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Tea crisis brewing

Feb 3 (ST) Sri Lanka’s tea sector is aghast over a sudden decision to increase the tea export cess (which in modern terms is described as a ‘tax on a tax’) by 100% from Jan 23. Exporters say, according to several statements issued by sector bodies, that there was no discussion with the Plantations Minister or the trade before this week’s announcement in enforcing the new rate with retrospective effect. Like a ‘bolt from the blue’ was how the Colombo Tea Traders’ Association more..

Treading down the alley where angels fear to fly

Feb 3 (ST) It is the culture or the inherent system that is to be blamed and not individuals. I remember in 1977 Sri Lanka was ruled by a political system which only could not turn a man into a women. Since then every benevolent ruler who has sat at the helm has tried his or her level best to live up to that concept, and the only result that it has yielded is the politicisation of every movable and immovable object within the peripheries more..

EU to decide on resolution

Feb 3 (SL) The European Union (EU) is yet to decide if it will present a resolution on Sri Lanka or back the US sponsored resolution when the UNHRC convenes in Geneva later this month. Head of Delegation of the EU in Sri Lanka, Ambassador Bernard Savage said that the issue will be discussed among EU member states before a decision is taken. “There are several member states in the EU. They have not decided on a resolution. However it will be discussed,” the Ambassador said. more..

Turkish Airlines launches flights to Colombo

Feb 3 (SO) Turkish Airlines, a pioneer in commercial aviation entered the Sri Lankan market, offering many novel services in the world. The airline operate flights directly from Colombo to Istanbul for the first time. One of the first carriers to introduce an in-flight chef, Turkish Airlines is also currently ranked number two for best economy class catering. Pership Holidays is the appointed GSA for Turkish Airlines in Sri Lanka and initially the route will see five flights a week. more..

Mass hunger strike

Feb 3 (CT) More than 20,000 Northern civilians who have no access to their lands from the North will launch a mass hunger strike on 15 February to highlight their grievances. The mass hunger strike is to be held at the Tellipalali Durga Devi temple premises calling for the withdrawal of the Security Forces from lands owned by the civilians prior to the escalation of the war. A special meeting in this regard was held at the more..

Muttuhettigama Confident Of Ministerial Post

Feb 3 (SL) Galle district MP Nishantha Muttuhettigama is confident he will receive a Ministerial post from President Rajapaksa. He said that the President had assured him the post will be given within the new few weeks. “I have faith in the President and I am sure a Ministerial post will be given to me,” Muttuhettigama said. In April last year Parliamentarian Sanath Jayasuriya, Nishantha Muttuhettigama and two others had written to President seeking Ministerial posts. more..

Sri Lanka press visits CP+ 2013 Expo in Japan

Feb 3 (SO) The largest annual camera and imaging product exhibition CP+2013 Exhibition held in Yokohama, Japan was opened recently by Makota Kimura, Chairman of Camera and Imaging Products Association, Japan. Canon a major player in the imaging sector announced new models encompassing ground breaking and most advanced technologies in the areas of photography and printing. The Canon booth at the exhibition displayed the latest camera models catering to the more..

Seized elephant tusks gifted to Dalada Maligawa, Later to be sold to rightful owner

Feb 3 (SL) An attempt is being made to sell elephant tusks worth Rs. 2,700 million that have been ‘unofficially’ seized by the Customs in May last year after the consignment was officially handed over to Dalada Maligawa Kandy alleged Environmentalists. Environmentalists claim that this consignment of tusks after being seized should be destroyed and they are unable to understand the reason why the govt is making all attempts to more..

IGP to retire in April?

Feb 3 (CT) Speculation is rife among senior police officers at the Police Headquarters about the probable retirement of the IGP on 11 April. IGP N. Illangakoon will turn 57 on 11 April, which is the optional age of retirement for public servants. However, he can serve until he reaches the mandatory retirement age which is 60 years, by obtaining annual extensions of service. The IGP has not made a request for an extension up to now, giving rise to speculation about his more..

Death penalty not imminent

Feb 3 (NS) The ‘training program’ currently being conducted for the two newly recruited hangmen does not indicate the imminent reintroduction of the death penalty, according to officials. Commissioner General of Prisons, P.W. Kodippili said the ‘training program’ that the two were undergoing was mainly designed to educate them on the rules and regulations related to the prisons department and its structure. He emphasized it was not a 14-day crash course at ‘hanging people’. more..

