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Candle lit processions and celebrations

Feb 10 (DM) The much advertised and hyped about Valentine’s Day will be next Monday but strangely enough this year the media, especially the electronic media publicity of the day is very muted . Perhaps in the present situations, love is not in the air so the exchange of red roses and promises of eternal love will not matter much in a country that appears to be very much devoid of love, harmony or peace. After all, when Independence celebration should have been a celebration of more..

Whether to have LGe in this weather

Feb 10 (DM) There has been a debate about the appropriateness of holding elections in the flood affected areas since their primary need in this hour is to get back to their homes and livelihoods. A considerable area and a large population have become inundated due to the flood that is the worst to hit the East coast in a long time. Certain political parties have expressed their views on the imminent elections in the backdrop of the floods. more..

Corruption shortcuts around the system

Feb 10 (SL) It starts with a discreet Rs. 500 bribe slipped to the cop at the junction. Or with the businessman who offers a small ‘incentive’ to ensure his tender bid is accepted. Shortcuts around the system abound in Sri Lanka, as in other developing economies. To many, life is improving now that the decades long civil war is over. People can walk the streets without fear. Last Friday marked the day Sri Lanka gained independence. more..

Editorial: Uphold the constitutional rights of the people

Feb 10 (DM) No threat to civic liberties of citizens in a democratic country should be condoned, whatever the justifications offered. The Opposition of any country is an alternative government that has every right that the government or any other party to express their opinions and if the people so desire move it out to the streets. Therefore the manner in which the public rally it organized on Independence Day came under a most brutal attack can not go ignored more..

Editorial: Justice, sovereignty and patriotism

Feb 10 (Island) UNP leader Ranil Wickremesinghe has alleged in Parliament that some recent judicial observations have sought to reintroduce the sovereignty of the British monarch here and called upon Parliament to re-assert the sovereignty of the people. He is of the view that 'we have now come to a crisis situation where Parliament recognises the sovereignty drawn from the people while the Courts have now started to recognise the prerogative powers of the Monarch'. more..

'There is no rule of law, only the deities to take our grievances'

Feb 10 (NF) Today, there is no rule of law in the country. Only the deities are left to take our grievances, says Anoma Fonseka, wife of former Army Commander Anoma Fonseka. She made this statement yesterday taking part in a pooja held at the Kali Amma Kovil in Mutwal to mark the completion of a year since the former Army Commander was imprisoned. “In our country, it's always injustice that had prevailed. more..

Allegations of favouritism plague Medicine Institute

Feb 10 (NS) The Board of Study in Family Medicine (BSFM) of the Post-Graduate Institute of Medicine (PGIM) has come under severe criticism for allowing a change in the selection criteria at the Diploma in Family Medicine examination held in August last year to accommodate a family member of one of the members in the BSFM. Diploma in Family Medicine (DFM) is an on line examination where only 30 candidates on merit are selected to follow the course to the available resources. more..

Discreet diplomacy resolves a thorny issue

Feb 10 (NS) It has been a longstanding practice of Tamil Nadu politicians to make a problem causing concern to Tamils in Sri Lanka a main issue at successive general elections in this predominantly Tamil state. The ethnic problem of Tamils in Sri Lanka and pressuring the Centre to prevail on the government here to call a halt to the war in the North had been the main planks of their election platform for several years. Now that the war is over, more..

In the hands of pirates

Feb 10 (SL) Three out of five fishermen who left Sri Lankan shores on January 4 were held by Somali pirates eight days since they were captured and two of them killed. They were finally released on February 3 and are currently making their way back to the island. It was just another fishing expedition for the five friends who set out to the deep seas on January 4th, from the harbour at Mirissa on board the vessel Darshana 6. It was going to be a long voyage. more..

Diocese promotes Tamil studies for priests

Feb 10 (UCAN) A bishop in Sri Lanka is encouraging Sinhalese seminarians and priests to learn the Tamil language because many in his diocese cannot communicate fluently with its population. Bishop Warnakulasuriya Devsritha Valence Mendis of Chilaw diocese, said pastoral services are beginning to suffer because there are a declining number of priests and seminarians who can speak Tamil. “So I’ve been sending young priests to serve in Tamil-speaking parishes more..

