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Sarath Fonseka a free man

May 21 (Reuters) Sri Lanka's former army chief walked free from jail on Monday with a pardon from President Mahinda Rajapaksa, who appears to have bowed to growing international demands that he release his highest-profile rival. Ex-General Sarath Fonseka kissed his hands and raised them to a group of 2,000 supporters who cheered "Victory to our war hero! Victory to our leader!" and lit firecrackers outside the maximum security prison. more..

Sri Lanka is a long way from the peace and reconciliation desired by so many

May 21 (Independent) Last week, the Frontline Club hosted its second debate to discuss the impact of two documentaries Sri Lanka’s Killing Fields and a follow up aired this March called Sri Lanka’s Killing Fields: War Crimes Unpunished. Callum Macrae’s extraordinary films, presented by Jon Snow, provided compelling new evidence of executions, the shelling of civilians and other atrocities in the final months of the 26-year civil war in Sri Lanka that more..

Sri Lanka benefits from new $2bn SAARC currency swap

May 21 (LBO) Sri Lanka is among the South Asian countries, who will benefit from a 2.0 billion dollar currency swap arrangement set up by India, a statement said. Funded entirely by India, the swap facility will enable the central banks of Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka to borrow funds in dollars, euros and Indian rupees, the Indian High Commission in Colombo said Monday. “The swap amount available to various member central banks has more..

Sri Lanka News Debrief - 21.05.2012

Gen. Fonseka should be given complete freedom without any conditions - JVP

May 21 (LT) The JVP convened a media conference today morning to apprise its views on the release of former Commander of the Army Gen. Sarath Fonseka. Parliamentarians of the JVP Anura Tennekone and Vijitha Herath spoke to the media regarding this. The two Parliamentarians emphasized that Gen. Fonseka should get complete freedom including his civil rights. “The reason for releasing Gen. Fonseka is the relentless struggle carried out by Bhikkus and more..

Sri Lanka plans rice exports to South Africa: minister

May 21 (LBO) Sri Lanka is in talks with a South African commodity firm to export 20,000 tonnes of rice lying at Paddy Marketing Board, a state-run grain purchasing firm, officials said. Agriculture minister Mahinda Yapa Abeywardene said discussions have been initiated to sell 'red-rice' to South Africa at about 370 dollars a tonne (about 48 rupees a kilogram with the US dollar at 129 rupees). In Sri Lanka, the rupee cost of imports and exports (traded goods) rose more..

Central Bank-managed fund rejects stock fraud

May 21 (LBO) Sri Lanka's Employees' Provident Fund, a retirement fund of private citizens that is managed by the state has rejected allegations that it was involved in fraudulent stock frauds. Legislator Harsha de Silva, who also took up a recent case where state-run National Savings Bank reversed a deal where stock was sold at an inflated price, has earlier queried several stock purchases of the EPF. One of de Silva's key allegations is more..

Caritas provides first aid training to fishermen

May 21 (UCAN) The lives of small-scale fishermen are fraught with dangers as they work in uncertain and shifting seas as many as 50 km from the coast. For men who spend the bulk of their time on the ocean, the lack of any emergency training remains widespread. In an effort to equip fishermen with the skills to handle emergency situations at sea, Caritas Chilaw has for the last two months held training programs in Uchchumune and Kalpitiya islands. more..

Minister G.L. Peiris to visit Russia and Kazakhstan

May 21 (MEA) Prof. G.L. Peiris, Minister of External Affairs will pay an official visit to the Russian Federation on the invitation of Mr. Sergey Lavrov, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation on 23rd May, 2012. During the visit Prof. Peiris will hold official talks with his Russian counterpart on a range of issues of importance to both countries. The Minister will also pay an official visit to the Republic of Kazakhstan on the invitation of Mr. Yerzhan more..

First weekly fair at Minuwangoda declared open

May 21 (GDI) The Govt has taken steps to introduce the Divi Neguma Sathi Pola programme for modernising the main weekly fairs throughout the country to meet consumer requirements, since 80 percent of Sri Lanka’s population live in rural and the plantation areas, said Minister Basil Rajapaksa. He was addressing a meeting held after the ceremonial launching of the Divi Naguma Sathipola program at the Minuwangoda town Sunday. more..

A complicated war, and now, Gota’s peace?

