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Wessa Giriya and the windy places

June 15 (NS) I google Wessa Giriya and the only references are from photos I have posted on flickr. Yet Wessa Giriya stands in my mind as one of the most striking places I have visited in Sri Lanka. And it answered a question for me. It was my last day in Sri Lanka, not even a full day. My train was scheduled to leave Anuradhapura at 2pm and I was to be evicted from my not-so-hospitable guesthouse at noon sharp. They were nice enough to lend me a bicycle though, and wishing to avoid the more..

Fixing Sri Lanka’s gaping trade deficit

June 15 (CT) Last week saw the release of the Annual Report of the Ministry of Finance and Planning for 2012. Though it is a report pertaining to a Ministry, since the Ministry of Finance is the focal point in the economy, it is a comprehensive analysis of the current state of the Sri Lanka’s economy with a detailed presentation of the economic strategies to be adopted by the Government to fix numerous issues presently facing the economy. Thus, the Ministry Annual Report is the last of more..

Detecting defects of groundwater

June 15 (SO) An array of problems are rising in several parts of the country on the condition of the ground water reserves. Over extraction of groundwater through tube wells set up irregularly in several parts of the country has lead to water drying up. Groundwater is recharged from, and eventually flows to, the surface naturally; natural discharge often occurs at springs and seeps, and can form oases or wetlands. more..

Fresh question marks over CHOGM

June 15 (CT) The celebrations in Colombo after signals from London that Sri Lanka would host CHOGM without any further hiccups, brings up the continued relevance of an old Tamil saying, which, in so many words, tells you that 'applying cow dung to the floor alone is not enough to herald festivities.' This adage is captured by the saying in English that cautions you against 'counting the chicken before they are hatched.' Readers may wonder why this cynicism, when Queen Elizabeth herself more..

The disaster that is disaster communication

June 15 (CT) In times of disaster, besides victims, people also look for villains. Often, the villains appear in the form of vital lapses in communications. It is well-documented that post-tsunami Sri Lanka is equipped enough to forecast bad weather and to issue adequate early warnings. When the fishermen went to sea last week, however, there were no forewarnings and 40 fishermen lost their lives while we are yet to discover the fate of the fishermen, still reported missing and the boats, at sea. more..

Mohamed Hisham

Ceylon Rationalist Association: 1970 memorandum on a new constitution

June 15 (GV) This memorandum was sent by the Ceylon Rationalist Association on 25 September 1970 to Dr Colvin R De Silva, then Minister of Constitutional Affairs, who was heading the group tasked with drafting what eventually became the country’s first Republican Constitution of 1972. Written by the Association’s Founder President Dr Abraham Thomas Kovoor, it captured the broad, idealistic vision that members of this voluntary group of free thinkers have advocated since more..

Gotabaya Rajapaksa and National Security: The KDU lecture

June 15 (GV) As a citizen of Sri Lanka, naturally I was keen to know what the country’s secretary of defense thinks about the current security situation and the military history of Sri Lanka. Therefore, I went through his “lecture” under the National Interest Module of the inaugural MPhil/PhD Programme of the Kotelawala Defense University. Usually, any “lecture” is followed by a question and answer session unlike “speeches”. I am sure the secretary of defense allowed this tradition to happen more..

'Economic development is essential in achieving national reconciliation'

June 15 (MoD) 'From the point of view of domestic security, perhaps the most critical aspect will be the achievement of national reconciliation and the forging of a common Sri Lankan identity. Economic development is an absolute necessity in this regard' said the Secretary Defence and Urban Development Gotabaya Rajapaksa during a lecture at the Kotalawala Defence University (KDU) today (13). Secretary Defence made these more..

Editorial : Urgent Bills, stupid!

June 15 (Island) We thought the govt had bidden farewell to the undemocratic practice of presenting urgent bills to Parliament after heavy flak it drew over the so-called Expropriation Bill, which was rushed through the House as if there were no tomorrow. LLRC, which was the govt’s answer to UNSG Ban Ki-moon’s advisory panel on Sri Lanka, has also frowned on urgent bills. But, old habits die hard! The govt apparently cannot get over that deplorable practice injurious to democracy. more..