Canada warns govt of Sri Lanka

Feb 3 (SL) Canada has warned the govt of Sri Lanka saying if it does not address issues raised on human rights and accountability there could be a revival of radicalization by the Tamil Diaspora. The Canadian Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism Jason Kenney, who visited Sri Lanka early last month, told a group of Tamil journalists in Ontario last week that he had conveyed this message to the SL govt more..

Police bust large scale foreign liquor racket

Feb 3 (SO) A large scale foreign liquor racket was busted following the arrest of a husband and wife last week who allegedly sold well-known brands of imported foreign liquor without a permit by using a mobile luxury van with dark tinted windows, SSP Prishantha Jayakody said. The couple was taken in for questioning near the cemetery at Nawala, Nugegoda while attempting to sell an imported bottle of Red label whiskey for Rs. 3,000 to a police decoy who posed as a connoisseur, more..

'Two months’ natural disasters cost over Rs 100 billion'

Feb 3 (SO) The impact on the national economy from natural disasters within the past two months may exceed Rs.100 billion as the damage to the national road network alone has been estimated at Rs.17 billion, Minister Mahinda Amaraweera said. He said the Govt will invest more on disaster mitigation projects to cushion the impact on the national economy. The Minister said a comprehensive report is now being prepared to ascertain the effect on the national economy more..

A land like no other: 5 rapes a day, but does anyone care

Feb 3 (ST) Last week’s alleged rape of a 47-year old woman in Wijerama and an attempted rape of a 25-year old German tourist in Chilaw, have once again raised the question, how safe are women in our country—both local and foreign. According to statistics, five rapes are reported daily while the unreported cases could make the figure higher. Among the women’s’ group workers and activists who spoke to the more..

Tourist Police recruiting English-speaking cops

Feb 3 (ST) The Govt is recruiting more English-speaking policemen with computer literacy to the Tourist Police to handle the increasing number of complaints of harassment of tourists. Tourist Police Director Maxi Proctor said the cadre would be increased and more units set up in new tourist destinations. At present there were only two Tourist Police units in Hikkaduwa and Negombo. Another two would be set up in Mount Lavinia and Arugam Bay this month. Plans were also being more..

Trincomalee all set for tomorrow’s celebrations

Feb 3 (ST) The stage is set to hold the 65th Independence Day celebrations in Trincomalee. Thousands of civilians who were directly caught up in the conflict will be able to witness parades and pageants. Rehearsals and preparations have been underway over the past few days for the event which will be held at Black-Bay. Some 2,400 soldiers, sailors, airmen, policemen and Civil Defence Force members will take part in the parade along with 625 members of the National Cadet Corps and more..

GL takes wind off Burt’s sails at Kadirgamar Institute

Feb 3 (Island) Minister G.L. Peiris won a round of warm applause at the Kadirgamar Institute on Friday when he presided over an event where the visiting British Foreign and Commonwealth Office Minister for South Asia, Alistair Burt, made a speech that began on a complimentary tone and ended in a critical note. Peiris took the opportunity to reply and took the wind off Burt’s sails, particularly on dual standards adopted by the West towards more..

Blood: Lucrative business for private hospitals!

Feb 3 (NS) Sale of blood has now become a lucrative business and a revenue earning source for private hospitals with a pint of blood fetching as much as Rs.5,000, alleged the health sector. This colossal sum is charged from patients who undergo surgery at private hospitals and noted as ‘service charges’ in the bills, despite the fact that two donors must compulsorily donate blood prior to the surgery of the specimen needed for the patient. Health sector sources stressed the need to more..

Govt. defends denial of visas to world jurists

Feb 3 (ST) The Govt yesterday defended its decision to refuse entry visas to a group of international jurists headed by India’s former CJ J.S. Verma saying it was in the best interest of the country. The three-member delegation from the International Bar Association Human Rights Institute (IBAHRI) was due to visit the country on Thursday on a seven-day fact finding mission related to the rule of law and the independence of the judiciary. The visas were put on hold simply because more..

Govt. faces probe by independent UN body

Feb 3 (ST) After a world record of having two Chief Justices, Sri Lanka set another last Monday. For almost every MP who supported the UPFA govt, the other is now a Minister, be it cabinet or otherwise. Most of them will be in the north-eastern port city of Trincomalee tomorrow for ceremonies to mark Sri Lanka’s 65th National Day. The event will be relatively low key with no fly past. There will only be a march past where 1,900 soldiers, more..

