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Sri Lanka allows security to ex-Army chief Fonseka

June 9 (PTI) Former Army chief Sarath Fonseka has been provided with security by the government just weeks after being freed from jail. A police team led by an Inspector has been assigned to Fonseka on the instructions of the police chief. Fonseka, who was in jail serving several sentences, was freed late last month under a pardon granted by the President Mahinda Rajapaksa. He was jailed by a military court and the high court for two separate offences. more..

15th Asian Junior Athletic game starts in Colombo

June 9 (GDI) Japanese twin sisters grabbed 1-2 position in the first final of the 15th Asian Junior Athletics Championship commenced at the newly build blue running track at Sugathadasa National Stadium. The 15th Asian Junior Athletic Championships was declared open in Colombo by Sri Lankan Prime Minister Saturday evening. Haruka Kyuma beat Youth Olmypic Games 3000m silver medalist twin sister Moe Kyuma to register first major win over her sister. more..

President’s vehicle pool jacked up by 8500%

June 9 (LT) Vehicles worth Rs.472,889,000 has been bought for the President during 2011. The total value of vehicles bought by the government during that year is Rs.11,169,110,000. When President Mahinda Rajapaksa came to power the value of the pool of vehicles allocated for the President was Rs.30,910,000. This amount increased to Rs.3,085,334,000 by the end of 2011. This is an increase of 8500%. This information is revealed in the annual report issued by the Ministry of Finance.

Thisara, Dilshan deliver easy Sri Lanka win

June 9 (CI) Tillakaratne Dilshan batted through the innings with a century to take Sri Lanka to 280. Azhar Ali looked set to match Dilshan's feat and nearly reached his maiden ODI ton. Ultimately though, it was Thisara Perera's six-wicket haul, aided by his own brilliant fielding, which helped Sri Lanka level the series after a disappointing showing on Thursday. Perera's efforts were all the more special because four of those wickets more..

Editorial: Who will bell the cat?

June 10 (SO) LTTE terrorists and their sympathisers, over the years, have resorted to various ploys and stratagems to sully Sri Lanka's image and bring its valiant Security Forces into disrepute. The terrorist outfit, before it was crushed militarily three years ago, massacred hapless civilians whom they had forcibly held as a human shield. Even after the Tiger leaders were vanquished, the LTTE rump continued relentlessly with their vile campaign to sling mud on the Security Forces to undermine their splendid more..

Editorial: Why ‘Diaspora’ allegations stick

June 10 (SL) Sri Lanka President Mahinda Rajapaksa on Tuesday was prevented from delivering the keynote address at the opening sessions of the Commonwealth Business Council following a raucous demonstration by Sri Lanka Tamil expatriates and human rights activists opposite the venue of the symposium at Mansion House in London. The morning sessions were cancelled by the organisers without giving any specific reasons. The reasons were all too obvious. more..

'Unite to defeat foreign forces'

June 10 (SO) Minister Wimal Weerawansa does not hesitate to call a spade a spade. His bete noire, anti-patriotic forces or any individual or organisation who act against the national interest were torn to piecess. He said when allegations are levelled against the country in the international fora on human rights or alleged war crimes, we should be able to meet such challenges successfully with consensus among political parties, sink petty political differences. more..

Editorial: Wijedasa’s Bill and options for the JHU

June 10 (NS) On February 15, 2004, on the eve of some prominent bikkhus launching a political party, a political commentator made the following observation in the Sunday Island: ‘It is the duty of the Mayor to ensure, among other things, that the sewerage system works properly; however it is not the Mayor’s job to climb into a cess pit and do the cleaning him/herself’. It was an observation on the role of clergy, especially bikkhus, in politics. The JHU made waves back then and more..

Editorial: The Koodankulam expose, and the right to know

June 10 (LB) This week’s front-page lead story tells us everything we need to know about the premium value of Right to Information in any democracy. Indian advocacy groups making use of new Right to Information laws have unearthed an evaluation report which exposes startling information that has implications not just for South India and Sri Lanka, but almost the entirety of the Indian Ocean -- particularly the Bay of Bengal. For those who have not read the story, more..

'Chief Minister's ethnicity no criterion'

June 10 (SO) Deputy Minister of Child Development and Women’s Affairs and National Organiser of UPFA ally, All Ceylon People’s Congress (ACPC) M.L.A.M. Hisbullah, a veteran parliamentarian representing the Batticaloa constituency, told the Sunday Observer in an interview that their party will stand by the UPFA as ever before and contest the upcoming Eastern Provincial Council polls under UPFA symbol to ensure the overwhelming victory of the Govt. more..

