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Karu Jayasuriya on pilgrimage returns after protests in TN

Feb 21 (PTI) A Sri Lankan MP on a pilgrimage to the temple town of Thirukkadaiyur in this district had to return today after activists of various political parties, including pro-Eelam outfits, staged a demonstration in that town. Police said the MP Karu Jayasurya had arrived at the town last night to offer worship at the famous Lord Amirthakadeswara temple. This morning pro-Eelam activists came to know of his visit more..

Wimal to boycott Cabinet until P.B. removed

Feb 21 (SM) Minister Wimal Weerawansa is to boycott Cabinet meetings until Dr. P.B.Jayasundera is removed from the post of the Secretary to the Ministry of Finance. Minister has stated this when some Ministers asked him in the Parliament recently why he did not attend several Cabinet meetings. It is reported that he said that like what was done by Prince Dutugemunu he is planning to send a woman’s attire to the President and ask him whether the President of this country is P.B? more..

Sunk boat survivors in limbo

Feb 21 (SMH) The 32 surviving Burmese asylum seekers - who were forced to throw nearly 100 dead shipmates overboard as their Australia-bound boat drifted in open seas off Sri Lanka - face a state of limbo, with the Burmese embassy so far refusing to claim them as citizens. The 31 men and one boy were rescued from their stricken and sinking vessel by the Sri Lankan navy last Saturday, more than 320 km from land. They told their rescuers that 98 others on board had died of dehydration and more..

India rejects reports of radiation leaks at Kudankulam

Feb 21 (PTI) India today dismissed as "baseless" the reports here about radiation leaks at the yet to be commissioned Kudankulam Nuclear Power Plant in Tamil Nadu, saying it has a robust regulatory mechanism to ensure safe operation. "These reports are totally baseless. There has been no radiation leak at the Kudankulam Nuclear Power Plant," an Indian High Commission statement said. It said presently, various more..

Dinesh cautions Delimitation Commission against haste

Feb 21 (Island) There was no necessity for the National Delimitation Commission (NDC) to complete its task, of re-demarcating the local electoral boundaries in the country, in haste to keep to a deadline. It also should take into consideration the recommendations of the Buddhist Commission, Minister Dinesh Gunawardena said. He was making oral submissions before the National Delimitation Commission, Chaired by senior SLAS officer Jayalath Ravi Dissanayake at the NDC more..

Sri Lanka nabs 28 illegal immigrants to Australia

Feb 21 (PTI) Sri Lankan police today arrested 28 people, including five children, while they were trying to illegally migrate to Australia by boarding a fishing trawler. They were arrested on their way to the Mirissa fishing harbour in the southern coastal district of Matara intending to board a fishing trawler for the risky voyage to Australia, police said. The arrested belong to former battle zones of north and east. Among those arrested were their three helpers from the south, police added. more..

Sri Lanka urban index finds prices rising 20% over year

Feb 21 (LBO) An index that tracks key essential expenses of urban middle class households has found that prices rose more than 20% over the past year, about double that of a widely watched official index. Capital Alliance Research, tracked the prices of food and drink, fuel and light, communications, transportation across the past year found that prices rose 21.6% in the year to January 2012. The official Colombo Consumer Prices more..

View from Ritigala

Feb 22 (NS) JVP General Secretary Comrade Tilvin Silva was in a foul mood the other day. Addressing a gathering of faithfuls in Piliyandala, Tilvin said that the Govt. was insane. The Govt., the rathu sahodaraya says, is in a pissu-kelina mode, or ‘doing crazy things’. It’s not just the Govt., though. Tilvin says that the janathava (people) are also in pissu (crazy). Our ever-green revolutionary is upset that even though the Govt is heaping burden upon burden on the masses, the masses continue more..

Preserving the Pristine and the Pure

Feb 22 (NS) Ancient kings who ruled the country never failed the nation, but supported its existence or survival at crisis times and gave priority to agriculture. Providing irrigation facilities was one of the main targets of all rulers and they built enormous water reserves and tanks in all parts of the country. Sri Lanka, the island nation is a country rich in natural resources and added to those are the several man made tanks, rivers and lakes. The last kingdom of the island nation, the capital of more..

The coming assault on Sri Lanka

Feb 22 (NS) Sri Lanka is destined to be confronted with an array of serious external assaults in the coming months. As preludes to these diplomatic, political and perhaps economic assaults, we have had anti Sri Lankan protests in India, moves to censure Sri Lanka at the forthcoming Commonwealth Ministerial Meeting and a new resolution against Sri Lanka to be presented in Geneva. Protests and hate-campaigns in more..

