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An unwise and ill thought boycott

July 12 (CT) There is no gainsaying that the meeting of the Parliamentary Select Committee (PSC) on the 13th Amendment acquired the mien of a govt group meeting, courtesy the decision by the entire parliamentary opposition, not as one single unit, but as separate individual parties, to stay out of the proceedings. It is not up to us to determine the rights and wrongs of party stances, yet the UNP's decision to boycott the sittings begs close scrutiny. More so because of the Party's half baked excuse that more..

Stocks down 0.5%, rupee steady

July 12 (LBO) Stocks closed down 0.55% Friday following two consecutive days of gains with large cap stocks making losses, brokers said. All Share Index closed 33.64 points higher at 6,028.74 down 0.55% and the S&P SL 20 Index closed 7.47 points lower at 3,385.43 down 0.22%. Turnover was 328 million rupees up from 241 million from a day earlier. Sri Lanka's forex markets saw firm quotes for the spot US dollar at around 130.85/131.00 though trading was still active for spot-next deals more..

No agreement signed with Packer directly so far: BOI

July 12 (DM) Despite the controversy surrounding the potential social degradation and the massive tax concessions granted for James Packer’s proposed US $ 350 million resort and casino in D.R. Wijewardena Mawatha, the BoI said it had so far not entered into a formal agreement with the casino kingpin. “No proper agreement has been signed yet. We have reached an agreement only in principle. more..

A Sri Lanka summit discredits the Commonwealth

July 12 (CT) The world is so busy cheering on the emergence of democracy in Myanmar that it is in danger of averting its eyes from the assault on democracy in another Asian state – Sri Lanka. In fact, the sins of the Sri Lankan govt are not merely being ignored. They are about to be rewarded. This November Colombo is set to play host to the prestigious CHOGM. So far, of the 54 Commonwealth countries – more than a quarter of the members of the UN – only Canada has more..

IGP promises crackdown on extortionists

July 12 (Island) Inspector General of Police N. K. Illangakoon yesterday vowed a crackdown on those extorting money from bus operators. All of them would be brought to justice within two months, he said. IGP Illangakoon said that President Rajapaksa had instructed him to eliminate the extortion rackets by time-keepers at main private bus stands. The IGP was speaking at a meeting on Road Accident Prevention at the Private Transport Ministry auditorium yesterday. more..

CHOGM expected to bring in US$ 10bn

July 12 (Island) The Govt is targeting more than US$ two billion in foreign direct investment this year and is on the verge of signing several agreements, including James Packer’s Mixed Development Project. Minister Lakshaman Yapa Abeywardena yesterday said that the CHOGM, scheduled to be held in Sri Lanka in November, was expected to generate an additional US$ 10 billion in FDI to the country. more..

ADB loans $ 173 m for road development

July 12 (FT) The Cabinet yesterday approved $ 173 million worth of loans from the Asian Development Bank (ADB) for investment projects in the island. The ADB will fund connectivity roads in north, which will cost $ 98 million. Around 120 kilometres of road will be rehabilitated and improved under this project. The Vavuniya-Horowupathana road (10 kilometres), Medawachchiya road (12.6 kilometres) and Kebithigollewa-Padaviya road (31 kilometres) will be upgraded. more..

Deraniyagala police HQI transferred

July 12 (Island) The Headquarters Inspector of Deraniyagala police, Inspector Nimal Gunawardane, who handled the investigation into the killing of senior planter Nihal Perera last week, has been transferred with immediate effect to the Padukka police station. Police said that the officer concerned had allegedly failed to discharge his duties in an impartial manner. When contacted, IP Gunawardane expressed regret the decision taken by the police headquarters to transfer him. more..

India did not insist on 13-A Plus says Govt.

July 12 (Island) The govt said yesterday that India was also of the view that a solution to the ethnic issue had to evolve through the Parliamentary Select Committee established for the purpose. Minister Keheliya Rambukwella said that India had not insisted on the 13th Amendment Plus and it was in agreement that the extent of devolution to the provinces should be determined by an All Party Select Committee. more..

MR to meet East PC members

July 12 (CG) Govt coalition members of the Eastern Provincial Council (EPC) have been told to head to Kandy tomorrow for a meeting with President Rajapaksa. The meeting comes amidst strong opposition among several EPC members, including coalition members of the govt, to the Eastern Province Governor Rear Admiral Mohan Wijewickrama. Well informed sources said that officials at the Presidential Secretariat had contacted members of the EPC over the telephone more..

