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Navy arrests Sri Lankans bound to Australia

Feb 21 (SL) The Sri Lanka Navy has arrested 17 Sri Lankans while they were attempting to illegally travel to Australia in a trawler about 20 nautical miles of Hambantota coast. The 17 male suspects along with their multi day fishing trawler were apprehended in deep sea on February 19 night. Navy Spokesperson Commander Kosala Warnakulasuriya has told the media that the group headed to Australia was brought back in a Navy high-speed special patrol vessel and that these more..

Govt. to hold local government heads accountable

Feb 21 (SL) The government has decided to hold the heads of local government bodies accountable for permitting the construction in areas prone to landslides. The Disaster Management Ministry has issued a circular stating that if a construction is permitted in any area without the certification of the National Building Research Organization (NBRO), the head of the respective local government body would be held accountable. more..

Development Diaries

Reduce sugar intake by five per cent and halve incidence of diabetes

Feb 21 (Island) Medical experts and nutritionists are of the view that the incidence of diabetes could be halved if sugar consumption is reduced by five per cent. They have proved that numerous soft and fruit drinks sold in the market do not meet the International standards and the labels of some of them are rather deceptive. On the instruction of Healthcare Minister Maithripala Sirisena, the Healthcare Ministry will launch island-wide raids on all soft drink more..

SL to maximize peace dividend

Feb 21 (DN) Since gaining freedom from the clutches of terrorism, Sri Lanka is now looking forward to economic freedom, he added. He noted that the unvawering determination to overcome challenges had stood the country in good stead in defeating terrorism and added that the same determination would help the country in achieving the Government’s twin aims of economic prosperity and a morally rich society. The President was speaking after he deposited Buddha Relics at more..

Election law violations increase: Rule of law undermined

Feb 21 (Island) The activities of an outside party have increased election law violations in Beruwala making it one of the areas where election laws are most violated, the Campaign for Free and Fair Elections (CaFFE) said in a press release. Director of the CaFFE, Rajith Keerthi Tennakoon, said five incidents of election related violence have been reported after nominations were handed and more..

President tells Ministers not to be reporters

Feb 21 (NS) President Mahinda Rajapaksa last week warned his Cabinet colleagues not to leak Cabinet decisions to the press. The warning came after passing four Cabinet papers during the weekly Cabinet meeting chaired by him. The President who was seen in a jovial mood, while warning his colleagues has also quipped saying; “When I was the Minister during former President Chandrika Kumaratunga’s tenure as President, I too did the same thing.”

GMOA wants probe

Feb 21 (NN) The GMOA has called upon the Health Ministry to conduct an investigation against Sabaragamuwa Chief Minister Mahipala Herath after he had allegedly forced himself into the ICU of the Karapitiya Hospital despite objections raised by the medical staff. Members of the GMOA said that Chief Minister Herath had recently forced himself into the ICU of the Hospital to see a patient and more..

SLAF to expand commercial flights

Feb 21 (DM) Helitours will expand its commercial operations and purchase two Xian MA-60 passenger planes from China, said Air Chief Marshal Roshan Gunathilake. The 40 seat turboprop airliners built by China's Xian Aircraft Industrial Corporation will arrive sometime between March and May, he said. The Air Force has contributed Rs.240 million to government coffers during the last one year and two months through commercial flights. more..

Sri Lanka slash ticket prices to pull in crowds

Feb 21 (Reuters) Sri Lanka Cricket has decided to reduce World Cup tickets prices by more than 50 per cent for some matches not featuring the host nation to boost crowd numbers. A near capacity crowd of 35,000 turned up to see the 1996 champions thrash Canada on Sunday in Hambantota but officials expect a near empty arena during Pakistan's opening World Cup game against Kenya at the same venue on Wednesday. more..

Upeksha’s husband surrenders to police

Feb 21 (NN) The husband of parliamentarian Upeksha Swarnamali surrendered to the Mirihana Police today over allegations that he had assaulted his wife, police sources said. Her husband, Mahesh Chaminda Walawegama, surrendered to the police with his lawyer after he was ordered to appear before the Mirihana Police to record a statement. Mahesh is expected to be released on bail today and the matter will be taken up before court soon. more..

