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PAFFREL makes special request of Elections Commissioner

Feb 11 (AD) The People’s Action for Free and Fair Elections (PAFFREL) organization has made a special request of the Elections Commissioner to protect the votes of the people with regards to the Pudukuduirippu and Muhudubadapattu local govt elections. Executive Director of PAFFREL, Rohana Hettiarachchi stated that voters belonging to the Mulaitivu area are currently living in IDP camps in and around Menik Farm while PAFFREL has requested the Elections Commissioner to take all more..

Sri Lanka in steep fuel price hike, corrects diesel mis-pricing

Feb 11 (LBO) Sri Lanka has steeply raised the price of diesel partially correcting chronic mis-pricing between refined fuels in a move that could also help reduce loans taken by petroleum distributors and help stabilize the country's exchange rate. State-run CPC said a litre of 90-octane petrol would be raised by 12 rupees to 149 rupees and standard auto diesel would be raised by 31 rupees to 115 rupees partially correcting fuel mis-pricing. more..

Editorial: Reposing faith in PSC vital

Feb 12 (SO) Over the past five years LTTE sympathisers have invariably timed their anti-Sri Lanka campaigns prior to the United Nations Human Rights Commission (UNHRC) sessions. This time around, there is no exception as the next UNHRC session comes up in Geneva next month. A section of the Tamils outside Sri Lanka, LTTE sympathisers and several INGOs are making a concerted effort to sully Sri Lanka's image and bring the country's Security Forces into disrepute. more..

Editorial: Is there a political will to implement LLRC recommendations?

Feb 12 (SL) Whatever planetary conjunctions may come into formation two Full Moons before the Sinhala New Year for President Mahinda Rajapaka and his clan, the economic and political clouds are already gathering ominously over this usually sunny isle. The alleged war crimes allegations have come around for the third time this year in a vicious form. US President Barack Obama himself is taking a personal interest in a resolution that is expected to be moved at the more..

'Village youth to be trained as pilots'

Feb 12 (SO) Aviation Minister Piyankara Jayaratne said the country’s aviation sector has shown significant improvement when the Government is making a concerted effort to turn Sri Lanka into a regional aviation hub. The Minister told the Sunday Observer that civil aviation has reached international standard due to measures taken by the Government to develop the aviation sector under the Mahinda Chinthana Vision for the Future. more..

Editorial: ‘Democracy’ at gun-point!

Feb 12 (NS) Democracy in recent times has turned definition on its head. It has provided much grist for the lampoonist’s mill. ‘Be nice to us or else we will bring democracy to your country,’ screamed Uncle Sam, fully armed and standing amidst the carnage that has been the collateral of ‘democratisation’ in recent months. A blogger (NoealamInSL) gives the gist in a post titled ‘Regime change strategy and action plan’ (paraphrased below): ‘First provide arms to a selected rebel group. more..

Editorial: Poor Nasheed, home alone in Male

Feb 12 (LB) He was a darling of the West if ever there was one, and few would disagree with that. He played all his cards as per the playbook written in London or in Washington. The impish champion of human rights, the intrepid environmentalist who dramatically held one of his Cabinet meetings underwater, Nasheed was the consummate performer loved by Western activists leaders, and all else alike. That’s an enviable position for any developing world leader to be in, and more..

National Language policy to boost ethnic harmony

Feb 12 (SO) Minister Vasudeva Nanayakkara expressed optimism that the Government's 10-year National Action Plan for a trilingual Sri Lanka could be successfully implemented with many long-term plans that have already been formulated. The implementation of the 10-year action plan is a turning point in the history of Sri Lanka because it is aimed at ending the decades-long ethnic tensions and creating brotherhood and national harmony. more..

Editorial: Saving power and tightening belts

Feb 12 (Island) The Island front paged a story on Thursday saying the CEB will soon request consumers to switch off their refrigerators for a minimum of two hours during the peak consumption period between 6.30 and 9.30 pm. At first reading it seemed a sensible idea to save on power consumption that would benefit both the country and individual consumers who will pay a little less for their electricity. This is particularly so that a rate increase, as for fuel, is imminent. more..

Editorial: Lesson from the Maldives: Listen to the people

Feb 12 (ST) As the nation prepares to celebrate its 64th anniversary of Independence next weekend, it is time to reflect on the historic past, contemporary times and the future. The Commissary of the Anglican Bishop of Colombo has put some of these reflections in perspective and done it well. In a statement he has issued he says that National days of a country are not only a time for thanksgiving but also for introspection. He points out that we in Sri Lanka have much to more..

