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PM, ministers & MPs tied to Wanathavilluwa 'GreenField' land fraud

Dec 22 (LT) Roshan Ratnayaka alais Helgasan, a Norwegian national has been released by Puttalam Magistrate Ms. Bharathy Wijeratna on two Rs.10 million bail on charges of selling a 160 acre state land at Wanathavilluwa after partitioning it using a fake deed. He has sold the blocks of land appearing as a chairman of a firm known as ‘GreenField’ Plantation Development & Management while PM D.M. Jayaratna, Minister Ranjith Siyambalapitiya, the Minister Jagath Pushpakumara and more..

President’s cameraman sacked after caught shoplifting in Dubai

Dec 22 (AD) A video camera operator of President Rajapaksa’s media unit was reportedly caught stealing a camera from a duty free shop at the Dubai airport, while returning with the official entourage from the recent visits to South Africa and Kenya. President was returning from a State visit to Kenya where he attended that country’s 50th year of independence and taking part in the funeral service of former South African more..

C’bo Uni. Senate gives nod to cancel MD final exam provisional results

Dec 22 (Island) Amidst allegations of irregularities in the MD (Family Medicine) final exam conducted by the Postgraduate Institute of Medicine (PGIM) in July 2013, the Senate of the Colombo University has given the go-ahead to cancel the provisional results of this key postgraduate qualification. With the unofficial results declared null and void, the Senate, taking into consideration the findings, observations and conclusions of the report submitted by the Committee of Inquiry, more..

Video: Ranil compares Mahinda to ‘King Ajatasatru’

Dec 22 (AD) UNP Leader Ranil Wickramasinghe accused President Rajapaksa of creating problems within the UNP and destroying it, similar to the manner in which King Ajatasatru created divisions during the righteous rule of the Licchavi king. He stated that Ajatasatru, a king of the Magadha empire in ancient north India, had resorted to creating tensions within the democratic Vaishali Republic in order to conquer it and that the Rajapaksa govt is engaging in the same tactic. more..

MP Arundika seeks legal advice on alleged ethanol racket

Dec 22 (AD) Puttalam District MP Arundika Fernando strongly denied any involvement in the Ethanol smuggling racket and claimed he was mulling legal action against those who level such allegations against him. Responding to allegations leveled by the opposition regarding his involvement, Fernando claimed there was no truth in them, though he admitted that two persons mentioned in the report compiled regarding more..

Revisions to HRCSL Act submitted to President

Dec 22 (CT) Chairman of the Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka (HRCSL), Dr. Prathiba Mahanamahewa, said revisions to the existing Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka Act, which contains five recommendations, had been submitted to the President as well as the Minister of Justice for their perusal, two weeks ago. The recommendations submitted for the reversal of Section 15 of the Human Rights Act specifies the Human Rights Commission should be endowed with more..

Tax concessions for Casinos likely – UNP

Dec 22 (SL) The UNP cautioned the public, saying it has credible information that the government is now planning to re-amend the gazette notice on “integrated resorts”, allowing tax concessions for casino and gaming. Speaking to The Sunday Leader, MP Ajith P Perera said the government has refrained from using the terms ‘Casino’ and ‘Tax concessions’ in the last week’s gazette notice mainly to get it passed in Parliament without any public outcry. more..

'Private bus industry will collapse by 2020'

Dec 22 (LB) The Lanka Private Bus Owners’ Association says that the private bus industry will completely deteriorate by the year 2020 and that the govt is responsible for it. LPBOA Chairman Gemunu Wijeratne stated that private buses have seen a 20% decline in passengers in the past 5 years and that if the decline continues in the next five years not only the private bus industry but all bus owners will be “wiped out”. more..

Sri Lanka’s forgotten sons

Dec 23 (SL) The nation today is moving fast towards a better future with so many development projects planned and some already implemented. As a result more and more job opportunities arise in all corners of the country in many different fields. Isn’t it right, then, for me to make this humble appeal to the leaders of this nation to consider making it compulsory to fill some vacancies in every project or in every Govt and private sector, with next of kin of a servicemen who has sacrificed his/her life more..

Manju’s redemption bid head-butted

Dec 23 (SL) THE first test facing Manjula Wanniarachchi’s ambitious bid to redeem the 2010 Commonwealth Games gold medal whichhe lost to a failed drug test, and as well to mend his damaged reputation,was to be the 2013 National Boxing Championship, concluded last week. The ABA had designated the country’s premier competitionas the trial to select a pool of boxers from which ourteam for the 2014 Commonwealth Games would eventually be chosen. more..

