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Smugglers seek ships for Tamil refugees

Jan 17 (OC) Smugglers are preparing to ship at least 400 more Sri Lankan refugees and potential Tamil Tiger rebels to Canada from southeast Asia, intelligence officials have told the government. “There are two separate smuggling syndicates organizing two boats,” from two unnamed southeast Asian ports to the British Columbia coast, a well-placed federal government source told the Citizen. more..

Tamil Tigers return to legal spotlight

Jan 17 (SI) A year and a half after the end of the Sri Lankan Civil War, Switzerland has arrested ten members of the LTTE for extortion of funds. Last week the Federal Criminal Police searched 23 sites in cantons Basel City, Bern, Fribourg, Geneva, Graubünden, Lucerne, Solothurn, St Gallen, Vaud and Zurich. The sting was carried out in connection with an investigation dating back to May 2009, more..

Lankan hotels left high and dry after 2010 IIFA awards

Jan 17 (IE) The hotels that provided accommodation to Bollywood stars during the 2010 IIFA awards in Sri Lanka are yet to be paid and many service providers have also been left high and dry. Nearly 100 million rupees in unpaid bills remains to be settled, the Lanka News web portal reported adding that deluxe hotels in Colombo have become "victims" after welcoming the Indian stars. more..

Clean-up ops in flood hit areas

Jan 17 (DM) A massive cleanup operation is underway in the flood hit Batticaloa and Ampara Districts in the Eastern Province as the flood waters gradually receded and people returned to their homes by yesterday. The people were returning to their homes and the number of shelters for the displaced had reduced. Volunteer organizations were helping the people to clean up the surroundings of their homes. more..

SL changes top envoy as UN panel finalises report

Jan 17 (Island) In the wake of the UN-Sri Lanka spat over the appointment of a panel to advise UN Secretary General Ban-ki moon over the so-called accountability issues (read war crimes), the government will move the country’s top representative in New York to London. Sources say Sri Lanka’s Permanent Representative at the UN Dr. Palitha Kohona will end his stint in New York ahead of his term. more..

Sri Lanka warns of high food prices after floods

Jan 17 (AFP) Sri Lanka warned Monday that food prices could shoot up after devastating floods in the north and east of the country destroyed rice and vegetable crops. Disaster Management Minister Mahinda Amaraweera said vegetable prices had already been affected because of the impact on growing areas that were swamped by unusually heavy monsoon rains. More than a million people were displaced by the floods that began nine days ago and at least 40 people have died. more..

UNP slams Mervyn

Jan 18 (NN) The UNP today claimed that the antics of Minister Mervyn Silva proved the quality of the government which is in power. UNP MP Dayasiri Jayasekara speaking to News over the recent comments made by Minister Silva stating that he had decided to ban the sale of four varieties of vegetables in the Kelaniya area said that President Mahinda Rajapakse should have control over his ministers and forbid them from making such ‘silly public comments’. more..

Douglas warns EPDP

Jan 18 (NN) EPDP Leader and Minister Douglas Devananda today warned that stern action will be taken against any member of his party who attempt to create instability in any part of the country. Speaking in Jaffna a short while ago Devananda said that his party is against violence and if any party member is seen to have been engaging in acts of violence then action will be taken against them. He also urged President Mahinda Rajapaksa to probe the incidents of violence more..

'No room for mafias'

Jan 18 (NN) President Mahinda Rajapaksa says there will be no room for “mafias” to operate in the country be it in Colombo or the North and East. Speaking in Tamil at the National Thai Pongal celebrations held at the Duraiappa stadium in Jaffna a short while ago the President called for reconciliation among all the communities and added that the Tamils have suffered enough as a result of the war and now was the time to rebuild. more..

From pipe dreams to piped water

Jan 18 (IRIN) Widespread flooding in Sri Lanka has grabbed the headlines, but in the north of the country a more long-term problem is the absence of pipe-borne water for tens of thousands of civilians returning to the former conflict zone, known locally as the Vanni. Flood waters that have affected about one million people across Sri Lanka have started to recede since 16 January, but for residents in the Vanni, their longstanding water-access problems are only growing. more..

