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Govt. to strategize political splits to its advantage

July 22 (SL) The Mahinda Rajapaksa govt is now trying to use the Provincial Council elections scheduled for September 8 in three provinces as another show of its strength. A victory at the Provincial Council elections would be used as a show of people’s continued confidence in the govt and would also help the administration read the people’s sentiments. Although the country is not faring well on the economic front and the deterioration of the law and order situation has resulted in an increase in the crime rate more..

Kandy Perahera starts tomorrow

July 22 (ST) The annual pageant in Kandy will parade the streets starting tomorrow with the Kumbal Perahera. Today will be the last day when the rites would be held within the Devale premises to seek the blessing of the Gods of Kataragama, Maha Vishnu and Natha and Goddess Pattini. The Randoli Perahera would begin on July 28 and end on August 1, while the Day Perahera will parade the streets on August 2 bringing the pageant to a close. Kap was planted at the four Devales in Kandy, at the auspicious time of 10.7 a.m. on Thursday. more..

Mixed views on outcome of meeting with president on plunging stock market

July 22 (Island) Opinions were mixed on the results of Friday’s meeting between President Mahinda Rajapaksa, representatives of the SEC and CSE, investor interests including business leader Harry Jayawardena and former Aitken Spence Chairman C.P. de Silva, high profile investors Nimal Perera and Dilith Jayaweera, CEOs of stockbroking companies and senior officials. more..

Losing face to get a leg up

July 22 (ST) My Dear Rauff, I thought I must write to you this week because you are in the news once again, all because of wanting to contest the elections in the Eastern province on your own, after announcing that you would be contesting with the Blues only a day earlier. What is refreshing about this, Rauff, is that finally someone in the coalition that is ruling the country has got the guts to say that they will go it alone even when the Blues seem to suffer from the ‘if you are not with us, you are against us’ mentality. more..

‘Specialists’ in private hospitals under-qualified

July 22 (NS) Around 184 foreign doctors currently working as specialists, sub-specialists and super-specialists in several critical areas of health are unqualified to hold these posts. “To work as a medical doctor in Sri Lanka you need to be registered under Section 29 of the Medical Ordinance. Foreign doctors working in Sri Lanka are not eligible to be registered under section 29 of the Medical Ordinance. They come under section 67 A of the Medical Ordinance more..

Sunday Leader editor sues media minister for 50 Million

July 22 (SL) Lawyers for the Editor of The Sunday Leader Frederica Jansz on Friday sent a letter demanding 50 million rupees in damages to the Media Minister Keheliya Rambukwella for defamatory remarks made against her after the weekly post cabinet news conference on Thursday. The publisher and the Editor of The Island newspaper were also sent similar letters of demand for publishing the minister’s allegations. The Island newspaper was the only more..

SLR responding to policy measures: Governor

July 22 (Island) Sri Lanka’s exchange rate is responding to policy measures taken earlier in the year, Central Bank governor Nivard Cabraal said, as the rupee rose sharply against the US dollar on Friday. "It is as expected and as consistently maintained that there will be an appreciation, when the policy measures take effect," Cabraal said. The rupee closed around 131.60/70 Friday to the US dollar after opening at 132.70/133.00 levels. Earlier in the day money markets were tight with overnight repos spiking to 9.70 percent more..

Schools in Hambantota closed for cricket

July 22 (CT) Schools in the Hambantota education zone have been closed due to cricket matches scheduled for the following week at the Sooriyawewa Stadium, the Ceylon Teachers’ Service Union (CTSU) alleged. The CTSU general secretary, Mahinda Jayasinghe, said three schools have been closed and midterm exams have been postponed in 117 more schools. “Schools are almost always closed whenever there is some event. This is extremely wrong, and unfair on the children. Exams have been postponed for the sake of more..

Hyatt land sold for a song

July 22 (ST) Construction on the Govt-backed Hyatt Regency Hotel project was officially launched on Thursday with much fanfare, amidst allegations that the former Ceylinco property had been sold for a song – Rs 4.2 billion against an official valuation of Rs 9.2 billion and a pending offer of Rs 7.8 billion! In the Supreme Court on the same day it was disclosed that a sale offer of Rs 7.8 billion had been received for for this property and that this amount was sufficient to repay depositors of more..

Pictorial warnings on cigarette packs - Govt's decision hailed

July 22 (SO) National Cancer Hospital (NCH), Medical Officer Dr. Samadhi Rajapaksa yesterday hailed the Govt's reassurance of printing 'Pictorial Health Warnings' on cigarette packets to discourage Sri Lankans from smoking cigarettes and to save around 20,000 people from cancer-related illnesses every year. Dr. Rajapaksa also welcomed the Govt's decision of strictly banning smoking at public places, including in public transport and more..