Editorial: Sanctity of Parliament

June 10 (Island) TNA MP M.A. Sumanthiran last week raised two important matters in parliament, the first relating to private members’ motions adopted by the House and the second on assurances given on the floor by ministers and other holders of executive office not being honoured. The question of undue delay in answering oral questions raised in the House was also brought to the speaker’s notice by UNP frontbencher Ravi Karunanayake and there was an indication more..

Editorial: Once bitten; not twice shy

June 10 (ST) And so, once again the President has had to cancel a scheduled speech in Britain. It is the second time in just seven months that it has happened to him. No official explanation has been forthcoming and the President's media outfit has been forced to do some repair work to his image by deflecting the flak. The External Affairs Ministry, not surprisingly, went to the extent of calling the President's visit to Britain a success. It is said the duty of a diplomat is to lie more..

'Giving me a chance to serve, a noble act'

June 10 (NS) LTTE’s one time global arms procurer and financial controller Kumaran Pathmanathan alias KP, accusing the TNA of misleading Tamil youth in this country by spreading false propaganda, expressed regret at Tamil politicians’ failure to live up to the expectations after govt had restored peace in the once war-torn areas. Pathmanathan declined to describe his current position though he is being held by security authorities. more..

Proposed bill could spell disaster for UNP

June 10 (NS) UNP MP and President of the Bar Association Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe has caused a flutter in political circles submitting a Private Member’s Bill in Parliament that seeks to prevent priests of all religions entering the legislature. Rajapakshe is courting controversy here. Although the Bill seeks to bar priests of all religions becoming Members of Parliament, its intentions are clear. They target the JHU, which presently has three MPs, two of whom are Buddhist monks. more..

PSC process goes back to SQUARE ONE

June 10 (NS) Political developments that followed the talks between the UNP and the govt at Temple Trees seemed for sometime to be brightening the prospects of the Parliamentary Select Committee (PSC) on the national problem becoming a reality. In fact, UNP leader Ranil Wickremesinghe announced his party’s decision to participate in the PSC process adding that he would persuade the TNA, too, to participate in it. However, the process appears to have come back to zero judging by the negative statements that the leaders of more..

Sports Minister seeks sweeping changes in cricket structure

June 10 (ST) The person who was seated in front of me did give away his inner emotions. He looked a man who was losing his patience on a subject that has been the talking point in cricketing circles for some time. Sports Minister Mahindananda Aluthgamage did not like what was going on across the road from his office at Independence Square. While Sri Lanka Cricket sat bolted a few metres away from his office at Maitland Place, the Minister gave the more..

5th column: Negotiating a tricky wicket

June 10 (ST) My Dear Sachin, I thought I must write to you when I heard that you have been appointed as a Member of Parliament in India. I know you have many great achievements to your credit but still, congratulations are in order. We know, Sachin, that you have been a great ambassador for the game of cricket. Despite being hailed as the greatest batsman since Don Bradman, you have always been a humble and unassuming character and never boasted about your abilities more..

Playing Dutugemunu in London

June 10 (Island) When President Mahinda Rajapaksa went to Britain to attend the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations people were waiting with bated breath to see whether there would be a repetition of the last visit where an Oxford Union meeting was cancelled due to fears that Pro-Tamil Tiger demonstrators will disrupt the proceedings. There was indeed a repetition of that of sorts because Rajapaksa was invited to deliver the keynote address of the more..

Tussle over exchange rates

June 10 (ST) The tussle over exchange rate policy and the depreciating rupee figured in some of the discussions a visiting mission from the IMF had this week, sources familiar with the talks said. The rupee was virtually unchanged in the money markets this week, starting off on Tuesday (the first working day after the Poson Poya holiday on Monday) at Rs 130.50 per dollar and ending at Rs 130.40 on Friday, dealers said. more..

Govt’s approach: a little carrot... a little stick?

June 10 (LB) The theatre of the political absurd was again on spectacular display in Sri Lanka last week when the former army commander Sarath Fonseka’s DNA party colleagues asked the UNP to stall a move to agitate in parliament for a full grant of his civic rights — which have been stripped off due to his jail term. Fonseka’s camp in the DNA got wind of these UNP moves and approached the UNP to stall the move, on the grounds that these are some of the precise issues on more..

