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View from Ritigala - by Mahasona

July 16 (NS) With elections for three provincial councils to be held shortly, bigwigs in political parties have already started bragging. ‘We will win Wayamba and Sabaragamuwa,’ UNP stalwart John Amaratunga opines. UPFA MP Maithripala Sirisena scoffs, ‘when the results come you will learn the truth!’ Amaratunga believes that ‘acute problems faced by the people’ will do the job for the elephants. The question is whether the ‘acute problems within the party’ will make for effective campaigning. more..

When a bad copper comes a cropper

July 16 (NS) For the second time running within three years, Sri Lanka’s general public has ranked the Police as the most corrupt institution in the country. According to the Global Corruption Barometer (GCB) released report by Transparency International this week, more than 72% of the people surveyed in Sri Lanka believe ordinary people can make a difference in the fight against corruption. More than 78% confirmed their willingness to ask the govt to do more to combat corruption. more..

Peace prevails in Lanka: No travel advisories needed

July 16 (SO) Various countries, especially those in the West, issue travel advisories from time to time. At the early stages, these travel advisories were issued with good intentions, based on the security and other ground situations in various countries. Travel advisories were earlier issued purely with the intention of protecting their citizens who travel to other countries. But it is high time to question whether present day more..

Do not touch: Nuclear, chemical and biological

July 16 (DBS) Does anyone know who made the decision to dabble with nuclear power sources and if that weren’t enough, attempt a tie up with a chemical and biological research institute? To put it more plainly, who even introduced the words nuclear, chemical and biological into the Sri Lankan policy agenda? Why, at a moment when we are under the scrutiny of the USA, would we even use the terms nuclear, chemical and biological, which are terms that trigger extreme apprehension more..

The disconnect between principle and practice in Sri Lankan governance

July 16 (CT) The fooforaw about the 13th Amendment to the constitution has effectively camouflaged the fact that all the indulgence in debating skills, real and pretended, conceals the fact that NOTHING in the matter of legislation or law is sacred in this country and that what passes for these two elements of governance is not, literally, worth the paper on which it is written! The term “mind-boggling” is one of those that I have problems dealing with when used by others and more..

Brutal nightclub assaults: Only the tip of the iceberg?

July 16 (NS) The recent revelation made in court by the Officer In Charge of the Kollupitiya Police station, Mangala Dehideniya to the effect that the Police had received numerous reports of brutal assaults on a guest at a prominent nightclub has opened a can of worms regarding Colombo nightclub business. The brutal assault on a 21 year old youth at the Kama Colombo night club last week, is not an isolated incident with more..

Addressing misconceptions

July 16 (CT) Recent debates surrounding the 13th Amendment to the Constitution reflect the extreme polarization of Sri Lanka’s political discourse. While the issue is indeed emotive, we have nothing to gain from anything but a clinical approach to these questions. If reason is to prevail in our politics, then reason must prevail in our thinking – and our thinking about the 13th Amendment is a good place to start. The 13th Amendment provides for a measure of devolution to the provinces more..

Asylum seekers: the next wave of ‘invaders’?

July 16 (GV) Teaching Selvam (not his real name) even the rudiments of English pronunciation is not easy. He only completed his primary school and is now in his mid 40s. In the little town in Eastern Sri Lanka where he managed a small car repair shop or ‘garage’, repairing the cars of friends, neighbours and those who passed that way, he had no need for English. But not anymore. Having taken the precarious journey to Australia and now released into the community until his claims are more..

Akanksha Midha

Sinhala colonisation: What is Rama’s relationship with Seetha?

July 16 (CT) The title of this article is a Tamil expression. Years ago, the late Sivaram Taraki wrote an article in Tamil, under the same title, explaining how every Singhalese politician since 1948 has viewed the ethnic conflict in Sri Lanka and gradually changed their position to deny Tamils’ rights. In fact, this popular article was translated and became available in English as well. The armed struggle started in 1983, came to a complete halt after Mullivaghzal in May 2009. more..

Another CHOGM controversy

July 16 (CT) The Govt is geared to host the country’s first-ever CHOGM from 10 to 17 November. However, as with Sri Lanka’s hosting of the event, its plans for the media also triggered a controversy last week, when Minister Keheliya Rambukwella, shot from the hip a warning that the govt would carry out stringent background checking on the foreign press corps. Last Sunday, Rambukwella said, journalists applying for visas to attend CHOGM would be ‘screened,’ to more..

