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Sri Lanka 2012

Editorial: JVP hell-bent on destroying undergrads' future

Sept 9 (SO) The Govt has allocated billions of rupees on free education, from the kindergarten to postgraduate degrees. But to what extent have students used this unique facility is worth an appraisal. Funds allocated on the country's higher education system go down the drain due to wildcat strikes in the universities. While undergraduates engage in strikes at the drop of a hat during a major part of the year, university dons and non-academics spend the remaining more..

Editorial: Evolve a foreign policy grand strategy

Sept 9 (LB) The mob attack against 180 odd Sri Lankan pilgrims in Tamil Nadu, which triggered a travel advisory by the Ministry of External Affairs in Colombo is symptomatic of a much broader and multifaceted problem that the stakeholders in Colombo, New Delhi and Chennai should strive hard to resolve. Seven bus loads of Sri Lankan tourists were visiting Velankanni Church when they came under an attack by activists associated with pro LTTE, MDMK party on Monday. more..

'The Opposition is blind to reason'

Sept 9 (SO) His affable but almost authoritative tone as the Defence Spokesman always asserted the Govt’s stand to defend the territorial integrity of the country during the height of the war against LTTE terror. It evoked a sense of relief to the war-weary listener. Minister Keheliya Rambukwella now as Cabinet Spokesman has become a popular and amiable personality to the media fraternity. He spoke on a wide range of more..

Editorial: Douse the fires in Tamil Nadu

Sept 9 (SL) Tamil Nadu leading politicians and their racial extremists have been whipping up an anti Sri Lanka frenzy in recent weeks. This outcry in the 65 million populous South Indian state had resulted in scheduled joint military exercises between India and Sri Lanka being put on hold while pressure is still on the New Delhi govt to expel Sri Lankan military personnel being trained in Indian military establishments throughout the country. The Internet blog World Post has reported that 45O such more..

Editorial: Great Wall of China II

Sept 9 (NS) In Tamil Nadu (TN), some thugs attacked Sri Lankan pilgrims. The victims were Tamil. The thugs were goaded by the rhetoric of TN politicos who act as approvers and apologists. The attack, the 20th this year, has raised concerns about the future of the already strained relations between the two countries. TN is not India, of course, but Delhi’s policy on Sri Lanka has always been influenced by the arithmetic of regional politics. Those in power and more..

‘No intelligent govt. will harass academics’

Sept 9 (LB) The FUTA last week said it cannot stop striking unless the govt produces an “action plan” to implement the various education-related promises it has made. Mahim Mendis, the union’s spokesman also said the govt knows full well that academics are respected while politicians are not. Q: The govt has reopened universities and announced there will be admissions. Isn’t this a positive sign? more..

Editorial: Three new white elephants

Sept 9 (Island) When you read this comment today, the first of the provincial council election results will be in and you would know the whole picture by the end of the day. There is no escaping the reality that for most people, provincial councils mean little or nothing. They do little to improve the lives of ordinary folk and only worsen bad governance and power abuse that is very much the order of the day. The much vaunted devolution, forced down the throats of the whole more..

Editorial: Jackals and the mafia of crooks

Sept 9 (ST) The news that the Securities Exchange Commission (SEC) which regulates the stock market is investigating 17 alleged manipulators is in the public domain now. This was revealed in this newspaper three weeks ago and remains un-contradicted. No doubt, these 17 remain innocent until proven guilty, but the question is why the Govt – or Parliament, is maintaining a deafening silence on the issue. There’s little to wonder why. Colombo being a relatively small city more..

‘The FUTA strike is an amazing one’

Sept 9 (LB) Minister S.B Dissanayake warns that if the striking university dons don’t return to work, he would seek the intervention of the labour commissioner to resolve this matter ‘once and for all.’ Q: What prompted you to open the universities that were shut down in the wake of the strike launched by FUTA? A: It must be said at the outset that the majority of university lecturers never backed the strike launched by FUTA. more..

Big picture politics downplays T’Nadu antics

Sept 9 (NS) Elections for the North Central, Sabaragamuwa and Eastern Provincial Councils were sidelined during the last week by multiple incidents of harassment meted out to Sri Lankan pilgrims, mostly Tamils, in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu. A total of 184 pilgrims had to face two protests and an attack on the buses arranged hastily to get them out of the country. This was the 20th such attack this year. Spurred by virulent anti Sri Lanka invective frequently carried out by more..

