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Sri Lanka’s ties with Libya

Mar 9 (SG) There is no gainsaying that Libya has a friend in Sri Lanka. Not only do diplomatic relations between the two countries stretch back several decades, President Mahinda Rajapaksa since assuming power in 2005 has carefully cultivated ties with Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi that can best be described as snug. Gaddafi first made an impression in Sri Lanka in 1976 when he blazed into Colombo for a summit of the Non-Aligned Movement. more..

Ranatunga is a wanted man - for higher office

Mar 9 (BT) Arjuna Ranatunga remains a hero in his country, and eventually might well run for the presidency. For now he is an opposition member of Parliament, a position almost as perilous hereabouts as writing critical articles (two years after the civil war ended, Sri Lanka remains the fourth-most dangerous country for journalists). Last month, the World Cup-winning captain took part in a demonstration seeking the release of Opposition Leader Sarath Fonseka, more..

Tigers not a factor any more says Canadian Tamil Activist

Mar 9 (TC) Tories trying to win support from South Asians in Ontario have opened the door to remnants of a Tamil Tiger front group the federal Conservatives themselves banned in 2008. The unlikely association, forged behind a curtain of tough government talk about Tamil refugee ships and a feared terrorist migration to Canada last year, has developed since the Tigers’ separatist struggle was crushed by the Sri Lankan military in 2009. more..

Male domination in Lankan labour force, says UN

Mar 9 (DM) The United Nations (UN) in its International Women’s Day message said yesterday that although Sri Lanka had achieved significant progress towards equal rights for women, the gap between the sexes in the country’s labour force was the 20th largest in the world. It said the positive gender indicators in health and education had not always translated into equal opportunities for women The UN said: “Sri Lanka has achieved significant progress more..

Former Presidential security chief pleads guilty

Mar 9 (BBC) Former president Chandrika Kumaratunga’s security chief Nihal Karunaratna pleaded guilty to threatening police officers. Chargers were framed against Karunaratna for threatening a group of police officer’s who went to arrest a suspect allegedly associated with under world gangs in 2000. The suspect Baddegana Sangeewa was previously attached to the presidential security division and was later killed at a shoot out blamed on a rival gang. more..

Congestion at CNH: Ministry blames beggars

Mar 9 (DN) A Health Ministry spokesman said one reason for congestion at the Colombo National Hospital during festive seasons and long weekends is beggars getting admitted to the hospital for free food, lodging and care. The spokesman said another reason for this artificial congestion is patients being transfered from other hospitals. "During festive seasons and long weekends, doctors and other health staff go on holiday and they transfer patients to the more..

With UN silent on Sri Lanka accountability, dodges on press freedom petition too

Mar 9 (ICP) On issues ranging from press freedom to accountability for war crimes, the UN under Secretary General Ban Ki-moon can barely communicate, dodging questions by saying “we have no comment on that” or “we cannot confirm that” or “it is up to the Panel” -- which reports to Ban Ki-moon. Earlier this year, Ban's spokesman told ICP that the UN system had not received any petition about disappeared journalist Prageeth Eknelygoda. more..

‘Relief should be given to paddy farmers’

Mar 9 (DM) There have been many empty grains reaped as a result of recent floods, UNP MP P. Harrison said in Parliament yesterday. Mr. Harrision who was speaking during the debate on new regulations imposed on fertilizer importation in the House yesterday said some sort of relief should be given to the paddy farmers at least for the next Yala season. He also called on the government to avoid scandals when providing relief to the flood affected farmers. more..

MSD officer’s alleged brothel raided

Mar 9 (DM) Ten women who allegedly worked as sex workers and two handlers were taken into custody after the police raided a brothel allegedly operated by a Ministerial Security Division (MSD) officer in the Dummaladeniya area in Wennappuwa. The MSD officer who is an Inspector was recently transferred to Polgahawela and had failed to report to work as he had taken sick leave, the Walana Anti-Vice Squad said. The raid was carried out by the Walana Anti Vice Squad after more..

Veteran Photographer Gunasiri Silva passes away

Mar 9 (IL) Veteran photographer Mr. Gunasiri Silva whose photographs turned up in news papers, magazines and even national media outlets for many decades has passed away in the early hours on Monday 07 March after a brief illness at the age of 76. Mr. Gunasiri Silva began his career with the "Eththa- (Truth)" newspaper and he also served as a provincial photographer for the Lankadeepa newspaper. During this time as a freelance photographer more..

