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Such suppression and oppression in this fair isle, celebrating 63 years of ‘Freedom’

Feb 13 (SL) Truth to tell, Menika could not believe her eyes when she saw on TV late news of February 4, Independence Day, the brutal assault on peaceful protestors at Punchi Borella or thereabouts. She truly wondered whether the G&T tucked inside her was befuddling her brain, hazing her eyes and in short acting like a hallucination causing drug. No, the next days newspapers, particularly the on-the-spot, blow-by-blow recounting of the despicable incident more..

Political interference in World Cup coverage

Feb 13 (SL) As excitement grows for the World Cup which is due to commence in six days time, all the media outlets in the country are gearing up to bring the matches ‘exclusively’ to their faithful audiences. In a strange turn of events Sri Lanka Broadcasting Corporation, traditional radio broadcasters of international sporting events, has missed out on acquiring the broadcasting rights for this showpiece. In its place Derana FM has been awarded it. more..

SLMC committed to support UPFA

Feb 13 (SO) The SLMC had signed a MoU with the UNP asserting their right to take independent decisions on any political issues in the run-up to the April 2010 parliamentary polls, said SLMC General Secretary M.T. Hassen Ali following the Colombo District Court injunction order refraining the UNP from taking any action against the SLMC for supporting the Government. The SLMC decided to support the Government in the best interests of the Muslim community and more..

Cultural Fund pardons rowdy Russians for Tourism’s sake

Feb 13 (ST) A group of Russian tourists arrested for reportedly behaving in a manner that showed scant regard for the world heritage site of Sigiriya last Saturday, was ordered to be released by a senior official of the Central Cultural Fund (CCF) in order to “protect the interest of the Tourism industry”. Director General (DG)- CCF, Professor Nimal Silva said that he ordered the release of the group of nine men and a woman as such arrests of foreigners could dent more..

'LTTE plans to target VVIPs during Assembly elections'

Feb 13 (Hindu) Central intelligence agencies have communicated specific inputs to the Tamil Nadu police that suspected LTTE cadre had conspired to carry out attacks on VVIPs during forthcoming Assembly elections. Highly placed intelligence sources confirmed to The Hindu that the Ministry of Home Affairs had sent alert messages that some LTTE cadre had arrived in Tamil Nadu and were engaged in a training programme at an “unknown location.” more..

Export of goods to Sri Lanka by sea begins

Feb 13 (Hindu) The much-awaited mechanised sail vessel export trade operations resumed from the Old Port of Tuticorin in the early hours of Saturday. With a 10-member crew on board the vessel, the MSV Raj TTN 241 is expected to reach Colombo with a consignment of 250 tonnes of goods in a span of 24 hours. Since Tuticorin is known for sail vessel, most of the people depend on its operation. After flagging off, S. Princeton Fernando, president, Coastal Sail Vessel Owners' Association, more..

'Too premature to think of backing Independent Groups'

Feb 13 (Island) The General Secretary of the UPFA Minister Susil Premajayantha said that the party was confident of a clear victory at the forthcoming local poll with the campaign starting with the distribution of leaflets at village level. Asked whether the UPFA would look to alternative methods as backing an independent Group as a final option, the Minister said that the party was confident of clearing at least one-third of the nominations that were rejected more..

Lanka could fall into huge debt trap

Feb 13 (ST) Post-war Sri Lanka’s foreign debt service is to double next year to an estimated US$ 1,539.4 million (Rs. 171 billion) from $ 810 million (Rs.90 billion) last year, Finance Ministry officials said. They said the debt service payment this year was expected to be $954.5 million (Rs.106 billion). Debt servicing which comprises both principal and interest payments is what a country pays annually as a part of its total dues. more..

Six state entities to be leased out

Feb 13 (BL) The govt is planning to lease out six state entities to potential investors on a thirty year term to redevelop and revive out of which some are operating and some are defunct. Among the earmarked entities rank the Ambilipitiya Paper Mill, Kantale Sugar Factory, Ceramic Corporation, Mawanella Rubber Factory, BCC Lanka and the Lanka Salusala. Secretary to the Ministry of Public Resources and Enterprise Development Willie Gamage said, they have already informed this plan to the Cabinet of Ministers. more..

Ways and means of fooling the masses!

Feb 13 (ST) My dear Hosni Mubarak, I know that this advice comes too late for you and you have fled from your presidency now, but I thought I should still write to you even if it is only to tell you where you went wrong. Having ruled for thirty long years Mubarak, you should have known how to set up things to avoid getting booted out of office. After all, you had enough time to prepare yourself and you seem to have tried to do so-but in the wrong manner. more..