Jayalaliithaa’s acting the fool over Sri Lankan visitors

Sept 9 (NS) Clearly demarcated battle lines emerged this week between Sri Lanka and the South Indian state of Tamil Nadu as its Chief Minister Jayalalithaa Jayaram upped the ante in her campaign against Colombo, resulting in an unsavory chain of events. It was Jayalalithaa, who had been vocal in her anti-Lankan sentiments in recent times and quite literally set the ball rolling by ordering the return of the football team of Royal College, Colombo who played a game against more..

Who can salvage Lanka’s cricket?

Sept 9 (ST) Paradoxically, cricket in Sri Lanka is at crossroads. Fundamentally, the game is well established and has one of the longest histories – though the country was admitted to the big league only in 1982. Yet Sri Lanka’s achievements in that short period surpass the deeds of some of the giants in the game. Yet, ironically can it now sustain the same intensity and vibrancy with which the country reached many a milestone not so long ago? more..

Ranil in Passekudah

Sept 9 (Island) As the provincial councils election campaign wound to a close last week, Ranil Wickremesinghe turned up for the Seruwila meeting in the Trincomalee district last weekend after having stayed the previous night at the Rs. 30,000+ a night Maalu Maalu resort hotel in Passekudah. Ravi Karunanayke, Daya Gamage and Gayantha Karunatilleke had arrived separately for the Seruwila meeting. The Seruwila meeting had been organised by the electoral organiser, Dr Aruna Sirisena. more..

Voter apathy envelops polls

Sept 9 (LB) Yesterday’s provincial council elections were a foregone conclusion. That might have contributed to the voter apathy, which manifested in the record low voter turnout of barely 50 per cent. Voter turnout was as low as 43-45 per cent in the Sabaragamuwa Province. If it is anything to go by, this election would be remembered for its manifestations of the growing disengagement and frustration of the local voters at the electoral process. more..

Wind power plants snagged by delays at Norochcholai

Sept 9 (Island) Lanka Ventures PLC, a joint venture between the DFCC Bank and HNB, which has invested substantially in the renewable energy sector is now actively considering further diversification in this sector through investments overseas, Mr. Nihal Fonseka, Chairman of the company has said. Already a 10 MW wind power plant involving an investment of Rs.384 million has been completed in the Kalpitiya peninsula. more..

Indo-Sri Lanka relations put to the test

Sept 9 (SL) Despite statements made to the contrary by the two governments, relations between India and Sri Lanka hit a major snag last week when a group of 184 Sri Lankan pilgrims to Velankanni in South India were attacked by anti-Sinhala protestors. The attack on the pilgrims was one in a series of attacks and harassments suffered by Sri Lankans visiting South India. In fact, it was considered the last straw by the Mahinda Rajapaksa govt, which also considered it the best opportunity to take a step against South India. more..

Mahinda Jai Ho, Jaya hoo-hoo

Sept 9 (ST) My Dear Jayalalithaa, I thought I must write to you because you are making news these days, commenting on everything that is Sri Lankan ranging from training for our military to schoolboy football teams touring Tamil Nadu. You seem to want all Sri Lankans to leave your state! Don’t worry, Jayalalithaa, we here Sri Lanka appreciate your concerns and understand why you are saying all this. After all, as Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu it is not an easy task to be in the limelight all the time, so what does it matter even if more..

Expats brief GL on transfer muddle at the Sri Lankan High Commission in UK

Sept 9 (Island) A group of Sri Lankan expatriates briefed Minister Prof. G.L. Peiris on the "unfortunate developments at the Sri Lankan High Commission in London", during his visit to the UK last week to speak at the 30th International Symposium of Economic Crime. A key issue that was raised was the abrupt transfer of Deputy High Commissioner M.R.K. Lenagala before the end of his tenure, "without any acceptable reason". more..

Cinema in Jaffna a bone of contention

Sept 9 (LB) Minister and Leader of the EPDP Douglas Devananda said he will vacate his EPDP office located in the Srithar cinema hall, Jaffna, if Mr. Mahendraraviraj who resides in Australia and claims he is the owner of the theatre, could prove the property belongs to him. The minister is alleged to have been occupying the premises for the past 14 years illegally. It is also revealed that the owners are afraid to file action in court for fear of armed retribution. more..

Customs busts Colombo-Mumbai gold ring

Sept 9 (NS) Airport Customs sleuths have busted a gold smuggling ring that had been in operation between Colombo and Mumbai for over a period of time involving millions of rupees. The customs officials had arrested three young men who were carrying 33 slabs of gold worth Rs.20 million. “This smuggling operation had been a lucrative one due to the high gold value in India with the same persons having smuggled gold out of the country on several previous occasions,” the Director, Customs more..