Iranamadu runway to open next month

Feb 3 (SO) The Iranamadu runway in Kilinochchi, which the Sri Lanka Air Force (SLAF) plans to open next month, will be open for all domestic aviation activities, said Air Force Spokesman Wing Commander Shiraz Jaldeen. The new runway is being constructed according to International Civil Aviation standards enabling its use by any civil aviator, according to Wing Commander Sumedha Silva, the Commanding Officer of the Rapid Runway Repair Wing of the SLAF. more..

Lanka among 24 finalists at culinary competition

Feb 3 (SO) Sri Lankan Chef Buddhika Samarasekara paved the way for Sri Lanka to advance in the culinary world with his qualification for the grand finale of the much coveted Bocuse d'Or, the international gastronomy competition that brings together the best chefs globally every two years. Sri Lanka was among the 24 countries from around the world that qualified to be in the grand finale, in Lyon, France on January 29 and 30. Chef Buddhika Samarasekara and his assistant more..

Talk at the Cafe Spectator

Feb 3 (ST) The acting head of a Sri Lanka diplomatic mission in South Asia fired his driver and chose to drive the official Mercedes Benz. He took it to a fuel station. Instead of petrol, he got the tank filled with diesel. Soon the engine developed trouble. Now the Sri Lankan taxpayer’s money is being spent to repair the vehicle. Meanwhile, the acting head had used his powers to recruit a local driver recommended by more..

Fishing ‘Mafia’ behind dolphin killings

Feb 3 (NS) Minister Rajitha Senaratne said he suspected some of the ministry’s local area officials of being complicit in the killing of a large number of dolphins in Kalpitiya last week. Dr.Senaratne claimed there was a ‘mafia’ behind such activities as they could not take place without the knowledge and involvement of officials in the area. “How else could these people go out to sea, kill so many dolphins using illegal means and more..

Minister to visit Sampur Coal Power Plant

Feb 3 (NS) The new Minister of Power and Energy Pavithra Wanniarachchi, appointed through a cabinet reshuffle last week, is expected to visit the Sampur Coal Power Plant early this year to see its progress. The construction of the power plant came under scrutiny due to continuous interruptions. “I cannot comment on the technicalities of the Sampur Coal Power Project, however I do hope to visit the site for a more..

Customs official seeks revision in FR case

Feb 3 (ST) Lawyers for the Customs official whose fundamental rights violation petition was dismissed by the Supreme Court in which Treasury Secretary P.B. Jayasundera and the former Attorney General Mohan Pieris were Respondents will file papers calling for a revision of the case. A two-member Bench of the Supreme Court on Friday dismissed with costs the fundamental rights violation application filed more..

INTERPOL help sought to recover Sandakada Pahana

Feb 3 (SL) The govt has sought the assistance of the international police, INTERPOL, to recover the ancient moonstone which is to be auctioned in Britain. Minister of National Heritage Dr. Jagath M. Balasooriya said INTERPOL assistance had been sought through the British High Commission in Colombo. The Minister said that assistance had also been sought from the British govt to recover the moonstone. more..

Fisheries Dept. gets tough on Lankans, ignores Indians

Feb 3 (ST) The Department of Fisheries has upped the rewards for those helping to detect illegal methods of fishing, but says it is helpless to intercept Indian trawlers continuing to poach unhindered in the country’s northern and north western territorial waters. Hundreds of Indian fishermen cross into Sri Lankan waters by nightfall, haul their nets over the seabed and leave before dawn with catches of fish, prawns and more..

More women, elderly people in Lanka

Feb 3 (ST) The number of Sri Lankan women and the aging population has increased, according to latest population census. The second preliminary report of the 2011 Census says Sri Lanka’s female population was about 51.5% of the total. It also says the population of elderly people is growing while the number of those below the age of 15 is declining. The old aged group of 60 years and over shows a rapid increase of 12.2%. more..

New Delhi keeps Washington guessing

Feb 3 (NS) Though the United States has pinned hopes that India will vote in favor of the resolution against Sri Lanka at the upcoming UNHRC summit due next month, latest reports that emanated from New Delhi indicated that the Indian Govt was yet undecided on the issue. These reports said despite a US delegation visiting New Delhi recently, the Manmohan Singh govt had not given an assurance to Washington that it will repeat more..

Sri Lanka Navy rescues 138 stranded on sinking boat

Feb 3 (AFP) Sri Lanka's navy on Sunday rescued 138 Bangladeshi and Myanmar nationals from a sinking fishing vessel off the island's eastern coast, officials said. One passenger was found dead while many of the 138 plucked from the boat were dehydrated, navy spokesman Kosala Warnakulasuriya said, adding that the vessel had been adrift for 10 days before it sank on Sunday. "We sent three ships for the rescue at a more..

