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'UPFA, the biggest political common front since Independence'

Feb 17 (SO) Minister Johnston Fernando took on the rough and tumble of politics during the prime of his youth. Honest and forthright, he wouldn’t easily give in to his rival in political debates. As Minister in charge of Co-operatives and Internal Trade, he breathed a new lease of life into the Consumer Affairs Authority by throwing dragnet over errant traders. He said that in a situation where his own party is split into several factions and more..

Editorial : No political will to stamp our corruption?

Feb 17 (Island) Yesterday’s front page report in The Island quoting Senior Minister Dew Gunasekera saying that there was unprecedented corruption in the state sector and that the situation has now reached alarming proportions would not have surprised any reader. The public is only too well aware of this fact, though only in general terms. Gunasekera who is the Chairman of the Committee on Public Enterprises, the parliamentary oversight body, occupies a vantage position where more..

Editorial : Look West again

Feb 17 (SL) Sri Lanka will have to seek funds from international commercial capital institutions at high rates of interest to support budgetary proposals, news reports said last week. This follows the International Monetary Fund (IMF) refusing to provide any direct or indirect ‘budgetary support’ for Sri Lanka. Authoritative financial analysts say that now Sri Lanka has been classified as a Low Middle Income Country, the IMF considers that it has access to international capital markets. more..

'Promoting agricultural, fisheries sectors in EP, a top priority'

Feb 17 (SO) The recently appointed Minister of Productivity Promotion Basheer Segu Dawood, who is also chairman of the SLMC, said that he would work towards promoting the agricultural and fisheries sectors, which is the mainstay of people of the Eastern Province, while also contributing to improve the qualities of education and health. Tamil nationalist leaders who always opposed the govts in power more..

High time to regulate medical sector

Feb 17 (NS) Two incidents of alleged medical negligence shocked the country in the past few weeks and highlight the need to focus attention on the many malpractices in the medical sector, both by medical professionals and in hospitals. In the first incident, a young law student had to have her arm amputated. A final determination on the cause for the amputation is still being awaited but initial findings of a specialist committee suggested medical negligence. In the other incident, a young more..

Running away from politics, Angelo!

Feb 17 (ST) My Dear Angelo, I thought I must write to you when I heard that you had been appointed to that all important position of Sri Lanka’s cricket captain. Next to the appointment of the President, I think that is the most talked about position in the country, now that appointing the Chief Justice is not even worth a discussion! In many ways Angelo, I think your job is even more difficult than that of the President of the country. The President after all, is a politician. You on the other hand, more..

Boston Lanka with Jagath Wickramasinghe

Editorial: Diplomatic masochism for nationalistic support

Feb 17 (ST) Whether we like it or not, Sri Lanka’s economy and therefore the wellbeing of its citizens are inexorably intertwined with the outside world. We might want to be economically developed like Singapore, but fortunately we do not have to wholly depend on the outside world for our existence. And yet, there is no escape from the stark reality that much depends on external pulls and pushes for this country. We have no oil for starters. Much of what we require in a modern world, more..

UNP looks for No. 2, Govt. braces for Geneva

Feb 17 (NS) President Rajapaksa successfully concluded his visit to Thirupathi and Gaya in India last week. While the Sri Lankan media highlighted agitation campaigns led by Vaiko and Karunanidhi, Indian media focused interesting topic. They reported that an unexpected guest visited the President at the Padmawathie Guest House where the President spent his night after participating in the rituals at the Thirupathi Kovil. The guest was Alok Joshi who is the Chief of India’s RAW. more..

'Rajapaksas Ruined The Economy'

Feb 17 (SL) JVP MP Anura Kumara Dissanayake says that the govt is left with the options of either printing money or borrow, as pointed out by Minister Dr. Sarath Amunugama given the economic downfall faced by the country. “The President’s move has pushed the country further into the debt trap and the people have been further burdened to pay them back,” he said. Dissanayake explained that the country is in need of a more..

Navi Pillai Report: How Israel will save SL

Feb 17 (Island) If there is anything that the latest report that Navi Pillai, the UN Human Rights Commissioner, has issued on Sri Lanka should teach us, it is that a reasoned response is not the best way to react to this kind of document. Besides, there is nothing more unpleasant and tedious than a nagging foreigner citing various documents and claiming that we have not done this or that. The present writer has read every report that Western nations or Western dominated more..