Lady in Green

Feb 22 (GV) am travelling from Colombo to the United States. Who doesn’t like a change of pace? There will also be additional passport stamps. While I consider myself a pretty well-stamped man, one cannot be satisfied with past achievements… I absolutely love flying. I am looking forward to the reading and catching up on movies. I’ve wanted to see “Argo” for a while now. I’m also looking forward to the miles. Now that I’m Platinum, I get double miles whenever I fly. This is one sweet deal. more..

A brief note on Buddhism, Ethnicity, and Peace

Feb 22 (GV) A walk through the archeological and artistic ruins in the North central province is not complete without a stop by the Sandakada pahana (the moonstone) that gives an artistic depiction of the milestones one may go through while practicing the eightfold path. The outer ring of flames depict what we experience in the society – sense of insecurity, urge to become something else, paranoia, jealousy, hatred, etc., that are wrapped up in one word called suffering. more..

Theft of coconuts by minor Police or Mediation Board matter?

Feb 22 (NS) Just eight coconuts, worth no more than 320 rupees. Yet, for stealing them from her neighbor’s garden a 13-year-old teenager’s future has been shred to tatters. And, all because she wanted to raise the money, requested of her, by her school authorities to paint the school buildings.The Grade 8 student of the Horana Medankara Maha Vidyalaya’s ‘crime’ committed early this month was considered a big enough crime to be brought more..

65% of net foreign inflows in 2012 from first-time investors: CSE Chief

Feb 22 (FT) In a major attestation that Sri Lanka is a newfound attractive destination, 65% of the net inflow to the Colombo stock market last year was from first-time foreign investors. After two years of heavy flight of cash, the Colombo Bourse saw net inflow of Rs. 39 billion or over $ 300 million last year. CSE Chairman Krishan Balendra revealed at the Invest Sri Lanka forum in Mumbai yesterday that 65% of the net inflow was from first-time investors to emphasise the growing attractiveness of more..

Rajapaksa transparency: Come! come over and see for yourselves!

Feb 22 (CT) As reported in the “Island” of 5th Feb 2013, President Rajapaksa has belligerently and emphatically stated at the Independence Day Celebration “Do not believe something just because it is said ….. We tell the people of the world – Come! Come Over and See for yourselves!” Any individual who accepts this at face value can only conclude that Sri Lanka is blest with a self confident and assertive President who is, at the same time, the last word in “Transparency and Accountability”. more..

What’s the real story over failed loan bid?

Feb 22 (ST) What’s the real story behind the failed bid to secure a US$1 billion loan from the IMF? The Central Bank announced that Sri Lanka was not pursuing the loan request. It said “the IMF has indicated that the Fund may not be in a position to consider any direct or indirect budget support to Sri Lanka, since the current improved status of Sri Lanka does not warrant unconventional and exceptional financial support to more..

Who are full of “It?”

Feb 22 (CT) Consequent to my protest at my column not appearing in The Sunday Leader on the 17th of February, I received a response from its editor stating that this was due to space constraints in that issue of the paper resulting from the need to report on the attempted killing of staffer Faraz Shauketaly. I am accepting this explanation in the context of this being the second instance on which this has happened at The Sunday Leader since the change of editor (and control) at that newspaper more..

People's Bank new chairman assumes duties

Feb 22 (DN) The newly appointed chairman of People's Bank, Gamini Senarath assumed duties at the People's Bank Head Office yesterday. A reputed officer in the Sri Lanka Administrative Service, Senarath is the Chief of Staff to the President. An old boy of Richmond College, Galle who graduated from the University of Kelaniya, he also holds a Post Graduate Degree in Computer Science from the University of Colombo. After graduating from the University of Kelaniya, Senarath joined more..

Plantation wage hike fears looming

Feb 22 (DM) A plantation sector wage hike is expected by mid-2013 as the two-year collective agreement, which was struck between the Regional Plantation Companies and the Lankan estate sector labour unions back in early 2011, is reaching expiration. An equities report pointed out that the impending wage hike, coupled with the increase on cess on bulk tea exports (though not large after the revision) could more..

Shangri-La launches school development project

Feb 22 (DN) The initiatives by Shangri-La Hotel to strengthen the local community by improving access to quality education is a fine example of cooperation between the private sector and the community, Speaker Chamal Rajapaksa said. He was speaking at a ceremony at the Dehigahalanda Vidyalaya marking the upgrading of the facilities of the school by Shangri-La Hotel. The hotel management has brought in major direct foreign investment as a gesture of service to the community. more..

