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Health Ministry gives into nurses’ union demand

Jan 26 (Island) The Health Ministry has given into the demands of the GNOA and made it compulsory for all nurses who have completed five years of service in the south of the country to serve in Northern hospitals. The Health Ministry had earlier intended to fill the dearth of nurses in the North by training North and East students who passed their G.C.E. A/L in arts and commerce, instead of science. more..

‘Saudi govt has to limit pilgrim numbers’

Jan 26 (AN) Haj Minister Bandar Hajjar said Wednesday that around 80 countries have requested an increased quota of Haj pilgrims, but the ministry has to restrict the number of Hajis according to the availability of accommodation in Mina. The Haj minister was discussing such a request with Sri Lankan Senior Minister for Urban Development Abdul Hameed Mohamed Fowzie at his office in Jeddah on Wednesday. more..

No light at the end of Sri Lanka's tunnel

Jan 26 (CI) In 2009, an ODI series loss against India at home was sufficient cause for the Sri Lankan selectors to entertain the idea of a change in captaincy. Just days after the defeat, Tillakaratne Dilshan was named captain for Sri Lanka's maiden Twenty20 international on home soil. Mahela Jayawardene, who up until that point had been Sri Lanka's captain in all formats, found himself sidelined. more..

CEB heads for emergency power purchases

Jan 26 (Island) With the 300MW coal power plant at Norachcholai having broken down last Friday, the third such major breakdown since its commissioning last year, the CEB is now hard pressed to find an alternate power source to meet the shortfall. The Power and Energy Ministry early this week said that the plant would be back in operation by the first week of February, but yesterday they said it would take two weeks. more..

Sajith, Karu lash out at UPFA

Jan 26 (Island) In spite of giving successful political leadership to Sri Lanka’s war effort, leading to the eradication of the LTTE in May 2009, the SLFP-led UPFA’s performance in every other field had been pathetic, UNP Reformists alleged yesterday. UNP Deputy Leader Sajith Premadasa and MP Karu Jayasuriya accused the govt of failing to address grievances of those struggling to make ends meet. While playing down simmering differences with UNP leader Ranil Wickremesinghe, more..

ICC to fund T20 tournament in Sri Lanka

Jan 26 (SL) The International Cricket Council (ICC) will provide a direct grant of US $ 9.4 million to Sri Lanka as expenses to host the Twenty-20 (T20) World Cricket Championships in September, the govt said today. Media Minister Keheliya Rambukwella said that the ICC will also spend an additional US $ 30 million in Sri Lanka for the event which will see the participation of 12 cricket playing nations. more..

People in North don’t want police, land powers: Basil

Jan 26 (DM) People in the North and East have not demanded for land and police powers and it is only the political parties that are agitating for these powers, Economic Development Minister Basil Rajapaksa said yesterday. He said the government would give land to the landless and police protection to those who think they are defenseless in the two provinces but had no intention of giving police or land powers. more..

Editorial: MR and the way ahead

Jan 26 (DM) From the annihilation of terrorism in the island nation to the post war development drive, the country has come a long way. Even though, terrorism was laid to rest in 2009, various parties still try to brighten their auras with the heroics that had long become a thing of the past. The same is somewhat true about President Mahinda Rajapaksa for if not himself, those who are around him suffer from the over usage of the term in connection to his name. more..

Sri Lanka stocks recover losses

Jan 26 (LBO) Sri Lanka's stock closed up 0.65 percent Thursday recovering losses for the second day, with turnover rising, and index heavy John Keells Holdings reported higher profits for the quarter. The benchmark Colombo All Share Index rose 36 points to close at 5,592.4 points and the Milanka Index of more liquid stocks rose 0.45 percent, 21.5 points to close at 4,758 points, provision stock exchange data showed. Turnover was 2.2 billion rupees. more..

'Sri Lanka needs to grow food to stabilize exchange rate'

Jan 26 (LBO) Sri Lanka has to grow more food to reduce imports which will help strengthen the exchange rate, Treasury Secretary P B Jayasundera said, as the country lost almost a quarter of its foreign reserves defending a dollar peg. "There is no economic justification to import any longer the kind of food that we can produce," he told reporters. "The country needs to replace at least part of the imports currently taking place. more..