Why IMF turned down Sri Lanka

Feb 17 (Island) Last week, SL sought support from the IMF which it did not get, and this has provided an opportunity for the opposition to charge that the SL economy is on the back foot. In the meantime, minister Wimal Weerawansa started publicly attacking the Treasury Secretary as an ‘economic assassin’ one of the charges being that PBJ was masquerading as the ‘god of loans’ and misleading the govt into making wrong economic decisions. Among the matters raised by Wimal was more..

The heat is on for Rajapaksa govt

Feb 17 (SL) President Rajapaksa and his govt are now facing pressure from ‘sleeping giant’ India with a little over a week for the commencement of the UNHRC sessions in Geneva. India that has remained silent, in relation to Sri Lanka, in the past few months has now started to send some warning signals to Colombo that its actions and statements are being closely monitored. The official announcement by the US that more..

UNP deputy leaders ‘not today but tomorrow’

Feb 17 (NS) The appointments of deputy leaders of the United National Party will be delayed by a few more months, highly placed party sources told ‘The Nation’. “Several issues have arisen with regard to the appointment of new deputy leaders. First, the party has to settle those issues. Then, the Working Committee will come up with a comprehensive plan with regard to the appointments of new deputy leaders,” a senior UNP MP told ‘The Nation’ on conditions of anonymity. more..

Bandara to form ‘Alternative UNP’

Feb 17 (SL) UNP MP, Palitha Range Bandara, said he has decided to form an alternative UNP faction which will then be part of an opposition coalition. He said some UNP members who were suspended from the party will also join the new party. Bandara said he will however continue to be a member of the UNP, but will work independently as part of the new alternative UNP. The UNP MP also said that former Army Commander, Sarath Fonseka, is expected to extend support to the new party and more..

Mission possible: 2013 version

Feb 17 (ST) There was a fresh breath of air on Thursday when the newly formed Sanath Jayasuriya and Co came up with their new lineup of players who are supposed to take the game into the future. Why I used the word supposed is that under the previous viewpoint both Mathews and Chandimal were somewhat fall guys, always having to look over their shoulders. Now the new selection committee has come out and more..

Ravi K. exposes Wimal’s bluff

Feb 17 (Island) UNP MP Ravi Karunanayake slammed the hypocrisy ofMinister Wimal Weerawansa for naming Treasury Secretary Dr. P.B. Jayasundera as the economic hit man when Weerawansa himself was a part of the govt which reinstated Dr. Jayasundera in that post. "This is indeed the true hypocrisy of Weerawansa, who himself was a part of the govt which reinstated Jayasundera after being convicted by the Supreme Court over the Lanka Marine Services more..

UNP Invites Fonseka

Feb 17 (SL) The UNP has issued an open invite to former Army Commander Sarath Fonseka to be part of a joint opposition. UNP MP Daya Gamage said that the UNP had already invited opposition political parties to be part of the joint opposition. He said that the open invite also stood for Fonseka and the UNP was willing to work with him if he considers the invitation. Gamage meanwhile also said that there are so many critics of UNP leader Ranil Wickremesinghe within the party. more..

Tough laws in the offing to strengthen rights of workers

Feb 17 (Island) With no proper statistics available on Sri Lanka’s industrial accidents and diseases, the envisaged ‘Safety, Health and Welfare’ legislative enactment will be a turning point in clearing the hurdles towards strengthening the rights of workers through stringent regulations, says Prof. Hemantha Wickramatillake, an expert in the sphere. "This proposed legislation will bring about many changes and a new era in safety more..

Death threats to Muslims

Feb 17 (SL) At least 50 Muslim shop owners in Narammala in the Kurunegala District, have received death threats by mail. They have been warned to close their shops by March 31 or face death, Kurunegala district organizer of the SLFP Abdul Sathar said. He said that a police complaint had been lodged over the death threats received by the shop owners. He also said that the Minister of Industry and Commerce Rishard Bathiudeen had also been briefed about the incident. more..

3,000 drunk drivers lose points

Feb 17 (ST) Drunk driving has led to more than 3,000 licence holders losing points, Motor Vehicle Registrar S.H. Harischandra said yesterday. The scheme termed Driver Improvement Point system was introduced in terms of the Motor Traffic Act and is intended to bring about better discipline among drivers. More than 3,000 drivers have had their points reduced under the system introduced last month for offences of drunk driving and fatal accidents, according to Mr. Harishchandra. more..

