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Editorial : Help India help us

May 22 (Island) Mr. A.C.S. Hameed, Sri Lanka’s first foreign minister (before J.R.Jayewardene’s election in 1977, the Prime Minister held the Ministry of Defence and External Affairs), was often the butt of newspaper jokes and criticism about his frequent travel. It used to be said that the diminutive minister stopped by in Colombo only to change his clothes! Prof. G.L. Pieris who now wears the hat that Hameed donned some 34 years ago is surely outdoing more..

Editorial : Diplomatic debacle

May 22 (ST) As the majority of the people of Sri Lanka were celebrating the life and teachings of India's greatest son, Gautama the Buddha, in the corridors of power of modern India, its leaders were lecturing to this island-nation's Minister of External Affairs on how best to govern this country. A former professor of law, Minister G.L. Peiris seems to have obediently capitulated. Going by the joint statement ('joint' is the operational word), the Minister committed himself, more..

Buddhist Art Showcased

May 22 (NS) The idea of walking through art that was created throughout the ages of Sri Lanka’s long history is both captivating and enlightening at the same time. At a time when Buddhists around the world celebrates the birth, enlightenment and passing of the Lord Buddha, visiting a photographic gallery that houses art and artwork from all parts of the country is a spiritual encounter and one that certainly is knowledgeable. more..

India’s Sri Lanka policy

May 22 (Island) Last week’s visit by Sri Lanka’s Minister Professor G.L.Pieris to India, the joint declaration issued by the two countries on the occasion, and the election of Jayalalitha Jeyaram as the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu provides us an opportunity to review the entire question of India- Sri Lanka relations in the post war era. It has to be realized first and foremost, that what is important in this relationship is not Sri Lanka’s policy towards India, but more..

Diplomatic war not over yet!

May 22 (NS) Sri Lanka as a nation commemorated the Sambuddhatva Jayanthiya this week and as a result, politics took a back seat. The front pages instead were devoted to the President and the Leader of the Opposition offering flowers together at the Kelaniya temple! Much closer to the land of the Buddha however, in neighbouring India there was many a political development that had significant implications for Sri Lanka and the weeks that follow may unravel the true impact of these events. more..

'Professors should get Rs. 4 lakhs; lecturers Rs. 2 lakhs'

May 22 (SO) Higher Education Minister S.B. Dissanayake said the present move taken by university dons would pave the way to extremist student groups attached to the JVP to once again grab power in universities and ruin the university system. The Minister in an interview with the Sunday Observer said after 1985, the Govt has been able to vest the administration of universities to Vice Chancellors, Deans, Heads of the Departments and the Senate. more..

India’s stand clear with new dimension in South

May 22 (NS) The official visit of External Affairs Minister G. L. Peiris to New Delhi to solicit India’s support over the UN Expert Panel Report has apparently come a cropper. Though sounded positive in their joint statements, what India has urged is to respond positively to the UN Expert Panel Report. In other words, India had wittingly or unwittingly toed the US line in calling the Sri Lankan Government to expedite its reconciliation efforts. more..

Is external pressure the only way Sri Lanka can be prevented from remaking old mistakes?

May 22 (TC) The second anniversary of defeating the LTTE is being celebrated with quintessentially Rajapaksa pomp and pageantry. Peace has been good to the Ruling Family. It has won all elections, obtained a two-third majority in parliament, removed presidential term-limits, enhanced presidential powers, stymied the opposition and discouraged dissent. Post-war, the Rajapaksas rule continues untrammelled (with sons and nephews being groomed to more..

'Cease talks and act fast'

May 22 (NS) Ex-MP and TULF leader V. Anandasangaree, the laureate of the 2006 UNESCO Madanjeet Singh award for the promotion of tolerance and non-violence, says the government should now cease all types of talks with the minority groups but instead implement a substantial scheme based on facts collected from talks that have already been held with these parties in the past. In a hard hitting interview with The Nation, Anandasangaree, a lawyer by profession, more..

Ranil unlikely to attend court

May 22 (NS) It is very unlikely UNP leader or any of the executive committee members would be present at the Nugegoda District Court tomorrow when the petition challenging the appointment of MP Ravi Karunanayake as UNP National Organiser is taken up. The case was filed by UNP Southern Provincial Councillor Maithri Gunaratne. UNP Gampaha District MP Dr.Jayalath Jayawardena said that all executive committee members in their capacity as respondents have signed more..