Match 9: SA overcome WI, D/L, tie to qualify

June 15 (CI) It has been a decade since South Africa's miscalculation of Duckworth-Lewis saw them exit the World Cup in the first round. Finally, they will consider themselves redeemed. In a twist of fate as perfectly formed as the ringlet on a young girl's crop of hair, West Indies were pushed out of the Champions Trophy after a rain-affected tied match. After 26.1 overs, with six wickets down, they needed 191 runs to win the match. They left the field on 190 for 6 as the drizzle drifted down. more..

Anandasangaree must retain his self-respect by a dignified exit from the TNA

June 15 (DBS) Veteran Tamil Politician Veerasingham Anandasangaree reaches the age of eighty today. Sangaree as he is generally known was born on June 15th 1933 in Point Pedro. Though not in Parliament now, the octogenarian is yet active in politics and functions as the Secretary-General of the TULF. Earlier he was the TULF president. The TULF which swept the polls on a separatist platform in 1977 and won 18 of more..

The assaults on democratic rights and personal freedoms

June 15 (Island) In his latest book Failed States, Professor Noam Chomsky, the distinguished academic and writer from the MIT, was of course referring to the United States. But his insightful analysis is true not only of US but of many other countries as well. Among the hardest tasks that anyone can undertake, and one of the most important, Chomsky says, is to look honestly in the mirror. If we allow ourselves to do so, we should have little difficulty in finding the more..

Dialog, Janashakthi launch worldwide travel insurance

June 15 (Island) Dialog Axiata and Janashakthi Insurance, the leading trendsetters and innovators in their respective fields have taken both Sri Lanka’s mobile and insurance industries by storm with their latest joint product, "Worldwide Travel Insurance", providing global travel coverage for just Rs.175/- a day. Dialog’s subscriber base, which is in excess of 7.8 million, can now purchase this unique worldwide travel insurance of USD 50,000 Hospitalisation and USD 25,000 Accidental Death and Total more..

Work on Commonwealth Biz Forum progressing well; big draw expected

June 15 (FT) Preparations for the first-ever Commonwealth Business Forum (CBF) in Colombo in November are progressing satisfactorily, with organisers expressing confidence on exceeding targets set for drawing worldwide participants and investments. “We are expecting over 1,000 delegates across the world for the CBF. This will be the biggest gathering of eminent business people outside the World Economic more..

'Time to change Industrial Promotion Act'

June 15 (Island) "Many of our industries are in need of being modernized and upgraded and I believe that it is time that we consider making relevant changes to the Industrial Promotion Act No 46 of 1990 so that the competitive advantage of our industries are sustained, both here and abroad," said Minister Rishad Bathiudeen. He was addressing on 14 June the Launch Event of the eighth SME INOEX 2013 Machinery, Technology, Material and Service Exhibition to be held in more..

A way out of the 13th Amendment trap

June 15 (Island) Several prominent civil society members are opposing attempts of the Govt to introduce revisions to the 13th Amendment. The issue is not whether there is merit or not in the contemplated revisions. The issue is that the constitutional procedures that need to be followed in the case of a Bill to amend/repeal provisions to the 13th Amendment or any matter set out in the Provincial Council List, makes progressive revisions a daunting undertaking. more..

'My helicopter not for rescue mission'

June 15 (DM) UPFA MP Sajin Vass Gunawardene said today his helicopter did not have the capability to carry out rescue operations. He said this in response to a statement made by UNP MP Wijedasa Rajapaksa that Mr. Gunawardene had not provided a helicopter to be used in rescue operations last Saturday when the deadly cyclone hit the Balapitiya coastal belt. He described Mr. Rajapaksa as a learned more..

Wild boar kills hunter

June 15 (DM) A man who was in the habit of hunting wild boar at Panvila in Kandy was today killed by a wild boar that he had cornered and while attempting to stab it with a long iron spike. Police said the man appeared to have missed his mark when the enraged animal had turned upon him and gored him to death. Police said the badly injured man had tried to climbed a tree to escape the wild boar attack but it was too little too late. The man was known to hide behind thick bushes and stab the wild boar more..

Sri Lanka commemorates Swami Vivekananda's 150th birth anniversary

June 15 (DN) A postage stamp to commemorate the 150th birth anniversary of Swami Vivekananda was issued by the Philatelic Bureau of Sri Lanka and the first day cover ceremonially handed by the Postmaster General to President Rajapaksa at Temple Tress on June 7 in the presence of a large gathering. Ministers, MPs, diplomats, senior govt officials and community leaders participated. Among those present were Acting Indian High Commissioner P Kumaran, more..