Sri Lanka-India trade volumes reach all time high

Jan 26 (PTI) Bilateral trade between India and Sri Lanka had surged by over 70 per cent while touching an all time high of $ 5 billion, the Indian High Commissioner in Colombo said on Thursday. Indian companies have invested over $ 100 million in the island. Ashok K Kantha, the Indian envoy, was addressing the 63rd Indian Republic Day celebrations held in the High Commission. Kantha said the year 2011 had witnessed impressive progress in all areas, including more..

Sri Lanka mulls special passports for business people

Jan 26 (LBO) A Sri Lankan business chamber is negotiating with immigration authorities to secure special passports for business people to help them cut through red tape during overseas travel. The National Chamber of Commerce of Sri Lanka (NCCSL) is trying to secure a different type of passport business people recognised by chambers and the Export Development Board export promotion agency, said Sarath de Silva. "The NCCSL is negotiating with the immigration department to more..

Govt. playing to the gallery - Kiriella

Jan 26 (CT) The govt is using constituent parties within the UPFA to oppose the full implementation of the thirteenth amendment, UNP MP Lakshman Kiriella said today. “The govt is telling some parties to oppose it. The govt is stuck between a rock and a hard place right now with the international community and the Sri Lankan people,” Kiriella said. He said that when the thirteenth amendment was brought in 1987, the then People’s Alliance opposed the move. more..

Deputy Minister Chandrasiri injured

Jan 26 (CT) Deputy Minister of Social Services, Chandrasiri Sooriyarachchi was admitted to the Polonnaruwa hospital today after sustaining minor injuries as a result of a road accident, which occurred this morning. Director of the Polonnaruwa hospital, Dr. Pani Somaratne told Ceylon Today that a minor surgery would be performed on Sooriyarachchi within the course of the day. “He was admitted in the early hours of the morning with minor injuries to his shoulder. more..

Welikada report tomorrow

Jan 26 (CT) The committee report on the Welikada Magazine Prison clash is scheduled to be handed over to the Minister of Prison Reforms and Rehabilitation, Chandrasiri Gajadeera today. Upon forming the two member committee on Wednesday, the Minister has ordered that this report be handed over in 2 days. This will be a comprehensive report on the origin of the clash as well as the extensive damage caused to the record room, kitchen and library as a result of the fire. more..

WikiLeaks: Rajapaksas use a group called the 'Lion Cubs' to abductions and dispose bodies at sea

Jan 26 (CT) "Samaraweera confirmed for the first time that special cells have been established within military intelligence to abduct LTTE sympathizers." the US Embassy Colombo informed Washington. "Samaraweera confirmed that the Govt uses a group called the 'Lion Cubs' to engage in these extrajudicial activities. It is widely rumored in Sri Lanka that Army Commander Fonseka, with the knowledge and approval of more..

Info. Dept to be an authority

Jan 26 (CT) The Information Department will be transformed into an authority, Minister Keheliya Rambukwella announced today. “If the department is set up as an authority it would enable the officials to make decisions speedily. The procedures in an authority will be less time consuming than departments. This decision would enable the media to function more freely and effectively” noted Rambukwella. Meanwhile when a question was posed by a journalist to the Minister regarding more..

Colombo City Tour 2nd anniversary celebrations with children of war heroes

Jan 26 (GDI) The Colombo City Tour, Sri Lanka’s first ever open deck sightseeing tour which is a venture of Sri Lanka Tourism and Ebert Silva Holidays will be celebrating its 2nd Anniversary on Saturday. Marking this day, the Colombo City Tour has organized a full day event for 100 children of the war heroes, who laid down their lives and were disabled in the effort to bring lasting peace to our motherland. The children aged between 10 – 15 years will be arriving from more..

Ranatunga slams Sri Lanka sacking of Marsh

Jan 26 (AFP) Legendary Sri Lankan cricket captain Arjuna Ranatunga on Thursday slammed his country's sacking of Australian coach Geoff Marsh as "disgraceful" and "unprofessional". Marsh was this week replaced by South African Graham Ford. The move followed Tillakaratne Dilshan quitting the captaincy on Monday. Former skipper Mahela Jayawardene was brought in to lead the team to Australia for the upcoming triangular one-day series involving India. more..

Sri Lanka to seek China's support for UN World Youth Conference

Jan 26 (Xinhua) Sri Lanka is seeking the support of China and the Group of 77 to adopt UN General Assembly resolution to host United Nations World Youth Conference in 2014. Minister Keheliya Rambukwella said the cabinet has given approval to obtain official UN endorsement to use other diplomatic missions abroad to implement the global process for the conference. Rambukwella said that the decision was taken on a proposal made by the Ministry of Youth Affairs which aims more..