Muppets, puppets and putting the house in order

Feb 12 (ST) Cricket in Sri Lanka is shaping up to go on that proverbial trip on the road that has no end. Right at this moment it is sailing like that ship which has lost its rudder mid-stream. Sri Lankas first match against India in the current Commonwealth Bank series is a classic example to support this argument. Just a while ago the public harped for the blood of the then captain Dilshan and thus the switch was made with a lot of cream inside the sandwich. more..

Building a fire under Sri Lanka at UNHCR

Feb 12 (NS) There are strong indications that that the 19th sessions of the UNHRC due to begin in Geneva on Feb 27, will be decisive for Sri Lanka, mainly given the preparations by the US to adopt a resolution against Sri Lanka over alleged human rights violations and war crimes with the support of several countries. Four officials from the US State Department visited Sri Lanka in mid-January raising speculation that their mission was to gather material to build a case against this country. more..

Army coups and SF phenomenon

Feb 12 (NS) Ever so often former Army Commander Sarath Fonseka’s name keeps appearing in the media related either to some court proceeding that he had attended or to speculation that he would be released from jail on a pardon. Ever so often former Army Commander Sarath Fonseka’s name keeps appearing in the media related either to some court proceeding that he had attended or to speculation that he would be released from jail on a pardon. This week marks the so-called second ‘anniversary’ of his arrest. more..

Slain Bharatha Lakshman’s daughter Hirunika Premachandra Speaks Out

Feb 12 (TC) From the moment she spoke out at her father’s funeral, it was evident that Hirunika, the 24-year-old daughter of assassinated SLFP stalwart Bharatha Lakshman Premachandra, would take to politics. Last week Hirunika joined the Mahajana Party. In an interview with LAKBIMAnEWS, she said she would rather die telling the truth than lie to get privileges. Q: Why did you join the Mahajana Party? A: To do politics, you obviously have to join a party. more..

Buffet-eating heirs of the ‘political solution’

Feb 12 (Island) UNP leader Ranil Wickremesinghe was much in the news last week, with a crowd of party supporters jeering him in Beruwela. The police had advised him to use an alternative route as there was a group of dissidents who had started an anti-Ranil demonstration in the approach to the venue of the meeting. However RW had insisted on driving through the demonstrators. He ran the gauntlet and got to the venue but it was obvious that he was hurt to the quick. more..

Sudden eruptions and tough going …

Feb 12 (LB) Just when the administration seemed to be getting over some of its anxieties on the international front with the president sending his emissaries to UNHCR member countries vote hunting, and also to the US to pacify Clinton and Co., all hell broke loose in the Maldives. Though technically this has nothing to do with the Sri Lankan govt, it interferes in the image department with Nasheed widely seen as a joined at hip political twin of the Sri Lankan President in more..

SL business climate gloomy in 2012-CCC poll

Feb 12 (ST) Sri Lanka's upscale business community has put a damper on any buoyancy in economic growth this year with a new poll expressing concern over the deteriorating local and international business climate in 2012. According to a Business Outlook Survey 2012 issued by the CCC in January, the situation regarding two critical areas - decision to invest this year and the economic environment - worsened in December 2011 against July 2011 when more..

5th column: Oh Nasheed, you shouldn’t have made those mistakes

Feb 12 (ST) My Dear Mohamed Nasheed, I thought that I must write to you after learning that you are no longer the President of the Maldives and that you had been suddenly ousted in what you call a coup. After all, we are used to Maldivian presidents usually holding office for thirty years and we expected you to do the same! I heard, Nasheed, that you had been ousted after protests against your decision to arrest the chief judge of the Criminal Court. more..

CEB to stock up on coal

Feb 12 (Island) Despite repeated breakdowns at the Norochcholai coal power plant, Sri Lanka is confident that teething problems can be overcome and the plant perform to capacity before long. "In fact the CEB has been advised to stock up on large quantities of coal before price rises in the short term," an authoritative official source said yesterday. Meanwhile the market anticipates that the rupee will depreciate to around Rs. 118 to the dollar although the forward market position more..

Ranil exposed setting-up UNHCR against Lanka

Feb 12 (LB) In what is by all indications a pre-emptive strike to prejudice the UNHRC against Sri Lanka before deliberations start in March, opposition leader Ranil Wickremesinghe has launched a media blitz picking holes in the LLRC report. Our sources in the UNP meanwhile confirm that Wickremesinghe’s strategy in timing the statement is precisely to set the UNHRC membership against the country. more..

Cabinet sessions – Mervyn silent

Feb 12 (LB) Deputy Minister Mervyn Silva has been silent during the Cabinet meetings that he had attended in the past two months, contrary to his usual ways, reliable govt sources said. These sources said that the controversial deputy minister who is normally vociferous and garrulous at Cabinet meetings had been silent throughout the proceedings in the wake of the on-going disciplinary inquiry that the SLFP has initiated against him and the Kelaniya Pradeshiya Sabha members. more..