Postal voting ‘Incident free’

Mar 9 (DM) An Elections Department source said that the yesterday’s postal voting for the March 17 local government elections began yesterday, and voting took place at security forces’ camps, SLTB depots, Divisional and District Secretariat offices, government departments and other state establishments. “Postal voting will be held at 5,000 state and semi-state institutions such as SLTB depots, army camps, educational offices and district and divisional secretariats” he said. more..

Women are an asset for Sri Lanka’s development

Mar 9 (AN) In his message on International Women’s Day, Child Development and Women’s Affairs Minister Tissa Karalliyadda, said that women are an asset. In line with this, the minister announced a five-year plan to empower women and improve their standards of living. The theme for this year’s celebrations, which mark 100 years since the day was first celebrated, is ‘Women's knowledge and strength to uplift the country’.” However, women’s groups have accused more..

First Tamil migrant from the MV Sun Sea ordered deported

Mar 9 (VS) One Tamil migrant out of the hundreds who came ashore in B.C. last summer was ordered deported Tuesday after he was found by the Immigration and Refugee Board to have been a member of the banned LTTE from 1991 to 1996. During that time, the man — who can only be identified as B189 due to a publication ban — joined the Tamil Tigers' naval wing and engaged in a three-hour battle with a Sri Lankan ship, during which he was shot in the leg, more..

Govt. seeks to amend Census Ordinance

Mar 9 (Island) The government is seeking to revise the Census Ordinance in a bid to authorize District Secretaries to function as ‘Commissioners of Census.’ The government on Tuesday (8) presented a Bill titled Census (Amendment) Act to amend the Census Ordinance giving additional powers to District Secretaries, in addition to the powers, duties and functions performed by them to facilitate the proposed national census this year. more..

Misdeeds during postal voting: UNP

Mar 9 (DM) The main opposition UNP yesterday complained to Elections Commissioner Dayananda Dissanayake regarding several incidents that had taken place in some areas during the postal voting of the local government elections which began yesterday. UNP General Secretary Tissa Attanayake told a news conference that in some areas its party agents were not allowed to enter locations where the marking of postal votes were taking place. more..

Midnight’s Children shooting in limbo

Mar 9 (DM) The ongoing shooting of Oscar nominated director Deepa Mehta’s latest film, based on multi-award-winning bestseller novel ‘Midnight’s Children’ by Salman Rushdie, in Sri Lanka is in limbo, sources connected to the film said. The shooting scheduled for yesterday was suddenly stopped and the cast and crew were turned back without any reason given. The cast and crew which went to the location yesterday had been informed that shooting had been ‘shut down’, more..

Lanka among 16 ‘Rebels’ in Indian Ocean Tuna Commission

Mar 9 (LB) Sri Lanka is among 16 nations that formed an alternate group when the 28-member Indian Ocean Tuna Commission (IOTC) held its technical sessions in Nairobi, Kenya, end-February. The group that called themselves ‘Like-Minded Coastal States’ protested against the proposal of quotas lion-sharing UK, France, Spain and its associate nations. These EU member states have tuna fisheries rights within more..

Calls for UN to act on missing Sri Lanka cartoonist

Mar 9 (AFP) Media rights organisations on Wednesday asked UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon to intervene in Sri Lanka over a cartoonist who disappeared 14 months ago amid threats against independent journalists. The rights groups urged Ban to lobby Sri Lankan authorities on the case of Prageeth Ekneligoda, a cartoonist for the pro-opposition website who went missing days before the January 2010 presidential elections. more..

Sri Lanka yet to peak: Jayawardene

Mar 9 (AFP) Sri Lanka are still to peak at the World Cup, vice-captain Mahela Jayawardene said on Wednesday, as the 1996 champions prepare to tackle Zimbabwe and book a quarterfinal spot. Sri Lanka go into Thursday's game with five points from four games after wins over Kenya and Canada, a share of the points in a washed-out match against Australia and a narrow defeat at the hands of Pakistan. more..

