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Basil welcomes SF’s release

May 22 (Island) Economics Development Minister Basil Rajapaksa welcomed the decision to release DNA leader Gen Sarath Fonseka from prison. The decision to release Fonseka was very just and reasonable, the Minister told The Island on Sunday. This release would have an adverse impact on the incumbent leaderships of the UNP and the JVP, the minister said adding that the leaders of those parties were not happy with Fonseka coming out of jail and engaging in politics.

SF allowed to withdraw appeals

May 22 (Island) A five-Judge bench of the Supreme Court yesterday allowed two motions filed by General Sarath Fonseka’s lawyers, seeking a withdrawal and a termination of the proceedings of the two appeals filed by the General in the Supreme Court. The motion to withdraw was in respect of the appeal Fonseka had filed seeking a revision of the conviction and the sentence of three years vigorous imprisonment imposed on him by a High Court Trial-at-bar. more..

Govt. should reveal list of ministers -JVP

May 22 (CT) The JVP demanded that the govt reveal the list of ministers who influenced the President to arrest former Army Commander Sarath Fonseka. MP Anura Kumara Dissanayake alleged that the President had claimed that it was due to the influence of certain ministers’ that Sarath Fonseka was brought before Court. “While the President had made this claim, the state media had embarked on a campaign to make it look as if Fonseka was abducted and more..

SF no threat to MR - Wimal

May 22 (Island) NFF leader Wimal Weerawansa yesterday said that General Sarath Fonseka would not be a major threat to President Mahinda Rajapaksa in the future. Fonseka’s popularity had reached the zenith when he contested the Presidential polls, he said. Minister Weerawansa said Opposition leader Ranil Wickremasinghe’s remarkable ability to tackle complex political issues in the midst of opposition was extremely laudable. Fonseka would never be able to replace Wickremesinghe, more..

I am safe among people - SF

May 22 (CT) Former army Commander Sarath Fonseka, who walked out a free man yesterday, said he will be safe among people, and those who are well aware of the service he rendered to the nation, will protect him. “I have immense confidence in people and I honestly feel they will not jeopardize me” a jubilant Sarath Fonseka said. Speaking to Ceylon Today exclusively at the Supreme Court soon before his release, Fonseka said he has no intention to work under any “leader” or any other political party. more..

Hammer of Tamil Tigers free on pardon

May 22 (AFP) Sri Lanka's ex-army chief Sarath Fonseka was released from prison last night after he was jailed following his unsuccessful bid to unseat the president in 2010. "I am free. I will devote my life for my people," General Fonseka shouted to thousands of supporters as he emerged from Welikada prison, after receiving a pardon ordered last week by President Mahinda Rajapakse. "I will not betray the people who stood behind me. more..

Welgama promises train commuters extra track, train

May 22 (Island) An additional railway track would be constructed between Polgahawela and Mahawa in order to ease passenger congestion, said Transport Minister Kumara Welgama. He said he had received many complaints from Colombo bound railway commuters that the trains which operated between Polgahawela and Mahawa were slow and he would take immediate action to sort out all problems within a week. Minister Welgama said the Mahawa railway station would be refurbished. more..

DPF glad SF pardoned, wants LTTE suspects indicted or freed

May 22 (Island) The Mano Ganeshan-led Democratic People’s Front yesterday expressed happiness at the Presidential pardon granted to former Army Commander and Chief of Defence Staff General Sarath Fonseka, who had languished in jail for 30 months, as a political prisoner. DPF Secretary-General Dr. Kumar Guruparan said that in the same manner and as a humanitarian gesture, President Mahinda Rajapaksa and the Government must also consider the cases of more..

Silent Suffering

May 22 (SL) Increasing reports of social problems that are plaguing the conflict affected North and East have given rise to much concern. These include issues as grave as child abuse, rape and sexual harassment, and easy access to pornography. Women’s rights activists have been trying to raise awareness about these issues, claiming that it is the women who ultimately suffer the most. These very activists themselves however, are sometimes afraid to speak out more..

Sri Lankan diplomacy: Perspective, pardner, perspective!

May 22 (LB) A recent article in a daily newspaper related an incident about two condolence messages that had apparently been sent from Sri Lanka on the death of a South African minister. One bore the signature of the Minister himself - Professor Peiris - and the other, that of the monitoring MP of the ministry, Sajin Vaass Gunawardene. Apparently - or at least it was reported - the South Africans did not know more..