US report finds Gulf embassy staff 'risk exploitation'

Feb 10 (BBC) US investigators say they have found "indicators" of exploitation and coercion of low-level staff at US missions in four Gulf countries. State department investigators reported that contractors illegally confiscated workers' passports and housed staff in overcrowded and dirty conditions. Investigators said some workers had paid recruitment fees worth up to a year's salary, risking "debt bondage". But they found no evidence US human trafficking laws had been violated. more..

Harsha exposes corrupt chairman

Feb 10 (Island) An acting chairman of a Statutory Board, coming under the purview of the Minister Wimal Weerawansa, has paid his personal bills using public money, Parliament was told yesterday. UNP National List MP Dr Harsha de Silva said that his party had received bills and documents relating to the transactions. The MP said that the official had purchased chicken sausages, ice cubes, coca cola and yoghurt from a private super market in Anuradhapura. more..

Sri Lanka: The road to peace requires western courage

Feb 10 (HP) Buried deep and largely unnoticed in the trove of diplomatic cables released by WikiLeaks last December was an extraordinary note detailing the Sri Lankan government's alleged support of paramilitary groups involved in killing, abducting and raping Tamil civilians and in forcibly conscripting child soldiers. The message sent home by then-U.S. Ambassador Robert O. Blake Jr. -- who is now Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs more..

PCs have no funds to pay employees

Feb 10 (DM) Ceylon Teachers Union (CTU) said that though the government had instructed provincial councils to pay an advance three times the basic salary to public sector employees affected by the floods, they had no funds to do so. The CTU alleged that even though a circular had been released to the provincial councils they did not have funds to pay them. “The government had asked them to pay three times their basic salaries but the accounts show that they do more..

Press freedom tug o’war never ends

Feb 10 (LB) Whether we have press freedom in this country is an ongoing debate, not simply between journalists and the government but also among journalists themselves. Media freedom, after all is a relative concept. Also, any assessment of the quality of media freedom is a subjective exercise, depending on the personal experiences and opinions of the researchers and the sample group. Though, generally the sample group ought to be more..

Quick fix towards economic disaster

Feb 10 (SL) The govt’s decision to maintain prices of certain commodities by slashing the duties imposed on them would result in an increase in inflation while curtailing economic growth in the country, economists warn. In a quick fix move to address the rising cost of living due to the escalating prices of consumer goods, the government last month announced the reduction of import taxes on goods like fuel, milk powder and LP gas. The government’s short sighted move according more..

Rain forces shift of World Cup warm-up matches from Pallekele

Feb 10 (CI) The ICC has decided to move the two World Cup warm-up matches that were scheduled to take place in Pallekele, Sri Lanka, because of persistent, heavy rains that have hampered the preparation of the pitches. The decision was made following a recommendation from ICC pitch consultant Andy Atkinson, who inspected the venue today. Pallekele was supposed to host the games between Sri Lanka and the Netherlands on February 12 and Kenya and the Netherlands on February 15. more..

'We have prepared as well as possible'

Feb 10 (CI) Sri Lanka captain Kumar Sangakkara has expressed satisfaction with his side's lead-up to the World Cup despite not being able to practice at Hambantota and Pallekele - two of the three Sri Lankan venues hosting the tournament. Sangakkara said his side was well-prepared for the event, despite lacking in experience when compared to previous World Cups. "Some of the big-time legends are not with us this time. There is a kind of a more youthful look more..

Bringing back the glory of Bamiyan Buddha in Lanka

Feb 10 (ST) It’s been eight years and four months since the day that renowned Indian sculptor Padma Sri M.M. Sthapathi and his men took on the gigantic task of carving out a 67.5 foot high Samadhi Buddha statue on a granite rock situated within the land of a temple in the quiet village of Rambodagalla in the Kurunegala district. The fruits of their labour have now taken the shape of an impressive Buddha figure, the first of its kind to be attempted since the Polonnaruwa era more..

Forex suspect appeals bail

Feb 10 (DM) Colombo High Court yesterday fixed the bail inquiry of a suspect arrested on charges of country’s largest forex smuggling. The bail application was filed on behalf of the suspect, Nadeem Aslam Sheik who was arrested for allegedly defrauding US$ 8 million violating Customs Law and it was taken up before High Court judge W. M. P. B. Warawewa. When the application was taken up Senior State Counsel Dileepa Peiris appearing for the Attorney General stated that more..