Govt.’s forked tongue diplomacy takes its toll

June 10 (SL) The Mahinda Rajapaksa govt, for all its bravado within the country about not bowing down to Western nations, continues to seek acceptance and recognition by the international community. Sri Lanka’s dealings with neighboring India since 2005, Minister Prof. G.L. Peiris’ recent visit to Washington and the President’s visit to the UK last week are all examples of the country’s questionable conduct in the international arena.The actions of the govt during these occasions amply demonstrate the lack of a proper foreign policy and political maturity. more..

Inviting Rajapaksa was a ‘mistake’ says RCS chief

June 10 (Island) President Mahinda Rajapaksa should not have been invited to the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations, Peter Kellner, Chairman of the Royal Commonwealth Society, said last week. In a discussion with Channel4 News, he said the "mistake" (of inviting Rajapaksa) was not done by the Queen or Buckingham Palace, but by the Commonwealth. "Action against Sri Lanka should have taken at the last Commonwealth Summit in Perth, Australia". more..

‘Conspirators behind MP Wijedasa’s Bill’

June 10 (SO) Western conspirators are behind MP Wijedasa Rajapaksa’s private members’ Bill to prevent religious leaders and bhikkhus contesting elections, said Minister, JHU Secretary General Champika Ranawaka. The Minister said that UNP-MP Wijedasa Rajapaksa was attempting to get rid of bhikkhus by placing a tag on them. It was the noble bhikkus who protected the country at difficult times. The country’s political culture changed dramatically in 2004 when bhikkhus entered mainstream politics, he said. more..

EP Muslims oppose Hakeem’s plan to contest PC polls

June 10 (LB) Eastern Muslims have protested against the SLMC leader Rauf Hakeem’s decision to contest the forthcoming Eastern Provincial Council election as the people in the East want an easterner to contest, sources said. The SLMC is to hold a special discussion on June 16 at Polonnaruwa before taking a final decision on fielding candidates ahead of the Eastern Provincial Council election. Recent reports had indicated that SLMC leader and Minister Rauf Hakeem was contemplating more..

Islandwide crackdown on illegal firearms

June 10 (SO) Police yesterday began a massive islandwide crackdown on illegal firearms and weapons on a directive by IGP N.K. Illangakoon. He has sent a circular to OICs of police stations islandwide to seize illegal firearms forthwith by conducting raids on hideouts of criminals and other suspected individuals. “Illegal firearms and weapons are used by underworld gangs despite it being an offence under the Firearms’ Ordinance. more..

Multi million dollars worth of Iranian transformers stagnating at Colombo Port

June 10 (SL) Over 100 containers carrying transformers imported from Iran under an Iranian loan for the Ceylon Electricity Board’s (CEB’s) rural electrification programme are stuck at the Colombo Port due to the sanctions imposed by the US on Iran. The CEB had imported 1,000 transformers from Iran since last December but succeeded in clearing only 250 of them. The last shipment of transformers from Iran arrived at the Colombo Port in April this year. more..

Fuel price hike looms with CPC dues exceeding Rs. 65 Billion

June 10 (SL) Losses incurred by the botched state enterprise, Ceylon Petroleum Corporation (CPC) have increased by Rs. 65 billion during the five month period ending May 31, 2012 and possibilities are being explored to retain the overpriced fuels at the current levels or to increase them further to recover the losses. Although the total accumulated losses incurred by CPC exceeds Rs. 95 billion, “bonds worth Rs. 62 billion were released by the Treasury during the first quarter more..

New footage emerges alleging war atrocities

June 10 (SL) Another UK based media institution has revealed that they are in possession of more damning footage of alleged atrocities committed by the Sri Lankan military during the final stages of the war. UK’s The Independent reported on Friday that they were in possession of video footage showing soldiers ‘gloating over a pile of more than 100 Tamil corpses’. Sri Lanka’s military has described The Independent’s report as a piece of more..

CEB earns Rs. 21.9 millions catching 420 power pirates

June 10 (NS) The Ministry of power and energy has earned Rs.21.9 million from raids conducted in the month of May, the ministry stated. A total of Rs.3.7 million of the earnings were earned through fines, while Rs.18.1 was collected as damages by the CEB. A total of 420 incidents of illegal electricity tapping and meter rigging were detected in May. 176 cases involved tampering with electricity meters while 244 cases involved illegally electricity tapping. more..

Legal battle over GMOA ‘confidential report’ on alleged poll abuses?

June 10 (Island) With some contestants of the June 30 poll of the Govt Medical Officers Association (GMOA) expressing outrage over the refusal to divulge the contents of a committee report on alleged election malpractices, the stage appears to be set for a legal battle as the tussle continues, officials said. The committee appointed by the GMOA’s trustees called for evidence following a written complaint submitted to Dr. Iresh Wijemanna, EC Chairman by more..