'Rumours spread to create a rift between SF and Tiran'

Sept 9 (LB) The reports that DNA MP Tiran Alles has resigned from his position as general secretary is a rumour, claims Anoma Fonseka. She said, the DNA leader Sarath Fonseka did not receive Tiran Alles’ letter of resignation and it’s a rumour to rip the party. Media organizations stated that MP Alles who was the main negotiator to secure Fonseka’s release from prison had tendered his resignation, and would join the UPFA and more..

‘Kelani Palama’ loan sharks disappear

Sept 9 (ST) ‘Loan sharks on Kelani Palama’, the lead news item in the Business Times last week, drew a lot of public attention with leading bankers expressing concern on illicit money lending operations. A senior official of a leading bank called for stern action against unlicensed money lending syndicates as it will affect the formal lending operations of banks. Law enforcement authorities should crack down on such syndicates, he added. These loan sharks spread their message of money lending for business and personal more..

Defending champ Thangaraja and Dulal enter final

Sept 9 (ST) Defending Sri Lanka Amateur golf champion Nadarajah Thangaraja kept up to his supporters’ expectations when he cruised through to the final of the 125th Sri Lanka Amateur Golf Championship with a 3 and 2 win over his teammate N. Ranga in the semi final played at the RCGC yesterday. This was one of the two quarter final matches remaining to be played after it was called off due to bad weather on Friday with Thangaraja leading three up after completion of the more..

Thousands of devotees gather to worship Sacred Kapilavasthu Relics at Gangarama

Sept 9 (IL) The Sacred Kapilawasthu Relics are now being in exposition around the clock at the Gangarama Temple in Hunipitiya, Colombo. The public can pay homage to the Sacred Relics from noon today (8) to Tuesday 6 pm on Sept 11. This morning the Sacred Kapilavastu Relics were brought to the Gangaramaya, another main venue of the ongoing exposition of the Sacred Relics in Sri Lanka from the previous venue, more..

Delay in doctor transfers hit health sector

Sept 9 (NS) The health sector in three provinces - Sabaragamuwa, North Central and Central - have been badly hit by the delay in transfers of doctors despite transfer orders been made three months ago. These transfers have been effected in consultation with the Govt Medical Officers Association (GMOA) and sent to all Regional and Provincial Health Directors three months ago, claimed GMOA Media Spokesman Dr. Naveen De Soyza. He cited a pending court case filed by more..

'Tiran’s resignation has no impact'

Sept 9 (NS) The Democratic National Alliance (DNA) said the resignation of its parliamentarian Tiran Alles would not have any bearing on the alliance. DNA Secretary, Wijitha Herath said Tiran had resigned from the post of Secretary to the Democratic National Party (DNP), which was headed by former army commander Sarath Fonseka. “That is a problem within the party. The resignation will not affect the DNA or its political activities in anyway,” he said. more..

UN team to meet civil society groups

Sept 9 (ST) A UN delegation visiting Sri Lanka sequel to the US-backed resolution at the UNHRC will meet civil society groups to obtain their views on human rights and related issues. The govt, which changed its earlier stance not to allow such a delegation to visit Sri Lanka, has now agreed to allow the delegation to seek varying views. The civil society groups include those that were in Geneva last week to provide a response to the the National Report for the Universal Periodic Review more..

No drop in number of Sri Lankan pilgrims to State

Sept 9 (Hindu) Despite the travel advisory issued by Sri Lanka to its citizens against travelling to Tamil Nadu following incidents of violence in Tiruchi, the flow of pilgrims remains normal. According to Rev. Kalawane Mahanama Thero, Chief Monk of the Mahabodhi Society’s Chennai centre, the flow of pilgrims was normal. “Even yesterday there were about 1,200 people from Sri Lanka. I told pilgrim groups that the situation here is peaceful and calm and they need not cancel their programmes. more..

95 Sri Lankan Tamil refugees detained after migration bid

Sept 9 (Hindu) In an overnight operation that ended early on Saturday, the Mangalore police prevented a group of 97 persons — 95 of them believed to be Sri Lankan Tamil refugees — from embarking on an unsafe and illegal sea voyage in a bid to migrate to Australia. The police have arrested 13 persons of the group who allegedly took money from the rest, promising them lucrative jobs in Australia. The Mangalore police said 84 persons, including 22 women and six children, more..

