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Monkey crashes U.S. Embassy in Sri Lanka

Jan 4 (WP) Diplomacy typically isn’t monkey business, but the folks at the U.S. Embassy in Sri Lanka recently had their usual routine disrupted by a wandering primate. The embassy invasion began on Dec. 20, when an an e-mail went out to employees of the facility in Colombo notifying them that the ground floor doors were locked because a monkey was trapped in the building and instructing them to use alternate exits. “A little bit different than a Kabul ‘lock down!’” observed one worker there more..

Minister blames drug suppliers for shortages

Jan 4 (Island) Minister Maithripala Sirisena yesterday said that he had recently instructed his top officials to maintain sufficient stocks of medicinal drugs and avoid sudden shortages in 2013. Minister Sirisena told The Island that Budget 2013 had allocated necessary funds for importing the required drugs, but there seemed to be some delays on the part of certain foreign drug companies to supply them on time. He had instructed the State Pharmaceuticals Corporation (SPC) and more..

Govt. considers halving CJ’s term

Jan 4 (Island) In the wake of the govt vowing to bring the impeachment process, targeting CJ Dr. Shirani Bandaranayake, to a successful conclusion in January, the ruling coalition was seriously considering the possibility of having the current 10-year term for the post of Chief Justice halved. Sources said that the issue was being discussed, with some suggesting an amendment to the Constitution, whereas more..

Rizana likely to be pardoned

Jan 4 (DM) The Saudi Arabian Ambassador in Sri Lanka, Abdulaziz bin Abdulrahman Al Jammaz, said that according to information received by him, Rizana Nafeek presently housed in death row in Saudi Arabia would be pardoned and could return to the island, in consideration of a request made to the Saudi King Abdullah Bin Abdul Azeez by Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa, and also having regard to legal considerations. These views were expressed by the ambassador to SLMC more..

Students' organisation urges tough action against saboteurs

Jan 4 (DN) The Sri Lanka Freedom Students Organisation called for tough action to be taken against undergraduates, responsible for creating chaotic situations within universities. Sri Lanka Freedom Students Organisation Deputy Secretary Bhanuka de Silva said nine undergraduates have been hospitalised after sustaining injuries following a clash between two factions of the Ruhuna University," he said. The incident had taken place at the end of a management and finance faculty more..

'Halal fund to terrorists': Ulama Council request to hold investigation

Jan 4 (OU) Ulama Council has decided to forward written request to National Intelligence unit, Intelligence unit and Defense Ministry to visit their office and hold investigation concerning the allegations charged by “Pothubala Sena” movement regarding Halal certificate finance transaction. The actual situation can be verified after investigation through government hierarchies to Sinhala community, is also a request, decided by more..

188,750 Kgs of brown sugar mixed with sand

Jan 4 (Island) The 188,750 Kgs. of brown sugar that was taken into custody by the Consumer Affairs Authority (CAA) from a warehouse in Sedawatte on December 31 has been confirmed to have been mixed with sand. A spokesman for the Ministry of Cooperatives and Internal Trade told The Island that samples of the brown sugar was sent to the Government Analyst’s Department and according to their report received yesterday (3/1) the sugar consignment was mixed with sand. more..

Cabinet to meet hereafter on every Thursday

Jan 4 (AT) For the first time in the history of Sri Lanka, Cabinet Ministers will be meeting hereafter on every Thursday mornings. For the first time, for the year 2013, the first cabinet meeting was held yesterday morning. Minister Douglas Devananda said that hereafter the cabinet of Ministers will be meeting on every Thursday, a departure from the usual Wednesday's meeting that was followed since the independence of the country. “Cabinet used to have its meetings on Wednesdays, but more..

SC throws down the gauntlet

Jan 4 (FT) In a historic and unprecedented judgment the Supreme Court of Sri Lanka as the sole interpreter of the Constitution ruled that the PSC has no basis in law. In a ruling delivered to the Court of Appeal dated 1 January 2013, a three judge bench of the Supreme Court led by Justice N.G. Amaratunge, and including Justices K. Sripavan and Priyasath Dep said that the PSC had no legal authority to make a final more..

'Law entrance examination highly flawed'

Jan 4 (DN) There is evidence that the law entrance examination conducted by the Sri Lanka Law College for 2012 was highly flawed and there were malpractices, Minister Patali Champika Ranawaka said. He said the percentage of Tamil and English medium students in the pass list was high, compared to Sinhala medium students and it seems to be due to a malpractice like the leakage of question papers or negligence on the part of answers by script evaluators. more..