May 22 (LB) True to the tradition that the best is left for the last, the author of Gota’s War uses the last two pages of his rather bulky tome -- 507 pages — for the most interesting anecdotal tale particularly in the context of the new developments concerning the Sri Lankan Tamil issue, post-Nandikadal. This is a juicy but goose-bump inducing recounting of political intrigue and low-level diplomatic subterfuge that goes as follows: Apparently, a high official in the US embassy approached Major General Prasad Samarasinghe at a US embassy party, more..

Devolution and the concept of concurrency: Abolition or reform?

May 22 (GV) Among proponents of devolution as a means of power-sharing in Sri Lanka, one of the key bones of contention about the 13th Amendment has been the Concurrent List. This is the list of competences, or ‘subjects’ as they are called in the constitution, over which powers are shared between the central govt and the Provincial Councils. This list is part of the broader distribution of powers and functions that are arranged in three lists in the 13th Amendment, more..

Reloading General Sarath Fonseka for a post-paid Sinhala package

May 22 (GV) The V-Day celebrations were on, as this piece was written. A military victory being commemorated at the Galle face esplanade, celebrated as the 3rd anniversary of defeating the LTTE “terrorism”. President Rajapaksa bragged about what positives the military victory brought to this country. No more barricades on the Galle Road, he says. Fishermen can now go out fishing, civil administration has been established in all parts of more..

Some Reflections on the Frontline Club Panel on Sri Lanka

May 22 (GV) I watched the Frontline Club panel on Sri Lanka, belatedly and reluctantly. I am skeptical about such public enquiries and debates into complex matters, which threaten to reduce the dialogue and truth into performance. In my view, the problem with these ‘events’, for that is what they are, is that the truth is reduced to a many-sided thing; the more one counts the sides the more fragmented the truth itself becomes. But of course you never get more..

The critic as cretin?

May 22 (CT) Write, and be damned, ridiculed, assaulted and even permanently silenced. Critics in Sri Lanka generally have a raw deal, especially when the arc of their writing illumines inconvenient truths of governance, and violence in government. Remarkably, some of us discovered last week that critics of other traditions invite a disturbingly similar response. I had just finished reading Irving Wardle’s compelling memoir of reviewing theatre in England for 40 years, more..

Is G.L. Peiris lying about not giving the US a ‘very serious and good plan’?

May 22 (TC) Last week, Lankan society was electrified by the news that the Rajapaksas regime would accord Gen. Sarath Fonseka an unconditional pardon, on Saturday the 19th. It would have been a fitting act indeed. The 3rd anniversary of defeating the LTTE fell on May 19th, and Gen. Fonseka, together with Mahinda and Gotabhaya Rajapaksa, comprised the politico-military triumvirate which led Lankan Forces to that historic victory. more..

The irrelevance of the law to Sri Lanka today

May 22 (CT) Many, quite rightly, bewail the constant chaos bedeviling the UNP which has become so ludicrous now that the whole country is witness to an unseemly tug of war between supporters of party seniors as to who should claim credit for the Right to Information (RTI) Bill. Such dogged insistence on scoring brownie points in regard to a draft that has (ironically) remained stuck in the House for years is equaled only by the grim determination of the govt not to push through the Bill for reasons that can only be justified as more..

Pardon for SF: Responding decisively to international pressure

May 22 (CT) The news of the presidential pardon for former army commander Sarath Fonseka which could see him free from prison would be welcomed by most Sri Lankans regardless of their political persuasions. At the time of his imprisonment it was scarcely possible to believe that the former army commander who had been hailed by the government as a hero for leading the army to victory over the LTTE could be treated so soon as a villain. more..

'Security forces played by the rule'

May 22 (SO) Minister Keheliya Rambukwella, speaking to the Sunday Observer from Australia, where he is still undergoing treatment for fractured limbs, on the eve of the Victory Day Celebrations, described for the first time the challenging role he played as the Military Spokesman from 2006 to 2009, during the height of the battle. He said the job that required him to answer calls 24/7 and endure "intense drilling" by hundreds of more..

Editorial: SF walks to freedom

May 22 (Island) Gen. Sarath Fonseka is a free man today. It is heartening that saner counsel has prevailed at last and the parties to the dispute that led to his incarceration have softened their positions. The 2010 electoral showdown between President Mahinda Rajapaksa and Gen. Sarath Fonseka as a result of a bitter personality clash and its impact on the polity served the purpose of only those who opposed the war and/or supported the LTTE; they made the most of that tussle to make a comeback. more..