'Sri Lanka needs criminal laws to check terrorist activities'

Dec 23 (SO) In the backdrop of disturbingly frequent divisive comments and speeches made by certain TNA MPs in Parliament and during campaigns in the Northern Province, calling for the celebration of LTTE martyr days, a separate national anthem for the Northern Province and attempts at glorifying terrorist leaders, the Sunday Observer interviewed international terrorism expert and Head of International Centre more..

Cinnamon sparks spicy debate between Danish bakers and food authorities

Dec 23 (Island) It's a case of sugar and spice and all things not-so-nice in Denmark where cinnamon-gate is pitting Danish food authorities against the nation's bakers. The isssue: is the spice, a staple of the Danish pastry and one of the quintessential fragrances of a Christmas kitchen, good for you or not? For years, cinnamon has enjoyed a reputation for being something of a super spice with claims that it could help to lower blood sugar, fight bacteria, reduce inflammation and more..

CA Sri Lanka, Uni of Jaffna join hands to develop accounting education

Dec 23 (Island) The Institute of Chartered Accountants of Sri Lanka and the Department of Accounting of the University of Jaffna entered into a MoU recently which aims to develop and strengthen the accounting education and the profession across Sri Lanka. The MoU which was signed between the President of CA Sri Lanka Mr. Sujeewa Rajapakse and Vice Chancellor of the Uni of Jaffna Ms. V Arasaratnam will permit the institute and the university to share resources and knowledge. more..

Stop shooting the messenger: High Commissioner for South Africa

Dec 23 (SL) Following the recent expression of interest to assist in a reconciliation process in Sri Lanka by South Africa, New Delhi based SA High Commissioner to Sri Lanka, Geoff Doidge said that while Sri Lanka already had a good base with which to take the country forward in the LLRC where ‘excellent work was done’, there also was the need for another process. “I don’t have a magic answer for Sri Lanka what that more..

Wanted: Code of Conduct for MPs

Dec 23 (ST) If the nagging questions over his marital strife which he said was shared by 95 per cent of this country’s people were not enough for him to handle for one week then questions as to his financial affairs raised in the same week concerning his purchases of many valuable properties were enough to make the Minister Mahindananda Aluthgamage come out of his corner charging furiously into the attack. In reply to a question raised in Parliament last week more..

Who is to blame for shaming Sri Lanka?

Dec 23 (ST) A chance conversation this week reminded me forcefully as to why and how Sri Lanka’s problems of reconciliation between communities and indeed, of post-war understanding between social classes remain so hopelessly tangled. This was when a matron domiciled overseas took umbrage at demonstrators holding placards against the govt at international conferences, including the Nov Commonwealth Summit, querying plaintively as to whether more..

Beyond Boston: Upananda Karunaratne

Closer look at the fiscal dynamics of Budget 2014

Dec 23 (ST) Sri Lanka stands at important crossroads as it makes a decisive transition into a middle-income economy. With GDP growth targeted at 7.5 – 8 per cent over the medium term, the need for effective fiscal consolidation cannot be over-emphasised. In this light, recent budgets have shown concentrated efforts to address fiscal management by pursuing the commendable strategy of cutting down on recurrent expenditure while maintaining higher capital expenditure. more..

Modi Wave and Sri Lanka

Dec 23 (CT) Everybody is talking about the “Modi Wave in India” after the BJP secured victory in all four State elections held recently. As different political analysts come up with contradictory opinions and predictions about the Modi Wave, let us also discuss it. Narendra Modi is the Chief Minister of Gujarat, which was a poverty-ridden backward State when he assumed office in 2001. As he was able to transform the State to a model for the rest of the Indian States to follow, more..

'Interrogate Mangala to find drug dealers in Parliament'

Dec 23 (CT) With the controversy surrounding the involvement of PM, D.M. Jayaratne, in a heroin scandal reaching new heights everyday, religious as well as political leaders seem to be divided into two groups with one believing the PM is guilty and the other defending him. In one such instance, UNP MP, Mangala Samaraweera, went to the extent of declaring in Parliament the PM’s complete innocence more..

Cricketing is not for sissies

Dec 23 (ST) “That’s the way the cookie crumbles”. Oh! Yes I have seen it many times before and I am sure I even have used that phrase before. Yet, reoccurrences like what I am going to jot down below could well afford to carry phrases which are being reused. It was not many moons ago that the English cricketers were almost invincible. Their batsmen, more often than not, were on song. The English bowlers — both pace and spin — had done their homework mapped out at the more..