'Ranil-led groups trying to arouse communal feelings In the North'

Feb 17 (Island) Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa alleged that a recently set up political grouping led by UNP leader Ranil Wickremesinghe was trying to arouse communal feelings among Tamil speaking people living in the Jaffna peninsula. Rajapaksa charged that an attempt was being made to exploit the continuing presence of troops at Palaly to cause dissension in Jaffna. He was responding to Ranil’s more..

'Ban the burqa'

Feb 17 (CT) The controversial Sinhala Buddhist organization, Bodu Bala Sena, is to lobby for a ban on the burqa, the all encompassing Islamic female dress, in Sri Lanka. Ven. Kirama Wimalajothi Thera, the leader of Bodu Bala Sena said his association would be taking up the matter with the govt soon. "Malaysia banned the burqa when Prime Minister Mahathir (Mohammed) was in power. Those are fundamentalist traditions in the Middle East, which have recently been implanted in this country," more..

Ranil moots body to monitor LLRC

Feb 17 (ST) UNP Leader Ranil Wickremesinghe yesterday called for the appointment of a committee comprising govt, opposition and civil society members to monitor the implementation of the LLRC recommendations. Addressing a media conference in Kilinochchi at the conclusion of a two-day visit to the north, the opposition leader said the move would help to mitigate international criticism on the non-implementation of the LLRC recommendations. He said that the Govt could appoint 25 members more..

Lankans of foreign citizenship can now buy land here

Feb 17 (ST) Persons of Sri Lankan origin currently holding foreign passports are to be granted concessions to invest in the real estate sector in the country. The concessions come in terms of the scheme of payment which was hitherto extended only to Sri Lankans living overseas, but continuing to hold Sri Lankan citizenship. The Exchange Controller has offered concessions to Sri Lankans of foreign more..

India ousts Japan as largest vehicle supplier to Sri Lanka

Feb 17 (ST) India has ousted Japan from the latter’s long, established pedestal as the single largest supplier of vehicles to the Sri Lankan market. According to the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce (CCC), India continued to dominate the market for imported vehicles in 2012 accounting for 50% of the total imports. Japan, the CCC said, has been steadily losing its market share in Sri Lanka. In 2012 the market share of Japan further declined to 22% compared to 36% in 2011. more..

Particles in Kotte not from a Meteorite

Feb 17 (SL) The particles found near parliament in Kotte recently are not from a meteorite, Dr Chandana Jayaratne, said. He that investigations revealed that the particles were from melted carbide used for metal welding purposes. The particles had fallen in the garden near a house two weeks ago and reports at the time said that it was almost certain it was part of a meteorite. Meanwhile, commenting on the meteorite which fell in Russia on Friday, Dr. Chandana Jayaratne said more..

Britain shocked by shooting of journalist

Feb 17 (AFP) The Foreign Office voiced its shock and serious concern Saturday over the shooting of a British-Sri Lankan journalist in a Colombo suburb. Britain's South Asia minister Alistair Burt urged the Sri Lankan authorities to identify those behind the attack, which the UN human rights chief called an assassination attempt. Faraz Shauketaly, 54, a reporter with the privately owned Sunday Leader, whose editor was more..

Census Dept unaware of Police ‘census’

Feb 17 (NS) The ‘census’ carried out by the Police last week on traffic entering the city of Colombo which caused much inconvenience to commuters was designed by the Police and not the Department of Census and Statistics. Police offciers distributed questionnaires, expecting drivers to perfect them and return. Census Department sources claim that this is unscientific. They also maintain that the expertise of the Department was not solicited by the Police. Meanwhile the Police will conduct more..

Unfettered access for UN rapporteurs

Feb 17 (ST) An early draft of the United States sponsored resolution at the UNHRC calls upon the Government to allow “unfettered access” to UN rapporteurs responsible for different topics. They include mandate holders dealing with independence of judges and lawyers; torture; human rights defenders; freedom of expression; freedom of association and assembly; extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions; and the Working Group on enforced or involuntary disappearances. more..

Shooting of Sunday Leader journalist: Police run into a blank wall

Feb 17 (Island) Police sleuths probing the shooting of Sunday Leader journalist Faraz Shauketaly have apparently run into a blank wall with neither the identity of the gunmen nor the motive behind the attack established so far. "Investigators have still not been able to make any headway", Police spokesman, SSP Prishantha Jayakody conceded. Asked whether the police have found any clues to trace the attackers, he replied, "Not yet". more..