The Aftermath of Victory

May 22 (DM) May 19th 2009 is a day that will be etched in golden letters in the annals of the history of Sri Lanka. It was on this day that our valiant armed forces secured a decisive military victory over the LTTE, which had waged a relentless war lasting almost three decades with the objective of carving out an ethnically cleansed separate State exclusively for Tamils in the North and East of Sri Lanka. It is fitting to take stock of the situation in the country as we commemorate the 3rd anniversary of the defeat of terrorism in Sri Lanka. more..

TV transmission to Jaffna upgraded

May 22 (Island) Deputy Director (Engineering) of the Sri Lanka Rupavahini Corporation Rohan Perera said that they had already been able to upgrade the quality of Television visuals, to viewers in the Northern Province, by conforming to the govt policy of converting from Analog to Digital by utilizing the Digital Video Broadcast (DVB- T2) transmission tower at Kokavil. Chairman of Sri Lanka Rupavahini Corporation Mohan Samaranayake said more..

Achieving a balance of payments surplus despite trade deficit

May 22 (ST) The Central Bank expects a balance of payments surplus despite a large trade deficit this year. These expectations are based on a curtailment of imports in response to the several policy measures, higher worker remittances, increased service earnings and large capital inflows. The projected trade deficit of US$ 9.2 billion would be realisable only if international oil prices do not escalate and export prospects do not deteriorate. more..

SLIC opens unique ICT opportunity for young Sri Lankan visionaries

May 22 (Island) Sri Lanka Inventors Commission (SLIC) invites all young ICT visionaries between 18-25 to take part in an international competition organized by International Telecommunication Union, the UN agency for Information Technology. The ‘Young Innovators Competition’ held by the ITU is open globally to anyone with an innovative IT based, development solution, and 12 finalists will will receive a fellowship to facilitate their participation at more..

SAARC Film Awards 2012: Pakistan wins two top awards

May 22 (Island) Pakistan won its first SAARC Film Award on Sunday night for the documentary "Saving Face" that chronicles the work of a British plastic surgeon who rebuilds the faces of women disfigured by acid attacks. Another Pakistani movie nominated for the Awards was Mehreen Jabbar’s directed Raam Chand Pakistani, which bagged Silver Medal in the Best Feature Film category. The Awards for the Best Documentary of the year, and Silver Medal for more..

Engineering faculty for South Eastern University soon

May 22 (DN) Measures are in place to establish an engineering faculty in the South Eastern University in the near future. It has developed quickly and will come forward as a first class university in the country after developing its physical resources, Minister S B Dissanayake said. The minister was addressing the seventh convocation of the South Eastern University at the university premises on Saturday. Four hundred and twenty degrees including 256 General Degrees, more..

Maid at Indian Asst. HC’s residence remanded for theft

May 22 (Island) A maid employed in a high ranking Indian Diplomat’s Officials residence in Kandy was arrested over an alleged theft by the Crime Investigation Branch of the Kandy Police on Sunday, within 24 hours of the complaint. Police spokesman SP Ajith Rohana said that the suspect was alleged to have stolen gold valued to the value of Rs. 200,000 and Rs. 10,000 in cash from the official residence of the Assistant High Commissioner for India in Kandy. more..

Asian Junior Championship cancelled: IAAF critical of conduct during AASL AGM

May 22 (Island) The Asian Athletics Association has cancelled the 15th Asian Junior Championships, which was to be held in Colombo from June 9-12 after the IAAF, the world governing body threatened to cancel the membership of the Athletics Association of Sri Lanka last week, citing that the Sports-Ministry conducted election for the AASL early this month was not held in accordance with the provisions of the AASL constitution. more..

CEA as regional centre for emission inventories

May 22 (DN) The Central Environment Authority (CEA) will function as the regional centre for emission inventories. “CEA as the regional centre for emission of inventories will be the lead centre in South Asia in the field of emission inventory and retain and enhance scientific capacity on emission inventories,” CEA chairman Charitha Herath said. participating in the inauguration of the training workshop on Emission Inventory Under Male Declaration at Hotel Renuka Hotel yesterday. more..

Plan to enhance performances at O-Ls

May 22 (DN) The Education Ministry is to put in place an action plan designed to improve performances at the GCE O-L examinations up to 80 percent by 2016. According to GCE O-L results of 1994 only 32 percentage had passed in maths and 31 percentage in science. However in 2011, 55 percent had passed in maths and 62 percent in science. “We are planning to improve this performance to 80 percent,” Education Minister Bandula Gunawardana said. The minister addressing a press conference more..