Malinga's throw, and Afridi's blinder

Dec 23 (CI) Even on his better days Lasith Malinga struggles to hit the stumps from close up, but in the last few months his fielding had deteriorated even further. He dropped a sitter to reprieve Mohammad Hafeez for 26, but in the 31st over, he partially redeemed himself with a sharp piece of fielding. Hafeez pushed a Malinga delivery away on the off side and seeing that only the bowler was in a position to field it, Ahmed Shehzad took off for a run. Hafeez sent Shehzad back but more..

Scholarships for Studying in India

Dec 23 (HCI) The Govt of India is pleased to announce the offer of 180 ICCR scholarships for higher studies in India to pursue undergraduate, Post Graduate and Phd courses. These scholarships are available for study in all the courses except medicine. Scheme-wise details are as follows: Nehru Memorial Scholarship Scheme: 100 slots are being offered under this scheme covering all the Undergraduate courses more..

View from Ritigala - by mahasona

Dec 23 (NS) He was everyone’s father or grandfather. He was brother to others. A relation, friend, fellow-citizen. No one needs to make a paternity claim in public. And yet, we had Chandrika Kumaratunga saying ‘He treated me like a daughter’. Looks like someone is starving for publicity. The world will forget the claim and the claimant by and by, but not Mandela. The lady might have to replay this song again and again. What’s the title? ‘I am someone’s love child, I’m sure I am, more..

Govt. capitalizing on weak Opposition

Dec 23 (NS) Now, it is official: the Western and Southern Provincial Councils will be dissolved in the coming weeks and elections will be held shortly. The announcement was made by the secretary of the ruling UPFA Susil Premajayantha this week. It is an indication that the govt and President Rajapaksa are keen on pursuing their tried and tested tactic of holding staggered provincial polls with the aim of further dividing and destabilizing the Opposition, principally the UNP. more..

All-round Hafeez sinks Sri Lanka

Dec 23 (CI) It was only a matter of time until Pakistan's method yielded a heavy victory in the series. As their batsmen conformed to the blueprint they had laid down in the first two matches, Pakistan hit their second mammoth score in three innings, to sink Sri Lanka by 113 runs. Mohammad Hafeez was again the architect of the victory, shifting from stable at the outset to sublime at the finish on his way to a career-best 140 not out more..

Indians intrude into SL labour markets

Dec 23 (ST) Indians working in Sri Lankan paddy fields has become a bone of contention with experts pointing out that lack of local labour has certainly become an issue. These observations were made by outgoing CIC Chairman B.R.L. Fernando during his address at the Postgraduate Institute of Management’s (PIM) awards ceremony on Wednesday. Army Commander Lt. Gen. Daya Ratnayaka was the chief guest at the event. He noted that Indians were coming to the country more..

Let’s pay tribute to our children

Dec 23 (CT) The G.C.E. (A/L)-2013 results are out. Fruits of years of practice, years of study, many a night in and night out of burnt midnight oil, have been borne. Indeed they are sweet and thoroughly refreshing. Adhitha Dias of Richmond College Galle was ranked first in Mathematics, Amaya Mahatanthila of Eheliyagoda Madya Maha Vidyalaya was ranked first in the Bio-science stream, while Methsarani Lokuge of Devi Balika Vidyalaya, Colombo was ranked first in the Arts stream. more..

Asian shipowners urge Sri Lanka to reconsider action on surcharges

Dec 23 (FT) The Asian Shipowners’ Forum (ASF), the representative of the 15 shipowners’ associations in Asia, announced that it will shortly file its comments urging the Sri Lanka Govt not to ban collection of surcharges, including the terminal handling charges (THC). According to ASF, the ban, proposed in the budget, could isolate Sri Lanka from the international community and drive shipping business away from the country’s ports. more..

Cleft lip and palate repair surgery unit in Vavuniya, a relief to poor parents

Dec 23 (ST) Children born with cleft lip and palate defects in the North now have the opportunity to undergo repair surgery at a unit recently opened at the Vavuniya General Hospital. Dr. Ranjan Mallawaarachchi who heads the unit said children with this defect needed to be operated at a young age to avoid complications later on in life. The unit is supported by Smile Train, an international childrens charity that helps millions of children worldwise who suffer from cleft lip and palate problems more..

