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Editorial: The need for a mirror-check

Jan 29 (NS) It is perhaps a sign of a certain lack in political maturity that makes the Opposition indistinguishable from Doomsday Prophets. The prophesies are mouthed with such regularity that they end up amounting to little more than rant and gripe. After a while no one takes notice. The economy has been ‘on the verge of collapsing’ for such a long time, according to some, that one can’t help wondering if the predictors have any understanding about ‘verge’ and ‘collapse’. more..

Editorial: My way, or the highway?

Jan 29 (LB) The Southern Highway has transformed into a national utility that separates the politics of hope from the regular Cassandra-cries of despair and defeatism. Frequent visitors to Sri Lanka from the United States and Australia have commented to our writers that the EO 1 compares favourably with any of the expressways in any of the countries that are mentioned in this sentence. The only difference probably is that no expressway either in the US or Australia has such a spectacular view of more..

'Village post offices to be windows of the world'

Jan 29 (SO) Posts Minister Jeewan Kumaranatunga said the postal service creates a global link connecting the village-town-country network in the Government’s drive to make Sri Lanka the “Wonder of Asia”. This would also help to make village post offices windows to the world. The Minister in an interview with the Sunday Observer said the intention of his Ministry is to create a resurgence in the country through the postal service. more..

Editorial: Get Lanka’s cricketing act together

Jan 29 (Island) Next to finishing off the LTTE, Sri Lanka’s biggest success story in the minds of most Lankans has been our World Cup victory in 1996. We’ve done pretty well thereafter too being considered one of the world’s finest teams in both forms of the game. Even in the worst days of terror, national cricket was the saving grace for this country. Yet we have succeeded in shooting ourselves in the foot where cricket is concerned with Sri Lanka Cricket’s more..

Editorial: Political stability - not autocracy

Jan 29 (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..

HSBC Galle Literary Festival

Jan 29 (Island) I was extra proud to be Sri Lankan for the four days of the Galle Literary Festival from the 19th to the 22nd. The feeling of pride started with the ride in the van that conveyed me and four others, three of them living abroad and here for short stays, to Galle. Why the pride on my way to the Festival? The Expressway. Cruising at a cool 100 kph, everything about the quick road to Galle from Pannipitiya was good from the large sign boards more..

As the national issue takes centre stage TNA flirts with ‘third party’

Jan 29 (NS) The TNA, while charging that the govt is not making a genuine effort to work out a lasting solution to the national problem, is engaged in a mission to secure the good offices of a foreign country to play the role of a mediator. Although the TNA has not nominated its representatives for the Parliamentary Select Committee on the national problem, party leader R. Sampanthan has assured foreign diplomats that they had not decided to boycott it. more..

President walking a political tightrope

Jan 29 (NS) The recent announcement by President Mahinda Rajapaksa that the govt was considering a solution to Sri Lanka’s ethnic issue based on the Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution has sparked a flurry of political activity both in govt and opposition ranks. The President’s announcement came in the wake of Indian Foreign Minister S.M. Krishna’s recent visit to Sri Lanka, the first by a key overseas stakeholder in the ethnic issue since the release of the LLRC report last November. more..

Then, their lives were shattered, now, they are forgotten

Jan 29 (ST) While Sri Lankans are finally having a respite from the regular carnage that terrorism dealt them for nearly 30 years, for those whose lives were directly affected by the indiscriminate bomb attacks carried out by the LTTE, recovery has been a slow, lonely and arduous journey. The spotlight that once focused so intensely when the LTTE attacked the Central Bank in Colombo on January 31, 1996 has since dimmed in public memory with only the more..

S.M.Krishna given Fonseka’s baton

Jan 29 (Island) With S.M.Krishna’s statement alleging that President Mahinda Rajapaksa had pledged to implement a ‘13th Amendment Plus’ scheme, the UNP has smelt blood and is closing in for the kill. They know that the Mahinda Rajapaksa govt cannot implement such a scheme without suffering a serious backlash from the very support base that brought it into power and gave it a two thirds majority. At the end of 2009, when both the UNP and the JVP came together to field former more..

Black January and counter moves by the govt

Jan 29 (SL) Another “Black” month got added to the Sri Lankan Calendar last Wednesday. After the infamous “Black July”, now its “Black January”. After President J. R. Jayawardne’s contribution in making the month of July, a “Black” month, President Rajapaksa took his turn in making the month of January, “Black”. The media organisations, 7 of them, decided to call for a “black” protest against this govt’s attacks on media and media personnel and thus more..

