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PMK’s plea to UN Human Rights chief

Aug 24 (AD) India’s Pattali Makkal Katchi (PMK) urged UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navanethem Pillay, who is visiting Sri Lanka for a week from Sunday, to ensure that the Lankan forces reportedly deployed in Tamil-dominated areas, were withdrawn by the govt. In a statement, PMK leader S. Ramadoss said though the war had come to an end, a large number of Armymen had been deployed in the Jaffna peninsula and alleged that Tamils were living like prisoners in their area. more..

Lanka envoy discusses labor issues with Saudi labor minister

Aug 24 (AN) Labor issues topped the agenda at a meeting held this week between Labor Minister Adel Fakeih and Sri Lankan Ambassador V. Krishnamoorthy. Krishnamurthy said: “I met with Minister Fakeih to discuss Sri Lanka-Saudi labor relations.” He said that the amnesty period gives Sri Lankan workers an opportunity to rectify their status in the Kingdom or leave Saudi Arabia gracefully without facing embarrassment. more..

Smuggled high-spirit, high-lifers’ drink in the market

Aug 24 (ST) An upmarket imported alcoholic beverage of 68% strength and green in colour, has found its way into the local market, a recent raid by the Excise Department revealed this week. As of now, the Excise Dept has recovered some 300 such bottles, mainly from supermarkets and nightclubs, Excise Commissioner General D.G.M.V. Hapuaarachchi said. “The product, illegally imported from a port in France, had been in ‘circulation’ over a considerable period of time,” he said. more..

Attack on Mandana is a continuation of media suppression – SLJTU

Aug 24 (LT) The members of the gang that broke into the residence of journalist Mandana Abeywickrema are not thieves but as a part of the continuation of the media suppression states the General Secretary of Sri Lanka Journalists’ Trade Union (SLJTU) Priyantha Karunaratna. He said this to the media when he arrived at the residence of the President of SLJTU the journalist of ‘Sunday Leader’ after it was attacked by thugs and the journalist and her family were threatened. more..

Audio: Armed men threaten journo (Attack details)

Aug 24 (CG) A group of men with knives and at least one hand grenade in their possession, threatened journalist Mandana Ismail Abeywickrema at her Bambalapitiya residence early this morning. The men had forced their way into the house through the side door while her husband was out and she was at home with her young daughter and parents. They cut the line of the home telephone and removed the battery more..

Railway unions warn of TU action

Aug 24 (LT) The Railway Combined Union Alliance, which is made up of 13 Railway trade unions, has written to the President demanding solutions for the crisis encountered by the Railways Department and issues of employees. Among the issues the Alliance has highlighted are: Handing over a land of 29 acres near Railways head office on a 99 year lease that would not benefit the Railways Department but would hinder the future development of the department, Despite 7 years have passes more..

Global Excellence Award for Maithripala

Aug 24 (CT) Minister Maithripala Sirisena, has been bestowed with the ‘Global Excellence Award’ by the World Health Organization (WHO), for his work towards reducing the harm caused by tobacco to the public. The award will be handed over to the minister by President Rajapaksa at a special ceremony at the BMICH on 3 September. Secretary to the Ministry of Health, Dr. Nihal Jayatilake pointed out that so far, six million people have lost their lives as a result of smoking. Hence, the WHO has recognized more..

'Children of innocent parents to the precipice while those of ministers reach outer space'

Aug 24 (LT) The present Rajapaksa govt drags the children of innocent people in the country to the precipice but takes measures to send children of ministers and MPs of the govt to the outer space says the General Secretary of the JVP Tilvin Silva. He said, “The govt states a message is given to the international community through the elections to the North – Eastern, Central and Northern provinces. It is a lie. more..

Time for forces to be in barracks - GR

Aug 24 (Island) Law and order, and a serene environment were a must to attract foreign investors and tourists to the country to develop the nation. Therefore, the police had to maintain a friendly rapport with the people, Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa said yesterday, He was speaking at the Special Task Force Training School in Katukurunda. Addressing the passing out parade of the 68th Intake of the STF, that comprised 403 new officers, Rajapaksa stressed that more..