Sri Lanka in talks with Qatar for toll expressway, resorts

Jan 26 (LBO) The State of Qatar is in talks with Sri Lanka to build a toll expressway from the island's main international airport to the northwestern coastal town on Kalpitiya, economic development minister Basil Rajapaksa said. Sri Lanka has signed up with Qatar Holdings, the emirate's sovereign wealth fund and its wholly owned unit Qatar Diar Real Estate Investment Company following visit by Qatari ruler, Sheikh Hamad Bin Khalifa Al Thani earlier in January. more..

PSC to determine land powers

Jan 26 (CT) A Parliamentary Select Committee is the appropriate forum to discuss issues related to police powers to provinces and the extent to which it should be decentralized Minister Keheliya Rambukwella said. The Minister said at the weekly Cabinet briefing the solution to the national issue will be decentralization of power and that a PSC will be the best opportunity to decide to what extent the powers should be decentralized. He noted that more..

PS, PC interdicted over suspect’s death

Jan 26 (DM) A police constable and a police sergeant were interdicted over the death of a suspect who stabbed himself with a knife while in the custody of the Piliyandala police. Police said that the suspect possessed the knife which was hidden inside his trouser. He was taken to the Kalubowila Hospital but succumbed to his injuries after admission. The police had taken four statements from the eyewitnesses and had to take disciplinary action against the two officers. more..

'Women are pressurized as educational system could not make necessary changes in society'

Jan 26 (LT) The dignity women had in the society has dwindled today and the reason for it is that when open economy was introduced to this country and the whole society was changed the education system could not cater to the socio-economic-cultural changes that occurred with it says Prof. Sarath Jayasuriya. First, women should be knowledgeable and intelligent. They should be intelligent enough to confront challenges in life. more..

Sri Lanka News Debrief - 26.01.2012

Sri Lanka port to start trials of electronic payments

Jan 26 (LBO) The Sri Lanka Ports Authority is to start trials of an electronic cargo payment system at Colombo port in a tie-up with state-owned Bank of Ceylon next week, officials said. Sri Lanka Ports Authority (SLPA) Chairman Priyath Wickrama said a lot of port activities were being converted to semi-automated systems that will make cargo clearance easier and faster. "This will reduce interaction between customers and port employees - that's one of our main aims. more..

Suspect chairman heads PS session

Jan 26 (LT) The Tangalle Pradeshiya Sabha session was held today (26th) headed by its Chairman Sampath Chandrapushpa Vidanapathirana, a remand prisoner. He was brought to the session with prison and police security. After the PS session he was taken back to the remand prison at about 3.00 p.m. Sampath Chandrapushpa Vidanapathirana is remanded for the murder of a British national and raping a Russian woman on Christmas Eve at a tourist resort at Madilla in Tangalle.

'Sri Lankan captaincy only for short time'

Jan 26 (PTI) Mahela Jayawardene on Thursday said he has taken up the Sri Lanka captaincy for a short term and rejected rumours that there was an internal bickering in the side. "I took up the captaincy once again, for one-year. Our target is to win matches, to regain our place as one of the top-four Test playing nations," Jayawardene told reporters in Colombo. "We have failed as a team in the past. But we have to look beyond that and move forward. more..

LfD condemns use of tactics to prevent protests

Jan 26 (SM) Lawyers for Democracy (LfD) has condemned the use of deplorable strong armed tactics to prevent a lawful protest rally organized by media groups yesterday (25th January 2012) titled ‘Black January’ to be originally held at the Fort Railway station, Colombo. In a media release, the LfD also condemns the tactics used by the Government and its agents to disregard the fundamental right of a citizen to conduct peaceful protests in Sri Lanka. more..

Action of journalists doubtful-Keheliya

Jan 26 (CT) Minister Keheliya Rambukwella charged that reasonable doubt is cast over the actions of certain journalists who are working based on secret agendas. He noted unfortunately the legal framework of the country does not allow the government to file charges against these journalists who work against their motherland. Commenting on the protest which was held by several journalists’ associations, he said that a considerable amount of suspicion arises about the way the more..

