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Over 400 apply to fill hangman’s vacancy

Feb 15 (Island) Over 400 qualified persons have applied for the post of hangman at the Welikada Prison. They said most of the applicants were those who had passed the GCE A/L and O/L exams. The post fell vacant recently following the former hangman being promoted to the post of prison guard. The Prisons Department advertised to recruit a new hangman. No death sentence has been carried out in the country since 1976. However, execution remains a legal option. more..

TNA welcomes US stance

Feb 15 (CT) The TNA welcomed the announcement by the US Govt to support a resolution at next month's UNHRC. “The TNA welcomes the US announcement which was jointly made by the two visiting US envoys, Robert O Blake and Maria Otero. The problem with the Lankan Govt is that they do not approach the issues with a positive note, TNA MP Suresh Premachandra told Ceylon Today, adding that it was not only the US, but that other countries have also insisted on more..

Abducted heroin dealer’s body found?

Feb 15 (Island) Investigations were underway to ascertain whether the partly burnt body found at Torrington Avenue, in the Narahenpita police division yesterday, was that of Velayudan Methiyas Chandrapala (52) alias ‘Mervin’ who was abducted by six armed persons, who arrived in a white van, on Monday while he was being taken in to the Cololmbo Magistrate’s Court under prison guard. They had allegedly kicked his wife and daughter who had clung on to him in a futile attempt to more..

Monday’s crash: Pilot error not ruled out

Feb 15 (Island) Air Force expertsm investigating the black box of the MiG-27 fighter aircraft, that crashed near Maravila in the Dummalasuriya Police area on Monday, have not ruled out the possibility of a pilot error causing the crash. The experts said that according to preliminary observations the recordings have confirmed that at the time the air craft took off on its training mission its technical fitness was optimum. Recordings of the final moments are being more..

TNA hails govt. on rehab of combatants

Feb 15 (DM) Despite being at odds with the ruling party over power devolution, the TNA yesterday hailed the govt’s programme of rehabilitation of ex-LTTE combatants and called it ‘excellent’. Commenting on the programme, TNA leader R. Samapanthan said that the officers in charge of the rehabilitation process discharged their duties with the fullest sense of responsibility. The role played by Maj. Gen. Sudantha Ranasinghe in particular was excellent. more..

Song lyrics to be approved

Feb 15 (CT) A mechanism will soon be set up to monitor the contents and context of the lyrics of songs before they are allowed to be recorded for public rendition. The Cultural Affairs Minister T.B. Ekanayake responding to a query by Ceylon Today said the relevant cabinet paper is being prepared by him with a view of tabling it before the cabinet soon. The popular youth singer Gayan Perera is alleged to have distorted a Buddhist Gatha (Stanza) in his latest hit ‘Tiken Tika’. more..

Colombo-Kandy Expressway to be built via Kurunegala

Feb 15 (DM) The govt has decided to construct the Colombo-Kandy expressway via Kurunegala instead of the initial plan to construct it via Ambepussa, Minister Nirmala Kotalawala said today. He said that the construction of an expressway via Kurunegala would make it easy for the improvement of connectivity to other major cities in the country such as Trincomalee and Anuradhapura. “We had to change the original feasibility study as a result of the new decision. more..

Sri Lanka says U.N. concerns about general "unethical"

Feb 15 (Reuters) Sri Lanka's U.N. mission on Tuesday dismissed as "unfair and unethical" concerns raised by U.N. human rights chief Navi Pillay about the appointment of a Sri Lankan army general to an advisory panel on peacekeeping. Pillay said she had informed U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon of her misgivings about General Shavendra Silva, Sri Lanka's deputy U.N. ambassador, who commanded the Sri Lankan army's 58th Division during the more..

Singapore names orchid after Sri Lankan President and First Lady

Feb 15 (SM) Singapore today named an orchid after the visiting Sri Lankan president Mahinda Rajapaksa and first lady Shiranthi Rajapaksa at the national orchid garden. Both were offered flowers of the Dendrobium Mahinda Shiranthi by Poon Hong Yean, head of the national botanical gardens. According to a statement by the presidential media unit, Mr. Yean has said that it took them seven years to develop the new orchid, a cross between Elizabeth and Michika varieties. more..

Commonwealth unity vital to face int’l crisis situations - PM

Feb 15 (DN) “It is pertinent for Commonwealth countries to act in unison in facing international crisis situations. ‘A united stand will enable them to resolve problems amicably in a transparent manner,” Prime Minister D M Jayaratne said when he met a Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (CPA) delegation led by its Executive Committee President Sir Alan Gordon Haselhurst who called on him at the Prime Minister’s office yesterday morning. The delegation is in Sri Lanka more..