Govt invites back INGOs

Feb 13 (NS) The UPFA govt, in a new turn of events, has invited the International Non-Governmental Organisations (INGOs) to play a bigger role in resuscitating the Eastern economy, following the floods that wreaked havoc in the area. Contrary to the govt’s earlier position to limit INGO operation in the country, the government last week decided to include INGOs and NGOs to continue with the extensive recovery operation the govt has launched with a view to more..

Laksathosa top official in ‘Indian egg’ scam

Feb 13 (LB) However, informed sources attached to Laksathosa told this newspaper that out of the stocks imported from India a scheme was hatched to illegally hand over the eggs to bakery and hotel owners in the Colombo district. When contacted Chairman of Laksathosa, Nalin Fernando explained that the stock of eggs imported from India had been stored in refrigerators belonging to the Ministry of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources and that they were in the process of more..

Go for it lads, you got the wings

Feb 13 (ST) The Lankan outfit is being very modest. In their last exchange of views with mainly the local media, they very stubbornly tore away their tag ‘favourites’. They termed it as a tag pinned on them by some ex-cricketers who were trying to make an impression on their TV chats and the media which always want to stick something on some one. Six days hence they will be on to the real one and are flexing their muscles at present, yet, they want to go as any other team in more..

Govt.'s economic woes worsen but Opposition woefully ineffective

Feb 13 (ST) "I have an interesting letter that will make you all laugh," declared President Mahinda Rajapaksa, when the weekly cabinet meeting ended on Wednesday night. He read out to his ministers the contents in Sinhala without identifying the writer. The recipients were the writer's sister and brother-in-law. He had thanked them as well as their children for helping him during the April 2010 parliamentary elections. more..

Home advantage the pros and cons

Feb 13 (NS) There is so much hype going around that Sri Lanka has lost home advantage by not playing or practicing at two of their three World Cup venues at Pallakele and at Hambantota that it is high time one examined the pros and cons of what this ‘home advantage’ means. A home series according to the BBC Sport Academy is defined as, ‘normally an advantage to the home side, as it is played on pitches they are accustomed to with a climate they are comfortable with and more..

Biggest international trade exhibition in Colombo from Oct. 27-29

Feb 13 (Island) Pico Sri Lanka, one of the world's leading experiential marketing service, and Montgomery Worldwide UK, a multi-national exhibition organizing company, announced their upcoming biggest international trade exhibition "Hotel, Hospitality and Food Sri Lanka 2011", last week. The exhibition will be held at the Sri Lanka Exhibition & Convention Centre in Colombo from October 27 to 29 under the auspices of the Association of Small and Medium Enterprises more..

Hedging: Untangling the web

Feb 13 (SL) Hedging deals are double edged, and even though they reduce risk, they do not completely eliminate it. If hedging deals are entered into without proper foresight, they can cut down and amputate like a sweeping butcher’s knife. Sri Lanka, in its rush to rid itself of the burden of high fuel prices, entered into a ‘hedging’ deal with several international banks to try and dodge the petrol bullet. more..

CPC loses Rs. 2b a month, fuel hike after local polls

Feb 13 (ST) The government has postponed an impending fuel price hike till the conclusion of the local government elections on March 17 by not increasing diesel prices as done by Lanka Indian Oil Corporation (LIOC) on February 4, a senior CPC official said. He said the CPC was delaying the fuel price hike as the greenlight had not been given by the government despite the loss of more than Rs. 2 billion a month so far this year. more..

Prices rise as floods recede

Feb 13 (ST) The prices of essential commodities such as vegetables, fruits and fuel have been back-breaking for the average Sri Lankan. Even as the government attributed the price rise to recent bouts of floods, those reeling under the cost of living seemed to have had enough in the first five weeks of the year. Interestingly, however, while the floods affected 576,121 acres of paddy lands (assessment of the Disaster Management Ministry), more..

Another big hotel project in Colombo

Feb 13 (ST) The government is to launch another hotel project in Colombo Fort, taking over the former Dutch Hospital (Transworks Building) opposite the one time Central Telegraph Office, a senior official of the Urban Development Authority said. The adjoining car park and a land bordering Chatham Street and Hospital Street in Fort have also been identified for a tourist entertainment venue as part of the project, the official said. more..