G.L seeks meeting with Wen Jiabao

May 22 (SL) External Affairs Minister Professor G.L Peiris has sought a meeting with Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jiabao during his visit to China tomorrow. The Minister, who will meet his Chinese counterpart Minister Yang Jiechi during the two day visit, is expected to discuss the controversial UN report on Sri Lanka. “The Minister will discuss bilateral issues during his visit to China including economic cooperation. He is also likely to discuss the UN expert panel report,” more..

TMVP will continue to support Govt.

May 22 (ST) Eastern Province Chief Minister and leader of TMVP Sivanesathurai Chandrakanthan alias Pillayan, said, his party had taken a policy decision to continue with its support for President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s govt. “We were told by the President to continue to work with the people without creating an unpleasant situation,” he said. This assurance followed a series of incidents that included a search of the office and residence of the Chief Minister. more..

Ranil Under Fire

May 22 (SL) The crisis within the UNP continues with the pro-reforms group in the party continuing to lament the witch-hunt unleashed by the party leadership against them for supporting deputy leader Sajith Premadasa in the leadership battle. Although the leadership had agreed to hand over the trade union wing and other party affiliated organisations to Premadasa, they are being managed according to the wishes of party leader Ranil Wickremesinghe, UNP sources said. more..

FUTA demands: another perspective

May 22 (Island) The Minister of Higher Education has asked university lecturers, currently engaged in trade union action, to not ‘inconvenience’ the government and has made allegations of international conspiracies and hinted that the offices of the Federation of University Teachers Association are engaged in all sorts of wheeling and dealing– not to get higher salaries for FUTA’s members – but to disgrace the Government. more..

A/L evaluation under threat if FUTA pay hikes not met

May 22 (ST) University lecturers continue their struggle for a pay hike for the third week and threaten trade union action that may affect GCE A/L exams’ evaluation process, if higher education authorities overlook their demands. Dr Nirmal Ranjith Dewasiri, President, FUTA said that, though Higher Education Minister S.B. Dissanayake assured that President Rajapaksa will meet members of the FUTA to discuss more..

Mystery surrounds US private security agents nabbed at BIA

May 22 (NS) Mystery surrounds the arrest of two American private security agents at the BIA on Wednesday night after parts of a fire arm were detected in their carry on luggage. The police and the US embassy in Colombo are not releasing any details about the two men or about the private security agency employing them. Sources said their silence is deafening since it is very well known that private security firms in US are actively involved in places like Afghanistan, Iraq and Pakistan. more..

Euro 42m Oruvil port project a white elephant?

May 22 (NS) The proposed setting up of the Euro 42 million Danish funded Oluvil Harbour in the Eastern Province has left many gaping holes as to its feasibility with the project presently stuttering following technical problems, according to informed sources. The biggest snag authorities have run into has been getting boulders for the breakwater construction from the Biyangala quarry between Uhana and Maha Oya amidst massive protests by residents against blasting the rock. more..

Wimal’s multi-million rupee damp squib

May 22 (SL) Leader for the NFF and Housing and Construction Minister Wimal Weerawansa’s costly and extravagant trip to New York cost US$ 19,000 (Rs. 2 mill) each for himself and his young son Vibhuthi to travel first class on Emirates Airlines. Weerawansa traveled to New York to participate in the 2600 Sambuddhathwa Jayanthi celebrations at the UN headquarters on May 16 where UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon had also graced the occasion. more..

Nationalists unhappy about joint statement after Delhi talks

May 22 (Island) After stoutly opposing UNSG Ban Ki-moon’s much criticized ‘Darusman Report’ on accountability issues relating to war against LTTE terrorism, the government of Sri Lanka has acknowledged the so-called unsubstantiated UN allegations, political sources say. Referring to a joint statement issued in New Delhi last Tuesday (May 17) following a three-day visit by External Affairs Minister Prof. G.L. Peiris, sources allege the government had acted irrationally, more..

England Lions v Sri Lankans: Dilshan hundred leads Sri Lanka's fightback

May 22 (CI) After two tough days against England Lions, the Sri Lankans put up a better fight having been asked to follow on but still face the prospect of defeat ahead of the first Test. Tillakaratne Dilshan led a much more convincing display with a brisk 117 in an opening stand of 200 with Tharanga Paranavitana who built a composed 125. However, the Lions chipped away and by the close had six wickets for their hard work with the tourists 165 ahead. more..