SL Independence day celebrations in NY

Law to help disabled voters

Feb 10 (DM) The government yesterday introduced legislation in Parliament to make provision for a disabled voter to be accompanied by a person when voting at elections. The new Bill which was presented in the House would be taken up for debate soon. The Bill provides for the accompanying person to make the ballot paper as directed by the voter concerned in the presence of the presiding officer and another member of his polling staff. more..

Sick child dies as ambulance crashes

Feb 10 (DM) Two persons, including a sick child, died on the spot and 12 others were injured in a head on collision between an ambulance and a CTB bus at the Walliwela bend on the Matale- Dambulla main road yesterday. The ambulance was transporting several patients including a 12-year-old boy to the Polonnaruwa Hospital from a clinic in the Kandy Hospital when it met with the accident. The driver of the ambulance Lalith Nishantha Kularatne (45) and D.G. Mahesh (12) died on the spot. more..

New leap in shrub frogs

Feb 10 (ST) The researchers were looking for frogs on a cold night at the edge of the Sinharaja rainforest. Suddenly, one picked up a rapid ticking noise he had never heard before coming from a tea bush. Listening carefully, he started combing the bushes searching for the source of the noise. Looking at the researcher through two really large eyes was a tiny frog with a long snout. That was in 1999. “Since a call, within reason, more..

For University entrance: English test mandatory

Feb 10 (DN) Students entering Universities on the results of the 2010 GCE Advanced Level Examination will be given a three-month English, computer and human skills development training course. The Higher Education Ministry will conduct a special examination to test their level of English knowledge prior to the course, said Ministry Secretary Dr Sunil Jayantha Navaratne. He said a General English question paper will be made compulsory for students sitting the more..

Don’t jack up prices: Minister warns rice retailers

Feb 10 (DN) Co-operatives and Internal Trade Minister Johnston Fernando has instructed Consumer Affairs Authority (CAA) Chairman Rumi Marzook to take stern action against traders who sell rice above the stipulated prices. “We will carry out raids from today to nab errant traders who sell rice at a higher price than the State stipulated maximum retail price,” Minister Fernando told the Daily News. The Minister emphasized that there is no rice shortage. more..

Aryasinha warns of attempts to distort Lanka’s image

Feb 10 (Island) Sri Lanka’s Ambassador to Belgium, Luxembourg and the EU Ravinatha Aryasinha, addressing the celebrations to mark Sri Lanka’s 63rd Anniversary of Independence in Brussels on February 6, 2011, called on Sri Lankans abroad to rise against continued attempts by vested interests to distort the country’s image. He said "as we celebrate our freedom, let us not forget that these continue to be challenging times for Sri Lanka. more..

Commonwealth parliamentarians meet in Colombo

Feb 10 (GDI) The 3rd Asian Regional Conference of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (CPA) will be declared open by Prime Minister D.M.Jayaratne on 12th February at Hilton Hotel, Colombo. The Speaker of the Indian Lok Sabha and Chairperson of the CPA Smt. Meira Kumar will grace the occasion as the Guest of Honour. The Conference will include two days of business sessions on 12th and 13th of this month during which the participants will take part in more..

Between Galle, Matara: Trains ply again on Feb 16

Feb 10 (DN) Train services suspended from last August to upgrade the coastal railway line between Galle and Matara will resume on February 16. Sri Lanka Railways Planing Director Vijaya Samarasinghe told the Daily News that the newly laid express railway line from Galle to Matara (43km) has been modernized into a high speed rail track enabling trains to travel at over 100 kms per hour. The public will be able to travel from Colombo Fort to Matara within two hours more..

Private hospitals ‘bleed’ patients as Govt. turns blind eye

Feb 10 (Island) The government’s failure to monitor private hospitals has resulted in many of them ‘bleeding’ patients by charging as much as Rs 50,000 to Rs 100,000 per pint of blood, which they obtain from the National Blood Bank at only around Rs 1,500, which is charged as processing fees. "The National Blood Bank Centre has been inundated with complaints from the kith and kin of patients, warded in certain private hospitals. more..