EU delegation here

Feb 21 (NN) The European Parliament’s Delegation for relations with South Asia, led by Ms Jean Lambert will arrive in Sri Lanka today to hold the 6th Inter-parliamentary Meeting with the Sri Lankan Parliament. The parliamentary delegation will be accompanied by the Ambassador of the Delegation of the European Union to Sri Lanka and the Maldives, Mr Bernard Savage and other EU officials. During the visit, the cross party parliamentary delegation will more..

Fresh battle to win pay hike: First salvo to be fired on Tuesday

Feb 21 (Island) Hundreds of trade unions in public, private and estate sectors backed by the pro-JVP National Trade Union Centre will fire the first salvo of their next battle for a pay hike on Tuesday (22). The NTUC assisted Workers Collective against High Cost of Living will stage a massive protest campaign on Tuesday against the rising cost of living and the alleged wastage of public funds by the government. more..

Muralitharan form the only cloud for pumped-up Sri Lanka

Feb 21 (Reuters) Sri Lanka will be little the wiser on Monday over their long-range World Cup prospects after a 210-run demolition of Canada. At least, the co-hosts will have put some of their early tournament nerves behind them but there was little gained from Sunday's one-sided match other than the garnering of a win and the chance for their players to enjoy a handy tune-up. One small cause for concern could be more..

'Tigers’ defeat made ICC Cricket World Cup 2011 matches possible at SL venues'

Feb 21 (Island) Chief of Defence Staff Air Chief Marshall Roshan Goonetileke says Sri Lanka’s war victory over the LTTE has made it possible to hold the ICC Cricket World Cup 2011 matches in the country. Had the LTTE leadership escaped the army cordon and sought refuge in the northern jungles, the group could have posed a threat in spite of losing its conventional military capability, the SLAF Commander told The Island. more..

Welcome to Hambantota: Cricket World Cup glory begins in fashion

Feb 21 (IL) The newly constructed Suriyawewa Hambantota International Cricket Stadium which was named after the President of Sri Lanka has become the main show piece in the cricketing and sports world this morning when it hosted the inaugural match of the ICC Cricket World Cup-2011in Sri Lanka. One major reason behind such enthusiasm is Suriyawewa Stadium is one of the brand new stadiums that have been set up especially for 2011 Cricket World Cup in more..

Thiruma to attend Parvathy Ammal’s funeral

Feb 22 (EB) Viduthalai Chirutheigal Katchi (VCK) founder and pro-LTTE leader Thol Thirumavalavan, MP,on Sunday condoled the death of Parvathy Pillai, mother of fomer LTTE chief V Prabhakaran and said he would participate in her last rites in Sri Lanka on Tuesday. “Her death is shocking. She lived her last days without any near and dear ones by her side,” he said in a statement here. His party flags will fly half-mast for three days as a mark of respect for the deceased, Thirumavalavan said. more..

Action on fast food

Feb 22 (NN) The Education Ministry has released two circulars which issues strict guidelines on the sale of fast food in school canteens and legal action will be taken against principals and teachers if such food continues to be sold in any schools, Minister Bandula Gunawardena said. He said that the circulars explain in detail what food can be sold to students and what had been banned and warned principals and teachers to strictly adhere to these rules or face legal action. more..

Sri Lanka News Debrief - 21.02.2011

Crocodiles displaced

Feb 22 (NN) Several crocodiles from the Mahaweli River have been displaced by the recent floods and one such crocodile was found dead with a gunshot wound today in the Maduru Oya area, officials said. The crocodiles who had been washed away by raging flood waters are now trying to find their way back to the Mahaweli River, officials added. The body of a crocodile that had been washed away into the ZD canal in the Maduru Oya area was found with gunshot injuries by more..

UNP withdrawn writ application on Maharagama UC

Feb 22 (SL) The UNP today (21) withdrew the writ application filed in the Appeal Court challenging the rejection of the nomination list for the Maharagama Urban Council. The Elections Department has said that local government elections in the Maharagama Urban Council would be held on March 17 after the main opposition UNP withdrew its writ application challenging the rejection of its nomination paper for the respective body. The Elections Department yesterday said that elections to more..