Rs. 300,000 monthly to light up Vihara Maha Devi park at night

Dec 23 (ST) An additional Rs. 100,000 is incurred to illuminate the newly renovated Vihara Maha Devi park. The 500 lamps which were set up all around the park at a cost of Rs. 80 million, costs the Colombo Municipal Council Rs., 300,000 a month for electricity charges. Prior to the renovation of the park it cost Rs. 200, 000. Halogen bulbs that lit up the park earlier were replaced with more than 500 LED and CFL bulbs in order to save energy. Park electricity bill had previously cost Rs.200,000. more..

Sajith alleges LC useless but ready to join it if ...

Dec 23 (Island) Having attended the 55th annual convention of the party at Sirikotha on Saturday, UNP MP Sajith Premadasa alleged that the Leadership Council (LC) headed by Karu Jayasuriya hadn’t been vested with real powers to deal with the existing crisis in the party. He insisted that the LC should be constitutionally empowered to replace Ranil Wickremesinghe as the leader of the party without further delay. more..

Botanical garden for every district

Dec 23 (DN) A botanical garden will be set up in every district, Botanical Gardens Minister Jayarathna Herath said. He said the ministry's new botanical garden project will get off the ground in 2014. He said the importance of developing centres for public recreation is felt strongly with the peaceful atmosphere and tourism revival experienced in the country after the 30 year war. Herath said at the commencement of the project, a botanical garden will be set up in Kilinochchi. more..

Kandy MC budget passed, UNP absent

Dec 23 (Island) Kandy Municipal Council budget for the year 2014 tabled by Mayor Mahindra Ratwatte was passed by all 14 votes of the ruling UPFA in its favour on Friday. The solitary SLMC member also voted for the budget. The ten UNP members were not present at the time of the vote. Leader of the UNP Neranjan Wijeyeratne at the conclusion of the debate on the budget said that the members of the UNP opposed the budget on a directive issued by the party headquarters. more..

Sri Lanka IMF rep gets warm send-off

Dec 23 (LBO) Sri Lanka's resident representative from the IMF, Koshy Mathai got a warm send off from authorities in the island at the end of four years and the first completed program in the island's history. "We had a good program, we had a very interesting outcome and after that we had some adventurous times in our country's economy," Governor Nivard Cabraal said at a farewell organized by the Central Bank. more..

Geetha gets President’s backing

Dec 23 (Island) Actress turned politician Geetha Kumarasinghe said yesterday that the President had told her to continue as UPFA’s Chief Organiser for Bentara-Elpitiya and wanted her to perform even better after she complained to him that there was a conspiracy to oust her. "A few provincial Councillors were conspiring to deprive me of the post of Chief Organiser and with the dissolution of the Southern Provincial Council they will be rendered powerless," she said. more..

‘Sinhala-Muslim harmony program’ launched

Dec 23 (FT) Sri Lanka’s National Program for Ethnic Harmony, the most active program in Sri Lanka working towards nurturing harmony between ethnic groups, launched a program on Sinhala-Muslim harmony. The program was held at the Hilton Residencies with the patronage of the President/National Organiser of the program Most Ven. Prof Kumburupitiye Vajira Thero and the president of Muslim affairs, Dr. Abdul Cader Moulana. The occasion was graced by more..

TN yet to hold meet with Lankan fishermen

Dec 23 (DH) The Tamil Nadu govt has been dilly-dallying on a proposal to hold a meeting between the representatives of fishing communities of the state and Sri Lanka, notwithstanding the frequent uproar over the arrest of fishermen by the Sri Lankan Navy. The AIADMK Govt in Tamil Nadu has been sitting on the Centre’s proposal for facilitating a meeting between the leaders of the fishermen of India and SL more..

UNP in talks with other parties

Dec 23 (CT) UNP is to take a decision at the next meeting of the Party’s Working Committee, on whether the Party should form an alliance to contest any future General or Provincial Council elections that are to be held in 2014. Chief Opposition Whip, John Amaratunga said, to date, neither the Leader of the Party, Ranil Wickremesinghe nor any member had spoken of the stance the Party would take on forming an alliance with any other Party to contest any of the upcoming elections. more..

Lakshman Hulugalle hospitalised

Dec 23 (AD) The former Director General of the now-defunct Media Center for National Security (MCNS), Lakshman Hulugalle has reportedly been hospitalised due to a sudden illness. Recent media reports had alleged that Hulugalle was linked to the transfer of 23 officers and constables from the Police Department’s Organised Crimes Investigation Unit, who were involved in the raid of a casino in Town Hall area. Hulugalle, however, has denied he made any such request. more..