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Some quick reflections on the legislative process in Sri Lanka

May 18 (GV) I am on an American Airlines flight from Phoenix, Arizona to St Louis, Missouri having enjoyed the only break in the rigorous seven week Eisenhower Fellowship program at the Grand Canyon, America’s great natural wonder. I came to Phoenix after a few rewarding days in Boston, rather Cambridge, having met with some of the most respected academics at MIT and Harvard on issues of public policy. The ravioli lunch with five types of mushrooms and more..

The true meaning of Vesak

May 18 (SO) Perhaps the best known date on the Buddhist calendar, familiar even to non-Buddhists, is the thrice blessed day of “Vesak”. Vesak is the name of the month in the ancient Indian calendar and it usually falls in May though sometimes it may commence in the latter part of April or extend to the early part of June. Vesak is derived from the original Pali word “Vesakha” or Sanskrit “Vaishakha”. In some countries it is also known as Buddha Day. more..

Vesak and Violence Against Women

May 18 (GV) I have not hidden my increasing disdain for the way Buddhism is practiced and promoted in Sri Lanka. To say the least, we have not only forgotten what it is truly about, we often downright contradict and insult it. I wrote about it here, almost exactly a year ago, after the Poson holiday of 2010. In the last year, I have become even more disillusioned with the establishment of Buddhism in Sri Lanka – I am always shocked by the bigoted sermons given on TV, more..

What if not Re-merger now?

May 18 (DM) It takes a lot of courage, and both the Government and more particularly the TNA have displayed it in an abundant measure. In the midst of the controversy kicked off by the report of the panel set up by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, the two sides met twice and continued with their talks – one over rehabilitation issues and the other on reconciliation. Now even as the dust is settling down over the political controversies, they have met again this week. more..

CEPA: Betrayal or transformative opportunity?

May 18 (BL) Recent press reports have indicated that all the ASEAN member countries have now ratified a Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) with India. This agreement is expected to come into effect by the end of 2011. Sri Lanka had a head start when the Indo–Sri Lanka Free Trade Agreement (ISLFTA) was implemented in 2000 and negotiations were commenced on an Indo–Lanka CEPA in 2003. The news of all ASEAN countries ratifying more..

The wonder of Asia amidst the privileges of the few

May 18 (DM) Our little paradise island will certainly be the wonder of Asia not only for its inherent beauty but for the various privileges certain sectors of society receive. A news item recently reported that the Chairmen of Corporations would receive emoluments of Rs. 90,000 in addition to the other privileges that accrue to them for all the hard work they do (Ofcourse a proviso was added that the Chairmen entitled to this amount would be those of profit making corporations). more..

Buddha’s teaching of wisdom

May 18 (LB) The Government of Lanka says that on Wesak day this year, 2600 years after Buddha will be completed. Of course there are those who dispute the calculations of advisers to the government. In any case it must be approximately true; and after so many years it is worth making an investigation into the fundamental teachings of Buddha. Buddha was probably the first human teacher to reject the idea of God or the Creator. Also, he rejected metaphysics and beliefs in more..

Reprocessing discipline the hard way

May 18 (DM) Military leadership training is such a vague description for the newest addition to the university curricula, which will commence on May 23, in numerous army camps islandwide. The proposed training programme is supposed to discipline the first-year undergraduates while boosting their confidence. According to the authorities, the training has no strings attached to the military whatsoever, other than the venue and more..

Editorial: Conflict resolution and temple training for politicians

May 18 (DM) As pandals and lanterns continue to glitter with ceremonies to mark Vesak and the 2600 anniversary of the enlightenment of the Lord Buddha, government leaders are claiming that Sri Lanka is most honoured by the world for preserving Theravada Buddhism in its pristine purity. If they confine this to the new 16-storey Buddhist Research and Information Centre which is proclaimed as the biggest and best in the world, then it might be a case of a more..

Editorial: Principles behind a contributory pension scheme

May 18 (BL) Life expectancy at birth has increased considerably over the years and it now stands at 74 for males and 78 for females. What this means is that employees who retire at 60 years will live much longer than in the past. Those who retire have to be supported by those who work. While in the past those entering the annual labour force exceeded the number of those retiring each year, the position is changing with the aging of the population. more..