Docs back cancer warnings on cigarette packs

Jan 4 (Island) For the first time in the Health Ministry’s history doctors and their associations have pledged their support to the legal requirement that 80% of packets of cigarettes be covered with a pictorial warning of a cancer. The spokesman of the Health Ministry said that the Sri Lanka Medical Association (SLMA), the Govt Medical Officers Association (GMOA) and 22 colleges of medicine had extended their fullest support to Health Minister, Maithripala Sirisena in implementing the more..

'Sampanthan, Herath could get into hot water'

Jan 4 (Island) Deputy Speaker Chandima Weerakkody yesterday said that action would be taken against two MPs, R. Sampanthan (TNA) and Vijitha Herath (DNA) who were also members of the PSC that probed the charges in the impeachment motion against Chief Justice Shirani Bandaranayake, if they had given evidence before the Court of Appeal hearing a petition against the PSC. He said that special permission was more..

Demise of Greig and the descent of SL cricket

Jan 4 (DM) Greig had recently been diagnosed with a lung cancer but it was not the illness which claimed him. He suffered a sudden heart attack at his Sydney home and died on his way to hospital the day after the Boxing Day test ended prematurely. He was sixty-six. Tony Greig held a special place in the hearts of Sri Lankans. That was not because he was a brand ambassador for Sri Lanka Tourism or because he endorsed several products in the local market. It was because he rooted for more..

Editorial: This calamity can turn into a blessing

Jan 4 (DM) With crisis within crisis, conflicts within conflicts and contradictions within contradictions in the constitutional muddle over the move to impeach Chief Justice Shirani Bandaranayake, most people and independent analysts hope that some compromise will be reached with the more powerful Executive and the Legislature showing some magnanimity and humility. These are magnificent virtues in conflict resolution and should not be considered as acts of weakness. more..

Increasing internal security concerns in TN

Jan 4 (SL) Lying close to the sea, not off the Sri Lankan coast – which continues to be a cause for concern though the ethnic war itself has ended in that country – the novel methods adopted by the Koodamkulam-Idinthakarai fishers should have alerted the security agencies, both of the Centre and the State. Out-numbering the security personnel on the seas and possibly out-witting them too, owing to their in-born skills and more..

Evacuation camps down to 33

Jan 4 (CT) The number of evacuation camps for the flood affected is down to 33 from nearly 300 camps three days ago, and only 5,284 persons belonging to 1,650 families were housed in displaced camps. Within the past week, the majority of the displaced were sent back to their homes, Assistant Director of the DMC, Pradeep Kodippili said. Apart from a few camps in Rattota in the Matale District, most of the more..

National malaise of backdoor deals pervades and corrupts the Prisons

Jan 4 (ST) Prisoners call it “bunker gahanawa” in Sinhala. It means smuggling contraband—mostly phones, phone chargers and drugs—in the anus. Officials say this remains one of the most common methods of smuggling goods into jail. But there are many others. A three-wheeler driver in Wanathamulla described to the Sunday Times last week, how a friend came to his home late one night, clutching a parcel. more..

PNM says Mohan Pieris unsuitable to be next Chief Justice

Jan 4 (Island) General Secretary of the National Patriotic Movement Wasantha Bandara said that the govt was planning to appoint former Attorney General Mohan Pieris as the new Chief Justice. He claimed that there was an ongoing public interest litigation, filed by a law firm in the UK, being heard in the Supreme Court of Sri Lanka over a tax fraud in the Colombo Dockyard. One of the respondents in the case was Mohan Peiris. more..

'Banning porn websites is like fencing sea'

Jan 4 (Island) It was not possible to ban access to all porn websites in the country, Director General of the TRC Anusha Palpita said. Responding to a query Palpita said: "How can we ban all sites? All that we have done is to ban sites that have been recommended to us by the Courts or a relevant authority. We practically cannot ban all porn websites." Palpita said that either a court order or a request from the NCPA was needed to more..

'Parliament duty bound to accept SC ruling'

Jan 4 (Island) Parliament was duty bound to accept the Supreme Court ruling that only it could interpret the Constitution, the Opposition said. UNP MP Lakshman Kiriella, speaking on behalf of the Opposition members who participated in the PSC, said that the legislature was duty bound not only to accept the SC determination but also to take steps to implement it. The collective decision by him, John Ameratunga (UNP), more..