Nomination Board to decide on Sarath Kumara

July 12 (CT) Minister Keheliya Rambukwella said the Nomination Board for the forthcoming Provincial Council polls will decide on the future of disgraced former North-Western Provincial Council member, Ananda Sarath Kumara, who made a teacher kneel. The Nomination Board, which will be appointed tomorrow, will take an appropriate decision, he said. He was responding to repeated questions from the media as to what action the govt would take against the disgraced former provincial councillor more..

Lack of funding for post-war housing in northern Sri Lanka

July 12 (IRIN) Thousands of permanent homes needed for returnees to northern Sri Lanka in the aftermath of a 26-year civil war which ended in 2009, are not being built because of a lack of donor funding. “Although the remaining gap in the housing sector in the north keeps changing due to new returnees, there is a serious funding gap for at least another 30,000 houses immediately,” said Laxman Perera, programme manager for more..

Keells says no decision yet on rights for $850 mln resort

July 12 (Reuters) John Keells Holdings said on Friday it had not taken a decision to raise $300 million through a rights issue to finance a $850 million luxury resort. The head of the BoI Lakshman Jayaweera said that a Keells subsidiary would go for a rights issue to raise $300 million in the international market to finance the mixed-development project. "The board of directors of John Keells Holdings has not made any decision with regards to a rights issue," more..

Video: Provincial Council election to cost Rs.1,500 million

July 12 (AD) Elections Commissioner Mahinda Deshapriya says that the upcoming election for the Northern, North Western and Central provincial councils is expected to cost around Rs 1,500 million with the recent hikes in electricity and fuel prices. He further stated any and all election propaganda activities will be prohibited in the vicinity of schools during the period of examinations, being held from August 5 to 31. Nominations will be accepted from July 25 until 12 noon on Aug 1 more..

Video: UNP will join PSC when govt declares stance on 13A - Kiriella

July 12 (AD) The UNP today stated that a false fear has been created regarding police and land powers for Provincial Councils because the govt has no other topic to talk about. The govt is unable talk about the unemployment, cost of living and the economy of the country, therefore it needs to create a problem in order to go face the public, UNP MP Lakshman Kiriella said. He stated that for awhile the govt dragged on the Halal issue more..

FUTA urges govt to stop ‘suppression of students’

July 12 (Island) The Federation of University Teachers Associations (FUTA) urged the govt to stop suppressing undergraduates forthwith. FUTA President Nirmal Ranjith Dewasiri said that the police had arrested the conveners of the IUSF Sanjeewa Bandara and IUBF Ven. Kimbullewe Chandananda Thera for violating bail conditions and not appearing in Court respectively. said that during the last few weeks an unprecedented number of student activists had been suspended by more..

India offers to Sri Lankans in traditional medicine

July 12 (HCI) The High Commission of India announces the offer of eight scholarships for Sri Lankan Nationals under the "Ayush Scholarship Scheme" for UG/PG/Ph.D courses in Ayurveda, Unani, Siddha, Homeopathy and Yoga during the forthcoming session of 2013-2014. The Govt of India selects meritorious Sri Lankan nationals for award of these scholarships. Selection of candidates would be done in consultation with the Ministry of Higher Education (MOHE), more..

Rajapaksa meets TNA leader ahead of northern Lanka polls

July 12 (PTI) President Mahinda Rajapaksa has held talks with TNA on holding free and fair elections in the country's north, days after the main Tamil party skipped a key parliamentary panel meet on devolving power to provinces. The TNA's leader R Samapanthan met with Rajapaksa yesterday and discussed holding free and fair elections in the region, a statement from the TNA said. "The President expressed his desire to more..

State to introduce Health insurance policy

July 12 (Island) The govt was planning to introduce a health insurance policy, in its budgetary proposals for 2014, the Health Ministry said. It said the scheme was to be introduced to enable the govt to cope with the increasing demand for free health services. Health Ministry spokesman said the current demand required a health insurance scheme for Sri Lanka like in other countries. The rich and the poor sought treatment from the free health services alike with little consideration for the cost incurred by more..

Mathews suspended for two ODIs

July 12 (CI) Sri Lanka captain Angelo Mathews has been suspended for two ODIs and his team-mates have been fined 40% of their match fees for their slow over-rate in the final of the tri-series against India in Port-of-Spain. Match referee David Boon handed the suspension after Sri Lanka were found three overs short of their target at the end of the match, after time allowances were taken into consideration. Mathews accepted the suspension which avoided a formal hearing. more..