Mr. Blake do you want mercenaries or to twist the arms of US citizens?

Feb 15 (SL) Blake is in Sri Lanka again. This time with US Under Secretary of State Maria Otero. Are they in Sri Lanka to inform the Rajapaksa brothers that their US citizenship was revoked or to ask for mercenaries to fight the Afghan war? I am curious, because one can see the US hypocrisy regarding war crimes accountability issues through their own reports. If you read leaked US diplomatic cables together with other US official documents related to more..

‘How could Amb. Blake forget TNA’s war-time partnership with LTTE’

Feb 15 (Island) Sri Lanka’s war-time External Affairs Minister, Rohitha Bogollagama yesterday said US Assistant Secretary for South and Central Asia, Robert Blake, in spite of being based in Colombo during the war had failed to appreciate rapid development made in the wake of the govt’s triumph over terrorism. Unlike US Under Secretary for Civilian Security for Democracy and Human Rights, Maria Otera, Ambassador Blake had been more..

Beware! For every qualified doc there’s a quack

Feb 15 (ST) A doctor is supposed to be a saviour to those who go to a State or private hospital, clinic or dispensary when they fall sick. However, in a shocking revelation, for every qualified doctor in the country there is a person who practices medicine illegally, in other words a ‘quack’. These quacks comprise mostly retired pharmacists, dispensers, paramedics, estate medical assistants or relatives of late doctors. more..

GMOA threatens not to reject annual transfers if….

Feb 15 (Island) The Govt Medical Officers’ Association said it would not accept the annual transfer scheme of doctors or consultants in future unless the scheme was combined with alternate schooling for their children. Children of several doctors had been deprived of school facilities when doctors got transfers to new hospitals. The educational authorities, especially the Secretary to the Education Ministry, more..

'Sri Lanka devided after the war'

Feb 15 (BBC) Post war Sri Lanka is divided in to two countries say, Vasudeva Nanayakkara Cabinet Minister of National Languages and Social Integration. Addressing a seminar to demand implementation of the recommendations of the LLRC the minister said that democratic institutions in the North and the East of the country have become ineffective. “The war was waged to stop the division of the country. What we have created are two countries instead of one” more..

Open prison camp to be made tourist attraction later this year

Feb 15 (Island) Plans are afoot to convert the Weerawila open prison camp into a tourist attraction by October this year, Secretary to the Ministry of Prison Reforms and Rehabilitation, A. Dissanayake said. "This initiative had been taken as effective means of rehabilitation and as a step to socially integrate the nearly 600 drug abuse convicts of the open prison camp, most of whom are on the verge of being released," he said. more..

More than 200 complaints of email and website hacking this year: CERT

Feb 15 (DM) There had been more than 200 complaints so far of email accounts and websites being hacked in Sri Lanka in 2012, Sri Lanka national CERT said yesterday. A spokesman from the CERT said that there had been 200 complaints of Facebook hacking and around 10 other hackings this year. Facebook hacking had been a frequent occurrence in Sri Lanka last year as well with 1,500 Facebook hacking complaints in 2011. more..

Pre-trial detention system reforms sought

Feb 15 (SL) A large number of prisoners are being held in long-term remand, pending trials, a report by the Lawyers for Human Rights and Development (LHRD) said. This calls for an urgent need for policy reform in Sri Lanka’s pre-trial detention system, LHRD Executive Director, Kalyananda Tiranagama said at the report launch this afternoon. The report, titled “Pre-trial Detention in Sri Lanka: Reforming the System of Bail and Upholding the Right to Speedy Trial, more..

Bi-partisan support in Aussie Senate to defeat motion against SL

Feb 15 (Island) In the wake of the US threatening to throw its weight behind a resolution against Sri Lanka, at the forthcoming UN Human Rights Council in Geneva, the Australian Senate has convincingly defeated an attempt by Green Senator, Lee Rhiannon (representative for New South Wales) to move a motion calling for the establishment of an independent international mechanism targeting the Sri Lankan govt. more..

SL Govt. disappointed over US stance

Feb 15 (GDI) The govt is disappointed with the US stance that it will support a resolution at the forthcoming UNHCR session in Geneva against Sri Lanka, External Affairs Ministry Secretary K. Amunugama has said yesterday. “We are disappointed with the US position. We have explained that the Sri Lankan govt cannot rush to implement the LLRC recommendations. The report is not govt owned; it was produced by an independent commission. more..