NCP vehicles misused

July 22 (SL) Vehicles belonging to the North Central Provincial (NCP) council have not been returned despite the council being dissolved and elections called for in September. Former NCP member of the UNP Rohana Gamage said that 46 vehicles still remain with several provincial ministers. He said that former North Central Province Chief Minister Berty Premalal Dissanayake and four provincial council ministers are among those misusing the vehicles. The term of the North Central Province, more..

Blood is thicker in politics: UPFA nominations a family affair

July 22 (ST) Despite the govts’ assurance that no relatives of politicians would be allowed to contest the upcoming provincial elections, several of them have received the ruling party nominations. Minister Nimal Siripala de Silva had earlier said the decision to keep relatives out of the provincial elections was aimed at encouraging young politicians to enter active politics. However, the UPFA nominations lists show more..

Banning news websites an insult to peoples’ intelligence

July 22 (Island) Banning or imposing restrictions on news websites for no reason insult the intelligence of the people and deprive them of the right to information, a top Information Communication (IT) lawyer said. "After the Sunday Times editor’s case some years ago, the Penal provisions relating to criminal defamation were abolished and the aggrieved party/victim could sue a wrong-doer under the provisions of the Electronic Transaction Act, No 19 of 2006, more..

Underaged children debarred from entering guest houses

July 22 (SO) The NCPA has called upon owners of hotels, lodges, guest houses and seaside tourist resorts to debar underaged males and females entering their premises unless they are accompanied by their parents or guardians. This is a sequel to many unlawful activities including child abuse being reported from these places. The NCPA has also focused attention on school children, boys and girls going to cinemas for matinee shows andvisiting other places of entertainment in school uniform. more..

CID collects evidence from phone calls to judge

July 22 (ST) The CID has begun collecting ‘scientific and technical’ evidence from phone calls which Minister Rishad Bathiudeen is alleged to have made to Mannar Magistrate and Additional District Judge Anthonipillai Judeson, threatening him to change a court order. The minister had called the judge’s mobile phone from his official phone listed in the parliament telephone index. The details of the telephone conversation were being collected from more..

FUTA – Mervyn meeting to break deadlock

July 22 (ST) The FUTA, disappointed over the outcome of the negotiations with a committee headed by President’s Secretary Lalith Weeratunga, has agreed to a meeting with Minister Mervyn Silva to find a solution. This was after the minister has sought an appointment with the members of the FUTA to discuss the demands of the academics. “The minister called me last Thursday and said he wanted to meet us in his capacity as Public Relations Minister and more..

Saudi donates 200 tons of dates to Sri Lanka

July 22 (AN) The Kingdom donated 200 metric tons of dates to Sri Lanka to be distributed among mosques in the country during the holy month of Ramadan. Minister H.M. Fowzie told Arab News that the consignment was formally handed over by the local Saudi embassy before the holy month. An official from the Saudi embassy in Colombo said: “We have been maintaining close relations with Sri Lankan Muslims and other community members in the country.” more..

Calls mount to investigate secret Swiss accounts

July 22 (ST) Opposition politicians and civil society activists are calling for a full investigation into secretive Swiss bank accounts worth more than Rs. 11.2 billion held by wealthy Sri Lankans and institutions. UNP MP Lakshman Kiriella, who revealed in Parliament on that some 400 prominent members of the govt had such accounts, said later that there were many more. “But there are also some legitimate (non-govt) investors holding more..

Groin injury puts Kulasekara out of series

July 22 (CI) Sri Lanka fast bowler Nuwan Kulasekara has been ruled out of the five-ODI series against India, after injuring his groin during the first match in Hambantota on Saturday. While the extent of the injury was not specified, captain Mahela Jayawardene confirmed that he will take not further part in the series at the post-match press conference. A replacement had not yet been discussed, Jayawardene said. "Nuwan is out of the series. He has got a groin injury. We cannot get a scan here [in Hambantota]. more..

Press Council Act document to Cabinet again

July 22 (SL) The Press Council Act which was amended and approved by Cabinet recently is to be amended once again and resubmitted to the Cabinet. Media Ministry secretary Charitha Herath said that the original document will be submitted to cabinet with the amendments this week. The new cabinet paper, which covers the registration of websites, will include media ethics, Charitha Herath said. When asked about the cost earlier announced to register websites and if that will more..