Former COPE chief wants successor to probe CIABC investigations

July 12 (Island) UNP MP Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe has alleged that the Commission to Investigate Allegations of Bribery or Corruption (CIABC) from its inception accommodated retired and a selected few to have comfort and enjoy special privileges at public expense. The former Chairman of the COPE MP Rajapakshe, in a letter dated July 11, urged his successor, senior Minister Dew Gunasekera to examine the status more..

Not carnival but, embodiment of Govt’s development drive

July 12 (CT) The Deyata Kirula exhibition is no carnival but, it an embodiment of govt's development drive, Minister Keheliya Rambukwella said. He said there was a perception among opposition politicians that it was a carnival as there were large crowds who gathered at all the venues every year, which was a distortion. Deyata Kirula 2014, which is to commence on 4 Feb 2014, will be held at the premises of Wayamba University, Technical College and Central College of Kuliyapitiya. more..

Sri Lanka and US armed forces conduct Joined Combined Exchange Training

July 12 (SLN) The exercise Flash Style, the Annual Joined Combined Exchange Training (JCET) between the US Naval Special Warfare Community and the Sri Lankan Armed Forces commenced on 2nd July at the Naval Dockyard in Trincomalee. Special Boat Squadron, Fast Attack Flotilla, Divers and Rapid Response Rescue and Release Squadron of the Sri Lanka Navy and MI 24 Squadron and Regiment Special Forces of the Sri Lanka Air Force are taking part in the more..

Ranil wants Govt. to establish ICs before Northern PC polls

July 12 (Island) UNP leader Ranil Wickremesinghe called on the govt to re-establish all the Independent Commissions (ICs) for the Elections, Police and Judicial Service etc before holding the Provincial Council Polls, which have been scheduled for September. He told the media that Sri Lanka was a signatory to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which required that the will of the people shall be expressed in periodic and more..

How India used CHOGM diplomacy to defeat Medamulana diplomacy

July 13 (CT) Political analysts studying Indo-Lanka relations generally feel that with the end of the war, India had lost its clout for leverage in Sri Lankan affairs. Some interested parties put the blame for this state of affairs on the then Indian Defence Adviser, M.K. Narayanan. Still others believe the Gandhi family's determination and commitment to ensure the destruction of their enemy number one, Velupillai Prabhakaran, deprived India of the opportunity to retain some latitude in more..

Sri Lankan diplunacy: Stray dogs, pricks, tigresses and CHOGM 2013

July 13 (GV) Bandula Jayasekara is currently one of Sri Lanka’s highest-ranking diplomats, as Consul General in New South Wales and Queensland, Australia and former Consul General to Toronto, in Canada. His Twitter account has consistently featured bitter invective and all-manner of unsubstantiated allegations against civil society and human rights activists in Sri Lanka. Recently, a tirade of abusive tweets against British documentary maker Callum MacRae, calling his, more..

A miracle in stone

July 13 (SO) Do you believe in miracles? I will give you a stunningly solid reason why you should. Just 12 years ago, Rambodagalla, in the vicinity of Kurunegala, was merely the site of a traditional Buddhist educational institution known as Monaragala Pirivena. Though this centre of learning possesses a somewhat long history, its public profile was not that high about a decade ago. Today, however, this location has begun to more..

Anil builds a ‘heaven’ for recreation

July 13 (NS) Hidden among a cluster of houses on a lane close to Diyawanna Oya in Palawatte is a sports facility which can blow your mind away. This sports complex occupies a two and half acre area and provides training facilities in a variety of sports for the busiest people in Colombo and its suburbs. Its owner is Anil De Silva, a sports lover, who wants to see people visit his sports village and unwind all the day’s stress with a workout in the evening. The sports facility has been named Bankhill more..

Martial arts for health

July 13 (NS) Essentially, martial arts embody the spirit of the Okinawan and Japanese commitment to physical activity a way of life and attaining higher goals and centering oneself. Its becoming increasingly popular in the West as a way to improve fitness while gaining a sense of control over one’s life, says popular local martial artist and researcher, H.D. Peiris of the Asian Martial Arts Research Center in Rawathawatte, Moratuwa. Some of the most appealing of these he says are: more..

Northern Chief Minister stakes and the TNA

July 13 (DBS) Somasuntharam Senathirajah alias “Mavai” Senathirajah of the TNA has set his sights on the Northern Province Chief Minister post. The six foot septuagenarian currently representing Jaffna district in Parliament has staked his claim to be the newly constituted Northern Provincial council’s first elected chief minister in an intriguing political move that is seemingly defiant of the intentions of more..