Toxic rice

July 16 (CT) Arecent study by an international group of scientists has included among its most startling disclosures that rice samples from Sri Lanka and Bangladesh contained the dreaded toxic metal, cadmium. The 12-nation study yielded that Sri Lanka only came second to Bangladesh in the level of toxicity. Other countries surveyed include parts of Cambodia – a massive rice producing country, two European nations – France and more..

Small enough to be caught

July 16 (Island) Five persons including a mason and a watcher have been arrested for allegedly stealing a stock of steel and timber worth about half a million rupees from UNP MP Akila Viraj Kariyawasam’s house under construction in Kuliyapitiya. It is heartening that the police have acted swiftly though the aggrieved party is an Opposition politician. The culprits should be severely dealt with and the stolen building materials returned to the MP who has, we believe, included his new house more..

PSC and all-important empowerment issue

July 16 (Island) While the prospect of another prolonged deliberative process on resolving the ethnic issue, in the form of the recently convened Parliamentary Select Committee, is likely to provoke cynical, dismissive comment among the more seasoned watchers of Sri Lankan politics, as a superfluous and time-buying exercise, the reported aims of the current PSC are bound to prove thought-provoking. The PSC would, apparently, be charged with recommending and reporting more..

Mavai Senathirajah MP stands down in favour of ex-judge CV Wigneswaran

July 16 (DBS) The premier Political configuration representing the Sri Lankan Tamils –TNA – has decided to field former Supreme court judge CV Wigneswaran as its Chief ministerial candidate for the forthcoming elections to the NPC. The decision was arrived at on Monday when the coordinating committee comprising 21 representatives from the five constituent partners of the met at the Colombo party office of ITAK more..

India names Lanka ‘Partner’ for international trade fair

July 16 (Island) As bilateral trade between Sri Lanka and India topped US$ 4 billion, India is moving in an unprecedented manner to strengthen its trade linkages with Sri Lanka– in no less than at Business to Business (B2B) levels, the Ministry of Industry and Commerce said in press communiqué yesterday. "The ‘Industrial India Trade Fair’ series in Kolkata is the only such large scale international event in North Eastern India, if not in the whole of India. We have also nominated Sri Lanka more..

Ayurveda exports surge 95%

July 16 (Island) Lanka’s surging tourism numbers and rising global demand of herbal products have resulted in an Ayurveda revenue boom in Sri Lanka. "The practice of Ayurveda uses almost local plants and species, rarely using any imports and therefore does not affect our imports bill or trade gap significantly. Our 2012 Ayurveda exports rose by a strong 95% in comparison to 2010 Ayurveda export volumes," revealed Minister Rishad Bathiudeen, on 12 July in Colombo. more..

Public debt position up 5.9% to Rs. 6.35tn

July 16 (Island) Total out standing public debt grew 5.9% from Rs. 6 trillion as at end Dec 2012 to Rs. 6.35 trillion as at end April 2013, up 8.53% from Rs. 5.85 trillion a year earlier. Total outstanding domestic debt of the govt amounted to Rs. 3.55 trillion as at end April 2013, up 9.8% from Rs. 3.32 trillion as at end Dec 2012 and up 13.7% from Rs. 3.12 trillion a year ago. According to the 2013 budget, the govt’s domestic borrowing more..

No SLFP MPs as PC candidates

July 16 (DN) The SLFP will not present any current SLFP MPs as candidates for the upcoming Provincial Council elections, Minister Maithripala Sirisena said. The SLFP will conduct interviews today to select SLFP candidates for the North Western and Central Provincial Council elections. The SLFP has already completed interviews to select candidates for the Northern Provincial Council election, he said. Minister said if any current SLFP MP says he or she will contest from more..

Gang extorting money in the guise of CID/TID

July 16 (CT) An organized gang, said to be posing off as the officers of the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) and the Terrorist Investigation Division (TID), is reportedly extorting money from businessmen and the rich, across many parts of the island, police said. The modus operandi of the gang is to give telephone calls to businessmen and tell them that there are several allegations being made against them by the CID and the Anti-Terrorist Unit, and they would be taken into custody more..