UNP power struggle ends in Ranil’s favour

July 22 (ST) It was a week studded with events that qualified for a major chapter in Sri Lanka’s political history for both the main opposition and the ruling UPFA govt. That it came against the backdrop of elections to three provincial councils – the North Central, Sabaragamuwa and the Eastern – on Sept 8 added more significance and greater relevance. In the opposition, Ranil Wickremesinghe, 62, became the undisputed leader more..

A day would dawn when milk powder imports would not be necessary

July 22 (Island) Enhanced milk collection had improved dairy development. Through Nestle’s intervention added facilities for milk collection, including 1200 milk collection centers, have already been established further facilitating improvement in rural dairy development. Additionally, there were 100 chilling plants located at convenient sites to facilitate effective storage of collected milk prior to processing and conversion to milk powder, more..

'Alternate state lands being identified to resettle Myliddy fisher folk'

July 22 (Island) The govt is conscious of the need to identify alternate state lands in the Kopay AGA’s to resettle the fisher folk displaced from the Myliddy fishing village in 1990 to make way for expansion of the High Security Zone (HSZ) surrounding the Palaly military base in the North, said Maj. Gen. Mahinda Hathurusinghe, Jaffna Security Forces Commander. He said that Defense Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa had also stressed on the need to more..

Talk at the Cafe Spectator

July 22 (ST) The Sri Lanka Rupavahini Corporation, the country’s national television network with the widest outreach, has caused raised eyebrows among Parliamentarians in the Committee on Public Enterprises (COPE), the watchdog body that monitors finances in the state sector. The reason will no doubt raise many an eyebrow among the public too. The SLRC called for public donations after the devastating tsunami in 2005. more..

UNP reformists to take Ranil to court

July 22 (SL) The UNP reformist group is considering legal action against UNP leader Ranil Wickremasinghe for allegedly violating the party constitution by deciding to hold elections for the party leadership only once in six years. Member of the Southern Provincial Council, Maithri Gunaratne said that the reformist group is planning to challenge the Working Committee decision in courts at the earliest. “According to the party constitution Article 6(1) B, the power of amending the constitution is more..

A’sangaree faults India for backing UNHCR resolution

July 22 (Island) TULF General Secretary, V. Anandasangaree has faulted India for throwing its weight behind a US-sponsored resolution at the 19th sessions of the UNHRC in Geneva last February. The outspoken politician sharply differed with pro-LTTE Tamil Diaspora groups, led by UK-based Global Tamil Forum (GTF) and one-time LTTE mouthpiece, TNA over Indian action. Both Tamil Diaspora and the TNA are of the more..

Uncle – nephew duo running Public Trustee’s Dept.

July 22 (ST) The legality of some of the documents signed by the Public Trustee’s Department has come up for question in recent months, as an unauthorised nephew of the Public Trustee is reported to be signing papers on behalf of the Department. The Department is currently embroiled in a major controversy, with the incumbent having appointed his own nephew as a ‘Legal Advisor’ to the office, and the ‘adviser’ continuing to more..

HSBC implicated

July 22 (NS) British banking multinational, HSBC has been found to have financed Saudi Arabia’s Al Rajhi Bank, which has links to financing terrorism in Sri Lanka among other countries, the money laundering investigation report prepared by the United States Senate’s Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations on the bank revealed last week. According to reports, the ongoing probe has found that HSBC in 2009 authorized its affiliate to supply Indian rupees more..

PC poll aspirants to get preference numbers next week

July 22 (Island) Preference numbers will be issued next week to the 3,073 candidates contesting the forthcoming elections to three provincial councils to elect 118 candidates, says R.N.A.L. Ratnayake, Additional Commissioner of Elections (Provincial and Local). The political parties in the fray are the UPFA, UNP, ITAK, SLMC, JVP, CWC, NFF, NSSP, United Socialist Front (USF), Ruhunu Mahajhana Pakshaya, Janasetha Peramuna, more..

India interested in Provincial Council polls

July 22 (CT) The Indian High Commissioner Ashok. K. Kantha has reiterated to TNA MPs that India was very particular about the Provincial Council polls for the Northern Province and believes the Provincial Council administration will lead to greater democracy and the development activities in the North. The India Envoy Ashok. K. Kantha met the TNA MPs in Jaffna on Friday. TNA MP and the spokesman of the Alliance Suresh K. Premachandran said the need to create a more..