The man behind the stories that light up the pandals

May 18 (ST) You would not know it but he has a hand in as many as 29 pandals that adorn Colombo commemorating the 2600 Sambuddhathva Jayanthi. In his early eighties, Mervyn Senaratne is the brains behind as many as 600 scripts written on various ‘Jathaka’ stories for Vesak, Poson and Esala. “I wrote the scripts for most of the pandals in Borella, Dematagoda, Grandpass, Thotalanga and along the High Level road in Maharagama, Kottawa uptil Avissawella,” more..

LTTE’s lopsided vision, the predicament of Tamils

May 18 (NS) One of the most exhilarating accomplishments the world has achieved within the last two years has been the elimination of two powerful, ruthless and influential terrorist leaders – Velupillai Pirabhakaran and Osama Bin Laden. While many things are being written about Laden, it is worth, for awhile, harking back at how the LTTE has been operating in the country and how the group had managed to become so popular, virtually running a de facto government in the northern part of more..

Of factoids, powerpuff presentations and powerhuff pouting

May 18 (LB) I learn a new word every day, courtesy my friend and benefactor Errol Alphonso. More often than not the rare words he sends my way have some relevance to something I’ve written or an issue that I am interested about at the time. A few days ago he sent me ‘factoid’. Factoid is a noun. It is an invented ‘fact’, meaning something that is presented as true but which is in fact nothing but a construct of the imagination, often deliberate and uttered with intention to mislead. more..

SB sees grand conspiracy

May 18 (NS) Higher Education Minister S. B. Dissanayaka, a one time university student leader is no stranger to university turmoil, but having successfully stood up to militant Inter University Student Federation, he now sees the agitation by the Federation of University Teachers’ Associations as a well-planned conspiracy by a group of lecturers who have captured power in the FUTA recently to undo all positive achievements they have made in more..

Shuttling diplomacy and strategic moves before Buddhism took root here

May 18 (ST) Had the Mahavamsa author recorded the carefully-studied plans made towards the establishment of Buddhism in Sri Lanka, the strategic moves and the shuttling diplomacy that followed for Buddhism to take firm root, King Devanampiyatissa would have stood taller in history. Besides the introduction of Buddhism, the Devanampiyatissa-reign also marked the golden period of Indo-Lanka relations. The Mahavamsa author’s tendency to dramatize events more..

Activists demand dual language policy

May 18 (UCAN) Religious leaders and civic rights activists gathered in Colombo yesterday to examine ways to solve the language problem that led the country to civil war. Christian and Hindu priests and activists from Tamil areas, including parliament minister Vasudeva Nanayakkara discussed problems and challenges faced by the Tamil speaking people in relation to the official language policy.’ According to the Sri Lankan constitution, Sinhala and Tamil should be more..


May 18 (NS) He dispelled ignorance, the ‘darkness’ of the mind, and ‘lighted’ the path towards the Truth. And His name ‘Buddha,’ means ‘the enlightened one’ or ‘the awakened one,’ for He awakened the suffering masses into a state of awareness and showed them the way to find eternal peace. In the month of Vesak (May), when we celebrate Gautama Buddha’s Birth, Enlightenment and Parinirvana (passing away), we take a break from our busy, material-centred lifestyle and reflect upon more..

Seminarians develop Tamil studies

May 18 (UCAN) Seminarians in Jaffna are undertaking special studies to nurture the Tamil language in Sri Lanka. Tamil seminarians gathered at St Francis Xavier seminary in Jaffna for an award ceremony and Tamil cultural festival yesterday evening for ways to develop ways to develop their language. “Tamil, a classical language, is being endangered due to its decline in use, lack of educational support and a shift to (using) other languages. more..

The speech that set free Sri Lanka cricket and glued a troubled nation

May 18 (Guardian) The Sri Lankans are here, promising to bring much pleasure to the start of the cricketing summer, but even their best batsmen should gladly concede that the greatest innings ever played by a Sri Lankan took place in the committee rooms at Lord's almost 30 years ago. Gamini Dissanayake made a charismatic case for Sri Lanka cricket on that day in June 1981, winning over the fustiest of cricket administrators with an eloquent plea for them to be granted Test status. more..

Sri Lanka warn players as match-fixing claims swirl

May 18 (Guardian) To lose a captain is unfortunate. To lose a captain, a vice-captain, a selection panel and your two best bowlers, and then find yourself menaced by serious match-fixing allegations looks like a whole generation of cricketing turbulence packed into six weeks. Over the same period Sri Lanka, who kick off their tour in earnest with a three-day game against England Lions at Derby on Thursday, have also lost a World Cup final, more..

