned in December and unsealed Tuesday. more..

Sri Lanka News Debrief - 08.02.2011

'Our priority is to repair the irrigation system'

Feb 9 (DM) Irrigation and Water Resources Management Minister Nimal Siripala De Silva said yesterday that the priority of his ministry would be to reconstruct the irrigation system damaged by the flash floods and provide facilities such as seed paddy, fertilizer and equipment to farmers for cultivation during the coming Yala season. The first priority would be to prevent a food shortage in the country. All possible assistance will be provided to farmers more..

Ahmadinejad condoles with Sri Lanka over flood victims

Feb 9 (FNA) Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad extended his condolences to his Sri Lankan counterpart Mahinda Rajapaksa on the death of people in massive floods and mudslides in the South Asian state. In his message, the Iranian president expressed sympathy over the death of 13 people and the displacement of people in the flood-stricken country. More than 300,000 people in the north, east and centre are currently displaced, with thousands of houses more..

Thousands engage in ‘Sathyagraha’ demanding release of Gen. Fonseka

Feb 9 (LT) A ‘Sathyagraha’ campaign with the participation of a massive crowd demanding the release of the Former Commander of the Army Gen. Sarath Fonseka was held opposite the Welikada Prison today (8), exactly one year after he was arbitrarily imprisoned. The ‘Sathyagraha’ had been organized by the ‘People’s Movement for Democracy’ and was participated by Ms. Anoma Fonseka, the Leader of the JVP Somawansa Amarasinghe, more..

President bids warm farewell to UN Rep

Feb 9 (GDI) United Nations Resident Coordinator Mr. Neil Buhne yesterday (8) during his farewell meeting with President Mahinda Rajapaksa, discussed the current situation in Sri Lanka especially floods and recalled the challenging times that were faced during his period. The President appreciated the cooperation extended by Mr. Buhne during his tenure in Sri Lanka, especially in the challenging times towards the end of the humanitarian operation in 2009. more..

'Massacre of 600 police: SLA couldn’t have saved them'

Feb 9 (Island) The Army couldn’t have come to the rescue of the besieged police deployed in the Eastern Province at the outset of the eelam war II in June 1990 even if the top brass had wanted to go on the offensive, a retired army officer says. Speaking on the condition of anonymity, the official, who had been stationed in the East, says the Army hadn’t been equipped to face an emergency at that time. more..

Private busmen ask for more

Feb 9 (DM) Private bus operators said that they wanted to increase bus fares by 4% due to the increase in fuel prices unless the govt found some other way of providing relief to bus operators. Gemunu Wijeyratne, the Lanka Private Bus Owners Association’s president, said that the Lanka Indian Oil Company (LIOC) was the only fuel supplier in most rural areas and that a rise in its fuel prices should be followed by a rise in bus fares. more..

Crash program for flood affected

Feb 9 (DN) The Govt launched a crash program to provide immediate relief to the people affected by floods and landslides. Around Rs 100 million is to be spent to supply cooked meals for the affected people in 13 districts. The Government directed the officials in 13 districts that the people affected by the flood and landslides be provided with cooked meals and a maximum of Rs 200 can be spent for the cooked meal for a person a day. more..

Dayasiri presents in parliament list of Punchi Borella attackers

Feb 9 (NF) Dayasiri Jayasekera of the United National Party presented in Parliament yesterday a list of some of the attackers who disrupted the UNP gathering at Punchi Borella on February 4. “Who were the individuals who were present there? One of the individuals were identified as Kudu Ruwan. Kudu Ruwan is the electorate organiser of Thilanga Sumathipala or the SLFP belonging to Wanathamulla, Borella. more..

Entire year’s rainfall within three months

Feb 9 (DM) The amount of rain that fell in most of the flood affected areas in the past three months was equal to the amount of rain that normally falls during the course of an entire year, said G.B Samarasinghe, the director general of Meteorology, yesterday. He said that certain areas had experienced more than twice the amount of rainfall normally experienced during the course of one year. more..

In developing education: City-rural gap to end

Feb 9 (DN) The Government will bridge the gap in the quality of education in Colombo and the remote areas ensuring a quality education for all, President Mahinda Rajapaksa said yesterday in Wellawaya. The President participating in a scholarship program at the Mahinda Rajapaksa Conference Hall, Wellawaya said that the Government has taken several measures to reduce educational disparity. more..

'Courts recognize British Crown to keep SF in jail'

Feb 9 (DM) Opposition Leader Ranil Wickremesinghe charged that the recent judicial observations seek to reintroduce the sovereignty of the British Monarch for the sake of keeping former Army commander Sarath Fonseka in jail under the Army Act introduced in colonial times and requested the Speaker to make a statement to reassert the sovereignty of the people. He said that in this context even the concept of the sovereignty of more..

UN's Sri Lanka flood appeal falling short

Feb 9 (AFP) International aid for 1.2 million Sri Lankans affected by monsoon flooding has fallen far short of the immediate humanitarian needs, United Nations figures showed Wednesday. The UN said it received only $8.4 million as of Tuesday in response to an appeal for $51 million to meet urgent relief requirements in the island's north, centre and east. Fresh flooding has submerged large areas of the country's rice-growing area, more..

Wife burnt with iron

Feb 10 (NN) Police are on the hunt for a man who had brutally assaulted his nineteenth wife using a hot iron in Galgamuwa. The suspect identified as 33 year old Sarath Kumara had burnt his wife with a hot iron waist downwards after demanding money from her. The victim who was admitted to Hospital with serious burn injuries returned home today also with a broken arm after being assaulted by her husband. Doctors who had treated the 27 year old victim said that more..