Lanka launches pre-emptive strike at UNHRC

May 22 (ST) Sri Lanka is to carry out a pre-emptive campaign ahead of the UN Human Rights Council sessions in Geneva next week to ward-off any moves to trigger a debate on allegations of human rights violations during the last stages of the fighting against the LTTE. Plantations Minister Mahinda Samarasinghe who has also been assigned the subject of human rights will lead the Sri Lanka delegation to the Council’s 17th session which begins in Geneva on May 30. more..

Progressive TUs hail private sector pension scheme

May 22 (SO) All progressive trade unions support the proposed private sector pension scheme, which is by no means detrimental to private sector employees, said National Languages and Social Integration Minister Vasudeva Nanayakkara. He said that the pension scheme is another salutary step in the social security program for the working class which was introduced in 1956. President Mahinda Rajapaksa reactivated the social security program which suffered a setback in 1977. more..

Emergency out due Indian knuckle-wrap

May 22 (LB) The govt is contemplating doing away with the Emergency Regulations, informed sources said. A senior government minister told LAKBIMAnEWS that the government has been considering dispensing with Emergency Regulations which have been in existence for the greater part of the past three decades. He said that if the government is able to do away with the Emergency, it would also facilitate the clearing the air in respect of issues concerning the country’s image. more..

IUSF accuses SB of flouting Court order - 'No such order,' says ministry

May 22 (Island) The IUSF accused Minister S.B. Dissanayake of contravening Friday’s Supreme Court directive staying the launch of a three-week training programme for university entrants in military, cadet and police training facilities. But the Higher Education Ministry said there was no such order. What the court asked the Attorney General to do was 'consider’ directing the ministry and the UGC to postpone the programme for at least a week. more..

Solution next week, says Min. Secretary

May 22 (NS) The unrest at the Welikada and Bogambara prisons caused by prisoners on death row and those serving life sentences undertaking an all-out fast is likely to be solved next week when the recommendations of a three member committee is submitted, Secretary to the Ministry, A.Dissanayake said yesterday. The Prisons Reform Committee was earlier appointed by the previous Minister of Rehabilitation and Prison Reforms D. E. W. Gunasekera. more..

Govt. goes ahead with leadership training plan

May 22 (ST) The govt is to go ahead with its controversial “leadership” programme in military camps for university entrants from tomorrow despite serious concerns expressed by students, parents and academics, a senior official of the Higher Education Ministry said. In addition to these concerns, the Supreme Court on Friday requested the authorities to consider the possibility of putting off the leadership training at military camps at least by one week until more..

G.L.Peiris visit a flop: India browbeats Lanka

May 22 (ST) The leaders of the country's main political parties were in 'shraddavantha' (pious) mode this week. The 2600 Sambuddhatva Jayanthi - 2600 years since the Enlightenment of the Buddha and the enunciation of the Doctrine of the Middle Path, would have had a sobering effect on them. The lay leaders of the JHU, the party spearheaded by a group of politically active Buddhist monks, shaved their heads and took 'sil' (religious vows) for several days. more..

Grand Oriental Hotel deal to be finalised in two months

May 22 (ST) Bidders for the refurbishment and management of the Grand Oriental Hotel (GOH), owned by the Bank of Ceylon (BOC), can breathe a sigh of relief. According to officials, the short-listing process of applicants who have sent their Expressions of Interests (EOIs) to the BOC will begin in two months’ time. The Ministry of Finance in January ordered to halt this process, citing complaints received by the Ministry on something ‘suspicious’ going on, officials said. more..

There is never going to be another civil war in Sri Lanka: GL Peiris

May 22 (Island) A confident External Affairs Minister Gamini Lakshman Peiris has said that there is never going to be another civil war in Sri Lanka. Speaking to a select group of New Delhi-based journalists representing the world media during his visit last week, Peiris declared: "There is never going to be another civil war in Sri Lanka. Never again." The kind of ethnic war that ravaged the island-nation in general, and its North and East in particular, more..

VRS for four state ‘white elephants’ to cost Rs. 493m

May 22 (BL) The Treasury is to soon fund the payment of around Rs. 493 million as compensation to an estimated 822 employees attached to four defunct state entities that are to be leased out. A Rs. 600,000 per employee Voluntary Retirement Scheme (VRS) will be offered to the 822 employees in the four failed state institutions, Kantale Sugar Corporation, Embilipitiya Paper Mill, Ceramics Corporation and Rubber Manufacturing and Export Corporation (RMEC). more..