Visitors say Colombo city better than New York city : Defence Ministry official

Feb 22 (ST) The regeneration of urban development of Metro-Colombo region is making the Colombo city a ‘green haven’ and to prove it, Rohan Seneviratne, Additional Secretary, Technical, Ministry of Defence and Urban Development, — at a Colombo event recently, gave examples of well developed areas like the Independent Square, Galle road, well-done pavements, etc. Making a presentation on ‘Current and Future Urban Regeneration Programmes for the Metro-Colombo Region’, this week, more..

Sri Lanka invites Indian investment

Feb 22 (PTI) Sri Lanka today invited Indian business community to look at investment opportunities in its sectors such as ports, tourism and financial services. "Sri Lanka is now the fastest growing economy in South Asia. With impressive growth expected in key sectors such as ports, tourism, real estate, financial services and outsourcing industry, this is the most propitious time for existing and potential investors to more..

Editorial: The truth must be told

Feb 22 (Hindu) New photographs of a 12-year-old Balachandran Prabakaran in the apparent custody of Sri Lankan security personnel in the final days of the war against the Tamil Tigers have caused widespread anguish and outrage, and understandably so. Last year, when another photograph showing the body of the LTTE chief Prabakaran’s son with visible bullet wounds on his chest surfaced, Sri Lanka’s explanation that the boy died in crossfire seemed plausible. more..

Editorial: Of that insurance rumpus

Feb 22 (Island) Some JVP-led trade unions have, as we reported yesterday, declared war on the National Insurance Trust Fund (NITF) for allegedly curtailing benefits for state employees. They demand that all workers be treated equally and given the same benefits as the Ceylon Electricity Board (CEB) and state bank workers. This looks a fair demand. Sri Lanka boasts a free health care system, but, in reality, people are dependent on the private sector health care providers. more..

US is bullying Sri Lanka: Congressman

Feb 22 (DM) The United States should not bully a small country like Sri Lanka, considering the difficulties it has had to face during a 30 year conflict, a member of the US House of Representatives who is visiting Sri Lanka, said yesterday. “Why is the United States taking the lead in bullying a small country like Sri Lanka; when Sri Lanka has gone through a terrible conflict? Should we be looking at other countries when our own more..

GK depositors attack Navi Pillay on impeachment

Feb 22 (DN) United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay should keep her hands off the internal affairs of Sri Lanka, the Golden Key Depositors Association charged, in a letter addressed to Ms Navy Pillay. The Association regretted that she has poked her nose repeatedly into the internal affairs of Sri Lanka for the past two years, the letter stated, adding that depositors had been “victimized in the South Asian region’s highest valued, white-collar criminal fraud.” more..

Tamil MPs disrupt Prez speech over Lanka crimes

Feb 22 (DH) Tamil Nadu MPs on Thursday shouted slogans during President Pranab Mukherjee’s maiden address to a joint sitting of Rajya Sabha and Lok Sabha, demanding that India should strongly denounce the alleged “war-crimes” committed by Sri Lankan armed forces in the 2009 offensive against LTTE. National Conference MP from Jammu and Kashmir G N Ratanpuri too tried to raise the issue of execution of Afzal Guru, who was convicted of 2001 attack on Parliament. more..

‘Probe sexual violence against Tamils in SL’

Feb 22 (Hindu) The Human Rights Watch (HRW), a global human rights organisation, has sought an international investigation into reports of sexual violence, rape, third degree torture against Tamil women and men carried out by the Sri Lankan security forces to get confessions from those suspected to have links with the then LTTE. The HRW, which has prepared a 140-page report, “‘We Will Teach You a Lesson’ more..

Myanmar nationals refuse to leave Sri Lanka

Feb 22 (DN) The 32 Myanmar nationals rescued by the Sri Lanka Navy refused to go back to their country, the Police said yesterday. Police sources said the Myanmar nationals, who reportedly belong to the minority Muslim Rohingya, said they left the country with no hope of returning. Sri Lankan authorities detained 17 of the 32 rescued until they are handed over to the Myanmar govt. The rest are also to be detained at the Mirihana Transit Detention Camp through the Galle prisons by more..

Callum Macrae: Without truth, there can be no justice or peace

Feb 22 (TOI) Callum Macrae's documentary No Fire Zone: Sri Lanka's Killing Fields is making waves, showing war crimes during the LTTE-govt conflict. Speaking with Manoj Ramachandran, Macrae discussed his views on the Sri Lankan govt, why accountability is crucial — and how India can help. Q: Why is your film significant? A: What's significant is the shocking scale of war crimes committed by a govt which claims democratic legitimacy and adherence to international humanitarian law. more..