Talk at the Cafe Spectator

Feb 13 (ST) The opening ceremony of the 3rd Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (CPA) Asia Regional Conference held at the Hilton Hotel in Colombo yesterday where the Speaker of the Indian Parliament (Lok Sabha) Meira Kumar was the guest of honour was a nightmare not only for journalists but also for invitees. While journalists were kept waiting for more than four hours before the conference began, the bigger mess-up was seen in the seating arrangements. more..

Rudrakumaran emerges as Diaspora leader

Feb 13 (Island) The US-based Rudrakumaran Viswanathan aka ‘Rudra’ has now emerged as the leader of the Tamil diaspora with a section of the NGOs backing his call for a referendum in Sri Lanka on the lines of the recent UN led referendum in Sudan. Following the arrest in Malaysia and deportation to Colombo of LTTE leader Velupillai Prabhakaran’s successor, S. Pathmanathan aka ‘KP’ in early August 2009, various diaspora operatives had more..

'High food prices beyond Govt control'

Feb 13 (SO) Jathika Hela Urumaya (JHU) Legal Advisor and Western PC Environment, Agriculture, Agrarian Development and Industry Minister Udaya Gammanpila lashed out at Opposition Leader Ranil Wickremesinghe for saying that the administration of Local Government bodies should not be entrusted to the ruling party of President Mahinda Rajapaksa which has failed to even reduce the price of coconut. more..

Rs.200m revenue from World cup tourists?

Feb 13 (BL) The tourism industry is gearing for a major boost this month with estimated tourist arrivals for the 2011 Cricket World Cup alone of 150,000 likely to generate additional revenue of Rs. 200 million, industry officials predict. However, recent floods that wrought havoc in several districts in the island may lower the actual arrivals expectations. Saying that the hotel industry had grossed up a record Rs. 150 million during more..

In a local poll : Polls chief says no power to stop misuse of govt. resources

Feb 13 (Island) Commissioner of Elections Dayananda Dissanayake had said that his powers are limited under the Local Government Elections Ordinance and there are no special provisions to deal with any complaints of misuse of government resources and powers during the campaign by UPFA candidates. The Commissioner had, however, assured that he would do his best to ensure a free and fair election on March 17, sources said. more..

Flood aid for Lanka: Poor global response

Feb 13 (ST) The appeal by the United Nations (UN) for $51 million (Rs 5.6 billion) in flood aid has had a poor response from the donor countries with Sri Lanka receiving just 27 percent of the total package, a top official said yesterday. Acting UN Resident Representative Adnan Khan said that so far they had received some $10.5 million (Rs. 1.1 billion) with another US$ 3 million Rs 333 million in the pipeline. more..

Soldier's wife climbs tree to demand a school for her child

Feb 14 (NF) A mother from Anugunukolapelessa area in Hambantota, who could not admit her daughter into a school, protested against the injustice in a unique manner. She engaged in a protest after climbing on to a tree opposite the Aluthwewa National School claiming that her daughter, W. R. Ramesha Erandi had been treated unfairly. Ramesha was not admitted to the primary section of the school. Our correspondent in the area said that she had climbed on to the tree at around 9am yesterday more..

India to loan Buddha's relics to Sri Lanka

Feb 14 (HT) India has agreed to temporarily lend fragments of Buddha’s bones, famously known as the Kapilavastu relics, to Sri Lanka for an exposition to celebrate his 2600th year of enlightenment later this year. It will the be the first time in decades that the fragile bone fragments, kept at the National Museum, will be taken outside India. Announcing the decision, visiting Lok Sabha Speaker, Meira Kumar, said the exposition should have a "calming and peaceful" effect in more..

'One law for the government and another for the opposition'

Feb 14 (LT) Gangs of thugs of the government are carrying out an agenda of violence throughout the local government election campaign and they keep on obstructing his party’s election campaign says JVP MP Vijithe Herath. Speaking at a media briefing held in Colombo today (13th) Mr. Herath said 62 instances of personal threats, terrorizing and attacks on party supporters and setting fire to election offices have been reported already. more..

Don’t blame the opposition

Feb 14 (DM) The people should not blame the opposition anymore if they vote for the ruling UPFA at the forthcoming local government election, UNP Kurunegala District MP Akila Viraj Kariyawasam said today. “We have created enough awareness on the difficulties the people will have to face in the future and they cannot deny it,” he said. The people will have to face many difficulties in the future as inflation will further increase in the coming months, Mr. Kariyawasam said. more..