Mannar to get wind power

May 22 (Island) Sri Lanka is geared to generate 100 MW of power from wind on Mannar Island, Chairman of the Sustainable Energy Authority (SEA) Dr. Kithsiri Dissanayake said. He said: "Wind is the fastest growing renewable energy source in the world. The Govt is planning to scaling up the privately owned 30 MW Wind Farms in Kalpitiya by threefold within the next year." Further, there were several local private companies engaged in wind power projects he said more..

In Sri Lanka, child-friendly schools transform communities

May 22 (UNICEF) Ten-year-old Sivatheepan Kajanika reports on her child-friendly school in Sri Lanka. UNICEF supports child-friendly schools, which provide trained teachers and quality learning materials in a safe, inclusive environment. These schools improve learning and attendance while promoting the fullest realization of a child’s rights and potential. My name is Sivatheepan Kajanika. I study in Grade 5 at more..

We will see it later -Hirunika

May 22 (DM) When questioned whether she would join with former Army Commander Sarath Fonseka, Hirunika Premachandra, the daughter of late Bharatha Lakshman Premachandra said that she would consider it later. “We will see it later, I don’t know it yet,” she told the media outside the Colombo Magistrate Court, where the Mulleriyawa case taken up. She also said that if the Lawyers of Duminda Silva would file action against her for more..

President meets Qatar Prime Minister

May 22 (GDI) President Mahinda Rajapaksa, currently on a State visit to Qatar met Prime Minister and the Foreign Minister of Foreign Affairs of the State of Qatar, Hamad bin Jassim bin Jaber Al Thani on Sunday. The Qatar Emir has said that he made a point to stay over and meet President Rajapaksa by cancelling a scheduled state visit abroad as President Rajapaksa’s visit to Qatar is a great honour bestowed on Qatar, and has added that he made a point to stay over and more..

Family of four stabbed

May 22 (CG) A family of four were stabbed and injured in Monaragala this morning, the police media unit said. The police said that a man had broken into the house and stabbed all four people including three women. According to the police those who were stabbed were a man, his wife, 13 year old daughter and his mother. The man and his wife were admitted to the Badulla hospital for treatment while the other two were admitted to the Monaragala hospital. more..

Asian Junior Athletic Championships to go ahead as scheduled

May 22 (DM) The Asian Athletic Association has informed the Athletic Association of Sri Lanka that the approval to host the 15th Asian Junior Championship has been granted again to Sri Lanka. Therefor the Asian Junior Athletic Champion will be held from June 9 to 12 as scheduled, confirmed Major General Daya Ratnayake, the president of the Athletic Association of Sri Lanka, on Tuesday. more..

Fonseka a pawn in game to checkmate Rajapaksa: Lanka media

May 22 (PTI) While Sri Lanka's state media chose to ignore Sarath Fonseka's release from prison, pro-govt newspapers said on Tuesday that the former army chief had become a "political pawn" in the hands of foreign countries against President Mahinda Rajapaksa. The story of Fonseka's release dominated the local media, with many a speculation about the war hero's future political plans. more..

Sarath Fonseka urges co-operation over war

May 22 (BBC) Sri Lanka must co-operate with any international investigation into alleged war crimes, ex-army chief Sarath Fonseka has told the BBC, a day after his release from jail. He said some Sri Lankan leaders were "hiding their faces" over the conduct of the war, as if they were guilty. But Mr Fonseka, who led the army to its 2009 victory over Tamil rebels, denied thousands of civilians had been killed. There have have been repeated calls for an international probe more..

Editorial: Political leaders must take a pay cut

May 22 (DM) France’s new President Nickolai Hollande, taking a courageous step to pull his country and the European Union out of economic recession, has announced that the austerity package is being relaunched at the top with a pay cut of 30 per cent for him and his Cabinet. This was a pledge Mr. Hollande had made during his election campaign and within four days he put the promise into practice to set a powerful example to the people and political leaders all over the world. more..

Shares slip one percent on Tuesday

May 22 (LBO) Sri Lankan shares prices slipped one percent on Tuesday, despite selective buying in blue chip counters, brokers said. The 280-stock All Share Price Index lost 52.11 points to close at 5,155.61 while the 25-stock Milanka Price Index fell 13.99 points or 0.29 percent to 4,656.51, according to Colombo Stock Exchange figures. Turnover was 296.3 million rupees of which foreign buying accounted for 119.5 million rupees and foreign selling 13.0 million rupees. more..