Marshalling the troops for battle Down Under

Jan 29 (ST) Upali Dharmadasa, the haughty Sri Lanka Cricket President, is trying to wield divine powers which are still not bestowed upon him. At the first executive committee meeting he prevailed upon the others who have done the job of handling the media before and said that it was he who was to be the media spokesman for Sri Lanka Cricket. When asked if there was any outside pressure built up by a recently retired cricketer who is now a MP more..

5th column: A crown of thorns for new captain

Jan 29 (ST) My Dear Mahela, I thought I must write to you when I heard that you have been appointed as captain of our cricket team — again — but then, I am not sure whether I should congratulate you or sympathise with you! You have already made your mark, having led Sri Lanka to a World Cup final and having scored over ten thousand runs in test cricket, so we understand that you have nothing to prove and that you are doing this because there appears to be no one else to take on the job. more..

An unholy nexus?

Jan 29 (LB) Are the Magazine prison riots that took place this week — please see separate story elsewhere — a signifier of another prong of the attack against the current regime, in addition to the three or four pronged attacks coming from the direction of the JVP dissident group in the North and East, university students and lecturers, trade unions and other groups, including some belonging to the media? You bet they are, according to the president and some others who see a close pattern in more..

UNP election ends up in Court

Jan 29 (LB) UNP reformists will go to Court tomorrow challenging how free and fair the elections to choose the party leader, deputy leader and national organizer were, on Dec 19, 2011. Plaintiff for the case, UNP Southern Provincial Councillor Maithri Gunaratne told LAKBIMAnEWS that he will file the case based on several factors. “First, the ballot papers were numbered. Second, the election was held in Ranil Wickremesinghe’s room at Sirikotha,” more..

Sri Lankan appointed to top IMF post

Jan 29 (ST) Sharmini Coorey, a Sri Lankan national who has worked at the International Monetary Fund (IMF) since 1986, was this week appointed to a top post as the head of the new IMF Institute. In a statement the Fund said the new department is focused on helping member states build capacity and develop their key economic and financial institutions. “The new department will be formed by merging the IMF Institute and the Office of Technical Assistance Management, more..

Over 6000 bus conductors nabbed for corruption

Jan 29 (LB) The SLTB states that no less than 6015 bus conductors have been nabbed by the Inspection Unit of the SLTB for engaging in various vices including those relating to the non issue of tickets. Retired DIG Upali Gunasekera, director of the SLTB Inspection Unit said that another 4065 bus conductors have also been detected engaging in other minor vices. He added that around 5345 commuters have been fined for travelling in SLTB buses without tickets in 2011. more..

Mattala eyes international carriers

Jan 29 (ST) Mattala International Airport has generated interest among international carriers ahead of its scheduled opening on November 15. "Most airline operators expressed interest to operate to Mattala, but ultimately it comes to commercial viability," Civil Aviation Authority Director General H.M.C. Nimalsiri said. A Board of Airline Representatives delegation of about 20 people visited the Hambantota airport site on January 13 on the invitation of more..

Over 1.5 lakh Indian tourists visited Sri Lanka in 2011

Jan 29 (Hindu) Indians constituted about 20 per cent of the tourists to Sri Lanka in 2011, almost the same as the year before. In the period from January to November 2011, Sri Lanka received just over 7.5 lakh tourists. Of this, over 1.5 lakh were Indians. In 2010, out of the total of about 6.5 lakh tourists, Indians accounted for over 1.2 lakh. In 2011 the visa office issued about 2 lakh visas to Sri Lankan nationals to facilitate travel to India. more..

President’s sons no longer Ascot shareholders

Jan 29 (Island) The president’s sons, Namal and Yoshitha, have sold the shares of Ascot Holdings PLC they had acquired last year, well informed sources said yesterday. According to Ascot’s financials for the period ending Sept. 30, 2011, the two Rajapaksa’s were listed as being among the company’s top 20 shareholders respectively owning 100,000 (1.25%) and 92,000 (1.15%) shares each. "These have been subsequently sold and they are no longer shareholders," the sources said.

Salaries of workers in loss-making SLTB depots unpaid says JVP

JJan 29 (Island) While workers of CEB, CPC and NWSDB demand a further 20 per cent salary increase in addition to recently granted 25 per cent hike, those attached to loss-making SLTB depots are deprived of their monthly salaries. The three institutions received a staggering 103 per cent salary increase since 2003 though other state sector employees were given a very small salary hike. The last budget provided for 5 per cent salary increase for more..