'Govt. promotes living together culture'

Jan 4 (Island) The govt was promoting a ‘living together’ culture in Sri Lanka by increasing the marriage registration charge to an unbearable level, UNP MP Buddhika Pathirana charged. MP said that a charge of Rs. 5,000 for registering a marriage could not be afforded by a young couple as they were already organizing their wedding with the help of loans. He said, as a young MP he urged Minister Dullas Alahapperuma to intervene more..

Sri Lanka fight but Australia build lead

Jan 4 (CI) Ostensibly, Australia finished the second day at the SCG in front. In reality, this was a much more even day's play than most throughout the series, and one that will give Sri Lanka some hope of upsetting Michael Clarke's men - a slim hope, perhaps, but a hope nevertheless. It was a day on which David Warner, Phillip Hughes and Clarke all scored half-centuries yet failed to bury Sri Lanka. It was a day on which run-outs more..

'Sri Lanka seeks budget support loan from IMF'

Jan 4 (LBO) Sri Lanka is planning to discuss a loan of up to a billion US dollars if the IMF is willing to provide budget support, Treasury Secretary P B Jayasundera said. "We are asking IMF to extend budget support," Jayasundera told reporters. "That money cannot go the central bank." The IMF usually gives a loan to a central bank to boost external monetary reserves with fiscal funding being left to the World Bank. more..

SLCERT warns Govt. to better secure its websites

Jan 4 (DM) The Coordination Centre of the Sri Lanka Computer Emergency Readiness Team today warned govt departments and institutions, which have hosted their websites outside the Lanka Govt Network or in a different country to regularly monitor the status of their web sites. The warning comes days after some 22 Sri Lankan govt websites were defaced or hacked. The Communications Centre said it had more..

Editorial: A historic opinion

Jan 4 (CT) The Supreme Court in a historic opinion yesterday, declared Standing Order 78(A) null and void and as having no effect in law, invalidating in one sure stroke, the impeachment motion against the CJ, Dr. Shirani Bandaranayake. The contentious action to impeach the Chief Justice drew much condemnation from every quarter, not so much for the motion as for the manner in which the procedure was conducted – with scant regard to due process, international procedure or protocol. more..

What it is to be Sri Lankan

Jan 4 (CT) If I were to sum up my own understanding of the problematic within which the discussion took place, it is that of the dual role of transition-transformation or transition/transformation of Sri Lanka; the transition to a stable sustainable peace which is not possible without a transformation in Sri Lanka and of Sri Lanka’s relationship with the world. Which brings us to another point which I hope will be helpful because this is my own way of understanding what it is to be Sri Lankan. more..

Sri Lanka to charge retrospective taxes on converted vehicles

Jan 4 (LBO) Sri Lanka is set to charge millions of rupees of taxes on a retrospective basis from owners of pick-up trucks and jeeps who have converted them under existing rules, according to a new cabinet decision. The state information office quoting a cabinet paper from the ministry of transport said single cab pick-up trucks imported under a lower duty structure have been converted to double cabs which attract a higher duty. more..

Sri Lanka aims to have best customs office in region: Treasury Secretary

Jan 4 (LBO) Sri Lanka is aiming to have the best customs office in the region with the office fully online and three 'free ports' in operation, Treasury Secretary P B Jayasundera said. Sri Lanka's customs office will have ASYCUDA (Automated System for Customs Data) World system operating by March 2013, allowing online clearing of exports and imports, he said. "Don't be cynical when we make ambitious targets," Jayasundera told reporters in Colombo. more..

CJ’s writ application: AG notified to appear and assist AC

Jan 4 (Island) The Court of Appeal yesterday notified the Attorney General to be present in Court on January 7, 2013, to assist it, during the hearing of the Writ Application filed by the Chief Justice Dr. Shirani Bandaranayake. The petitioner has sought to have the decision of the PSC, against her, quashed by the Court. An intervention against the petition was refused, since it was not necessary as the AG would assist court. President’s counsel Romesh de Silva appeared for the petitioner Chief Justice more..

'Eleven education ministers, but uniform material cannot be distributed on time'

Jan 4 (Island) The Education Ministry had held a grand function to distribute school uniforms but schools around the country had not received them even though the first term began yesterday, UNP MP Buddhika Pathirana claimed. He said that there were 11 ministers handling education, but they could not deliver the school uniforms in time for the new school year. The Education minister, deputy minister, monitoring MP and more..