'Task of rebuilding economy will be thrust on UNP'

June 15 (FT) UNP MP Ravi Karunanayake pointed to the sharp fall in the Rupee and stock market as being telling signs of the country’s economic crisis. He warned that the sharp depreciation of the rupee over the last 72 hours impacted the country’s imports and increased the country’s debt burden by billions of rupees. Yesterday the currency fell to a six month low of 129 against the US dollar. more..

‘NPC polls will be fair even at expense of life’

June 15 (CT) The Common Opposition yesterday quoted Commissioner of Elections, Mahinda Deshapriya, as having said he will conduct the Northern Provincial Council polls in a free and fair manner, even at the expense of his life. Dr. Vickramabahu Karunaratne, speaking on behalf of the Common Opposition said, while they valued the sincerity of the sentiments of the Elections Commissioner, asked whether his statements were bordering on what degree of independence more..

Bhikkhu imposter arrested in Deniyaya

June 15 (CT) A bhikku impostor, who has reportedly collected cash donations by misleading a number of people in the Deniyaya area, has been caught by the Bodhu Bala Sena (BBS) and handed over to the police yesterday. President of the BBS, Ven. Kirama Vimalajothi Thera, about two years ago it was brought to his notice that a bhikku impostor is frequenting the Deniyaya area and collecting contributions from the villagers claiming to be in aid of a Buddhist cause. more..

President opens renovated A9 and Iranamadu runway today

June 15 (DN) President Mahinda Rajapaksa will open the Iranamadu runway and renovated A9 road today, Major General Udaya Perera said. LTTE cadres had constructed a 600m long runway at the same site and destroyed it using bulldozers, prior to the Army retaking Iranamadu. The reconstructed runway extends up to 1500m. The reconstruction work was carried by the Sri Lanka Air Force. more..

The arrest of Vaas Gunawardena and the descent into anarchy

June 15 (AHRC) The DIG Vass Gunawardena is now in remand custody while an inquiry into the conspiracy to murder a businessman for pay is ongoing. Even as he is being interrogated he was reported in the television network, Swarnavahini, in its programme on Mulpituwa, as telling the investigating police officers that he is a murderer and that he "will take his revenge when he returns". For over several years there have been many allegations regarding Vass Gunawardena. more..

Sri Lankan bank team in Shravasti to study self-help group system

June 15 (TOI) A 35 member team of Srl Lankan bank has visited Gilaula block to study the system of the self-help groups as they want to start the same in their country as well. The team members gathered information from the women working with self help groups. The Regional Development bank of Sri Lanka is implementing the schemes of rural development in its country and has sent the bank officials to India for the study of the self-help group system. The team members visited more..

Police warn phone users to be wary of SMS frauds

June 15 (DM) The Police said today that frauds committed through text message services (SMS) were on the rise and urged users of mobile phones to be vigilant when responding to messages about cash prizes. They said that gullible users continued to fall prey to bogus text messages informing them that they had won some competition or the other. The text messages urge users to deposit cash into a mentioned account more..

Legal net can secure Katchatheevu claim

June 15 (Hindu) In his article in The Hindu, “Chasing a boat we missed long ago”, Deepak Raju has criticised the futility of the pending litigation on Katchatheevu island and has described claims to retrieve the island as weak in international law. There is no doubt an order issued by the Supreme Court of India is not binding on Sri Lanka, as Mr. Raju has said, but it must not be forgotten that the court’s jurisdiction extends up to the contiguous zone (up to 24 nautical miles) of India. more..

Police top brass under microscope

June 15 (CT) The Ministry of Defence and Urban Planning has decided to suddenly probe the official and personal documents of all senior police officials above the rank of superintendents on their wealth and conduct. This follows information that DIG Vass Gunawardena had allegedly extorted money and also being a suspect in a murder case. The Defence Ministry, has handed over to the CID, details of corruption and inconsistencies of a large number of officers of the police top brass. more..

'Sri Lankans donate blood as a gift of life'

June 15 (GDI) Among developing nations, Sri Lanka has been identified as the country with the best National Blood Transfusion Service, which is a matter to be proud of said President Rajapaksa, speaking at the World Blood Donors Day 2013 celebration at Temple Trees, Friday. The celebrations were held on the theme "Donate blood as a gift of life". He further said that the World Health Organization appreciating this service has more..