Sri Lanka shares end up 0.3-pct

Feb 15 (LBO) Shares ended firmer Wednesday after a nine-day slide, brokers said. The main All Share Price Index closed up 0.28 percent at 5,023.80, while the more liquid Milanka index rose 0.46 percent to close at 4,373.62. Turnover was 1.4 billion rupees. Index heavyweight John Keells Holdings closed at 159.50 rupees, down 10 cents. Commercial Bank closed at 99.90 rupees, up 40 cents. People's Leasing Company fell to a new record low of 11.60 rupees but recovered more..

Editorial: Where the street cleaner and CEO sit together

Feb 15 (DM) In ancient and uncivilized times diseases like leprosy were seen as an incurable curse. Even religious laws decreed that the lepers should be outcast and confined to leper colonies. They were untouchable. When they had to come to town for an urgent need, they were required to ring an alarm bell and wear a board saying, “I am unclean.” In most parts of the world, the attitude and the approach is now more enlightened and compassionate, though in certain parts of more..

Sri Lanka raises power prices

Feb 15 (LBO) Sri Lanka's power regulator has approved surcharges of between 15 to 40 percent on the bills of power users to recover a part of the cost of a steep fuel price increase, an official said. Household customers using less than 30 units have to pay a 25 percent 'fuel surcharge', those using between 31 to 60 units 35 percent and those using over 60 units 40 percent, Jayatissa de Costa, chairman of the Public Utilities Commission of Sri Lanka said. more..

Sri Lanka draws Indian clothing retailer

Feb 15 (LBO) Sri Lankan clothing retailer Hameedia has tied up with India’s Madura Fashion & Lifestyle to sell its clothing brands and also open retail stores in the island. Hameedia, which styles itself as a menswear specialist, said it will import and distribute leading brands such as Louis Philippe, Van Heusen, Allen Solly and Peter England in Sri Lanka in a three-year deal with Madura Fashion. "Hameedia and Madura Fashion & Lifestyle will join hands and more..

Rupee strengthens on dollar sales by state banks

Feb 15 (Reuters) Rupee, which had an all-time closing low on Tuesday, initially weakened further on Wednesday but then strengthened as state banks sold dollars. The rupee was trading at 119.80/120.00 to the dollar, compared with Tuesday's close of 120.20, after a day of heavy forward bookings of dollars by importers. The currency has been volatile since the central bank on Feb. 9 stopped intervening in the foreign-exchange market to defend a specific level. more..

Police fire on fuel-cost protest; 1 dead

Feb 15 (AP) Police fired on fishermen protesting a fuel price increase Wednesday, killing one person and wounding four, a witness and a doctor said. Police spokesman Ajith Rohana said police used tear gas to disperse an "unlawful mob" but refused comment on whether police fired guns at the protesters. Thousands of fishermen were walking in a protest march near the fishing town of Chilaw and clashed with police, who later opened fire at them, more..

Sri Lanka's inaugural 'CISM Day Run' for service personnel

Feb 15 (GDI) Brussels-based International Military Sports Council (Conseil International du Sport Militaire), more widely known as CISM, is to inaugurate its first-ever Sri Lanka's 'CISM Day Run' on Sunday (19) at Colombo Independence Square, commencing at 6.00 a.m. with the participation of 300 tri-service personnel, headed by respective three Commanders. CISM with its motto, "Friendship through Sport" as one of world's largest multidisciplinary organizations, more..

Progress Reviewed on Hambantota Development Programmes

Feb 15 (GDI) A meeting to review the progress on "One Project for One Village" and "Pura Neguma" programmes was held under the patronage of minister Basil Rajapaksa in the Hambantota District Secretariat on Tuesday. Minister revealed that the Ministry of Economic Development has planned to grant one million rupees to implement one development project in each Grama Niladari Throughout the country. Project proposals of Local Govt Members as well as Parliamentarians in more..

Sri Lanka agrees to probe war crimes ahead of UN meet

Feb 15 (AFP) Sri Lanka's army said Wednesday it agreed for the first time to probe war crime charges against its troops and investigate allegations of prisoner executions made in a British TV documentary. Army chief Jagath Jayasuriya appointed a court of inquiry to investigate charges that troops were responsible for killing civilians and prisoners in the final stages of their war against Tamil rebels in 2009, more..