Kotte deputy mayor to complain

Jan 29 (SL) The Deputy Mayor of the Kotte Municipal Council Madura Vithana is to lodge a complaint with the General Secretary of the SLFP Maithripala Sirisena over the assault on his private secretary on Friday. Madura Vithana said that a man identified as Manju had carried out the attack on his private secretary near the Solis reception hall in Pita Kotte. The private secretary of the Kotte Deputy Mayor Madura Vithana was assaulted by an unidentified gang on Friday evening, the police said. more..

Caught washing dirty linen on the house!

Jan 29 (Island) A contractor is alleged to have smuggled in and dry cleaned 450 kilos of linen belonging to another hospital at SJGH’s laundry last week, sources said. A matron who had spotted the bundles of linen being loaded onto a lorry had alerted the security. It was found that the man who also handled the dry cleaning for another key medical facility had brought the soiled linen to SJGH’s laundry apparently because of a breakdown there, they said. more..

Oil imports: Lanka in major diplomatic dilemma

Jan 29 (ST) The govt is facing a diplomatic dilemma over fuel imports after Iran said it could meet the country’s requirements despite a US embargo and the External Affairs Ministry veering to seek an exemption from Washington. Iran this week informed Sri Lanka through diplomatic channels that it could continue to meet the country’s requirements and assured that payment arrangements could be worked out. This is much the same way Tehran proposes to more..

Retired SC Judge declines offer to probe former CJ

Jan 29 (NS) Former Supreme Court Judge C.V.Vigneswaran has declined an offer by the President’s office to head a commission to inquire into complaints made by a group of retired judges that former Chief Justice Sarath N Silva allegedly targeted certain judges and ill-treated them for not carrying out his orders which the judges said were illegal. The group of judges complained to President Mahinda Rajapaksa last year against former CJ Sarath N Silva. more..

Chaotic higher education – an opening to totalitarianism

Jan 29 (LB) While politics makes a mockery of higher education, private universities mushroom and higher education becomes a purchasable shop-shelf commodity, university academics vowed yesterday to heighten their campaign against the govt. Dr Mahim Mendis, spokesman for the FUTA said that their agitation was not due to them, as academics, being duped into accepting a compromise on wage increase, nor because there is day-to-day political interference on how more..

Balance US$ 800 ml. IMF loan poses problem for Govt.

JJan 29 (ST) The Central Bank and a visiting IMF delegation are discussing whether Sri Lanka should or not draw US$ 800 million, the final balance of the IMF’s US$ 2.6 billion Standby Arrangement. If the balance is drawn, the entire loan will be converted into a higher interest rate facility. Central Bank Governor Ajith Nivard Cabraal said though every country was entitled to 300% of its quota in the IMF, which is $1.8 billion – and has been already drawn more..

'Govt. should act swiftly to halt continuing downward slide of SJGH'

Jan 29 (Island) The govt should step in and act swiftly to appoint a person with proven business acumen to head the Sri Jayewardenepura General Hospital (SJGH) as its Chairman to halt the continuing downward slide of this key medical facility, UNP MP, Dr. Jayalath Jayawardena stressed last week. Amidst reports of administrative hiccups, exacerbated by a clash between the hospital’s Chairman and Director, Dr. Jayawardena said that it has been proven that more..

Teen found murdered in Jaffna

Jan 29 (SL) The body of a fifteen year old girl was found in Alavai North, Point Pedro, last Wednesday night (25), the police said. The girl’s body was found near the Old Christian Church, and showed signs of a neck injury, said Police Spokesperson SP Ajith Rohana. The victim was identified as Iridiyanadar Dilakshina. “According to reports she had left home at 7.00 p.m. and was going to her aunt’s house, which is about 150 metres from her home,” said SP Rohana. more..

TNA offers Govt. conditional support

Jan 29 (NS) The TNA yesterday pledged its unstinted cooperation to the govt in Parliament if the govt took meaningful steps to find a reasonable solution to solve the Tamil problem. TNA spokesman Suresh Premachandran said its 13 MPs would be part of the govt if the problems of the people whom they represent were addressed. Discussions between the govt and the TNA to find a solution to the Tamil problem is at a deadlock at present with more..

Who will investigate the CID?