Kidney disease: Swarna Hansa to demand UN compensates victims

Aug 24 (Island) Swarna Hansa Foundation (SHF) yesterday said it would seek compensation, from the United Nations, on behalf of those suffering from the kidney disease prevalent in the country. Swarna Hansa Foundation head Gallege Punyawardena claimed that all agro-chemicals, used in paddy farming and other cultivations, over a period of 30 years, had been the major cause of the widespread kidney disease in Sri Lanka, especially in the North-Central province. more..

Samurdhi officers forcing newly resettled to work for UPFA

Aug 24 (Island) The people who had recently been resettled in the Kilinochchi District complain that Samurdhi officers in the area are forcing them to work for the UPFA polls campaign with the threat that if they don’t, they would be deprived of relief. President of the Women Rural Development Committee, Anaiwilundai in Kanagarayankulam in the Kilinochchi Divisional Secretariat, Nadarasa Vanitha said that there are 450 families that more..

BJP wants 13A implemented

Aug 24 (AD) India’s main opposition Bharatha Janatha Party (BJP) says that it too is in support of the implementation of the 13th Amendment to the Constitution of SL, as proposed under the Indo-Sri Lanka accord of 1987. The party’s spokesperson Meenakshi Lekhi said that the BJP favored the implementation of the 13th amendment and thus ensure the rights of minority Tamils. Tamil Nadu parties have called for the full implementation of the 13th Amendment without any amendments. more..

GMOA calls for legal action

Aug 24 (CT) The Govt Medical Officers’ Association (GMOA) called for legal action to be taken against the companies that sold and advertised several milk products, which were found to be contaminated with Dicyandiamide and Clostridium Botulin, over the last few weeks. Banning contaminated milk products and temporarily shutting down companies are pointless, if no legal action is taken against the companies responsible for marketing contaminated milk powder, medical practitioners claimed. more..

Bollywood Sri Lanka war film pulled in UK, south India

Aug 24 (AFP) A Bollywood spy thriller set against the backdrop of the Sri Lankan civil war has been pulled from British and some Indian theatres after protests over its depiction of rebel fighters, the movie's distributors said on Saturday. Madras Cafe, which opened on Friday, features John Abraham as an Indian secret agent sent to Sri Lanka during the island's decades-long conflict between the government and separatist Tamil rebels. more..

Irrigation Dept. faced with severe shortage of manpower, funds

Aug 24 (Island) Irrigation Director General Eng. Badra Kamaladasa says that her Department was confronted with a severe shortage human and financial resources. Addressing a meeting at the Department’s Weerawila Unit head office, with representatives of farmer communities, under the purview of Lungamvehera-Kirindi Oya Irrigation Project, Kamaladasa said that there was a shortage of 450 irrigation engineers. In addition, there was a dearth of around 600 work supervisors, more..

Father, daughter complain to SC against protests

Aug 24 (Island) Two persons from the same family, father and daughter, have complained to the Supreme Court against unlawful and unauthorized protests and demonstrations along highways. The petitioners, Sanath Athukorale of Nugegoda and his daughter Sathma, claim that such unlawful and unauthorized protests and demonstrations along public highways are a public nuisance. They have said that the Court should formulate guidelines to direct the Defence Secretary and the more..

India participating in ProFood ProPack and Agbiz 2013

Aug 24 (HCI) The ProFood, ProPack and Agbiz 2013 was inaugurated on 23rd August 2013 by Minister Basil Rajapaksa, and Y.K. Sinha, High Commissioner of India at a function organized at BMICH, Colombo. India is participating in 'ProFood ProPack 2013' as a partner country. 2. The number of Indian companies participating in the exhibition has grown over the years. This year, about 65 Indian companies are participating in the exhibition. more..

Stay clear of insidious elements

Aug 25 (SO) Shady elements, both here and abroad, have embarked on a vicious campaign to rob Sri Lanka of its hard-earned peace. They have set a secret agenda in motion to create unrest and project a gloomy picture on the country and its democratically elected Govt ahead of the CHOGM scheduled for November. Certain isolated incidents have been blown out of proportion to give a different picture and mislead the international community on the eve of CHOGM 2013. more..

Elections: Free and fair or win at any cost

Aug 25 (SL) Each time an election comes around the Commissioner of Elections announces the Do’s and Don’ts to candidates, informs them of the rules and regulations and ensures them of a free and fair election. Quite often after the election there are protests, particularly by the losers which at times are quite justifiable. The faults are not with the Election Chief but with the quality of candidates and the limited powers an Election Chief is officially vested with. Sadly for Sri Lankan democracy, more..