UNP condemns EC’s decision

Feb 22 (SL) The UNP has today (21) condemned the Elections Commissioner’s decision to postpone elections for 60 local government bodies. The Elections Commissioner yesterday announced that elections for 60 local government bodies will not be held on March 17 until the legal cases filed by various political parties and independent groups are concluded. UNP Deputy Leader Karu Jayasuriya releasing a statement says that it is unacceptable that more..

Sri Lanka's confusing investment signals

Feb 22 (LBO) I am often asked about how Sri Lanka is doing after the war. How much investment has come in, now that the LTTE monkey is off our backs. I tell them about the USD 500m from Shangri La. The other 500m investment by the Chinese aerospace conglomerate CATIC. Billion in the last few months, late finish, but still not bad. The new year started with USD 150m by Dialog Axiata. Is this good, is this enough, I am asked. Not enough really, I am compelled to say. Lot of lost time to catch up on. more..

Sri Lanka starts master's program in tourism

Feb 22 (LBO) Sri Lanka's Colombo University has started a Master's program in tourism to cater to the need for highly qualified professionals in the industry which is growing fast after the end of a 30-year war."Now that the tourism industry is picking up fast there is a need for advanced qualifications on par with the rest of the world," program co-ordinator Suranga de Silva said. "The program will provide enhanced and required manpower of tourism and hospitality more..

British Minister Alistair Burt arrives in Sri Lanka

Feb 22 (NN) British Minister for South Asia at Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) Alistair Burt arrived in Sri Lanka this morning. This is the first Ministerial visit to Sri Lanka under the current UK administration. Minister Burt met the Minister for Economic Development, Basil Rajapakse today. The two Ministers discussed trade and investment ties between Sri Lanka and the UK, as well as Sri Lanka’s progress in development. more..

Kohona snubs claim

Feb 22 (NN) Sri Lanka’s Permanent Representative to the UN Dr. Palitha Kohona has snubbed charges filed against him in the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague by some groups in Australia. The ICC in The Hague has received a request to investigate Dr. Kohona, an Australian citizen for alleged war crimes, Australia’s ABC news reported today. The request claims that during the last days of Sri Lanka's civil war, dual Sri Lankan-Australian citizen Dr Palitha Kohona was more..

Somali pirates release penniless Sri Lankan fishermen

Feb 22 (BBC) Three fishermen captured by Somali pirates say they were freed without a ransom demand once the pirates discovered they were from Sri Lanka. The fishermen told BBC Sinhala the pirates first asked if the boat was an Iranian vessel. "When we said Sri Lanka boat, they said Sri Lanka and Somalia the same, meaning both are poor countries and you don't have money," the captain said. The fishermen returned to Sri Lanka over the weekend. more..

UK announces £3 mn for demining

Feb 22 (PRIU) Visiting British Minister Alistair Burt announced a further contribution of £3 million by the UK Department for International Development (DFID) towards demining work in Sri Lanka when he met the Minister for Economic Development, Basil Rajapaksa at the Presidential Secretariat today (21). The two Ministers discussed trade and investment ties between Sri Lanka and the UK, as well as Sri Lanka’s progress in development. more..

Escalating healthcare costs warned

Feb 22 (BBC) Sri Lanka faces escalating costs for healthcare as a result of the demographic transition in the island, the World Bank has said. The cost will be increased "with rising rates of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) such as heart disease, diabetes, cancers, and asthma, as well as their risk factors such as obesity, smoking, high sugar and salt diets, and alcoholism,” it said in a statement. Improving lifestyle and reducing risk factors while more..

Sri Lanka emerge as serious contenders

Feb 22 (BBC) Winners in 1996, finalists last time, co-hosts this time and second-favourites behind India. But just how good are Sri Lanka? Paul Farbrace, who spent two years as the island nation's assistant coach from 2007, is confident Kumar Sangakkara's men can go all the way. Their campaign begins on Sunday with a sell-out match against Canada in Hambantota. "They are well planned, well organised, and have a very good and well-balanced squad," Farbrace, who left his Sri Lanka post more..

Australian could face court over Tamil Tigers deaths

Feb 22 (SMH) An Australian citizen and senior Sri Lankan diplomat has been accused of complicity in the murders of three surrendering Tamil Tigers in an application to the International Criminal Court in the Netherlands. The man, Palitha Kohona, was the international face of the Sri Lankan government's war with separatist militants, the Tamil Tigers, and played an important role in the surrender of Tamil Tiger soldiers following their defeat in May 2009. more..