Jan 29 (LB) The CID, the secret service of Sri Lanka, is in dire need of a thorough investigation, being inundated with corrupt officers. The department is also faced with pressure from politicians who wish to have their henchmen carry out their nefarious activities unhindered. This situation came to light when the CID arrested a big-time fraudster suspected to have masterminded a credit card scam. Identified as Rohan Priyadarshana Silva, he was caught after one of his henchmen, more..

Govt. to brief of progress in HR and reconciliation

Jan 29 (SL) The govt is to brief the UNHRC about the progress made with regard to the human rights concerns and the reconciliation process in Sri Lanka at the UNHRC sessions in Geneva. The sessions are to commence on Feb 27 and are to continue till March 23. Minister Mahinda Samarasinghe, who would represent the country at the sessions, said that Sri Lanka would address the UNHRC sessions and report on the progress made in the human rights and reconciliation fronts. more..

Fantasies and realities, facts and massive frauds

JJan 29 (ST) This week marks a significant milestone in the calendar of the UPFA govt. Their leader, Mahinda Rajapaksa, began his second year in a second term as President of Sri Lanka. Some of the forebodings during his continued tenure, spelt out this week, have ranged from eager expressions to ridiculous ranting. They have come from his ministers and officials. Easily the most energetic in the cabinet, more..

Jagath Sumathipala elected uncontested as ACBC President for 3rd Term

Jan 29 (LB) Jagath Sumathipala has been elected for the 3rd term as President, All Ceylon Buddhist Congress (ACBC) at its 85th Annual General Meeting held at the All Ceylon Buddhist Congress headquarters on Jan 28, 2012. Jagath Sumathipala had been serving the Executive Committee of ACBC since 2002, and was first elected as its president in 2006. Under his able guidance, ACBC hosted the 25th General Conference and 60th Anniversary of the World Fellowship of Buddhists (WFB), more..

The image of Customs as a black and corrupt organization should be changed''

Jan 29 (Island) The image of the Sri Lanka Customs as a black and corrupt organization in the minds of the public should be changed, says Dr. Neville Goonewardena, the new Director-General of this key government department entrusted primarily with enforcement of revenue and social protection laws of the state. Some of the allegations leveled at Customs officers and the department are not true, he insisted. "As a very high revenue earning department, more..

Talk at the Cafe Spectator

Jan 29 (ST) It was like a magnet. Both the literati and some of the glitterati were at the Galle Literary Festival. One of the authors was speaking to an enthralled audience. That did not seem to bother former President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga and one of her then ministers, Mangala Samaraweera. They were chatting away, and doing so loudly. It was too much for a foreign national seated in a row ahead of them. more..

UN Chief in denial: Says he has nothing to do with Shavendra’s appointment

Jan 29 (CT) UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has decided to distance himself from the appointment of, Major General Shavendra Silva to the Special Advisory Group on UN Peace Keeping Operations. Major General Silva is Sri Lanka’s deputy permanent representative to the UN mission in New York. Martin Nesirky, Spokesperson for the Secretary General told journalists on Friday that Major General Shavendra Silva was not more..

Anti-Govt. build-up ahead of UNHRC meeting

Jan 29 (Island) The govt alleges that bankrupt political parties and a section of the NGO community are working overtime to discredit the country ahead of the forthcoming UN Human Rights Council sessions in Geneva. It says some Sri Lankan journalists, too, are involved in the conspiracy targeting President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s administration. The ongoing wave of protest campaign in Colombo and in some parts of the Northern and Eastern Provinces more..

'We are going to India to invest'

Jan 29 (LB) The Pelwatte sugar factory which was taken over by the govt under the Underperforming and Underutilized Assets Act has become a burden to the public as the govt incurs a cost of Rs 86 million a month to maintain the factory, detractors allege. “The Kantale and Hingurana sugar factories are closed but the staff is paid a monthly salary. Isn’t that a waste?” Daya Gamage, the chairman of Daya Group of Companies, more..

Navy nabs 4 ex-Sea Tigers swimming to Mannar

Jan 29 (ST) Tiger guerrillas abrogated the peace process with the then govt of President Chandrika Kumaratunga on April 19, 1995, by mounting an attack on Trincomalee Harbour, killing twelve sailors and injuring eight. One of the attackers, Jegatheeswaran Jesuthasan, fled to India when CID investigations into the incident began to unravel details. Last week, Jesuthasan (37) surfaced again in Sri Lanka. more..