Commitment and determination give WRNS duo top marks

Feb 3 (ST) There was an air of excitement at the Weeraketiya Rajapaksa National School (WRNS) last Thursday, as two of its students achieved the highest marks in the island in the Mathematics and Biology streams at the A/L exam conducted last year. The two students, Rusiru Gambiraarachchi and R.S.B. Kasun Lakmal excelled in studies right through their school career. Kasun joined WRNS from Middeniya Model School more..

HRC to work with UN to protect rights in Sri Lanka

Feb 3 (SL) The United Nations (UN) says it will help the Human Rights Commission (HRC) in Sri Lanka to protect human rights in the country. In confirming that support for the promotion and protection of human rights was central to the UN’s Development Assistance Framework for 2013-2017, Enrico Gaveglia, UNDP’s Deputy Country Director said that the UNDP was currently working with the HRC and other members of the UN Country Team to design a new project aimed at supporting the core more..

Eminent US Medical Expert to support Colombo Rotary’s Cancer activities

Feb 3 (Island) To mark World Cancer Day, the Rotary Club of Colombo has invited leading US expert on cancer control, Dr. Edward E. Partridge M.D. to address a charity dinner on February 14. The proceeds of the charity dinner will go towards the Club’s Cancer Prevention and Early Detection Project, Dr Partridge is the former President of the American Cancer Society and is currently Director, University of Alabama Comprehensive Cancer Centre, one of the leading cancer more..

Muslims see Norway hand in religious tensions

Feb 3 (CG) Muslim groups today accused Norway of inciting the tensions which arose between Buddhist monks and Muslims in the country recently. Speaking at a press briefing convened by the Muslim Council of Sri Lanka today, former Ambassador to Iran M.M. Zuhair claimed that officials of the Norwegian Embassy in Colombo had even met some extremist groups. He said the Embassy had however subsequently denied more..

Translators’ Service given step-motherly treatment

Feb 3 (NS) Officers from the Translators’ Service claim the govt has continually turned a blind eye to many longstanding issues faced by them. The Translators’ Service comes under the Combined Services of the Ministry of Public Administration and Home Affairs. According to the Service Minute of the Translators’ Service, graduates are recruited into the Service through a competitive examination. This method of recruitment is parallel to that of the All Island Services such as Sri Lanka more..

Top US diplomat and ex-ambassador to Lanka dies

Feb 3 (ST) Christopher Van Hollen, a career State Department officer who became an authority on Southeast Asian affairs and leading administration voice regarding the newly forged and embattled country of Bangladesh, died on Wednesday in Washington. He was 90. In 1972, Dr. Van Hollen was appointed ambassador to Sri Lanka and the Maldives. The United States and the Soviet Union were competing for influence in the region, and he described the Sri Lankan govt as more..

Black January journalists say dark days not over yet

Feb 3 (ST) Chanting slogans such as ‘Resist Suppression of Media’ and ‘Uphold Rule of Law’, hundreds of journalists held a demonstration on Tuesday to mark ‘Black January’ – a month that has recorded an unusually high number of attacks on media personnel. Gathering at Lipton’s Circus in Colombo, journalists joined by media activists and opposition politicians, decried the lack of media freedom in the country and the Govt’s lack of more..

Ramsar Wetlands Listing for Wilpattu National Park

Feb 3 (NS) Wilpattu Wetland Cluster, including the Wilpattu Park was declared a Ramsar wetland by the Ramsar Convention yesterday, making it the sixth Wetland of International Importance in Sri Lanka. The Ramsar Convention Secretariat awarded the Ramsar Wetland certificate to Sri Lanka at the National Celebrations of the Wetlands Day organized by the Department of Wildlife Conservation last Friday. “This has been declared as a Ramsar wetland in addition to more..

Pupils in Northamptonshire help Sri Lankan children learn

Feb 3 (NC) Pupils from a Northamptonshire primary school have been sending classroom equipment to children in poorer schools in Sri Lanka. Years 3 and 4 at Roade Primary School have been studying Sri Lanka with the help of leaders of the local Sri Lankan community. They chose Palu Primary School, in Walahawiddawewa, as one of the governors there is an uncle of Roade Primary deputy head Dee Newman. Mrs Newman said: “This is a poor school and has very little in the more..