Planetary changes driving political leaders overseas

June 10 (ST) Celestial science has become the cause for concern for many Sri Lankan politicians. The latest worry has been caused by a string of planetary changes. Most significant among them, according to frontline astrologers, began at 6.47 a.m. on May 16. Technically that was the entry of Saturn into Virgo. Thereafter, the entry of Jupiter into Taurus at 9.35 a.m. on May 17, some astrologers say, has plunged this year into a state of combustion. more..

Petroleum Industries Ministry to fight LIOC price stranglehold

June 10 (LB) The Ministry of Petroleum Industries is set to take appropriate action to prevent Lanka Indian Oil Company (LIOC) from increasing oil prices arbitrarily. This decision was taken after LIOC arbitrarily increased the price of diesel recently when the price of crude oil was coming down in the world market. Minister Susil Premajayantha has taken steps to amend the Public Utility Commission (PUC) Act in order to have total control over the prices of petrol, diesel and all other oil related products more..

Bribery storms customs’ corrupt den

June 10 (NS) The sleuths of Commission to Investigate Allegations of Bribery or Corruption broke all barriers within the four walls of the Customs Commercial Cargo Division to trail behind seven top Customs officials who have acquired enormous wealth overnight according to petitions received by the Commission. Bribery Chief, Retired Supreme Court Judge Jagath Balapatabendi confirmed to The Nation that his detectives were probing seven top Customs officials following petitions more..

Supermarkets can deal in foreign exchange

June 10 (ST) The govt will allow private sector establishments, including supermarkets, leasing and finance companies, to deal in foreign exchange. They will operate side by side with authorised money changers, Exchange Controller P.H.O. Chandrawansa said. The move is to ensure that sterling pounds, dollars and other foreign currency converted to rupees locally reach the Central Bank, he said. Sixty-one authorised money changers have been more..

Charge sheets to be filed against museum staff

June 10 (SL) Charge sheets are to be filed against some security staff of the National Museum this week over the recent theft. Secretary to the National Heritage Ministry Kanthi Wijeytunga said that investigations revealed that some security staff had been asleep when the robbery took place. The Ministry had earlier suspended seven employees over the theft which included members of the security division of the museum which operates under the Ministry. more..

Sri Lanka Cricket signs in new sponsors

June 10 (LBO) Reebok, Pepsi, Elephant House and Jetwing Hotels have joined the list of new commercial partners to sponsor the Sri Lanka Cricket team. The three-year contract was announced on Saturday, following a competitive bidding process earlier this year, Sri Lanka Cricket said. Reebok India, secured the official clothing partners' contract, while the promotional rights on soft drinks was awarded to Varun Beverages, the holding company of Pepsico India, the release said. more..

Minister’s wife to parachute to Health Ministry top job

June 10 (Island) A flurry of activity to carve out a top slot for an administrative official debarred by the Supreme Court from being considered to head the National Hospital of Sri Lanka (NHSL), has raised eyebrows, with medical veterans describing the bid as "beyond belief". There is tremendous spade work ongoing to elevate Dr. (Mrs) Sujatha Senaratne — whose claim for NHSL directorship was dismissed by the SC more..

High taxes on motor vehicles will continue

June 10 (ST) The recent levies on motor vehicle imports will not be relaxed for the next three years, a senior govt official has said. Treasury Secretary P.B. Jayasundera told motor vehicle importers that levies would continue because the govt wanted to curtail the outflow of foreign exchange. The Vehicle Importers Association led by its President Sampath Merinchchige met Dr. Jayasundera to discuss matters arising from the recently increased levies on motor vehicle imports. more..

SL to respond to visit request by Pillay

June 10 (SL) The External Affairs Ministry is to respond this week to the request by United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, to send a delegation to the country. External Affairs Ministry Secretary Karunatilaka Amunugama said that the ministry had not yet responded to the request made by the UN human rights chief. He said that they were awaiting the return of Minister G.L. Peiris, who was overseas last week, to respond. “We have the request in our possession and will be responding to it this week,” more..

MR's London fiasco: Diplomatic and intelligence failure

June 10 (ST) The SriLankan Airlines special flight to London with President Mahinda Rajapaksa and entourage on board last Sunday shifted departure schedules at least twice. This was after the Sri Lanka High Commission in Britain warned that Tamil diaspora groups were planning to stage protests at Heathrow Airport. He was to leave earlier that day and arrive in London in the night. Instead, he turned up at the Carlton more..