Bus operators prepared to reduce fares if subsidy is granted

Feb 15 (AD) The Private Bus Owners Association (PBOA) stated that it is ready to reduce bus fares if the government presents a transparent mechanism for providing fuel subsidies without the involvement of the National Transport Commission (NTC). Speaking at a press conference held today (February 15) President of the PBOA, Gemunu Wijeyratne first apologized to the public for the inconvenience caused by the private bus strike but claimed that it was necessary action. more..

Govt. is frightened of the people: JVP

Feb 15 (DM) JVP MP Sunil Handunneththi is reported to have suffered minor injuries during the skirmish at the demonstration held in Maligawatta today, MP Vijitha Herath said. "A tear gas bullet hit his head during the police assault on us. This is a govt that is frightened of the people and they use the police to suppress the voice of the people. First they murdered Roshen Chanaka, then today they murdered a fishermen in Chilaw after yesterdays protests, today they murdered a fishermen in Chilaw after yesterdays protests, more..

We will bring people to the streets -JVP

Feb 15 (CT) Following the tear gas attack by police on the JVP protestors, K.D. Lal Kantha vowed to bring all the trade unions (TUs) to the streets if the government does not provide subsidies for the rising cost of living. The protestors gathered in a lane after the police tried to disperse the crowd. and the President of the National Trade Union Centre, Lal Kantha addressing the gathering asserted that the govt now fears the force of the people. more..

Sri Lankan batik sector rebounds on tourism growth

Feb 15 (f2F) The growth of tourism industry in Sri Lanka has provided a boost to the country’s batik industry. Experts foresee the country’s batik sector to improve not only domestic sales to tourists but also their exports, especially to countries in the Asia and the Asia-Pacific region. Explaining the downfall and rise of the Sri Lankan batik sector, Eric Suriyasena, Chairman of Eric Suriyasena Batiks said, “Earlier the batik industry was doing quite well, but then it went down as we had certain problems in the northern and eastern regions.” more..

A photography course to protect Sri Lanka’s environment

Feb 15 (AN) A free photography course aimed at 10 young boys and girls to protect nature and the environment of Sri Lanka. This is the idea of ​​Eco Friendly Volunteers (Eco-v), an association of environmentalists who with the help of two former Canadian professional photographers organized lectures and practices of photography at the Centre of Sarvodaya Moratuwa (Western Province). At the end of the course, entitled My Story photo project, the students presented an exhibition of their work. more..

Court summons respondents again over Lalith and Kugan petition

Feb 15 (AD) The Court of Appeal today once again ordered the respondents related to the petition filed by the relatives of missing activists Lalith Kumar Weeraraj and Kugan Muruganathan to present themselves in Court. Media Minister Keheliya Rambukwella, the IGP, the Army Commander and the Jaffna District Army Commander were called as respondents to the case. The IGP N.K. Illangakoon was present at the hearing today but did not take the stand while more..

Period of youths disappearing before country again - Ajith Kumara

Feb 15 (SM) The country is again experiencing a period in which parents lose their children, women their husbands and children their fathers, alleges the Movement for People’s Struggle. MFPS national organizer Ajith Kumara said all should rally against this situation. The country’s rulers no longer allow democratic governance and have unleashed repression against the masses, he told a sit-down protest in front of the court of appeal in Colombo today.It took place to demand more..

Duminda’s security guards seek bail

Feb 15 (DM) MP Duminda Silva’s six private security personnel and a telephone operator of who are in remand over the killing of former presidential advisor Bharatha Lakshman Premachandra today filed a bail application in Court. Colombo High Court Judge Pathman Surasena fixed the inquiry for April 19. Counsel Anil Silva with Dhanaraj Samarakoon appeared for the six private security personnel - Prasad Hettiarachchi, Malaka Sameera, Saman Kumara, Vidanagamage Amila, more..

Sri Lanka News Debrief - 15.02.2012

Prices of essential commodities to rise further: Importers

Feb 15 (DM) With the rupee hitting 120 against the US dollar yesterday, importers of essential commodities cautioned that prices of sugar, dhal, canned fish and milk powder would rise sharply. A spokesman for the Essential Commodities Importers and Traders Association told the Daily Mirror that prices of all imported essential commodities rose by at least 10 per cent due to the devaluation of the rupee by three per cent in the 2012 budget. more..

Kerosene concession to households

Feb 15 (GDI) Kerosene concession to households The govt has decided to provide a kerosene concession to households with effect from today. This step has been taken under the guidance provided by President Mahinda Rajapaksa. Accordingly every household which do not have electricity will get kerosene concession worth of Rs. 200/= per month. The Samurdhi Commissioner General’s Department has made arrangements to provide this concession through Divisional Secretariat Offices. more..