Voters allowed to vote 'outside' polling stations

July 16 (DN) Steps have been taken to enable voters to cast their ballot at any polling station other than the polling station in the polling division where they are registered, Elections Commissioner Mahinda Deshapriya said in a release. The release added: "It is hereby announced that electors, who are unable due to reasonable fear to vote at the polling station where he is registered, can apply for permission to vote at another polling station more..

National reconciliation through Harmony Centres

July 16 (AT) Sri Lanka, a post war country recovering from thirty years of internal conflict, though it has been achieved a sustainable development, the greatest challenge Sri Lanka faces presently is to maintain the peace and stability it has achieved. For the purpose of promote and maintaining peace and harmony among the all communities, particularly the young generations who are waiting to govern the country in the future, and a national reconciliation programme has been more..

13 street vendors take CMC to Court

July 16 (CT) 13 street vendors from Colombo, alleging that the newly-constructed trade stalls had been allocated to supporters, relatives and close associates of certain members of the Colombo Municipal Council (CMC), filed a fundamental rights application in the Supreme Court, seeking redress from what they claim has been an unfair move by the CMC. N.W. Vithanage, T.A. Jinadasa, M.A. Dahanayaka and 10 other vendors filed the application through their Attorney, more..

Govt dances to India’s tune – JVP

July 16 (LT) Sri Lanka’s politics and economy is decided on the whims and fancies of India says JVP MP Vijitha Herath. Mr. Herath said, “From the time Indo-Lanka pact was to be signed in 1987 the stand of the JVP was that it was not a solution for the national question in Sri Lanka. The JVP also carried out a massive struggle against establishing provincial councils under the Indo-Lanka pact. more..

Harsha rebuts Amarapala

July 16 (FT) UNP MP Dr. Harsha de Silva issued a fresh salvo over former Chairman of CEB Vidya Amarapala’s response over the latter’s name appearing among those holding secret accounts. The following is the statement from Dr. de Silva: While awaiting word from the authorities on what they intend to do with those who had violated the country’s laws in operating secret accounts in tax havens, I read with interest the reply published in your paper yesterday by Vidya Amarapala, more..

Re-conditioned cars registrations up

July 16 (LBO) Sri Lanka's re-conditioned or imported used automobile registrations hit a 19 month high in June 2012 with Japanese made Toyota and Honda brands in pole position. Imported used vehicles rose to 1,327 in June 2013, the highest since 1,205 hit in June 2011. Sri Lanka's car imports plunged after April 2012 when taxes were hike in what analysts called a mistaken real-economy policy response to a monetary problem coming from the island's soft-pegged exchange rate regime. more..

Kachatheevu island unites TN arch-rivals

July 16 (TOI) Arch rivals J Jayalalithaa and M Karunanidhi may have differed on every single political issue but the emotive demand for retrieval of Kachatheevu island from Sri Lanka has forced a convergence of views. More than four years after AIADMK chief and then opposition leader Jayalalithaa moved the Supreme Court seeking rescinding of the Indo-Sri Lankan agreements of the 1970s to retrieve the island, a popular more..

SLFP CC meeting on Friday

July 16 (Island) The SLFP Central Committee (CC) will meet on Friday at Temple Trees to discuss the upcoming polls in the Northern, North-Western and Central Provinces. SLFP sources said that the progress of the Parliamentary Select Committee (PSC) on Constitutional reforms, the selection of candidates for the much hyped Northern Provincial Council polls and the allotment of slots to other constituent parties in the UPFA would be discussed among other things. more..

Pakistan Finance minister Dar for increasing South Asian trade

July 16 (CT) Pakistan Minister of Finance Ishaq Dar stated that the promotion of trade among members of the SAARC was a top priority for the newly elected Pakistani govt. He was meeting with the High Commissioner of Sri Lanka Air Chief Marshal (retd) Jayalath Weerakkody. The minister told the high commissioner of the PML-N govt’s commitment to bolstering trade among SAARC countries and assured the envoy that the matter is being treated as a priority. more..

CEB to construct two new gas turbines despite criticism

July 16 (Island) The CEB is planning set up two gas turbines at a cost of some USD 60 million each to produce 200 MW of electricity. A senior electrical engineer said that the first turbine was scheduled to be commissioned in 2015 and the other in 2017. However, another engineer queried why the CEB should go for such turbines, when agreements with plants like the Puttalam Heladanvi 100 MW – the cheapest plant in the system more..

