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5-star hotel room rates $125 from April

Feb 25 (ST) New rates for Sri Lankan hotel rooms will be effective from April 1, after initial confusion over a budget announcement, and agreement over the rates has now been reached between the government and hotel owners. Currently prescribed rates, according to a November 2010 gazette notification, for all hotels are: $100 per room for a 5-star property; $85/4 star; $70/3 star; $55/2 star and $40/1 star. more..

FTZ Garment factory workers on strike

Feb 25 (Island) Nearly 1,500 workers of the Bratex Garment factory, within the Katunayake Free Trade Zone, have been on a strike since February 11 protesting against the management’s failure to give in to several of their demands, including rectifying certain discrepancies in the salary structure. Secretary of the FTZ GSEU, Anton Markus told The Island that the management of the factory had terminated the services of 35 employees, and even their (FTZ GSEU) representative more..

UNP wants all postponed LG polls held on one day

Feb 25 (Island) The UNP wants the Commissioner of Elections to conduct the polls to all local government bodies which were postponed due to legal action, on the same day. According to the party’s deputy leader, Karu Jayasuriya, a request to this effect will be forwarded to the Commissioner of Elections soon. He said the Commissioner of Election will be requested not to conduct the polls on a staggered basis. He said if that request was not heeded, more..

The strangulation of Sri Lankan universities

Feb 25 (SL) It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that higher education sector is in a state of acute crisis in Sri Lanka. This is not in dispute. In the minds of many, the JVP led student unions, curricular and degree programmes that are ‘out of step with the market,’ unqualified, incompetent and unmotivated academics are generally to be blamed for this state of affairs. Taking into consideration recent events within the more..

'Opposition gloats over disasters'

Feb 25 (DN) Destabilizing the power of President Mahinda Rajapaksa who obtained 1.8 million majority votes less than a year ago will only be a daydream for the Opposition. The UNP lost 18 elections and they cannot think about winning. They cannot even think about recovering from the downfall, Health Minister Maithripala Sirisena said. Minister Sirisena was addressing the gathering at a meeting in Badulla recently. Minister Sirisena said misdeeds executed by the JVP and more..

Bangladesh-Lanka to strengthen military ties

Feb 25 (DN) Visiting Bangladesh Army Commander Gen. Abdul Mubeen called on Prime Minister D M Jayaratne at the Prime Minister's office yesterday morning. During the discussions the Prime Minister said Bangladesh had been helping Sri Lanka to strengthen it militarily for a considerable period and thanked the Bangladesh Army for the support extended. Gen. Mubeen said it was timely and prudent to extend the exchange of military training between the two countries. more..

'LG polls: UPFA predicts victory'

Feb 25 (DN) The United People’s Freedom Alliance (UPFA) has the support of 20 political parties. The UPFA will strengthen the bond between all its constituent political parties and mark a landslide victory in the LG Polls 2011, UPFA General Secretary Petroleum Industries Minister Susil Premajayantha said. He was addressing the weekly press briefing of the UPFA held at the Mahaweli Centre Auditorium, Colombo yesterday. more..

PSMs suspend Trade Union action

Feb 25 (Island) The Joint Council of Professions Supplementary to Medicine said it had temporarily suspended strike action following discussions with Health Minister Maithripala Sirisena yesterday morning. The officials had said that they had submitted a second Cabinet Paper for the approval of PSM promotions in spite the approval given in early January. JCPSM President Ravi Kumudesh said on Wednesday that they would hold talks with the membership in more..

'There will never be a coup in this country'

Feb 25 (DM) JHU legal advisor Udaya Gammanpila yesterday said that the opposition was trying to create turmoil in the country similar to what took place in Tunisia and Libya, but warned that they would never allow anything of the sort to happen here. He pointed out that such an incident could never take place as President Mahinda Rajapaksa had been voted into power unlike the leaders of Libya and Tunisia where the Presidents reached their positions through coups. more..

Cricket unites fractured island

Feb 25 (IPS) Twenty-year-old Veethirasa Winston is planning his schedule meticulously for the next few weeks, making sure he keeps his diary free on days when Sri Lanka’s national team takes the cricket field. "I have to, otherwise I will miss out on the big event," he told IPS. The big event is the 2011 Cricket World Cup that this island-nation is co- hosting with neighbouring India and Bangladesh from February 19 to April 2. more..