'Opposition political parties lack the common touch'

Aug 25 (SO) The Deputy Speaker Chandima Weerakkody said the duty of the Opposition political party leaders at present should be to go before the people and canvass to obtain their support. But the UNP and TNA leaders are not canvassing at the grassroots level. They are canvassing internationally which is a serious matter as far as democracy is concerned. During an election period, especially, they should win more..

Abusing State resources for election purposes

Aug 25 (Island) Readers would not have been surprised about reports of ruling party candidates at forthcoming elections flagrantly abusing state-owned vehicles for campaigning. This is a long established practice with incumbents of political office regarding the property of the various institutions they serve (we use that misnomer tongue-in-cheek for lack of a suitable alternative) as theirs to use as they wish. So when elections come round, they commandeer vehicles belonging to such organizations more..

Open your mind, watch your gate 

Aug 25 (NS) It is reported that a ‘Copper Mafia’, operating mainly from Pettah in Colombo, is illegally exporting more than four billion rupees worth of copper scrap every year, hoodwinking the Customs Department and the Ministry of Industry and Commerce. As of now, there’s no mechanism to trace the operation. Over the past few weeks among the issues that gripped the interest of ordinary people was that of contaminated milk powder. The focus, naturally, was on the big player, more..

'People know we are trustworthy'

Aug 25 (SL) JVP candidate at the NWPC, Namal Karunaratne says that the people of this country are facing many hardships with rising cost of living. Patients at govt hospitals have to buy medicines from outside. Even farmers’ fertiliser subsidy has been reduced and fishing community has been affected as they are unable to cope with the rising fuel costs. The provincial council elections are being held under these circumstances. more..

Welcome Ms. Pillay

Aug 25 (ST) Today’s arrival in Sri Lanka of the Geneva-based UN High Commissioner for UNHCHR bears testimony to the stark reality that the modern world is framed in such a way that countries that dare stand up to the economically and militarily more powerful Western nations, especially the US, are condemned to be scrutinised down to every minute detail by the so-called ‘international community’. The United Nations is where it is done. Sri Lanka has fallen into this category. more..

To stay or go?

Aug 25 (ST) My Dear Manmohan, I know you would have received an official invitation from GL, our international postman whose job these days is to fly around the world delivering invitations for the Commonwealth summit, but I thought of writing to you too, to clarify a few issues. Instead of accepting the invitation and thanking us for it, you had refused to tell our professorial postman whether you would attend the summit or not, and said you will “wait and see”. Although our postman seemed to be more..

'UNP plans to achieve prosperity for people'

Aug 25 (SL) Former Opposition Leader of the North Western Provincial Council and UNP group leader at the forthcoming provincial council election Prasanna Shamal Senerath says that the provincial councils failed the people miserably in improving their living standards. The people have lost faith in the entire system, due to the financial misappropriation in the central govt which also affected the provincial councils. more..

From the Floor: With an opposition like this...

Aug 25 (NS) Last week, the House met for two days – Wednesday and Thursday. The first sitting day had been allocated for a full day debate on recent military crackdown of protest at Weliweriya. This was a debate that had been demanded by the Opposition since the previous week the House sat. In ideal situations, it is natural to expect that an Opposition, had it been powerful, could score full marks over the govt on a debate on such an issue where shootings had resulted in several more..

Sri Lanka woos India ahead of elections and CHOGM

Aug 25 (NS) There are just 27 more days for the Provincial Council Elections in North Western, Central and Northern Provinces. The Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP), the main constituent party of the ruling United People’s Freedom Alliance (UPFA), asserts it has no competition in the North Western and Central provinces, but the final result of the Northern Provincial Council will be decided by the weight and devotion maintained by the contesting parties during the campaign. more..

Boston Lanka: Film, 'Madras Cafe'

India using CHOGM for diplomatic leverage

Aug 25 (NS) India is again playing political games with Sri Lanka, trying to use the CHOGM for diplomatic leverage and attempting to impose its designs for the devolution of power on Colombo. This became apparent when Minister G.L. Peiris visited New Delhi this week to personally invite Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh for the CHOGM. Singh refused to confirm his participation at the summit. It was a diplomatic snub not only for Peiris but for Sri Lanka as well. more..