Kovil ritual to go ahead

Sept 9 (SL) The govt has agreed to allow the Munneswaram Kovil to proceed with their animal sacrifices, Hindu Affairs Advisor to the President Ravi Shankar said. He said that the agreement had been reached between the chief priest of the temple Kali Mutta Shivapada Sundaram and President’s Secretary, Lalith Weeratunge. Animal sacrifices can take place after September 12, when the sacred Kapila Vastu relics leave the island, Weeratunge has told Sundaram. more..

Cairn India to decide on Sri Lanka’s oil viability

Sept 9 (Reuters) Cairn India will start a second round of drilling and surveys as part of its Sri Lankan oil exploration programme in the first quarter of 2013, before deciding on its commercial viability by mid year. The Indian firm has concluded its first oil exploration phase in the island nation’s offshore Mannar basin, discovering gas and condensate in two out of three wells drilled, CLPL-Dorado-91H/1z and CLPL-Barracuda-1G/1, although their commercial viability more..

Japan to issue Sri Lanka commemorative coin

Sept 9 (Kyodo) Japan will produce a commemorative coin with a face value of 1,000 Sri Lankan rupees to mark the 60th anniversary of the countries' diplomatic relations, officials said Friday. It is the second time since the war that the Japan Mint has received an order from another country to produce coins. The first was New Zealand in 2007. The Sri Lankan coin, which will bear a picture of a power plant built with Japanese financial aid, will be sold in both countries. more..

Travel travails in face of TN terror

Sept 9 (ST) The travel industry is feeling the crunch of the government’s ban on pilgrim tours to Tamil Nadu where scores of pilgrims have been stoned by mobs. Indian media reports have accused supporters of Tamil Nadu Chief Minister, Jeyalalithaa Jeyaram, who is spearheading an anti-Sri Lanka campaign of carrying out the attacks. However, in Colombo, the Deputy External Affairs Minister, Neomal Perera has accused Tiger guerrilla groups. more..

Three bribery cases filed against CP chief minister

Sept 9 (SL) The Commission to Investigate Bribery and Corruption has filed three cases against Sarath Ekanayake, Chief Minister of the Central Province and two others in the Chief Magistrates Court Colombo for pressurizing a principal to admit nine students to grade 1 in 2008. Chief Minister Ekanayake, Education Director Central Province Wijesiri Herath and President’s Coordinating Director Hema Madiwela have been cited as respondents in the cases. more..

TISL wants President to empower Bribery Commission

Sept 9 (Island) Transparency International Sri Lanka (TISL) has appealed to the President Mahinda Rajapakse to publicly announce that the Commission to Investigate Allegations of Bribery or Corruption (CIABOC) is an Effective and Independent Public Institution, empowered to impartially and free of political influence and bias to carry out its operations and achieve its set vision and goals. TISL says it is particularly pleased with the reference made by the more..

Results of polls will shape Govt. policy on vital issues

Sept 9 (ST) The UPFA govt’s popularity, both in Sri Lanka and abroad, will be measured today by an unusual yardstick — the outcome of yesterday’s polls for Sabaragamuwa, North Central and Eastern Provincial Councils. The main thrust of the govt has been to demonstrate, both here and to the outside world, that despite criticism on a multitude of issues, the UPFA continues to enjoy the confidence of the people. more..

Proposed litigation offers hope for London Met. foreign students

Sept 9 (Island) There is a glimmer of hope for foreign students including around 100 Sri Lankans studying at the London Metropolitan University as this key centre of higher learning has decided to legally challenge the UK Border Agency (UKBA) for revoking the license to sponsor international students. The institution said it was initiating immediate legal action against the UKBA so that its students can return to study "as a matter of urgency". more..

Woman complains of physical and verbal abuse by Pamunugama Police – AHRC

Sept 9 (Island) The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) last week reported an incident where, when a woman identified as Ms. Tresa Dorin Marcus tried to make a complaint to the Pamunugama police that her son-in-law was in possession of an illegal weapon, the officers had sided with the culprit and verbally and physically abused her. Under pressure from the Police Headquarters, Pamunugama police officers later searched Dorin’s house for the weapon but more..

Unemployment rate of Youth on the rise

Sept 9 (SL) The unemployment rate amongst the country’s youth, between 19-25 years, stands at 21% from a total population of two million people. This is an increase of 2% since 2009 according to M. Ratnayake, senior statistician at the Department of Census and Statistics. Globally, according to the CIA fact file, this unemployment statistic places the country at 39 out of 180. There has been a gradual increase in more..