'LLRC report not be submitted to UNHRC'

Jan 26 (CT) The govt will not submit the report of the LLRC to the UNHRC during the sessions in March, Minister G.L. Peiris told reporters in Colombo today. Sri Lanka was a sovereign nation and the report was commissioned by the state, said Peiris, adding that the island had no obligation to submit the document to the UN rights body. He said that Sri Lanka had no obligation to submit the Commission’s report to the UNHRC since more..

The Eelamist was not born to war, she was made to fight

Jan 27 (LB) Last week, Shenali Waduge had contributed to the Lounge a superficial and apolitical apology on behalf of the state, regarding the retarded rehabilitation programme in the Northern areas. Titled “What Sri Lanka has given Tamils but will not give the Eelamists” the letter, overall, attempts at dislocating LTTE activism and the feasibility of such activity; while underscoring the gusto with which the current head of state and the secretary of defence more..

It’s tourism; who cares about blue whales?

Jan 27 (LB) Bigger than an elephant, 30 metres in length and 140 tons in weight, and gentle in the sea, they slither without a splash. They are shy and timid, and we humans go all the way to the deep blue sea, uninvited, to see these shy and timid living submarines. The blue whales are dying in big numbers and we human are the main cause for their depleting numbers. The world has discovered one of the greatest blue whale colonies in Sri Lankan waters. more..

Love and war: In the thick of the battlefront

Jan 27 (ST) Boodee Keerthisena’s new film Matha makes a strong and evocative cinematic statement: The film depicts the trauma and horror of the separatist war that consumed Sri Lanka for 30 years. The narrative tells the story of Parvathi (Yasodha Radhakrishnan) and Yoga (Dharshan Dharmaraj), a young Tamil girl and boy whose childhood innocence and love for each other is snatched away by war, later both forcibly conscripted by the LTTE. more..

Going beyond the 13th Amendment

Jan 27 (GV) Our affiliate Vikalpa did a short media monitoring exercise anchored to the front page reportage of the Indian Foreign Minister’s official visit to Sri Lanka and the press conference in which the President’s commitment to going beyond the 13th Amendment was reiterated by him. The following is a translation of the report that first appeared on Vikalpa. In addition to the translation below, which deals with the Sinhala and Tamil media, it is interesting to note the more..

India gives Sri Lanka a gentle nudge

Jan 27 (ST) On Friday India's External Affairs Minister S.M Krishna concluded his second visit to Sri Lanka in fourteen months. Behind the ceremonial events of handing over houses, bicycles, medical equipment, railway lines etc and signing numerous bilateral agreements, lay weightier purposes of nudging Sri Lanka towards a political settlement with minority Tamils, as part of the reconciliation process following decades of conflict. No doubt there the objective of reinforcing goodwill with its small but important neighbour. more..

Politics and the underworld

Jan 27 (NS) A disciplinary committee appointed by the SLFP is to investigate the ruckus between Minister Mervyn Silva and 17 ruling party members of the Kelaniya Pradeshiya Sabha widely dubbed ‘Who is the Kappam Kaaraya?’ or ‘who is the ransom-taker?’ That is on the face of it an internal matter of the SLFP. On the other hand, it has spawned or rather reinvigourated a broader debate that is not limited to either the SLFP or the UPFA Govt: the nexus between more..

Longing and belonging series: Diaspora shorts

Jan 27 (GV) Groundviews is very pleased to host the web premiere of Longing and belonging series: Diaspora shorts by Kannan Arunasalam. We’ve featured Kannan’s visually stunning and compelling work before in Koothu, kerosene and paper: portraits of resilience, part of the Moving Images series commissioned by Groundviews. Over the coming week we’ll progressively upload Kannan’s short videos, so check back often. more..

What veritable fairy tales are these?

Jan 27 (ST) Are we to seriously believe the Govt's explanation in Parliament this week that it cannot ascertain the fate of two political activists of the JVP who 'disappeared' in Jaffna in early December last year, despite 'four investigative teams' being deployed for this purpose? Even given the fairy tale stories that we have heard in recent times, this airy explanation by the Leader of the House takes not only the cake but also all the candles on it, as may well be said in colloquial parlance. more..

LLRC report: used as an ornament, not as a tool

Jan 27 (DM) Various Ministers and officials have expressed view for and against the Commission report. One minister calls for a road map to give effect to the recommendations of the report, while other claims that the Commission had gone beyond its mandate and the recommendations are detrimental to the interests of the country. An official, in the meantime, had said that a separate ministry must be created to more..