Navi Pillay: The Worst Case Scenario

Aug 25 (Island) The govt has been preparing for the visit of UN Human Rights Commissioner Navenetham Pillay the way a school would prepare for the visit of a school inspector. The various steps that were taken in recent times, the re-remanding of the suspects allegedly responsible for the killing of five students in Trincomalee, the setting up of a commission to investigate the alleged disappearance of certain individuals in the north, the detaching of the police department from more..

From top of cricket mountain, now we see the entire valley

Aug 25 (ST) In this tiny island nation of 20 million people there are four major divides. First it is ethnic, then it is religious, then comes the political divide and the fourth, believe it or not, it is cricket. The first three divides have evolved with humanity and they have had many phases and faces along the way; but the cricket divide got embedded into our society during the final fifty years of the last millennium and since has grown into epic more..

Pillay to checkmate the Rajapaksa juggernaut?

Aug 25 (SL) The Rajapaksa govt will this week face a litmus test on the position of democracy and human rights in the country during the visit of UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay. There has been a lot of buzz in the days leading up to Pillay’s visit and the govt is seemingly working overtime to create a ‘good’ image of the human rights situation in the country. What the govt has forgotten is that it has no one but itself to blame for the concerns raised by the international more..

Army to further reduce troops

Aug 25 (SL) The army says it will continue scaling down the army presence in Jaffna. Last Friday the army handed over 46 houses and over 55 acres of land to the owners in Valikamam and Vadamarachchi. Brigadier Ruwan Wanigasuriya said that army recruitment has also been scaled down with the end of the war. “Scaling down troops in the north commenced with the end of conflict. For example at the height of the conflict in 2007 we had close to 45,000 troops in the peninsula more..

'Govt-doctors’ messages on milk confusing'

Aug 25 (ST) Most Sri Lankans drink milk and believe the govt and sections of the medical profession are responsible for confusing signals on the consumption of milk, a poll found this week. The poll was conducted on the street and by email with over 800 respondents and, asked whether milk is consumed by the household, more than 90% of the respondents said YES. To another question on whether milk consumption is based on more..

Blind can cast their vote

Aug 25 (SL) Minister Felix Perera says a special Act has been introduced where blind people can mark the ballot and cast their vote at an election with an assistant of their choice. He said that the Department of Elections has also been informed of the new Act which will take effect from the provincial council elections in September. He said that earlier a blind person had to seek the assistance of an official of the Elections Department at the polling center to cast the vote. more..

MOD not formally informed

Aug 25 (SL) The Ministry of Defence (MOD) was not formally informed of America’s decision not to provide training to two Sri Lankan military officers. Army spokesman said that the only information they received about the applications being rejected is through media reports. Chief of Defence Staff General Jagath Jayasuriya had said last week that one officer had already been cleared for the US govt sponsored programme after it was rejected on an earlier occasion but yet it was rejected more..

Copper Mafia robs rs 4 billion

Aug 25 (NS) A ‘Copper Mafia’, operating mainly from Pettah, is illegally exporting more than 4 billion rupees worth of copper scrap every year, hoodwinking the Customs Department and the Ministry of Industry and Commerce. Export of copper comes under heavy scrutiny from Customs Department and exporters need to obtain a special license from the govt to legally send copper scrap out of the country. In addition, a 30% Cess more..

Sri Lanka a Chinese colony, says UNP

Aug 25 (SL) Sri Lanka has become a Chinese colony and this was evident following the opening of the expanded Colombo port recently, says the main opposition UNP. Its General Secretary Tissa Attanayake said that the port is under contract to a Chinese company in Hong Kong till 2048. He said that over 50 percent of the income from the new section of the Colombo port will go to the Chinese company in Hong Kong. “Only 15 percent will be earned by the Colombo Port,” he said. more..

Give more exposure for fringe players

Aug 25 (Island) In a couple of weeks’ time, New Zealand ‘A’ will arrive in the island for a brief series against their Sri Lankan counterparts. ‘A’ team cricket is an integral part of development of players, but sadly authorities in the last four years have not given importance to this aspect. Thankfully they have realized the mistakes and an effort has been made to give the fringe players regular exposure. As you read, Sri Lanka’s under-23 team is in Singapore while the under-17 team is in the UK. more..