What is ’13 plus’?

July 13 (CT) The Parliamentary Select Committee (PSC) on constitutional reform focused on devolution of powers met for the first time on 9 July without the participation of opposition parties including the TNA. On the same day, the Indian National Security Adviser, Shivshankar Menon, called on President Rajapaksa, to discuss the thorny issue of the 13th Amendment to the Constitution, under which the Provincial Councils were established. Rajapaksa, while explaining more..

A contradiction in the heart of State policy

July 13 (CT) While it is desirable that a leader has an enlightened and transcendent vision for post-war nation-building, it is also understandable that a different kind of leader may engage in juggling and log-rolling at the same time. What is not helpful though is when there are conflicting signals, crossed wires and wild swerves on matters of the highest importance and sensitivity. A contradiction embedded at the heart of the policy of the Sri Lankan State surfaced during more..

Reconciliation in Sam’s Story

July 13 (NS) The international success of the film based on Sam’s Story has beckoned Elmo Jayawardena’s 2001 novel back to discussion forums. Based on the life story as told by a boy who is widely seen as ‘slow’ and ‘retarded’ – but one who has enmeshed in him rare qualities such as unyielding loyalty, love and sincerity – Jayawardena’s novel has both won the acclaims of critics, award presenters and fans. more..

Desertification of oases of freedom

July 13 (Island) Yesterday, we front-paged a picture of the President and the Secretary of the FUTA, Dr. Nirmal Ranjith Dewasiri and Dr. Rohan Fernando respectively, lugging a table for an outdoor media briefing at the Colombo University as they had been denied permission to have that meeting inside any of the buildings on the campus. Our late city edition had on its page one a report that scientists would examine the sacred Bo tree at Bodh Gaya, where Prince Siddhartha attained Enlightenment, more..

The need to publish the Udalagama Commission Report

July 13 (CT) In a dramatic turn of events in the conspicuously dormant Court case on the killing of five students in Trincomalee in 2006, the Trincomalee Magistrate on Thursday remanded 12 Police STF Commandos till 18 July, pending further inquiry. That was after the 12 STF personnel, including one inspector, were arrested by the CID earlier in the day and were produced before the Magistrate, at his residence in the night. “They were arrested by the CID based on the findings of more..

Sri Lanka’s ayurveda industry’s healthy potential for growth on show

July 13 (FT) The high potential for the ayurveda industry came under fresh spotlight yesterday with the opening of a three-day international exhibition in Colombo. The significance of the industry and the need to encourage its development was manifested by the presence of several Govt Ministers at the opening of the International Ayurveda 2013 Expo at the BMICH. Minister Basil Rajapaksa was the Chief Guest and was more..

Scottish mountaineer launches Sri Lanka's first adventure travel company

July 13 (IT) Scottish mountaineer Iain Mackay has established Sri Lanka’s first independent expedition travel company. Moonstone Expeditions specialises in trekking, mountain biking and surfing itineraries which take full advantage of the country’s unique and beautiful terrain. The company is underpinned by an ethical approach that gives prominence to respect for the environment and making a contribution to the local economy. With full-time staff in Glasgow and Sri Lanka, more..

John Keells hosts students of the University of Jaffna

July 13 (Island) The John Keells Group hosted final year undergraduates of the Faculty of Management Studies and Commerce of the University of Jaffna to a historic tour of the conglomerate’s key businesses and operations. The tour was aimed at facilitating fourth year students reading for a Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA) degree to gain practical insights of key industries, functions and strategies of Sri Lanka’s biggest conglomerate and develop greater awareness of more..

KU help sought for KDU

July 13 (CG) The Defence Ministry has requested the University of Karachi (KU) to help establish a multidisciplinary research facility, like the International Centre for Chemical and Biological Sciences (ICCBS), University of Karachi, in the General Sir John Kotelawala Defence University (KDU). This was stated by the Director, ICCBS, Prof Dr Iqbal Choudhry, while presiding over an official meeting held at the ICCBS on Thursday. more..

CHOGM: Oh! Sweet-Smelling Humbug

July 13 (CT) That is what I once used for a title of an article written eleven years ago and published in a daily newspaper. I owed the title to Peter Taylor, The Sunday Telegraph Foreign Editor who wrote immediately after CHOGM held in Bahamas. President J.R. Jayewardene, who represented Sri Lanka was very elated about the speech he made so much so when he stopped over in Paris for a week which I thought was to spend in my company, – I was his Ambassador to France and more..