Talk at the Cafe Spectator

May 22 (ST) A widely-publicised book released in Europe and the United States recently is perhaps relevant to a country like Sri Lanka where journalists are fast becoming an endangered species. Appropriately titled "Is Journalism Worth Dying For?', the book is a collection of articles written by Russian journalist Anna Politkovskaya who was shot dead in Moscow in 2006. A mother of two, Politkovskaya was described as a "fearless journalist" who wrote some of the most devastating articles on more..

Uni students in police training before Army stint

May 22 (LB) around 1500 university students have already been absorbed into the Police Training College (PTC) with the intention of providing them with leadership skills. These students have been absorbed into PTCs situated at Pathgama, Mahiyangana, Elpitiya, Kundasale and Nikaweratiya. this exercise had been undertaken by the Police department not with the intention of subjecting students to military training but more..

JVP, PNM in islandwide protests against Indian interference

May 22 (ST) Two separate fronts are set to launch protest campaigns against Indian pressure on the Sri Lanka govt to amend the Constitution, probe human rights abuses and finalise Indian commercial projects in the country. The pro-government PNM and the opposition JVP have decided to campaign against the joint agreement reached between India and Sir Lanka, following the visit of Minister G.L. Peiris early last week. more..

Specialist recommends regular reviews of Fonseka’s health

May 22 (ST) Consultant Physician and Chest Specialist Dr. Vajira Tennekoon who examined former Army Commander Sarath Fonseka has recommended a low dust environment and clinical reviews every month for Mr. Fonseka. The recommendations were handed over in a medical report submitted to the High Court Trial-at-Bar hearing the ‘White Flag’ case against Mr. Fonseka on Thursday. Mr. Fonseka is accused of having stated in an interview with more..

'Indian pressure makes TNA talks progressive'

May 22 (LB) There are signs that the government is taking its discussions with the TNA seriously, said TNA MP M. A. Sumanthiran. He added that the government has agreed to discuss in-depth power sharing and the quick release of the detainees. “The government has been hesitant to discuss these issues properly and in the past has been giving us false promises. But it has now agreed to consider these matters in-depth at the next meeting. more..

University VCs take Ki-moon to task

May 22 (NS) “The United Nations Secretary-General was not embarrassed by the blatant use of double standards in his conduct towards member states. While he was persistent in pursuing the report of the panel appointed by him on the allegations of human rights violations during the last stages of the war against the LTTE, he has used double subterfuge to justify non-action with regard to an official UN report on the Gaza that implicated Israel,” more..

Arrest of Nediyavan, a change of heart by West

May 22 (NS) The arrest of LTTE international head Perinpanayagam Sivaparan alias Nediyavan is a major step forward by the west to assist Sri Lanka to recover from 30 years of conflict, international terrorism expert Professor Rohan Gunaratna said. Nediyavan who is said to be heading the LTTE after Velupillai Prabhakaran and Kumaran Pathmanathan (KP) was arrested in Norway last Friday. Nediyavan’s arrest came a shade over two years after more..

Shavendra gets a diplomatic promotion

May 22 (ST) Sri Lanka’s Deputy Permanent Representative to the UN in New York, General Shavendra Silva has been granted a diplomatic promotion by the govt following a Cabinet decision. The govt maintains that he has been granted ambassadorial status in order to enable him to deal with senior UN officials. Following the govt’s move to grant General Silva an ambassadorial position in the diplomatic service, he will now enjoy the same status, salary and other perks enjoyed by the head of the mission. more..

University students get marching orders for leadership programme

May 22 (ST) The disputed leadership programme organized by the Higher Education Ministry in collaboration with the Defence Ministry has officials defending it as a programme aimed at making universities violence-free while parents of university entrants and students union leaders have voiced concern. The programme will include physical activities including parade ground marching and lecture series aimed at making students more disciplined officials say. more..

Govt Militarising uni students: UNP

May 23 (ST) The UNP today condemned the government’s decision to go a ‘leadership’ training programme for university new entrants inside military camps. “There is no legal provision to conduct such programme and it has not been discussed in parliament as well”, the UNP said in a statement. “This type of training is not relevant to the respective courses in the universities which they will be following. Forcing students to attend such programme is against the laws of the country. more..