Central Bank sees weak rupee recovering to 125

May 22 (Reuters) Sri Lanka's central bank expects recent measures it has taken to boost the rupee will help the currency recover to below 125 to the U.S. dollar, but it is not targeting a particular level, Governor Ajith Nivard Cabraal told Reuters on Tuesday. The rupee is hovering around 129-130 despite a warning from the Treasury Secretary last month that the authorities would intervene in the market if it did not appreciate to 125. more..

Sri Lanka small builders in former war zone get German help

May 22 (LBO) Small construction contractors in former war zones in Sri Lanka's East are being given technical help to win construction projects involving post-war rebuilding which they were losing earlier, a German aid agency said. German Development Cooperation (GIZ) is working with the National Construction Association of Sri Lanka to train 22 builders in Amparai and Baticaloa districts, who were missing out on reconstruction projects. more..

TNA backs removal of military camps from north

May 22 (Xinhua) The TNA is continuing to press for the removal of army camps in the northern part of the country though President Mahinda Rajapaksa had ruled out such a move, an official said here Tuesday. TNA leader R. Sampanthan told the media that his party would continue to press for the removal of military camps in the former war-torn northern part of the country. "The current ratio of security personnel in the north of the country is one soldier to every eight civilians. more..

Govt. assures equal educational opportunities to all students

May 22 (GDI) Minister Bandula Gunawardena emphasized that the implementation of the circular preventing students transferring from one national school to another national school was made compulsory to prevent any injustice being caused to a student. He said that this action was taken to ensure the rights of students who have studied in under-privileged schools getting a better education in a national school as there are many schools without more..

Uni. non-academic staff stage 48-hour token strike

May 22 (AD) University non-academic staff have launched a 48-hour token strike today and tomorrow which will take place in all universities across the island. Non-academic staff had resorted to various trade union action in the recent past based on several demands including pay hikes. Authorities had then promised to resolve the issue, however so far no action has been taken, Treasurer of the Inter University Employees’ Trade Union Federation Edward Malwattage said. more..

Racket of smuggling elephant tusks via Sri Lanka busted

May 22 (CT) A large consignment of ivory and logs was detected by the Central Intelligence Unit (CIU) Sri Lanka Customs (SLC) at the sea port in Colombo today. The CIU had found three containers at the sea port while on their way to India and Dubai. On examination at around 10.30am it was found that one container had more than 300 elephant tusks, while the other consisted of logs. The items in the third container are yet to be identified by customs officials. more..

Hirunika writes to the President

May 22 (NF) Hirunika Premachandra, the daughter of Late Bharatha Lakshman Premachandra says that the power of the people's mandate should be used in a just manner for the benefit of the public. She had expressed these sentiments in a letter addressed to President Mahinda Rajapaksa. Hirunika Premachandra has commenced her letter to the President quoting a note from her diary on October 8, 2011. She has marked that particular day as "The Day I Lost My Soul". more..

Whose factory is it?

May 22 (DM) It was evident in Parliament today that even the govt members were not properly aware of subjects and institutions coming under each ministry. It was visible in the House when ruling party MP from the Ratnapura district Ranjith de Zoisa asked a question from the State Resources and Enterprise Development Minister. In his question, the MP asked about the closure of the Tile Factory situated in Kirimetihena in the Ratnapura district, denying employment to many persons. more..

Bill to restore SF’s civic rights

May 22 (DM) The main opposition United National Party (UNP) said it had formed a committee to draft a bill to be presented in parliament to ensure that Sarath Fonseka’s civic rights and military honors were restored and all penalties against him completely revoked. During Monday’s Working Committee meeting the UNP unanimously decided to set up a committee comprising lawyers Wijeydasa Rajapaksa, Lakshman Kiriella and Ajith P. Perera to prepare the draft bill. more..

Lawyers' right at Police stations approved

May 22 (DM) Deputy Solicitor General Shavindra Fernando yesterday informed the Supreme Court the regulations covering the rights of Attorneys-at-law to represent their clients at police stations has now been approved by the President under section 55 of the Police Ordinance and sent to the govt printer to be included in the gazette. The Bench comprising Justices N.g.amaratunga, Suresh Chandra and Chandra Ekanayake listed the matter to be mentioned on more..