'Attack on Arayampathy DC was public outrage'

Jan 18 (AD) The Arayampathy Divisional Secretary, Dhanapala Sundaram says that the group that attacked him included Eastern Provincial Council member Poopalapillai Prashanthan and a group of his supporters. I think Prashanthan has a personal grudge against me, which is why he had provoked the public into attacking me, Dhanapala Sundaram said. Several people, said to have been flood victims in the East had assaulted and injured the Arayampathy Divisional Secretary and more..

Sri Lanka flood victims storm office, demand aid

Jan 18 (AP) Flood victims accusing Sri Lankan officials of holding back aid stormed a village government office Monday and attacked the staff as the crisis that has affected more than 1 million people dragged on. More than 1,000 people surrounded the office in the village of Ariyampathy in Batticaloa district. An Associated Press reporter saw them break open the doors, enter the office and demand to meet the chief. more..

Jail for filling land

Jan 18 (NN) New laws to be introduced soon could see people facing jail terms and hefty fines for filling paddy land, the government information department said. According to the department steps have been taken to revise the relevant act and fortify the punishments against filling paddy land. The Commissioner General of Agrarian Services Ravindra Hewavitharana said that according to the proposed revisions those found guilty of the offense will become liable to more..

UN Deputy Emergency Relief Coordinator to visit Lanka

Jan 18 (AD) The United Nations Assistant Secretary General for Humanitarian Affairs and Deputy Emergency Relief Coordinator, Catherine Bragg will arrive in Colombo on 19 January, the UN office in Sri Lanka said in a statement. This the first visit of the Deputy Emergency Relief Coordinator to Sri Lanka. During her three day mission, Ms Bragg will meet representatives from the Government, donors, and aid agencies. She will visit flood-affected areas, more..

Sri Lanka News Debrief - 17.01.2011

Batsmen dominate high-scoring draw

Jan 18 (CI) The first Test between Sri Lanka and England's Under-19 teams at Galle ended in a high-scoring draw, with neither side's bowlers able to wrest the initiative as the batsmen prospered in helpful conditions. Seven half-centuries and two hundreds scored in the course of the four-day game, Sri Lankan captain Bhanuka Rajapaksa top-scoring with 149 on the first day. Rajapaksa's decision to bat first appeared to be vindicated when his side racked up a mammoth 376 more..

India rushes second consignment of relief to Lanka

Jan 18 (PTI) India today rushed the secondtranche of the USD one million aid to provide relief to theflood-affected population of Sri Lanka. An IL-76 carried 21 tonnes of sugar, pulses and milkpowder besides around 20,000 ready to eat meals, 20,000 waterpurifier tablets and one thousand mattresses from here toColombo, IAF officers said. The first consignment of the relief material wasdelivered to Sri Lanka on January 14. more..

Mervyn responds to Dayasiri’s statement

Jan 18 (AD) According to Dayasiri Jayasekara’s claims that if Fonseka is released the floods will stop then all conspirators, criminals and wrongdoers convicted of a crime and in remand prison have to be released to make that happen, Minister Mervyn Silva said today. He added that such rhetoric should be kept only for the political arena. At a time when the country is facing destructive floods all parties should more..

Singapore to help Sri Lanka train its public servants

Jan 18 (TO) The Singapore Civil Service College is helping Sri Lanka train its public servants through a collaboration with the Sri Lanka Institute of Development Administration (SLIDA). It will help the institute, which is the main public sector training organisation in the country, build its development and training capabilities. The programme is being partly funded by the Temasek Foundation, which has contributed about US$210,000. It will be conducted in Sri Lanka and Singapore. more..

Luxury train service to commence

Jan 18 (SL) The Railways Department is looking at launching luxury trains with the aim of promoting them as venues for various events. The Department is looking at providing facilities to hold functions like weddings, meetings or other parties inside these luxury trains. Planning Director of Sri Lanka Railways, Vijaya Samarasinghe has told the media that the Department has decided to import two luxury trains from China for the purpose. more..