Indian oil company OVL eyes buys in Cauvery Basin and Mannar

May 22 (Hindu) ONGC Videsh Limited (OVL) has strongly pitched for acquisition of oil and gas blocks in the Cauvery Basin and Mannar in Sri Lanka. At the same time, OVL has reportedly turned down the offer to jointly bid for these blocks in Sri Lanka with the Russian gas major, Gazprom. The issue came up for active discussion during a recent meeting held by the National Security Advisor, Shiv Shankar Menon, to review more..

Life of courageous girl snuffed out

May 22 (Island) A newly employed teenage girl succumbed to her injuries in hospital after being knocked down by an SUV at Dandugama last Friday. The victim, Iresha Madushani (19), was waiting for a bus to return home after work when the mishap occurred. She had been employed only for fourteen days, her mother said. Her grieving mother, A. Siriyawathi (47) said that she was the eldest in a family of three girls. "Iresha was reluctant to do higher studies as she wanted to more..

Did UPFA PS councilor elope?

May 22 (Island) The female UPFA Counsillor of the Bulathsinhala Pradeshiya Sabha, allegedly abducted by unidentified persons opposite a Buddhist temple at Thebuwana, Warakagoda on Sunday evening, is believed to have eloped with her paramour. Police spokesman SP Ajith Rohana said that the police would not however dismiss the complaint lodged by the councillor’s niece, who claims to have witnessed the incident. He said that the allegedly abducted woman was a mother of a one-year-old child and more..

SF free, battle on for civic rights

May 22 (Island) Former Army Commander and defeated presidential candidate Gen. Sarath Fonseka was released from prison yesterday evening amidst cheers from a large number of his supporters who thronged the streets near the Welikada Prison waving flags and shouting slogans. Gen. Fonseka, making a brief speech, thanked all those who had fought for his release. Indicating his desire to re-enter active politics, he vowed to work for the people more..

Major operation undertaken in East Province

May 22 (DM) Police said that that they had taken into custody 258 warrant holders who had been absconding from court, in raids conducted last Sunday covering all the police stations in the Eastern Province. This raid was conducted encompassing four Police Divisions in the Eastern Province with the instructions of Eastern Province. Thereby 44 warrant holders from Trincomalee Police Division, 22 from Kantale, 122 from Batticaloa and 70 from Ampara were taken into custody on this day. more..

TNA wants troop reduction

May 22 (CT) The TNA wants a reduction in the presence of security forces in the North and East and not a complete withdrawal, according to TNA leader R. Sampanthan. The TNA leader made this comment in response to a speech made by President Mahinda Rajapaksa at the Victory Day celebrations saying that the Security Forces will not be withdrawn completely from the North and East. The TNA leader in a comment made to a Tamil daily newspaper said that the Security Forces in more..

SF’s release won’t restore democracy– JVP

May 22 (Island) The JVP yesterday warned the masses not to be deceived by the dictatorial Rajapaksa regime’s surprising decision to release war hero, General Sarath Fonseka. Addressing a hastily arranged media briefing at the JVP head office at Pelawatte, JVP MP Anura Kumara Dissanayake alleged that discharging of the war winning army chief was nothing but a diversionary move in the wake of the government coming under heavy pressure on several fronts. more..

'Qatar keen on SL’s hotel sector'

May 22 (DN) The govt of Qatar is considering investing in Sri Lanka’s hotel and leisure sectors to the tune of US $ 1 billion, Minister Prof G L Peiris told the Daily News in a telephone interview from Qatar yesterday. He said investment focus will also be on developing the areas surrounding the proposed hotel projects in the form of shopping malls and relevant infrastructure. President Mahinda Rajapaksa had successful bilateral discussions with Qatar Emir Sheikh Hamad more..

Pick pockets had field day at Nawaloka hospital

May 22 (DM) Those who pick pockets had their day at Nawaloka Hospital yesterday when a thief managed to pinch a purse of a young man during the rush when former army commander Sarath Fonseka was taken out of hospital after he was discharged. A young man said his purse was pinched by some one during the commotion. He suspected that some one had stolen his purse when people came forward near the lift to get a glimpse of former Army Commander when more..

SF can’t hold a seat in Parliament

May 22 (CT) Former Army Commander Sarath Fonseka will not be able to hold a seat as a Parliamentarian or a provincial councilor as per the pardon granted to him, said a very senior official from the Attorney General’s Department. “President Mahinda Rajapaksa granted the pardon under the power vested in him by Article 34 (1) (d) of the constitution of Sri Lanka. However the constitution does not permit a person who has been sentenced to prison for more than more..