Lankan minister forced to leave Coimbatore following protests

Feb 12 (PTI) In the second such incident in about month, a Sri Lankan minister was forced to leave Coimbatore on Saturday after a group of Naam Tamizhar Katchi workers staged a demonstration in front of his hotel, demanding that he leave India immediately. Arumugam Thondaiman, the minister, vacated the hotel shortly after the protest and left the city for Chennai, police said. Some NTK workers almost laid siege to the hotel located in the heart of the city, where Thondaiman was more..

Govt. furious over UNP’s war crimes stance

Feb 12 (Island) The govt reacted angrily to the UNP’s call for the establishment of a mechanism acceptable to the international community to inquire into war crime allegations directed at the Sri Lankan govt. Strongly criticizing the LLRC headed by former Attorney General, C. R. de Silva for its failure to address accountability issues, the UNP asserted that the govt couldn’t ‘move forward on the human rights record’ unless it undertook an inquiry more..

Rape of foreign women on the rise

Feb 12 (LB) Police reports indicate that incidents of female (foreign) tourists being raped while holidaying in the country are on the rise, though at the same time these tourists prefer not to report such incidents to the police. As was reported in the media on January 3 this year a Dutch female tourist staying at a tourist hotel in Polhena, Matara, was raped by a local, and investigations revealed that the crime was perpetrated by the owner of the hotel. more..

‘Pillayan extorts Rs20 from every bottle of liquor sold’

Feb 12 (LB) Nadarajah Sushatharan, the excise superintendent, Batticaloa has charged that the Eastern Province Chief Minister Sivanesathurai Chandrakanthan alias Pillayan has threatened him with death. His petition which was filed by attorney G.G. Arulpragasam also states: “The Chief Minister Chandrakanthan continues to extort Rs20 from every liquor bottle sold in the Eastern Province.” The Excise Superintendent has told the Court that as a result of more..

SriLankan Airlines’ losses fly higher: Moves to lease Heathrow slots

Feb 12 (ST) The national carrier, SriLankan Airlines, plans to sell or lease its slots at Heathrow airport in Britain under an extensive review programme as it acknowledged incurring a huge loss for the current financial year. The losses made in 2011/2012 financial year ending March 31 would go beyond the 2010/2011 level of Rs. 202 million and exceed the budgeted loss of Rs. 8.3 billion, SriLankan Airline’s Chairman Nishantha Wickremesinghe said more..

Nasheed won’t seek asylum

Feb 12 (SL) Ousted Maldivian President Mohammad Nasheed says he will not seek asylum in Sri Lanka despite his family being here, but instead will continue his fight for democracy in his country. He said that the international community must act now before it is too late. The Maldives was in a state of turmoil last week after Nasheed was forced to resign as President following weeks of protests against his decision to sack Abdulla Mohamed the Chief Judge of the Criminal Court. more..

Rest houses to improve standards

Feb 12 (CT) The Tourist Board has come down hard on Rest House owners who have failed to upgrade their standards for the local tourists. Following a series of complaints by local tourists the Tourist Board Chairman has sent out a communiqué to all Rest House owners to improve the standards of the Rest Houses forthwith. Tourist Board Chairman Dr. Nalaka Godahewa said many Rest Houses in the country are poorly maintained and are completely deteriorated due to the neglect of the owners. more..

UDA chokes CMC

Feb 12 (SL) The Urban Development Authority (UDA) has taken over properties which fall under the Colombo Municipal Council (CMC) including the Viharamaha Devi Park and Nomads grounds in Colombo. Colombo Mayor A.J.M. Muzammil said the CMC stands to lose over 40 percent of income following the UDA takeover of the property. The CMC uses the income to make overtime payments to 9000 CMC employees as well as for road maintenance, more..

Police launch manhunt for fugitive doctor

Feb 12 (ST) Detectives are hunting for a doctor who is alleged to have persuaded a minor employee to add poison to the water tank of Sevanagala Hospital’s District Medical Officer with the aim of killing him. Chief Inspector Nilantha Bandara told the Sunday Times the police were seeking to record a statement from the suspect, following allegations that he had instructed a minor employee at the hospital, to poison the victim’s water supply at his official quarters. more..

‘Sarath Fonseka should personally seek Presidential pardon’ - Namal

Feb 12 (Island) Former army commander Sarath Fonseka should personally write to President Mahinda Rajapaksa if he wants a pardon to be released from prison, parliamentarian Namal Rajapaksa said. "This is the only option – there is no other way he can be freed", says Rajapaksa, who is a member of the government team discussing the possibility of the war veteran’s release. Fonseka is represented at the talks by DNA parliamentarian Tiran Alles. more..