Overpriced oil cargoes: Fujairah takes CPC to court, here and abroad

July 22 (ST) The Ceylon Petroleum Corporation (CPC) is once again being sued internationally, after the much tainted hedging cases, following its failure to settle a pricing dispute with Fujairah Petroleum Co. Manisha Heerasing, head of a two-member negotiating team from MOCOH, an oil distribution, logistics and trading company based in Switzerland, which represented Fujairah during talks with CPC officials in Colombo last week, more..

Credibility of Miss Sri Lanka pageant questioned

July 22 (NS) Organizers of the Siyatha Lux Miss Universe Sri Lanka 2012 Competition have refuted charges that they were engaged in promoting a particular contestant. Emails were circulated alleging that the organizers; actress Sangeetha Weeraratne and Minister Jeewan Kumaratunge’s wife Sherin Kumaratunge had violated rules and regulations of the show and showed favoritism towards one contestant alleged to be known to Sherin Kumaratunge. more..

SC reserves order on citing President as a respondent

July 22 (Island) The three-member Bench headed by Chief Justice Shirani Bandaranayake had reserved judgment in the Golden Key (GK) Fundamental Rights (FR) case following the counsel for Lalith Kotelawala, supported by GK directors and Deputy Solicitor General (DSG) raising objection over the citing of the President as a respondent in the petition. Depositors expressed disappointment over this abrupt development on a technicality more..

BTI not effective

July 22 (SL) After much hue and cry over the importation of the Bacillus Thuringiensis Israelensis (BTI) bacteria from Cuba to be used in the eradication of dengue, the Ministry of Health now says that the larvicide was not effective as expected. The Ministry claims that the larvicide is effective only when the mosquito is in its larval stage and would not work on a fully grown mosquito. “It is only one out of the ten strategies to eliminate the dengue mosquitoes,” Additional Secretary (Medical Services) Dr. Palitha Mahipala said. more..

UPFA MP says Hakeem will lose

July 22 (SL) UPFA MP Abdul Cader says he is confident the SLMC will lose the provincial council elections in the eastern province. The UPFA MP said that although SLMC leader Rauf Hakeem decided to contest the elections in the east under the tree symbol and not with the government, he does not think the SLMC can be victorious as the UPFA has a bigger voter base in the east than the SLMC. Cader also confirmed that the SLMC decided to contest independently in the east following an more..

Power cuts from tomorrow

July 22 (CG) The Power and Energy Ministry said that power cuts will be experienced in some parts of the country for two hours from tomorrow. A statement by the Ministry said that the power cuts are as a result of a breakdown at the coal power plant in Puttalam and the Kerawalapitiya thermal power plant. “Due to the breakdown at the Lakvijeya coal power plant and the Kerawalapitiya power plant in the west coast there is a shortfall of 400 MW of electricity,” more..

23 TN fishermen arrested by Lankan Navy

July 22 (PTI) Sri Lankan Naval personnel allegedly attacked some fishing boats and arrested 23 Tamil Nadu fishermen when they were fishing near Katchatheevu in the Palk Straits today. The Lankan Navy also seized five boats, officials said. The fishermen would be produced before the Mannar Judicial Magistrate court, they said. Rameswaram Fishermen's Association President Emirett said the Lankan navalmen attacked 20 other fishing boats and seized the fishing nets. more..

Dhoni and India fined for slow over-rate

July 22 (CI) MS Dhoni and India have been fined for maintaining a slow over-rate during their win in the first ODI against Sri Lanka in Hambantota. Dhoni has been fined 20% of his match fee, and the rest of his team 10%, after they were ruled to be an over short when time allowances were taken into consideration. Dhoni has got into trouble for over-rate breaches in the past. In January this year, he was suspended from the Adelaide Test against Australia due a slow over-rate in more..

SriLankan settles US$ 100 mln part loan to Ceylon Petroleum Corporation

July 22 (ST) SriLankan Airlines has settled US$100 million as part dues to Ceylon Petroleum Corporation (CPC) last week and is negotiating the balance payment. “We’re negotiating with the CPC on the repayment in terms of pricing and credit terms and will arrive at a settlement by mid next month,” Nishantha Wickremasinghe, Chairman SriLankan Airlines said. He said that pricing determination will be referencing more..

Shortage of 1200 lecturers for universitities

July 22 (SL) The Higher Education Ministry says there is a shortage of 1200 lecturers at universities around the country. High Education Ministry Secretary Dr. Jayantha Navaratne says there are 4200 lecturers at local universities. He said that in order to fill the gap created by the shortage of lecturers, the Higher Education Ministry has decided to recruit part-time lecturers. Navaratne said that the part–time lecturers will be recruited among experienced applicants from the relevant more..