Sri Lanka detains Russian crew after man overboard

Feb 14 (RIA) The coastal guards of Sri Lanka have impounded a cargo vessel over suspicions that its Russian crew has intentionally ditched a workfellow who fell into the water, the Maritime Bulletin news website said on Sunday. DD Vigor bulk carrier left the Sri Lanka's port of Panadura on February 10 and headed for India's Goa. The ship's second engineer fell overboard, but the 22-member crew did nothing to rescue him. more..

India committed to provide reconstruction assistance to Lanka

Feb 14 (PTI) Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar today reaffirmed India's commitment to provide assistance for the reconstruction efforts in the war ravaged north and eastern parts of Sri Lanka. Kumar, who is currently in the island for the 3rd Asian Region conference of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association, said in an interaction with Indian journalists here: "What we are committed (to), we are doing it". more..

Army begins arresting deserters following the end of amnesty period

Feb 14 (NN) Over 3000 soldiers who deserted their ranks in the army surrendered over the past week to leave the army officially, making use of an opportunity given on Independence Day. Military spokesman Major General Ubaya Medawela said that as of yesterday around 3125 soldiers including some officers had reported back to their respective regimental headquarters and got the official clearance. Since November over 4000 army deserters have been arrested and this included 10 officers. more..

Sri Lanka´s Master Plan to Lose the 2011 Cricket World Cup

Feb 14 (AT) The 2011 Cricket World Cup is upon us and this is an ideal time to revisit and update the article by this author published in The Asian Tribune on November 27, 2005 titled, What should be done to stop the decline in Sri Lankan Cricket? The article was a reaction to the 6-1 trashing by India in the "Videocon Cup" cricket series. It is said that madness is doing the same thing again and again and expecting a different (better), result. more..

After Shock: The lingering legacy of civil war

Feb 14 (BBC) The Forum has travelled from London to the Galle Literary Festival at the Galle Fort on the South Western tip of Sri Lanka. The Forum takes a closer look at Sri Lanka as it emerges from the devastating civil war that lasted a quarter of a century and ended less than two years ago. Joining Bridget Kendall are three guests who all deal in different ways with the challenges that emerge once the guns have been silenced. more..

World Cup: Sri Lanka aiming for a golden encore

Feb 14 (PTI) Holding the distinction of being the only co-host team to have won the World Cup, Sri Lanka would be keen to take inspiration from that unforgettable title triumph in 1996 into the megaevent starting on February 19. Fifteen years ago Lanka were the co-hosts of cricket's flagship event along with India and Pakistan while in the current edition the island nation is sharing that job with India and Bangladesh. more..

Bayliss wants Murali fresh for World Cup

Feb 14 (PTI) Sri Lankan coach Trevor Bayliss stressed the need for veteran off-spinner Muttiah Muralitharan to be fresh for Sri Lanka`s World Cup bid. The record-holding wicket-taker in both Test and one-day cricket was rested for Sri Lanka`s opening warm up match against the Netherlands yesterday. "Murali is getting towards the end of his career and we want to make sure that he is mentally and physically fresh to play the game we want him to play," more..

Ministers 'irresponsible' says minister

Feb 14 (BBC) The minister in charge of parliamentary affairs has admitted that Sri Lanka’s cabinet ministers are avoiding their responsibility to answer the questions raised in the parliament by MPs. Minister Sumedha Jayasena told BBC Sandeshaya that it is “not proper” when it appears that ministers are avoiding answering questions raised by MPs on behalf of the public. She requested the BBC to raise the issue with the Chief Government Whip more..

Sri Lanka needs US$600 million for flood damage

Feb 14 (PTI) Sri Lanka needs at least US$600 million for reconstruction efforts after the damage caused by two rounds of heavy flooding that killed 64 people and displace over one million people, amid a lukewarm response to a UN appeal for international aid. Disaster management minister Mahinda Amaraweera said the state will spend up to Sri Lankan Rs33 billion (US$ 300 million) to carry out urgent repairs to 50,000 homes and repair main roads washed away by the floods. more..

Scholrships to A/L students from President's Fund

Feb 14 (GDI) The Government has taken steps to launch a programme to improve the education of G.C.E. Advanced Level students with the intervention of the President. Under this new programme finances will be allocated from the President’s Fund to provide relief to the students to continue their education. The presentation of scholarships to children who are scheduled to sit for the G.C.E. Advanced Level examination in 2011 commenced on February 11th. more..