Sri Lanka mahouts suspended over elephant death

Jan 18 (AFP) Sri Lanka's main elephant orphanage Monday suspended two mahouts and a curator following the death of a 23-year-old male pachyderm in their care, a senior official said. Zoological department director Baashwara Gunaratne said the elephant, named Neelagiri, had died of wounds suffered when its keepers had poked it with sharp implements in November at the Pinnawela orphanage. more..

Four baby elephants perish in Sri Lanka floods

Jan 18 (AFP) At least four baby elephants perished in Sri Lanka's devastating floods which killed 40 people and left a million villagers displaced. The four elephants drowned in the north-central and eastern regions, which were the worst affected after unusually heavy monsoon rains last week. In the north-central region of Habarana, the carcass of a drowned baby elephant was found last week in a 15-foot tree that had been submerged by the flood waters. more..

IIFA stopped SL visit-Bachchan

Jan 18 (DM) Bollywood superstar Amitabh Bachchan today revealed that organizers of the International Indian Film Academy (IIFA) didn’t want him to attend the IIFA event in Sri Lanka last year. According to the, “IIFA has told the superstar that his services are no longer required for IIFA to be held in Toronto this year.” In June last year, after a call from the South Indian film industry to boycott IIFA in Sri Lanka, Big B had failed to turn up at more..

Warrant on Arjuna

Jan 18 (NN) An arrest warrant was issued on DNA MP Arjuna Ranatunga by the Galle Chief Magistrate this afternoon after he failed to appear in court over a case. JVP MP Vijitha Herath said that Ranatunga failed to appear in court as he is currently overseas. The case involves an incident where Ranatunga allegedly damaged public property during a protest demanding the release of Sarath Fonseka last year. more..

GKCC Depoditors: The Bernard Madoff comparison

Jan 18 (LG) Many sections of the Lankan media took up the case of the beleagured smaller depositors of Lalith Kotelawala’s own version of the reviled Ponzi scheme – presumably because the 7,000 depositors falling under the category of the smaller (Rs.2.5 million and less) and innocent depositors had none to canvass their case effectively. The other, of course, is the fact the weak and those brought down unjustly engage natural human sympathy. more..

Reflections on reputation and other such burdens

Jan 18 (LG) Errol Alphonso, my friend and benefactor, is an indefatigable miner of the Internet, meticulous separator of grain from chaff therein and a generous disseminator of information he believes is useful to receiver. He has subscribed to a quote-yielding website. He picks and chooses what to send and therefore whatever he stuffs into my inbox is of great value to me. A few days ago he forwarded the following quote by Margaret Mitchell: more..

The Batticaloa floods of 1957-1958: A personal account

Jan 18 (TC) The months of November and December of 1957 were marked by torrential rains in the Batticaloa District leading to the biggest flood of the 20th century - till the floods just now of January 2011. I was at that time (1957) Assistant Government Agent of the Batticaloa District. Around December 20th 1957 (just before the flood), the Commissioner of Agrarian Services, Mr. M. S. Perera, rang me to say that more..

Inexorable march of bribery and corruption

Jan 18 (LG) An undercurrent of iniquities seems to bedevil our society unabated underneath the surface of comparative peace and tranquility. Bribery, corruption, fraud, abuse of power, selfishness, greed, hatred, delusion, duplicity and other vices pervade all spheres of activity today despite apparent efforts to transform the country into a virtuous and righteous state. The rampant and most bothersome among these vices is bribery and corruption that cause more..

Partnerships for post-flood rebuilding

Jan 18 (LG) The floods that struck the country and the heavy rains that affected more than one million people have been described as one of the worst natural disasters in the country’s recent history. The rains that poured down in virtually every part of the country generated landslides in the central hills and large scale flooding in the low lands of the north central and eastern parts. Although the death toll reported so far has been less than 40, the destruction of more..

Sri Lanka: returning home to rebuild livelihoods

Jan 18 (ICRC) In this post-conflict transition phase, the ICRC is focusing on the needs of groups and families arising from the past conflict that will persist for some time, pursuing its visits to detainees and promoting compliance with humanitarian rules. In addition, it is cooperating on a number of projects with the Sri Lanka Red Cross Society and other partners within the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement. more..