President awards Gallantry Medals to N-E war heroes

July 16 (GDI) President Mahinda Rajapaksa, Commander-In-Chief of the Armed Forces refreshed the memories of invaluable dedication, commitment and sacrifice, made by 19,158 War Heroes of the Armed Forces during Humanitarian Operations in the North and East by awarding prestigious Gallantry Medals, Weera Wickrama Vibhushanaya (WWV) and Rana Wickrema Padakkama (RWP) in a glittering ceremony at Temple Trees Monday. The ceremony that witnessed a representative more..

Sri Lanka joins French National Day commemoration

July 16 (GDI) Sri Lanka actively participated in the regional commemoration of ‘La Fête Nationale’ (French National Day) in the village of Grand Quevilly in the Normandy region, in the north of France on Sunday (14). As the only Asian country, among several others from the African region, Sri Lanka received the opportunity to showcase crafts, produce, cuisine and tourism at the event which drew people from across the Normandy region. Welcoming Sri Lanka at the more..

Prince Charles here for CHOGM

July 16 (CT) The govt yesterday confirmed that the Prince of Wales would be representing Queen Elizabeth II at the CHOGM, scheduled to be held from 10 -17 November. Minister G.L. Peiris said none of the 53 Commonwealth nations had said 'it will not attend the CHOGM.' At the press briefing, Minister Keheliya Rambukwella, who earlier caused controversy over his comments on restricting access to foreign press corps, said there would be more..

'Sri Lanka has world’s lowest paid AG'

July 16 (Island) Sri Lanka had the lowest paid Auditor General in the world, which was an insult to such a high office, Eran Wickremeratne MP and financial analyst said. He said that the office of Auditor General (AG) was a constitutional position responsible to Parliament and similar to that of the Chief Justice, but he was paid around Rs.45,000, while there were at least three others in the AGs Department who earned more than he. The AG audited salaries of public servants who more..

CMC requests residents to separate garbage

July 16 (CT) In the backdrop of the difficulties faced in disposing of garbage at the Meetotamulla garbage disposal site, the Colombo Municipal Council (CMC) has taken measures to reduce the volume of its daily garbage intake by requesting the residents in the city to separate their household waste into metal, plastic, empty cartons, coconut shells, glass, kitchen refuse, among other disposables. Only kitchen refuse will be collected and disposed of by the CMC garbage trucks, leaving metal, plastic, more..

Can’t put a price on CHOGM: GL

July 16 (FT) Sri Lanka will take centre stage when it assumes the leadership of the Commonwealth for two years following the CHOGM in Colombo in November, a top Minister pledged, while declining to comment on the tab the major international meeting would run up for State coffers. Minister G.L. Peiris, who chaired the first major media briefing on the CHOGM 2013 together with Cabinet colleagues, Ministry secretaries more..

Outcome of NPC elections : The responsibility of political parties and voters

July 16 (DM) The cries for the abolition of the 13th Amendment to the Constitution and for the pruning of powers vested in the provincial councils before the election for the Northern Provincial Council have gone in vain. The said election is to be held without any tinkering in the 13th Amendment or in the Provincial Councils Act, according to the latest reports, despite the fact that it was not the Opposition but the leaders of the Government and its constituent parties that wanted more..

Devolution: Fact or fiction?

July 16 (DM) The concept of devolution is the passing down of governmental powers in respect of the periphery - from the Centre to various organs in the periphery. The object theoretically sought to be achieved by this process is to enable the people of an area to look after their own affairs. The 13th Amendment is alleged to have been enacted to achieve this objective. However, an examination of the manner in which the 13th Amendment ‘worked’ and/or was `put into practice’ would more..

'We are onto modernisation of the military'

July 16 (DM) While preparing to retire from active military service next month after a 36 year prestigious career, the country’s top military officer Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) Air Chief Marshal Roshan Goonetileke spoke to Daily Mirror on the role of the CDS and the role played by the armed forces in the post war period, while emphasising on the need to embrace military modernisation to face future threats. more..

'Rate cut possible in September or October'

July 16 (WSJ) Sri Lanka’s central bank might cut short-term interest rates again in September or October if inflation continues to fall as expected, bank governor Ajith Nivard Cabraal said Monday. “If we feel very confident with the events of the next few months, then we would feel a little more inclined to relax further,” Mr. Cabraal said. “It will be a decision that will be taken around Sept, Oct then we will really give it a careful look,” more..