Waiting for India?

Feb 22 (LG) It is unbelievable to see that some mature political leaders are excited about so called new attitude of the JVP towards the concept of federalism. It is unbelievable, because JVP has said nothing new. Speaking to the BBC JVP’s Anura Kumara MP, has said that they agree to federalism to unite countries ‘like Cyprus’ but not to divide countries ‘like Sri Lanka’. May be they would agree to federalism in Sudan, as now there are two states! more..

Self Appointed Leaders

Feb 22 (LG) I refer to Mr. Masilamany's article published under the caption ‘In search of Leadership Excellence among Tamils’ in today’s (Feb.18) Sri Lanka Guardian. I recall through your earlier article ‘God has spoken who said there is no God’ I got the impression that you are yet to seek and find God within yourself. Hence I conclude that your expressions are driven by ‘external factors’ rather than internal faith. You state in today’s article, more..

The fundamental problem is not secessionism or devolution but justice for all communities in the island

Feb 22 (TC) At a closed-door workshop on Sri Lanka organized by the United States Institute for Peace and the U.S. State Department in Washington D.C. in August 2009, a leading Sri Lankan Tamil activist and a moderate asserted that Diaspora agitation would stop immediately when ‘13th plus’ or Tamil regional autonomy was conceded. He failed to mention that from the inception the ‘father of Tamil separatism,’ S.J.V. Chelvanayakam, saw more..

End culture of impunity to foster reconciliation

Feb 22 (LG) The issue of war crimes and human rights violations during the course of the war continues to be raised internationally putting the Sri Lankan government on the defensive. The latest is a petition signed by 41 British MPs urging the Prime Minister to work towards establishing an independent international investigation into these issues. Sections of the Tamil Diaspora will continue to press the politicians of the countries they reside in to take action. more..

Language of Mis-communication - I

Feb 22 (DM) “According to the findings of the Socio-linguistic Survey of Sri Lanka conducted for the PSRU of the Presidential Secretariat by an Independent Research Institute in August 2010, 76% of Sinhala people living in majority Sinhala speaking provinces, 88% of Sinhala people living in majority Tamil speaking provinces, 89% of Tamil people living in majority Sinhala speaking provinces, 94% of Tamil people living in majority Tamil speaking provinces, more..

'Oil exploration on track in Mannar Basin'

Feb 22 (SO) The oil exploration in the Mannar Basin in the North Western Coast is on track and on schedule. There are positive developments in oil exploration said Director General Dr. Neil de Silva of the Petroleum Resource Development Secretariat (PRDS). Dr. De Silva, an expert in petroleum geo-physics counts over 30 years’ experience in energy exploration. He obtained his MSc and Ph.D in Canada and had been engaged in onshore oil exploration in more..

What a wonderful country we live in

Feb 22 (DM) Perhaps it maybe that the coming local government elections have silenced many of our politicians who are often so vociferous in their various declarations on economic development, patriotism and sacrifices or maybe the Cricket world cup enthusiasm have diverted their attention from the existing realities as they wishfully hope that the people too suffering the burdens of the escalating cost of essential food items too would be diverted by our anticipated wins! more..

A note on the history-phobia of devolutionists

Feb 22 (DM) ‘It takes centuries of life to make a little history; it takes centuries of history to make a little tradition.’ – Dr. Sarvapalli Radhakrishnan The term ‘power sharing’ (like its typically recommended, on-the-ground articulation, ‘devolution’) has been used for a long time in the Sri Lankan political discourse, especially in the context of resolving what are called ‘minority grievances’. Now ‘devolution’ can be argued for outside of ethnic politics as well more..

Sri Lankan born Godman Premananda dies in jail

Feb 22 (TOI) Premananda, who was serving double life imprisonment for rape and murder, died on Monday in a private hospital here where he had been admitted with end-stage liver disease. Last week, doctors had entered his name as a "super urgency" case in the state cadaver organ registry and urged the registry to consider him ahead of others in the list for a transplant. He had developed an acute infection that led to end-stage liver disease, doctors said. more..