TNA rejecting 13th Amendment is crucial to spirit of Tamil national polity: TNPF

Feb 25 (TN) Tamil National People Front (TNPF) will boycott provincial elections if they are based on the 13th Amendment, said Mr. Gajendrakumar Ponnampalam. The TNPF is prepared to work with TNA on this matter and discussions are already initiated. If there is any fear that undesirable elements may exploit the vacuum, both the TNA and TNPF could jointly field suitable candidates of reputation outside of the parties to meet the situation. more..

TNPF announces Central Committee, prepares party constitution

Feb 25 (TN) Popular Economics teacher Mr. Sinnadurai Varatharaja and former TNA parliamentarian Mr. Selvaraja Kajendran have been respectively announced as President and General Secretary of Tamil National People’s Front (TNPF), in a press meet held in Jaffna Wednesday. Former TNA MPs, Mr. Gajendrakumar Ponnampalam and Ms. Padmini Sithambaranathan, as well as Mr. Visvalingam Manivannan, Mr. Rajakon Hariharan and Mr. R. E. Anandaraja have become Vice Presidents. more..

UNP working Committee member Bodhi Ranasinghe passes away

Feb 25 (ST) Bodhi Ranasinghe, a UNP Working Committee member passed away today morning. He was 57. Mr. Ranasinghe was an Organiser in the Colombo district as well as an Events Manager of the party. In the recent months he was one of the main campaigners for Mr. Sajith Premadasa and was was an old of boy of St Thomas' College Mt Lavinia. Mr. Ranasinghe’s body will be handed over to the Colombo Medical Faculty today at 1.00 p.m.

WC 2011: South Africa beat West Indies by 7 wickets

Feb 25 (CI) AB de Villiers showed his pedigree with his second World Cup hundred, his 10th in all one-day internationals, and the fastest by a South African in a World Cup as South Africa chased down 223 at a canter at the Feroz Shah Kotla, the result sealed in the 43rd over for the loss of only three wickets. De Villiers, who was named ODI Player of the Year for 2010, barely put a foot wrong in his knock, ticking along at better than a-run-a-ball from the start and more..

Hawkers to be moved to complexes

Feb 25 (Island) Pavement hawkers are to be resettled soon in hawkers’ complexes being built under the Colombo city beautification project. This step is being taken in order to ensure a cleaner city for the public, Colombo Municipal Council Chief Administrative Officer Omar Kamil said. The CMC has already constructed hawkers’ complexes for those who lost their livelihoods after being removed from their usual vending places in the city, he said. more..

After Ban Ki-moon meets Sri Lanka AG & General Silva, UN won't say if first time

Feb 25 (ICP) After months of controversy regarding if Sri Lanka will allow UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's Panel on Accountability to visit the country and interview officials like the Attorney General if not President, Ban himself met on February 23 with with Attorney General Mohan Peiris and the Deputy Permanent Representative to the UN, former General Shavendra Silva. But when Inner City Press asked on February 24 for a read out of the meeting more..

Sri Lanka volunteer arrested over black market tickets

Feb 25 (Reuters) Sri Lankan police have arrested a volunteer for selling tickets at a much inflated price for Saturday's match between the co-host nation and Pakistan, officials said. "We have arrested a volunteer for selling tickets outside the ticketing counter and are doing the investigations," police spokesman Prishantha Jayakody said on Thursday. Police sources said the seller had obtained the tickets by recruiting volunteers to stay in long queues and more..

HC rejects petition for protection of indian fisherman near Sri Lankan waters

Feb 25 (TOI) The Madras high court has dismissed two public interest writ petitions seeking security to Indian fishermen near Sri Lankan waters and a judicial probe into the alleged failure of the Coast Guard to prevent attacks on fishermen. Noting that it has no jurisdiction to pass orders on an issue involving bilateral relationship between two neighbouring countries, the first bench comprising Chief Justice M Yusuf Eqbal and more..

Sri Lanka says fishermen issue with India is resolved

Feb 25 (PTI) Sri Lanka today expressed "satisfaction" over resolution of the issue of fishermen with India, saying it "deeply values" close bilateral relations with the country. Sri Lankan External Affairs Minister G L Peiris told parliament here that the issue of fishermen between India and Sri Lanka has been resolved. "It is a matter of deep satisfaction that we have been able to receive this matter amicably", Peiris said. more..