'Eradication of LTTE made Women’s Day more meaningful'

Mar 9 (Island) Commissioner General of Rehabilitation Brig. Sudantha Ranasinghe says the eradication of the LTTE in May 2009 had made this year’s 100th International Women’s Day meaningful for the entire country. He said that the country could be proud of saving Tamil speaking women and children from the clutches of the LTTE. 2,120 ex-LTTE cadres (231 children and 1,889 women) had been released after rehabilitation. more..

Direct flights to Canada from October

Mar 9 (DN) SriLankan Airlines will fly to new destinations in line with the ongoing aviation sector development initiatives, Aviation Minister Priyankara Jayaratne said. SriLankans will fly to Toronto, Canada for the first time from October. The Airlines will fly seven times per week with a stopover in London’s Heathrow. There is a big load of air passengers from Colombo to London and London to Toronto and back. more..

Sri Lanka introduces retirement benefits to all sectors

Mar 9 (GDI) Sri Lanka Government is to pave the way for retirement benefits to all employees working in the private sector, expatriate workers and for those who are self employed to be implemented from May 01, 2011. As proposed in the 2011 Budget the government today decided to set up three (03) separate Contributory Pension Funds to ensure the well-being of the people who reach non-working age. more..

Sri Lankan team denies Dilshan dope taint

Mar 9 (TOI) Rubbishing media reports of Tillakaratne Dilshan failing a dope test amidst the ongoing World Cup tournament, Sri Lankan skipper Mahela Jayawardena said that the star batsman did not even undergo a dope test, leave alone failing the same. The captain also confirmed that it was instead Chamara Silva and Ajantha Mendis, who were randomly tested by the ICC. Australia's Shane Warne is the only player so far to more..

'One-fifth of all children underweight'

Mar 9 (DM) One- fifth of all children in the country below five years of age are underweight, and the situation is worse in the Northern and Eastern provinces, Parliament was informed. According to the statistics, the percentage of children with low weight for their age (underweight) is as high as 21.1 and the percentage of children with slimness (low weight for height) is 14.7. Deputy Health Minister Lalith Dissanayake placed this information before the House in response to a question by UNP MP Rosy Senanayake. more..

'Hold criticism until LLRC releases its report'

Mar 9 (Island) Human Rights Minister Mahinda Samarasinghe says those demanding an independent international probe into Sri Lanka’s war on LTTE terrorism should at least wait till the LLRC presented its final report. The Minister says once the LLRC report is published anyone can point out shortcomings, if any. He criticised ongoing attempts in some quarters to undermine the LLRC on the basis that it comprised retired public servants, more..

Same law for Merv

Mar 10 (NN) The government says there cannot be two laws in the country, one for Kelaniya under Minister Mervyn Silva and another for other areas. This was after Minister Mervyn Silva had placed restrictions on UNP and JVP supporters from erecting their flags in Kelaniya. Responding to a question posed by reporters at the Cabinet press briefing today, Minister Anura Priyadharshana Yapa said that the Elections Chief has given instructed the police to act on this. more..

Trinco docs strike

Mar 10 (NN) Doctors and nurses at the Trincomalee base hospital staged a token strike this morning over various demands. The doctors and nurses, mainly from the Out Patients Department (OPD) of the hospital staged the two hour strike by stopping work and holding up placards opposite the hospital premises. The doctors and nurses are demanding overtime payment according to a government circular and also the payment given to State employees affected by the recent floods. more..

Sri Lanka News Debrief 09 03 2011

Sri Lanka ICT policy urges broadband charge cut

Mar 9 (LBO) Sri Lanka's new information and communication technology plan for 2011-1016 advocates further cuts in high-speed broadband communication costs with the aim of increasing ICT business and creating more jobs. Present broadband charges which are higher than competitor countries are deterring foreign ICT and business process outsourcing (BPO) firms from setting up in the island and are partly responsible for poor internet penetration, a report said. more..

Sri Lanka to use satellites to prevent petrol theft

Mar 9 (LBO) Sri Lanka plans to use satellite technology to monitor distribution of petroleum products to fuel retail stations from storage terminals to prevent theft and contamination, a statement said. Petroleum industries ministry secretary Titus Jayawardena said the bowser drivers will not be allowed to deviate from official routes during distribution nor stop at unauthorised fuel stations. The new system will enable real-time monitoring of bowser movements more..