Some households paying world’s highest electricity rate

Feb 22 (Island) Sri Lankan households which consume more than 300 units of electricity a month pay the highest rate per unit in the world, despite an average unit cost of Rs. 22.00 to produce a unit of electricity in Sri Lanka, a renowned energy expert says, urging the govt to be more fair and transparent with pricing policy while implementing reforms and a pricing formula already in place, ‘they do have to be reinvented’. more..

Sri Lanka’s authoritarian turn

Feb 22 (ICG) As the UNHRC prepares to open its 22nd session next week, the Sri Lankan govt has made no meaningful progress on either reconciliation or accountability and instead has accelerated the country’s authoritarian turn, with attacks on the judiciary and political dissent that threaten long-term stability and peace. Sri Lanka's Authoritarian Turn: The Need for International Action, the latest report from the International Crisis Group, examines the govt’s recent more..

Judge turns down mass grave closure

Feb 22 (CT) Matale Magistrate and District Judge Chathurika de Silva turned down a request made by the CID, seeking permission to close down the mass grave site at the Matale Hospital premises, and ordered the police to continue with its security arrangements provided for the mass grave. Police earlier requested to close down the mass grave site claiming the excavation activities were over. The Magistrate noted the analysis of skeleton fragments were still in progress and issued the more..

UNP raises political appointees in Foreign Service

Feb 22 (FT) The Foreign Service of Sri Lanka has provided opportunities for relations of politicos both in the Govt as well as the Opposition to serve in diplomatic missions around the world, Deputy Minister Neomal Perera acknowledged in the Parliament in response for a question raised by UNP MP Anoma Gamage. The daughters of Minister Keheliya Rambukwella and Ravindra Randeniya serve in Sri Lankan more..

Sex assault on campus: Resident asylum seekers to be questioned

Feb 22 (SMH) Police will question a group of up to 80 asylum seekers being temporarily housed at Macquarie University following the alleged indecent assault of a young student as she slept in her student accommodation in Sydney's north. A NSW Police spokesman said the group of male asylum seekers, believed to be from Sri Lanka, would be questioned along with other people staying on campus when an intruder broke into the 20-year-old woman's room in Marsfield and assaulted more..

PSM poised to strike

Feb 22 (CT) The Joint Council of Professions Supplementary to Medicine (PSM) is poised to take stronger trade union action, if their demands are not met at the end of a 24-hour token strike, which they began yesterday. The strike, which put a halt to the services of the hospital laboratories, pharmacists, x-ray technicians and physiotherapists, paralyzed the health sector, issuing of medicine at pharmacies, x-rays and scans of 21 teaching hospitals, seven general hospitals and 14 health institutes, more..

No citizenship

Feb 22 (CT) The Sri Lankans, who have sought asylum in other countries, have been excluded from the Sri Lankan citizenship under the new Citizenship Act, the Controller of Immigration and Emigration, Chulanada Perera said. He said the Department and Emigration will soon start accepting applications for dual citizenship. Perera said the Department is awaiting an amendment to the Citizenship Act that will come into force soon. more..

Central bank expects 2013 growth of 7.5%

Feb 22 (MW) Sri Lanka's economic growth this year is likely to hit 7.5%, much higher than a forecast by the IMF, the central bank governor, Ajith Nivard Cabraal, said Thursday. "We are expecting the IMF to revise [its forecast] upwards because we have a lot more expertise in predicting growth as well as calculating it," he told reporters on the sidelines of an event to draw investments into Sri Lanka. IMF expects the island nation to post growth of 6.25% in 2013, constrained by the need for more..

Uganda with Lanka at next UNHRC session

Feb 22 (DN) Top Ugandan and Kenyan govt representatives yesterday said the international community should support Sri Lanka to overcome post - conflict reconciliation and reconstruction challenges rather than isolating the country from the international fraternity. Kenya’s Medical Services Minister Prof P Anyang Nyong O and Uganda’s MP Muhammad Nsereko, on a private visit to Sri Lanka, said Sri Lanka’s achievement in the reconstruction and reconciliation arena was excellent. more..

Jayalalithaa demands economic sanctions on Sri Lanka

Feb 22 (Island) Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaa Jayaram blasted the President Rajapaksa’s Govt over the "inhuman act" of alleged cold-blooded killing of slain LTTE Chief Velupillai Prabhakaran’s 12-year-old son Balachandran. Balachandran’s killing is a "war crime of grave nature and unforgivable," she told reporters. "He was just a child who had not committed any crime. He was killed in cold blood more..