Police English poor

Feb 10 (NN) Inspector General of Police (IGP) Mahinda Balasuriya admitted today that the lack of knowledge of the English and Tamil language in the police service led to the failure by the police to address some issues faced by the Tamil community during the war. Police chief noted that it will be made mandatory for police officers to know all three languages in future and also fresh recruits will have to have passed the advanced level examination. more..

Sri Lankan opposition demands release of ex-army chief

Feb 10 (DPA) Sri Lanka's main opposition party Wednesday staged a protest in the capital demanding the release of former army commander General Sarath Fonseka. More than 2,000 supporters of the UNP held a march and rally outside the high-security prison, a day after the first anniversary of the arrest of Fonseka on charges of conspiracy. 'We want the government to ensure justice and release Fonseka, who was once seen as a hero,' more..

Anura questions regarding ‘hedging’ again

Feb 10 (LT) The JVP MP Anura Dissanayake raised a series of questions in Parliament today regarding the ‘hedging’ agreement which is a damaging agreement to Sri Lanka. He said the government several years ago entered into ‘hedging’ agreement with several foreign and local banks claiming it would help stabilize the prices of fuel in the country. Despite being an advantage earlier, the agreement later on brought a massive loss to the country. more..

Murali signs up for Gloucestershire stint

Feb 10 (ES) The 38-year-old, who retired from Test cricket in July after claiming a record 800 Test wickets, will quit all forms of international cricket after this year's World Cup. He will join Gloucestershire for the domestic Twenty20 season after playing in the Indian Premier League. "I am really looking forward to playing for Gloucestershire," Muralitharan said on the club's website, "It is a young exciting team and I hope I can add some experience to the mix. more..

PM slams Solheim

Feb 10 (NN) The Sri Lankan government has slammed Norwegian Minister and former Sri Lankan peace envoy and facilitator Erik Solheim saying they did not need his services as a mediator between Sri Lanka and the Tamil Diaspora. When questioned bout the recent comments made by Solheim in an interview with this website where he has offered to play the role of a “dialogue partner” between the Sri Lankan government and communities living in exile, more..

Another Sri Lankan maid allegedly tortured in Saudi

Feb 10 (AD) A 35 year old Sri Lankan maid who returned to the country last week after being employed in Saudi Arabia for just over a month was operated on after doctors found that metal wires had been inserted into her limbs. The Sri Lankan housemaid went to Saudi on employement on December 21 last year but returned to her hometown in Polpitigama, Kurunegala on Feb 4 after Saudi Authorities sent her back for medical reasons. She was admitted to the Polpitgama hospital more..

Landslide warning

Feb 10 (NN) There is a possibility of landslides in the Badulla and Nuwara Eliya Districts if the rain continues over the next 24 hours, the Disaster Management Center warned today. The center said that residents in the vicinity of the Kothmale, Hali Ela, Passara and Badulla AGA divisions should be extra cautious. It also warned motorists using the Nuwara Eliya- Badulla Main Road, Ratnapura-Badulla Main Road, Ella-Wellawaya Main Road, Badulla –Meegahakiula more..

Sri Lanka News Debrief - 09. 02. 2011

Sri Lankan Legal system dismisses itself

Feb 10 (LG) I refer to your article published in today’s Sri Lanka Guardian, under the heading ‘AG Compromises Authority of High Court’. You state ‘In this compromise deemed suitable by the Attorney General, the people will see that a mockery of the law has taken place. If a murder charge can be dropped because jurors can be intimidated, or because the accused enjoy political patronage, there is no reason for people to trust the law enforcement capacities and more..

Something new, something clear

Feb 10 (LG) The rich and the powerful act as if we would live for 500 years. Quite often their fifteen minutes are up before they realize how fast the fall comes. The pace of change has gathered such momentum worldwide that the unlikeliest thing would be that Sri Lanka would remain untouched by the fallout. Hosni Mubarak was a successful dictator until he decided to install his son after him. Mubarak may last but the movement that has shaken comfortable imperialist backed more..

Sacred Bo sapling venerated in Jaffna

Feb 10 (Cimic) Inculcating sense of devotion in Buddhists and non Buddhists in Jaffna and repeating the history occurred 2364 years ago, a sapling of the Anuradhapura Sacred Jaya Sri Maha Bodhi was brought to historical Dambakola Patuna (Jambukola Pattana) amidst the devotional cry of “Sadhu ! Sadhu !!” on 9th February 2011. Brigadier General Staff Security Forces Headquarters-Jaffna Brig. B.C.J.A.F. Rodrigo along with a host of Security Forces and more..

Where we're heading?

Feb 10 (LG) The Speech made by Sarath Wijesinghe, Ambassador of Sri Lanka to the United Arab Emirates at the 63rd Independence Day celebrations held at Hotel Hilton, Abu Dhabi. Independence of a Nation, country or a State is a condition in which its residents and population feels and enjoys its freedom. When a Nation is independent it enjoys the freedom on political, social, and economic issues enjoyed by citizens individually, and the country as a whole. more..

Independence Day: A protest, an attack and some lessons

Feb 10 (DM) The UNP took to the streets on Feb 4. Dr. Harsha de Silva (MP) has given a blow-by-blow account of what happened in a comment on the LBO website. There is no reason to believe that he has engaged in fabrication; apart from his off-the-mark predictions about the economy, Dr. de Silva strikes me as a gentleman politician. De Silva’s claim is that protestors sought to agitate for the release of Sarath Fonseka who they believe is being wrongfully held. more..

Floods and rescue

Feb 10 (MoD) North and East had been badly affected with heavy monsoon rains in the beginning of the year 2011. The rain came down in torrents and no sooner made thousands of people homeless than couple of days. But, men who once rescued these victims from the scourge of terrorism were there once more to fight against floods which endangered thousands of lives; and assisted to restore their lives in the shortest possible time. more..