CM remands, AM bails

Feb 25 (DM) The North Central Province Land Commissioner who was remanded by the Anuradhapura Chief Magistrate for his failure to comply with an order of the Supreme Court had been released on bail on the same day after he was produced before the Additional Magistrate in the same court. Anuradhapura Chief Magistrate Dharshika Wimalasiri yesterday ordered the Land Commissioner of North Central Province, Sarath Wijesinghe to be remanded till today, more..

PM apologises to Gota for DNA error

Feb 25 (Island) Prime Minister D. M. Jayaratne yesterday apologized to Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa on behalf of DNA MP Anura Kumara Dissanayake, for bringing his name up in his absence, during an adjournment debate on emergency regulations in Parliament. Prime Minister Jayaratne said that he regretted that the DNA MP had mentioned Rajapaksa’s name when he was not present in Parliament and the apology was made on behalf of the House. more..

Degree in Aviation to be introduced to university curriculum

Feb 25 (Island) Discussions are being held with the Ministry of Higher Education to introduce a new degree on Aviation to the university curriculum, Minister Civil Aviation, Priyankara Jayarathne said at the ceremony to launch the ‘Guwansara’ website on Wednesday (23). Guwansara, the first Sinhalese website about aviation, was launched as a step to familiarize the students on the travel and aviation industry. more..

Don’t fall prey to hoax sms

Feb 25 (DM) The TRC yesterday warned the public to be vigilant about welfare related hoax text messages sent by anonymous sources claiming that if the receiver forwards the text message to a certain number of persons, the service provider would contribute a certain amount towards the cause. A recent text message that made the rounds claimed that a 9 year old girl, Darkshini, was in a critical state suffering from blood cancer and more..

Speaker certifies Tharunyata Hetak

Feb 25 (Island) Speaker Chamal Rajapaksa announced in Parliament yesterday that he certified the Bill to incorporate the ‘Tharunyata Hetak Organization’ led by his nephew MP Namal Rajapaksa. According to the official website of the organization, the organization has a staff of seven full-timers, working to ensure that the interests of the youth of Sri Lanka are well taken care of. more..

Sajith blames govt. for increasing CoL

Feb 25 (Island) The UNP’s Hambantota District parliamentarian Sajith Premadasa on Tuesday said that the government had let down the people of the country miserably by not arresting the spiraling cost of living. He said, he was very supportive of the government when it carried on the fight against a ruthless terrorist outfit, because Sri Lanka was the only country for them to live in. more..

IGP tells cricket fans: Set an example

Feb 25 (DN) Inspector General of Police Mahinda Balasuriya yesterday appealed to cricket fans to maintain a high standard of discipline while watching the World Cup matches at the R Premadasa, Pallekele and Sooriyawewa stadiums and set an example to the world. The IGP addressing the media said that not a single person will be allowed to enter without a ticket. Spectators must also not purchase any tickets from outsiders at the entrance to stadiums, the IGP added. more..

SLAF Chief steps down after illustrious career

Feb 25 (Island) Outgoing Air Chief Marshal W.D.R.M.J. Goonetileke says the military victory over the LTTE was a team effort, in which the SLAF played a pivotal role. The soft spoken Goonetileke said the SLAF could be proud of its achievements during the eelam war, particularly the last phase (Aug. 2006-May 2009). The SLAF veteran said that he would shortly relinquish command and take over as the Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), more..

Where is KP?

Feb 25 (NN) The TMVP headed by Eastern Province Chief Minister Sivanesathurai Chandrakanthan has raised doubts over the presence of Kumaran Pathmanathan (KP) in Sri Lanka as they have not seen or spoken to the former LTTE Chief Arms Procurer. TMVP Spokesperson Azath Maulana said that despite reports that KP was now handling some government projects in the north and east, the Chief Minister or his party had never seen KP or heard from him. more..

Jaffna polls put off

Feb 25 (DM) The Court of Appeal yesterday issued an Interim Order restraining the Elections Commissioner and the Returning Officers from taking any further steps in terms of the Local Authorities Elections Ordinance for the purpose of the conduct of the elections to 19 local government bodies in Jaffna and Kilinochchi districts. The Bench comprising Justices Sathya Hettige (President) and Upaly Abeyrathne also issued another Interim Order more..

Govt. says it’s confused too about LG polls

Feb 25 (DM) The govt said it was totally confused about the happenings in the run up to the March 17 local govt polls as the elections commissioner kept instructing his officials to suspend election work for various local govt bodies at various stages, putting the govt and the public in the dark. Minister Keheliya Rambukwella said the govt was keen to hold elections for each and every local govt body that had been dissolved. “The govt is not in a position to intervene with the Elections Commissioner’s decisions or more..