Sri Lanka regulator tightens broker trading, settlement rules

May 22 (LBO) Sri Lanka's securities watchdog has tightened short term trading by workers and directors of broking firms and also passed strictures on future trading by a state bank, following a controversial stock purchase on which payment was stopped. SEC said market intermediaries will not be allowed to engage in trade below six months, crossing will be limited to 20 percent above market price and state-run National Savings Bank will have to present a more..

Freed General Fonseka promises to stay thorn in side of Sri Lankan govt

May 22 (Guardian) General Sarath Fonseka, the former Sri Lankan army chief released from jail on Monday, has vowed to fight the govt in Colombo and to change the nation's political culture. Fonseka, convicted on charges of graft and engaging in politics while in uniform, was freed by President Mahinda Rajapaksa after more than two years in prison. He said yesterday that he was determined to join forces with opposition parties – even if the terms of his release more..

Out of jail, Sri Lankan ex-general says government must go

May 22 (Reuters) He was pardoned by the president and released from jail, but Sri Lankan former army chief Sarath Fonseka had nothing but scorn for the govt on his first day of freedom and vowed to fight for its downfall. The ex-general said it could take 5 to 10 years to change the political culture of the island nation but he was determined to join forces with opposition parties even if the terms of his release prevented him from standing for office. more..

When students are tried and convicted by innuendo…

May 23 (NS) A couple of days ago a young rugby player died under tragic circumstances. Wasim Thajudeen was just 28 years old. His parents were naturally distraught. His father, M. Thajudeen captured it all thus: ‘We never thought this would happen. Now he has left us forever. He took with him all our hopes.’ That’s what children are to parents. Everything. And this is why parents try to give their children everything possible. They want the best for their children and are more..

Death of Sri Lankan diplomacy by suicide

May 23 (NS) The death of Sri Lankan diplomacy by suicide took place in Geneva on March 22. For 64 years, it had served the country well despite the size of its professional cadre and persistent political meddling by all regimes. The link between suicidal diplomacy and political directions received from Colombo is becoming obvious after the adoption of the resolution with anti-US and anti-Indian statements and actions being leaked to the media. more..

Long, Slow Journey to Normalcy

May 23 (NS) Life in the former war zone is slowly getting better. Having faced the brunt of the 30-year-old conflict, Kilinochchi and its suburbs are on development mode. Tharmapuram, lies between two key points, Mullaithivu and Kilinochchi, a small village along the Paranthan-Mullaithivu road, 15 kilometers from the Paranthan junction, East of Kilinochchi. It was one of those villages that withstood the height of fighting, more..

The beginning of the end of Sarath Fonseka’s politics

May 23 (Island) Sarath Fonseka has been released on a presidential pardon and nobody would have expected him to go back to the private hospital where he was being treated. However, it is clear that had he been not pardoned by the President he would most probably have been be in the hospital at least for a couple of days more. Anyhow, we are glad that he is now back at home and hope that he and his wife would look after his health, more than ever. However, even if he is healthy his more..

The Old Guard should give way to the New Young

May 23 (Island) The Tamil community in Sri Lanka is in a dilemma today because of several factors chief among them is the old-fashioned politics among the leadership, particularly of the so-called TNA which has sober people and extreme radicals, who refuse to see realities. Understandably the able Northern leaders decided the fate of the Thamilians in the North and East in the past. But they cannot do that anymore because there are emerging young people taking more..

Tragedy of the Sri Lankan State

May 23 (DM) Article 3 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights adopted and proclaimed by the General Assembly of the United Nations on December 10, 1948 states that; “Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person”. This is the basic human right from which the other rights contained in the two Covenants of the United Nations which entered into force in 1976 are derived. The Govt of Sri Lanka acceded to the two Covenants on 27 May 1980. more..

Editorial: Euphoria tempered

May 23 (Island) The euphoria generated by Gen. Sarath Fonseka's release from prison has been somewhat tempered. It was thought initially that the presidential pardon had removed his civic disabilities, but he has admitted his freedom is limited; he cannot exercise his franchise and contest elections, though he can take part in politics. The UNP has called for the restoration of all his civic rights. Many, no doubt, will endorse the UNP's call, but its admission that more..