Devolution is for All Sri Lankans

Jan 18 (DM) Reports about a focused dialogue between the Government and the TNA should be a welcome departure from the delays and discordant notes attending on the process since the conclusion of the war a year and half earlier. The political package emerging from the process would have specifics to address the deeply-embedded concerns and aspirations of the Sri Lankan Tamil community, yes, but the devolution part of it is not just for a single community, or a more..

The food crisis and the loods

Jan 18 (DM) A recent article in a business page titled ‘Eight Bubbles that will make 2011 Remember” states among others that two major problems that can affect Asian countries is the continuing disparity in incomes, the other the wacky weather conditions. Both these problems will affect Sri Lanka in the near future. Whatever the Census and Statistics department has said about the decreasing poverty rate in December 2010 under the caption: more..

Five-day working week?

Jan 18 (DM) Wide Angle takes a look at the proposed five-day working week for private sector employees. A tripartite dialog is ongoing between the Employers Federation of Ceylon, Trade Unions and the Ministry of Labour and Labour Relations. The scheme is said to benefit eight million private sector employees. Director General and Chief Executive Officer of the Employers Federation of Ceylon- Ravi Peries more..

Reflections on the purported surge in crime

Jan 18 (NS) Wars produce terrible things. They have a way of blanketing society with horrors of such magnitude that numbness results. Gunshots and bomb explosions have a way of pushing sigh, whimper and sob out of earshot. Wars, especially those fought in a relatively small territory and involving groups that have no qualms about massacring innocent civilians constitute the ultimate hell on earth. They are so terrible that when they end it is natural for people to more..

Fixing the mess in higher education

Jan 18 (LB) There is a short-term fix needed now, and then there is a more difficult long-term need to improve the quality and performance of Lanka’s universities. You may imagine that the sole advantage of getting grey in the hair and long in the tooth, as I have, is de ja vu; one has seen it all before somewhere. Actually not so! The universities in this country are in a worse state than anywhere else in my international experience and the troubles are unique. more..

Visiting Sri Lanka’s ghosts

Jan 18 (NY) On September 11, 2001, I was in Spain and about to fly to Sri Lanka. I had an assignment from The New Yorker, and an air ticket had been purchased for me. As I recall, I was to fly out on the 12th or 13th. But as I watched the horrifying events taking place in New York and Washington, D.C., on live television, one of many things that occurred to me was that, as a story, the long-overlooked conflict in Sri Lanka had just been, more..

Editorial: Fishermen as pawns in a political game

Jan 18 (Island) Leader of the All India Anna Dravida Munetra Kazhagam and former Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J. Jayalalitha has let out a howl of protest against the killing of a Tamil Nadu fisherman recently. She has blamed it on the Sri Lanka Navy, which has categorically denied the allegation. Jayalalitha has lashed out at New Delhi for not taking action to stop what she calls 'indiscriminate shooting by the Sri Lanka Navy'. more..

Editorial: Health Minister ready to battle vested interests

Jan 18 (DM) Amidst Sri Lanka’s worst ever floods, the cost of living soaring beyond the reach of millions and with the danger of epidemics, a ray of hope for the New Year came from Health Minister Maithripala Sirisena when he reassured that legislation would be presented soon for a National Medicinal Drugs Policy (NMDP) to provide quality drugs to all the people at affordable prices. Addressing a meeting on Friday, the Minister said legislation for more..

Cardboard hero: New chairman of gem and jewellery authority

Jan 18 (SL) What is it about each successive government in Sri Lanka, that it is indebted to promote and sustain military men who have as commanders brought disrepute and disaster to the security forces as a whole? This time around it is former Chief of Defence Staff Rohan De S. Daluwatte. Not only has Daluwatte failed as a military commander, he has also obtained the esteemed Weera Wickrama Vibushana Award by making a more..

Candles lit for a brave man; and…

Jan 18 (SL) Menika starts her weekly looking back on a solemn note. Sadness there is, overridden however with admiration for the man who fearlessly used his journalistic pen. There is no coming to terms with the death of Lasantha Wickrematunge as it was when Richard de Zoysa was so callously abducted, brutally killed and dumped in the sea. Much later, almost by accident, his mother recognised the leader of the group who took him away from her home that night but before a more..