Sri Lanka briefs Ban on post-conflict situation

Feb 25 (DM) The United Nations today said that Sri Lanka briefed the UN Secretary General Ban-Ki-moon on the ongoing post-conflict reconstruction and rehabilitation efforts, and for an exchange of views on different aspects of them. UN spokesman Martin Nesirky said that the high-level delegation from the Govt of Sri Lanka, which included the Attorney-General and the Foreign Secretary, paid a courtesy call on the Secretary-General yesterday. more..

Sri Lanka wild life park lures Shangri-La

Feb 26 (LBO) Hong Kong based Shangri-La hotels has looked at two sites including one close to a well-known wild life reserve in southern Sri Lanka to site its second proposed hotel, an official said. Deputy minister for economic development Lakshman Yapa Abeywardene said visiting Shangri-La officials had examined a site close to the Yala nature reserve on the south coast. The Yala park is well known for its leopards and elephants. more..

Puttalam kids protest

Feb 26 (NN) Students and parents of the Puttalam Palavia Muslim School staged a protest opposite the school today against the suspension of the acting school principal. Atleast 476 students of the school who staged the protest with their parents obstructed teachers from also entering the premises. The parents said that if the acting principal, A.C. Najmudeen is not re-instated by next week the students will boycott classes. The acting principal has been suspended from more..

Sri Lanka News Debrief - 25.02.2011

MP Upeksha Swarnamali in new hospital

Feb 26 (NN) Member of Parliament and popular actress Upeksha Swarnamali has been discharged from the Sri Jayawardenapura Hospital and admitted to a private hospital in Colombo to undergo a facial surgery. Swarnamali popularly known as Pabha is expected to undergo a plastic surgery on her face after she received severe blows over a domestic issue. Three of her facial bones have been fractured due to the assault, doctors treating the MP said. more..

Lanka seeks India help to evacuate citizens from Libya

Feb 26 (HT) Sri Lanka has sought India’s help in evacuating some of 1200 of its citizens staying across Libya currently facing a wave of violent pro-democracy protests. The Sri Lankan High Commission in New Delhi has been asked to contact the relevant Indian authorities to explore the possibility of accommodating Lankans on the ships that India were sending to get its citizens out, foreign ministry sources said. More than 200 Lankans have taken refuge in more..

Sri Lanka rejects EU trade deal: European lawmaker

Feb 26 (LBO) Sri Lanka has told the European Union it does not want to renew a trade deal that was withdrawn over EU concerns about human rights abuses in the island's ethnic war, a visiting EU lawmaker said. Jean Lambert, member of the European Parliament, said talks with Sri Lankan government officials indicated the island no longer wanted to renew the GSP plus trade deal giving duty free access to European markets. more..

WC 2011: Bangladesh beat Ireland by 27 runs

Feb 26 (CI) Bangladesh's bowlers held their nerve to atone for the failures of their batsman, as the pluck of the Irish proved insufficient to overcome the most fervent atmosphere of the World Cup so far. In a gripping, low-scoring encounter at Mirpur, Bangladesh flirted with disaster as they squandered a flying start from Tamim Iqbal to crash to 205 all out, and when Ireland reached 93 for 3 at the halfway mark of their reply, they were well on course for a more..

WC 2011: Australia beat New Zealand by 7 wickets

Feb 26 (CI) Shaun Tait. Brett Lee. Mitchell Johnson. The hostile fast men from Australia made an imperious statement in Nagpur. They breathed fire and New Zealand didn't have the heart, and at least today, the skills, to extinguish them. Nathan McCullum and Daniel Vettori revived New Zealand from a disastrous 73 for 6, but a below-par 206 was not enough to avoid a crushing defeat. A flamboyant Brad Haddin and an imperious Shane Watson hit entertaining half-centuries to more..

Sri Lanka v Pakistan: Familiar rivals line up in big contest

Feb 26 (CI) There must be a certain comfort for Pakistan in taking on Sri Lanka. This has nothing to do with who is the better side, but on the grounds of familiarity alone. In the last five years, when Pakistan haven't known anything about their future on and off the field, they've always known that soon, they'll be playing against Sri Lanka. When looking to introduce a new captain, they look to Sri Lanka, as they did with Shoaib Malik and more..