UNP calls for waiver of Customs duty on essential

Feb 10 (Island) The UNP yesterday urged the government to do away with the Customs duty on imports of essential items. Chief Opposition Whip John Amaratunga said that the rising cost of living had an immense impact on the ordinary people and waviers of the imports duty could lessen their burden and the cost of living. Amaratunga said that the people have cut down their consumption of food as a result of the unbearable cost of living, which was sky rocketing and more..

Rain creates disaster zones in the upcountry

Feb 10 (DM) The National Building Research Organisation (NBRO) yesterday decided to declare Nuwara Eliya and Badulla districts as emergency zones due to continuous rain in those areas which had increased the threat of landslides. This is to be applicable to the next 24 hours, head of NBRO R.M.S. Bandara said.Due to the continuing rainy weather in those districts, the possibility of disasters, including landslides, still exists, he warned. more..

Bogolls beats them all: 36 foreign trips in 39 months!

Feb 10 (Island) Former Foreign Minister Rohitha Bogollagama has been on 36 foreign trips during his 39-month tenure and they cost the exchequer Rs. 27, 067,626, Parliament was told. An answer tabled by Chief Government Whip Water Supply and Drainage Minister Dinesh Gunawardena revealed that former Minister Bogollagama had visited the UK eight times, India ten times, the US four times and China four times as Foreign Minister. more..

British NGO pushes for Sudan type referendum in SL

Feb 10 (Island) UK-based NGO "ACT NOW", controlled by former British humanitarian workers deployed in the Northern and Eastern Provinces during eelam war IV, is now accusing the Sri Lankan military of massacring up to 40,000 Tamil civilians, though a UN allegation that some 7,000 civilians perished in the final phase of the war has gone unsubstantiated. The NGO, with links to the LTTE rump pushing for UN intervention in post-war Sri Lanka, more..

Prisoner of the year

Feb 10 (DM) A competition was to be launched to choose the prisoner of the year commencing this year, the Prison Reforms and Rehabilitation Ministry said. Minister Chandrasiri Gajadheera said that the event would begin on Prison Day that falls on September 12, 2011 and would be conducted annually. The criteria for selection would be discipline during the prisoner’s stay in prison, conduct, effectiveness as a team player, skills training and more..

'Employ flood victims for rebuilding'

Feb 10 (DM) President Mahinda Rajapaksa yesterday instructed officials to employ people in the flood affected areas for reconstruction work in those localities so that those who have lost their crops and livelihood would get a daily income. Addressing officials at a discussion held at the Central Bank auditorium in Anuradhapura during his visit to the district to inspect the welfare facilities of the flood victims, more..

Commercial borrowing by Govt. - Harsha

Feb 10 (DM) The government had made a commercial borrowing of US Dollars 810 million (Rs. 8.1 billion) from China on December 31 for the second phase of the Hambantota Harbour in a discreet manner, UNP National List MP Dr. Harsha de Silva said in Parliament yesterday. He said that there had been no transparency in this transaction. He said that this would worsen the debt crisis faced by the country. more..

Garment industry woos women workers

Feb 10 (IPS) Sri Lanka’s garment industry has launched a multi-million rupee campaign to bring in female workers shunning the country’s most profitable sector for better paying jobs. Executives at garment firms believe the industry is merely experiencing a bad image problem, but union officials say women are staying away because they get little respect and income from working long hours in what were once known as "sweatshops". more..

Changes must not be rappings of ‘ Gajaga Wannama’

Feb 10 (DM) A change in tradition, new thinking and new inventions, and seeking new vistas are necessary to take the country forward but it must not be a rapping of ‘Gajaga Wannama’, Youth Affairs and Skills Development Minister Dulles Alahapperuma said yesterday. He said all elements and materials have to undergo change and dramas, dancing, music and media have no exception. more..

NGO staff nabbed

Feb 10 (NN) A group of local employees who were working for an American INGO and a priest from Batticaloa were arrested in Dambulla today over allegations they were sending out false information regarding Sri Lanka to the west. The suspects were staying at a hotel in Dambulla and had in their possession pro-LTTE material including images, songs and Compact Discs as well as an image taken at a hotel of the group having discussions with some Americans. more..