Willis: England are tampering with the ball

June 15 (Sun) England are at the centre of a tampering storm after former captain Bob Willis accused a player of scratching the ball. The row erupted when umpires Aleem Dar and Billy Bowden ordered one of the balls to be changed during England’s seven-wicket Champions Trophy defeat by Sri Lanka at The Oval. And Willis said: “Let’s not beat about the bush — Aleem Dar is on England’s case. “He knows that one individual is scratching the ball for England, who I am not going to name more..

Sri Lanka's Q1 GDP growth seen slowing to 5.7% on weaker trade

June 15 (Reuters) Sri Lanka's economy in the first quarter probably grew at a slower pace of 5.7% from a year earlier hit by weaker trade and factory output, a poll of analysts showed. The economy expanded an annual 6.3% in the fourth quarter and 4.8% in the third quarter, which was a three-year low. First quarter GDP figures are due on Monday. The poll of 10 analysts also forecast that economy would grow 6.2% in 2013, its slowest pace in four years and less than the central bank's estimate of 7.5%. more..

Jayalalitha’s protest may force India to shift Lankan officers out of Military Staff College

June 15 (TOI) Succumbing to pressure from Tamil Nadu chief minister J Jayalalithaa, the defence ministry is planning to shift out the Sri Lankan officers undergoing the almost year-long course at the prestigious Defence Services Staff College at Wellington. "The issue is being discussed ... the final decision is yet to be taken," said a defence ministry official. But sources said India has already told SL that its officers more..

Vital pillars of democracy crumbling

June 15 (DM) In one of the most shocking disclosures of the conduct and character of a senior police officer, the CID told courts on Thursday that DIG Vaas Gunawardena who has been remanded on charges of abducting and killing a businessman, had allegedly threatened the CID officers that he was a murderer and would deal with the detectives when he was released. The CID in a report to the Colombo Magistrate said, DIG Gunawardena when he was questioned at the CID office had more..

Whose blunder killed them all

June 15 (DM) Who is responsible for the 53 fishermen who died and the 16 who went missing as a result of the recent thunder showers? The Meteorological Department (which was shamed continually by the media during the past few days in the aftermath of the gale), the Disaster Management Centre (DMC) and Ministry of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources keep on passing the responsibly to each other institution in the aftermath of disaster that claimed over 50 lives and destituted many. more..

Former war zone craves democracy

June 15 (IPS) For the first time since Sri Lanka’s 30-year-long civil conflict drew to a bloody finish in May 2009, casting an eerie hush over the Northern Province that had grown accustomed to the sounds of war, there is a buzz in the air generated by the prospect of provincial elections that hold the promise of radical change. Though it is yet to be announced formally, political circles in Colombo, are fixed on the prospect of an more..

A disturbing trend of Police brutality

June 15 (SL) Angry residents surrounded the police station in Dematagoda, demanding justice for a man who died in police custody. The residents insisted that 44-year-old Kannapillaiyam Shekar was a victim of police brutality. “One of our sons was taken in at 7 pm… by 4 am, he was dead,” one of the protesters said in anger. But the police insist that there was no foul play involved. Shekar died of a heart attack, more..

Sri Lanka examines constraints in doing business in Colombo

June 15 (ST) President Rajapaksa is currently in discussion with relevant authorities on investor related issues pertaining to re-considering the minimum amount on BOI investments and land ownership by overseas nationals for business in Sri Lanka. Currently, authorities were in discussion with the President on re-considering the minimum amount foreign investors need to invest in the country, Deputy Minister M.L.A.M. Hisbullah more..

Ruhuna U’grads accuse pro-govt elements of attacks

June 15 (Island) Ruhuna University undergraduates, aligned to the JVP offshoot, the Frontline Socialist Party, threatened to stage a protest campaign with the support of other universities across the country if the Vice Chancellor of their university did not take action against politically motivated attacks on them. The attacks on FSP affiliated students, during the last two weeks, took place in and outside the university premises, more..

Sri Lankan connected firms, individuals in leaked tax haven data

June 15 (LBO) A number of firms apparently connected to Sri Lanka as well as top investors in the island's capital markets are found in a cache of leaked data on beneficial owners of entities set up through offshore tax havens. The data base of, beneficial owners, investment holdings and trust service companies was released by the The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ), a non-profit organization. more..