Sri Lanka woos Saudi investors

May 18 (AN) A visiting Sri Lankan cabinet minister on Tuesday urged Saudi businessmen to invest in upcoming projects in the island state, which would yield attractive gains. Rishad Bathiudeen, Sri Lankan, minister of industry and commerce, who met Riyadh Gov. Prince Salman in Riyadh on Tuesday told Arab News that the end of the ethnic conflict had paved the way for several business opportunities in the country. He added that the promising areas of investment include more..

Sri Lanka needs to write a new story

May 18 (TS) This is about Sri Lanka, which means only one question matters: Whose side am I on? Regardless of what I write, readers will find evidence that I’m a Tamil Tiger sympathizer, or an anti-Tamil chauvinist; that I’m a blind and deluded defender of the Sri Lankan government, or a blind and deluded opponent. Such partisan and sectarian handicapping is in keeping with Sri Lanka’s recent history. For decades, political and cultural conversations in the country and more..

Tamils to hold vigil in Trafalgar Square

May 18 (Guardian) Thousands of Tamils will hold a vigil in Trafalgar Square on Wednesday evening to mark the second anniversary of the end of the civil war in Sri Lanka and to call for an independent international investigation into allegations of war crimes and human rights abuses. As many as 40,000 non-combatants died in spring 2009 as the Sri Lankan government moved to crush Tamil Tiger separatists and end the island's 26-year conflict. more..

Gotabhaya declares open Sirasa Vesak Kalapaya

May 18 (NF) The special Sirasa Vesak Kalapaya organised by MTV/MBC and its holding company the Capital Maharaja Organisation, in celebration of the 2600th Sri Sambuddhathwa Jayanthi was declared open a short while ago by the Defense Secretary, Gothabhaya Rajapaksa. The Defense Secretary who arrived at the Sirasa Vesak Kalapaya, first engaged in religious observances. Subsequently the longest pandol ever to be built in Sri Lanka, more..

Sri Lanka gift brings Buddha alive in Nepal

May 18 (NK) A quiet monastery in Kathmandu became the centre of worship and much veneration Tuesday, celebrated worldwide as the 2,555th birth anniversary of the Buddha. Devotees in large numbers thronged it for a rare glimpse of relics of the apostle of peace, gifted to Nepal by Sri Lanka. The Ananda Kuti Vihar began as a humble hut founded by Sri Lankan monks in 1943 to carry on the school of Theravada Buddhism, one of the oldest forms of the Buddha's teachings more..

TNA to hold war memorials

May 18 (DM) The TNA today urged people of all communities to hold religious observances in memory of those killed in the war, which ended on May 19. “Many sacrificed their lives and many more were driven from their homes and a sizable number of people even fled the country, TNA MP Mavai Senathirajah said today. Meanwhile TNA MP M.A. Sumanthiran said the party would discuss the devolution of power at the next round of talks with the govt on June 23. more..

UNHRC 'ignored allegations on Sri Lanka'

May 18 (BBC) An international human rights watchdog has accused the UNHRC of ignoring credible allegations that war crimes had been committed by both sides during the war in Sri Lanka. In a public statement issued on Tuesday marking the two year anniversary of the military victory of the Sri Lankan government over Tamil Tigers, Amnesty International (AI) has called for the support of the UNHRC to assist in the efforts to initiate an international investigation on Sri Lanka. more..

Probe on Galle oil spill

May 18 (NN) An investigation has been launched into the discovery of suspected oil floating on the seas off Galle, the Coast Conservation Department told News this morning. The oil which is spread across a 4km area is said to contain three layers but the source of the suspected oil spill has still not been identified. Director of the Coast Conservation Department Anil Premaratne said that tests are now being carried out on the suspected oil spill. more..

Sri Lanka congratulates Jaya, wants to ‘work with her’

May 18 (IE) Within days of AIADMK chief J Jayalalithaa becoming new Tamil Nadu Chief Minister, Sri Lanka has reached out to her through a “congratulatory” letter by Foreign Minister Prof G L Peiris. Interestingly, this comes three weeks after Jayalalithaa had asked the Centre to take immediate steps to make Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa and his aides stand trial in the International Court of Justice for their “war crimes”. more..