A guard of honour for Hussey

Jan 4 (CI) Few cricketers inspire the kind of universal admiration Michael Hussey has enjoyed in his career, and the spectators and his opponents at the SCG put on a fitting ovation as he arrived at the crease in the second session. The 26,420-strong audience, some of whom had adorned their nose and lips in Hussey's signature zinc, rose to applaud him onto the arena, while Sri Lanka formed a guard of honour often reserved for the greats of the game. Hussey's international career was too short more..

Blips and (a few) bright spots

Jan 4 (CI) New Year's Day 2012 found Sri Lanka still glowing in the aftermath of a famous Durban victory, and their fans hoping the win had brought an end to the eight-month torment that followed the 2011 World Cup. It would not be so easy. The first Test of their year was a heavy loss in Cape Town, and their last a woeful surrender of wits and will at the MCG. But to dwell on the big losses that bookended the year is perhaps unfair to a side that has launched a minor resurgence in 2012, more..

Canada and Sri Lanka to discuss curbing human smuggling

Jan 4 (Xinhua) Canada and Sri Lanka are to have discussions over the weekend on tackling human smuggling, the Canadian High Commission in Colombo said on Friday. A High Commission spokeswoman said that Jason Kenney, Canada's minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism will be in Sri Lanka to discuss Canada's role in cracking down on human smuggling operations as well as recent more..

JVP rebel group-led union accuses govt. of being behind it

Jan 4 (Island) The Ruhuna University on Wednesday launched a disciplinary inquiry against undergraduates involved in a clash on Tuesday, while the police were conducting a separate investigation into the incident. Vice Chancellor Prof. Susirith Mendis said that the clash erupted between two student factions of the Management and Finance Faculties over a political argument. He said that some students had sustained minor injuries in the clash and were being more..

Four arrested over death of baby

Jan 4 (CG) Four people have been arrested over the death of a newborn baby in Wilgamuwa, the police media unit said today. The police said that the mother of the child and three other women were arrested after the new born baby was found dead and buried. Initial investigations revealed that the mother gave birth to the child in November and with the help of the suspects the child was killed, wrapped in cloth and dumped in a pit. Information regarding the death surfaced only more..

'Sri Lanka personal income tax now very low'

Jan 4 (LBO) Sri Lanka's personal income tax rates are now very low and eligible persons should start paying taxes voluntarily, Treasury Secretary P B Jayasundera said. He said with Sri Lanka is becoming a service economy made up of self-employed and professionals working in legal, healthcare, education or information technology and income tax payments had to be voluntary. The rates were now low was low enough to more..

NCE biz delegation to Myanmar a success

Jan 4 (DM) The National Chamber of Exporters of Sri Lanka organized an 11-member business delegation to Myanmar last December. The delegation visited Yangon in Myanmar on the 19th and returned after a successful 4-day fact finding mission. The delegation was led by Shiham Marikar, Director Trade Promotion of NCE. The Sri Lankan Embassy in Myanmar, The Myanmar Embassy in Sri Lanka , The Federation of Chambers of Commerce & industry of Myanmar (UMFCCI) and The more..

UNP to join hands with JVP

Jan 4 (CT) The UNP said it was ready to work together with the JVP to win the rights of the working forces. Jathika Sevaka Sangamaya (JSS) President Dr. Jayalath Jayawardena addressing the media said the president of the “National Trade Union Centre (NTUC), K.D. Lalkantha had already extended his support to work with the UNP.” He went on to say that they are planning to have further discussions with the JVP affiliated trade unions about protecting the rights of employees. more..

Lawyers Collective welcomes SC determination

Jan 4 (CT) Lawyers Collective yesterday welcomed the historical Supreme Court determination that held Standing Order 78A as not valid in law, and urged all govt institutions to obey it. Issuing a statement, it said, “Article 125 of the Constitution vests the Supreme Court the sole and exclusive jurisdiction to interpret the Constitution . The issue that had come up for determination in the Supreme Court revolves around the constitutionality more..

Buddhist Affairs Commissioner violating Bhikkunis’ rights

Jan 4 (CT) The Mahanayake of the Rangiri Dambulu chapter of the Siyam Nikaya Most Venerable Inamaluwe Sri Sumangala Thera, said he is ready to seek the assistance of the Judiciary against the injustices done to the Bhikkuni Sasana. The Mahanayake said the Bhudda Sasana Ministry has neglected the affairs of the Bhikkunis. “The Bhudda Sasana Commissioner has even imposed a ban on issuing Bhikkhu National identity cards to them. The Bhikkunis have been deprived of their right to more..