Fuel prices soar, relief promised

Feb 12 (ST) The govt carried out a snap increase in fuel prices last night upping petrol by Rs. 12, diesel by Rs. 31 and kerosene by Rs. 35 a litre. It was the biggest jump in diesel and kerosene prices. Until yesterday, the price of a litre of petrol was Rs 137, diesel Rs 84 and kerosene was Rs 76. The increase of diesel and kerosene prices amounted to a massive 36.9 per cent and 49.3 per cent respectively. Minister Susil Premajayantha told the Sunday Times that more..

Govt to stop external degrees

Feb 12 (SL) The govt has decided to stop External Degrees and a circular to this effect has been issued to all the universities in the country. Education Ministry Secretary Dr. Sunil Jayantha Navaratne said that the decision was taken as it was found that External Degrees do not meet their purpose. He said with the circular being issued the matter was now subject to further discussion and proposals which will be studied before External Degrees are formally not recognized. more..

Deploying army to quell protests deplored

Feb 12 (LB) Opposition parties criticized the govt’s decision to deploy the army to prevent and control public demonstrations and labelled it as another step to ‘militarize the country.’ Propaganda secretary of Movement for Peoples Struggle, Varuna Rajapakshe stated that this is a step to extend the military rule prevalent in the North to the rest of the country. Meanwhile, the UNP general secretary Tissa Attanayake said that the army should not be deployed for areas which more..

Furore over Golden Key ENT Hospital sale

Feb 12 (Island) The proposed sale of the state-of-the-art ENT Hospital — one of the biggest assets of the collapsed Golden Key (GK) — has run into a storm with depositors’ associations vehemently opposing, what they termed, "an attempt to push through a deal with a leading diversified business conglomerate, in which the head of the Committee facilitating the GK repayment process, has a stake". A bid for 750 million rupees for this ultra-modern medical more..

Wellawatte businessman abducted ahead of FR case

Feb 12 (ST) An armed group grabbed a businessman from outside his residence at Wellawatte around 3.30 p.m. yesterday, two days before a fundamental rights case filed by him was to be taken up. Police said Ramasamay Prabhakaran, 42, was bundled into a white van by seven men armed with assault rifles and hand guns before it sped towards Dehiwala. The men abducted the businessman in front of his wife and daughter shortly after the family had returned from more..

Cabinet Minister’s daughter bids Rs. 900 mn for GK Children’s Hospital

Feb 12 (Island) The daughter of a Cabinet Minister had submitted a bid for 900 million rupees to acquire the Children’s and Women’s Hospital at Kirimandala Mawatha, Colombo 5 – a key asset of the collapsed Golden Key (GK) company. Bids for this five-storied complex on 616 perches of prime property in Colombo closed on January 23, 2012. The Minister’s daughter was amongst three bidders for this valuable asset. She has offered 500 million rupees in cash and the balance more..

Like the Arab Spring, Male Spring ousts Nasheed

Feb 12 (ST) The telephone operator at the switchboard of Janadipathi Mandiraya felt the sense of urgency when a female voice asked to speak to first lady, Shiranthi Rajapaksa last Thursday morning. The caller explained she was a friend and it related to on-going developments in the Maldives. Within seconds, she found herself talking to President Mahinda Rajapaksa instead of the first lady. Mira Laila Ali wept when she said that the life of more..

SL Tamils ask TN fishermen not to use trawlers

Feb 12 (AA) Even while condemning the attacks of the Sri Lankan navy on their counterparts from Tamil Nadu, Tamil fishermen from Jaffna, in Sri Lanka, have appealed to the Tamil fishermen to desist from using trawlers in Sri Lankan waters. “The attacks on Tamil fishermen are condemnable. But the fishermen should also realise that by using trawlers, they eat into our livelihood,” says Thavaratnam, a Jaffna-based Tamil fisherman. The Jaffna fishermen allege that trawling destroys more..

Lanka looks for alternate ways in fuel imports

Feb 12 (ST) Sri Lanka is studying several alternatives to mitigate the impact on its oil imports due to US sanctions on Iran. Minister Susil Premajayantha said the Ceylon Petroleum Corporation (CPC) would continue on the ‘spot’ open market purchases of fuel, on tender or ‘term’ contract basis, in small to medium size stocks of 20,000 to 40,000 MT. He said the CPC was now buying refined fuel through tenders as the capacity at Sapugaskanda oil refinery was 35,000-40,000 barrels a day. more..