Lankans amongst top British Asians hosted by Prince Charles

Feb 17 (Island) The President of the British Asians Trust, Prince of Wales hosted a dinner for 250 British Asians last week at the Waterloo Chamber in Windsor Castle. The reception and dinner was hosted to thank supporters of the British Asian Trust and to mark its fifth anniversary. For the past five years, this was the fourth consecutive dinner hosted by Prince Charles to appreciate the work of British Asians. There were Sri Lankans, Indians, Pakistanis and Bangladeshis. more..

Local hotel rates expensive compared to more mature tourist locations

Feb 17 (ST) Sri Lanka’s average room rates are now competitive compared to the regional peers such as Maldives on the basis of the growth and the size of the industry, although the Sri Lankan hotel rates would seem expensive compared to the more mature tourist locations such as Thailand and Malaysia, analysts say. “This is purely due to the non-existence of multiple tiers in prices charged as compared to other tourist destinations such as Thailand or Malaysia which more..

Crisis after crisis: C’wealth, Geneva and anti-Muslim campaign

Feb 17 (ST) It was one time Mayor of Colombo and now senior Minister H.M. Fowzie who gave an interpretation of the two words that Muslims throughout the world are familiar with in their daily lives. One is Halal or action permissible under Islamic law. The other is Haram, any act or action forbidden by the same law. “If I sleep with my wife, it is Halal. However, if I sleep with another woman it is Haram,” he told his cabinet more..

'Halal certification legal and transparent'

Feb 17 (SO) Food exports from Sri Lanka to Muslim countries, especially to the Middle East may be adversely affected if Halal certification is withdrawn, Businessman cum Colombo District SLFP organizer M. Fawzan Anwer said. He said that food exports to Middle East alone exceed US $ 1 billion per annum.Anwer pointed that the Halal certification implemented by All Ceylon Jamiyyathul Ulama (ACJU) was legal and transparent. He also said that Halal certification process was completely more..

Kilinochchi DEC, a boon for farmers

Feb 17 (SO) Minister Johnston Fernando said the Govt will set up a Dedicated Economic Centre (DEC) in Kilinochchi to help farmers secure a reasonable price for agriculture products and provide cheaper food items to consumers. Following the discussion on Thursday with President Mahinda Rajapaksa and the Minister on the proposed DEC the President directed that construction work on the Kilinochchi DEC be completed as early as possible, the Minister told the Sunday Observer more..

Talk at the Cafe Spectator

Feb 17 (ST) Minister G.L. Peiris loves to jet set from one world capital to another is too well known. So much so, it was the topic of discussion when Pedro Hendrik, one time Brazil’s Ambassador to Sri Lanka, hosted Peiris for lunch in Brasilia, the capital of Brazil during the Minister’s visit last week. “How do you cope with it,” asked Hendrik who went on to give advice to Peiris. The External Affairs Minister, the veteran flyer, more..

Fishermen from Sri Lanka, India clash at sea

Feb 17 (Xinhua) A group of fishermen from Sri Lanka and India clashed in Sri Lankan waters in the early hours of Sunday. The clash had occurred along the International Maritime Boundary which divides both countries, in the northwestern seas of Mannar, said navy spokesman Kosala Warnakulasuriya. He said that they had received information about the clash and had sent a navy boat to make inquiries and defuse more..

UNHRC voting members to attend GTF event

Feb 17 (SL) Foreign Ministry representatives from voting countries of the UNHRC are scheduled to attend a conference hosted by the Global Tamil Forum (GTF) in the British Parliament on the 27th of this month. A GTF spokesman said that British MPs, both in the govt and opposition, are among a host of invitees scheduled to address the conference. Deputy Prime Minister and Leader of the Liberal Democrats Nick Clegg, more..

Nawaloka denies culpability after 15 days

Feb 17 (NS) Fifteen days after Buddhini Kaushalya’s death at Nawaloka Hospital, the hospital authorities claim that “child was NOT put into the M.R.I machine." Five-year-old Buddhini Kaushalya of Mabima, Kelaniya died at Nawaloka Hospital in Colombo on February 1. It was widely reported that she died while undergoing an MRI scan. The family of Buddhini Kaushalya accused Nawaloka hospitals of negligence which, more..