Bankrupt government attempts to stop JVP winning at Tissa

Mar 9 (LT) The government has deployed gangs of thugs to intimidate people at Tissamaharamaya says the General Secretary of the JVP Tilvin Silva. He said, “Former UPFA MP Chandana Kathriarchchi was charged of murder committee at a cooperative election held 12 years ago. He was charged in Court and when the charges were about to be proved the Attorney General withdrew the main charges against him which were committing a murder and more..

Cabinet Decisions 08.03.2011

Mar 10 (GDI) 01/09 Implementation of the Re-development Plan in Mahiyanganaya Sacred City: On a proposal made by Hon. Wimal Weerawansa, Minister of Construction, Engineering Services, Housing and Common Amenities, Cabinet approval was granted to implement the priority proposals of the re-Development Plan of the Mahiyanganaya Sacred City which has already been formulated in keeping with the ambuddhathwa Jayanthi Ceremony 2600 to be held in 2011-2012. more..

No to emergency: Ranil

Mar 10 (NN) Opposition leader Ranil Wickramasinghe has called on the government to remove the emergency regulations in the country. He made this call in Parliament this afternoon during the debate after Prime Minister D.M Jayaratna had said the LTTE was being trained in Tamil Nadu for VIP attacks. Wickramasinghe said that if such claims by the Premier are true then the Sri Lankan government should take it up with the Indian authorities. more..

LTTE might attack

Mar 10 (NN) Prime Minister D.M Jayaratna claims the LTTE has three training centers in Tamil Nadu and one is where the Tigers are being trained to assassinate VIPs. The Premier made this revelation in Parliament this afternoon adding that this showed the LTTE was attempting to raise its head once again. He claimed that intelligence information regarding this has been confirmed and warned that the Tigers may attempt to carry out small scale attacks in more..

Shortage of Paracetamol

Mar 10 (NN) There is a serious shortage of paracetamol in the country especially after sub-standard drugs that were imported to the country were rejected. 1.5 million paracetamol tablets are consumed in Sri Lanka daily. Paracetamol is available under different brand names and is mainly taken for body aches, fever, headaches and caught or cold. The Health Ministry says over 10 million paracetamol tablets are required every month to meet the requirements at State hospitals. more..

India to build $10 mn hospital in Sri Lanka

Mar 10 (IANS) The Indian government Wednesday signed an agreement with a Chennai-based company to build a $10 million, 150-bed hospital in the central province of Sri Lanka, home to a large number of Indian-origin Tamils. The agreement was signed by T.S. Tirumurti, joint secretary, on behalf of the external affairs ministry, and K.R. Tirumurahan, managing director of Green Valley’s Shelters in Chennai. The government has allocated over $10 million (Rs.47.27 crore) for more..

WC 2011: Sri Lanka aim to build momentum

Mar 10 (CI) Like all four major Test nations in Group A, Sri Lanka are on course to progress to the quarter-finals without any serious problems, and the chances of Zimbabwe providing an upset to create a modicum of the excitement witnessed in the other group is slim to none. However, for Sri Lanka it's an ideal time to produce a commanding all-round performance and build momentum ahead of the quarter-finals. more..

6 students in police custody for pasting posters

Mar 10 (LT) A group of university students who had put up posters printed by the Inter University Students Federation (IUSF) against the escalating prices of essential commodities were arrested by Cinnamon Gardens Police yesterday (8th) night. Six students have been arrested and are being detained at the police station without making any charges against them states the convener of the IUSF Sanjeewa Bandara.

Trade Unions ask workers to vote wisely

Mar 10 (LT) Trade unions have called on the working masses to use their votes at the forthcoming local govt elections wisely given the large number of unresolved issues faced by them. The National Trade Union Center (NTUC) Convener Samantha Koralearachchi says that the working masses should use their votes wisely and vote to bring about a change. Koralearachchi told the media that the govt has failed to provide a decent salary to the working masses amidst more..

State seizes Hilton

Mar 10 (NN) The Government has acquired the Hilton Hotel in Colombo as the owners of the leading Hotel had only paid two months of lease to the government since its inception, Minister Basil Rajapaksa told Parliament this evening. Signs of the takeover by the government surfaced early last month after State media reported that ownership of the hotel will revert back to the State as the lease rental has not been paid for the land. more..