Rubella immunization plans to resume

May 18 (DM) The Rubella vaccination programme which was temporarily stalled as a result of two deaths is to be revived at national level after winning back the confidence of the people, Dr T S R Peiris of the Government Epidemiology Unit said. With this aim special aware ness programmes are being launched by the Health Ministry in collaboration with the Private sector. A Data Management programme via the Internet had also been designed to make it more effective. more..

Unprecedented crowds observe sil in A'pura

May 18 (DM) Tens of thousands of devotees participated in religious ceremonies and observed sil yesterday at the sacred Anuradhapura Sri Maha Bodhi to commemorate the 2600 Sambuddhathva Jayanthi. The venerable monks of the Maha Viharaya said this was the first time in history that such a large number of devotees had thronged the Sri Maha Bodhi to observe sil. Meanwhile, religious activities took place at other temples in Anuradhapura including the Ruwanweliseya and Mirisawetiya temples. more..

Picking up the Pieces

Srilankan maid and her newborn baby die in sponsor’s house

May 18 (AT) A Sri Lankan housemaid and her newborn baby died in the house of her sponsor in Qurain. Securitymen and medical emergency personnel rushed to the location after the Operations Room at the Ministry of Interior received a call from the sponsor of the housemaid. However, the maid and her baby were already dead when they arrived at the scene. The sponsor told investigators the housemaid experienced difficulties while delivering the baby and more..

Sri Lankan held for possessing forged passport

May 18 (ENS) A native of Jaffna was taken into custody for possessing a forged passport when the immigration personnel at the Cochin International Airport here grilled him when he was trying to leave the country to Paris by Oman Air flight on Tuesday. Emigration police superintendent K G James told Express that Jeevadas, 30, a Sri Lankan, possessed a passport in the name of Savari Muthu Peter, issued from Trichy passport office in 2007. more..

Sri Lanka fit to host Commonwealth Games

May 18 (DM) Sri Lanka’s Olympic Committee 2018 which hopes to host the Commonwealth Games in Hambantota in 2018 today quashed speculation on Sri Lanka’s illegibility to host the games stating that Sri Lanka fulfilled all requirements necessary. The committee’s CEO, Nalin Attygalle said Sri Lanka should be given the opportunity to host the games. He said Hambantota was well qualified to host the games and more..

UNP to back TNA-UPFA agreement

May 18 (DM) The UNP assured the TNA that it would support the latter in its talks with the ruling UPFA regarding a solution to the country’s ethnic problem. TNA MP M.A.Sumanthiran said that UNP leader Ranil Wickremesinghe has assured the TNA that his party would give its fullest support if the TNA and UPFA reach an agreement. “Our leadership has kept the UNP informed regarding our talks with the government” Mr.Sumanthiran added. more..

CEB chief will not blink

May 18 (Island) Ceylon Electricity Board Chairman Vidya Amarapala yesterday said that the Board will not give in to the whims and fancies of any unions since they are answerable to the COPE –Parliamentary Watchdog Select Committee. The CEB Chief told The Island that he will not withdraw the letter given to CEB General Manager, Engineer Badra Jayaweera. He said that the GM had absorbed Dr. Susantha Perera – in March - after he was removed from more..

JVP-led student body plans protests in North against disappearances

May 18 (Island) The Inter-University Students’ Federation (IUSF), affiliated to the JVP, is now attacking the government over atrocities allegedly committed by the military in the Trincomalee district during the eelam war IV. The IUSF had thrown its weight behind the campaign spearheaded by an organization called ‘We Are Sri Lankans’. The inaugural protest had been held in the Trincomalee town on May 13, more..

Hygiene at eateries improves

May 18 (Island) The Public Health Department of the Colombo Municipal Council said the situation of food preparation and hygiene in eateries had improved within the last few months. Chief of the Public Health Department, Dr. Pradeep Kariyawasam said that the PHD had found an improvement in food preparation following last weeks raids carried out on eateries that prepared ‘kottu roti,’ in the Slave Island area. more..

UN won't confirm Weerawansa of Sri Lanka here, calls his blockade legitimate

May 18 (ICP) Last June UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said it as “unacceptable that the Sri Lankan authorities have failed to prevent the disruption of the normal functioning of the United Nations offices in Colombo as a result of unruly protests organized and led by a cabinet minister of the Govt.” That minister was Wimal Weerawansa. On May 16 it was reported that Weerawansa was inside the UN in New York, more..