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Special Report: Bhikkhuni Kusuma

‘No substitute for PSC’

June 16 (SO) Although enacted more than a quarter of a century ago, the 13th Amendment to the Constitution had not been implemented by any of the previous regimes as it lacked public support, Minister Prof. G.L. Peiris told a gathering of diplomats, academics and officials at the German Association for Foreign Policy in Berlin on Friday. He explained to the audience the need to discuss the matter at a Parliamentary Select Committee as consented by different stakeholders of more..

13th Amendment: Let the people decide

June 16 (ST) It would seem that the Govt has got into a right royal jam with the 13th Amendment (13A) to the Constitution. Under pressure from India once again, and the Western countries on the one side, and counter-pressure from domestic forces adamantly opposing its continuance, the Govt of President Rajapaksa has been boxed into a corner. It is trying to wriggle out of a situation it has brought upon itself. For one, the Govt procrastinated in bringing about an alternative to 13A. more..

SLT successfully completed the country’s first and largest CCTV surveillance system

June 16 (Island) Sri Lanka Telecom, the national telecommunication services provider successfully connected the country’s first and largest Closed Circuit Television (CCTV) surveillance system through its advanced Fibre optic based Metro Ethernet Network (MEN) infrastructure to improve road safety and national security by providing facilities to authorities of the Sri Lanka Police Department to carry out real-time more..

Youth unemployment demands urgent attention

June 16 (Island) The unemployment rate in the country is now at a low level - the lowest ever in fact - being 4% in 2012, down from 4.2% in 2011. But this figure is not applicable to youth unemployment which continues to remain high. The labor force has itself declined by 1.1% to 8.465 million last year of which 67% were males and 33 percent females. Out of the economically inactive population, 29.5% were males and 70.5% were females. The female labor participation rate remains low at 29.9%. more..

Stuck on 13

June 16 (ST) My Dear Mahinda maama, I thought of writing to you when I heard that you had suddenly decided to amend the Constitution yet again and withdraw some of the powers given to the provinces under this very, very, unlucky thirteenth amendment. Pardon me, Mahinda maama, I think you must have been really worried about Uncle Champika and Uncle Wimal shouting themselves hoarse about this and crying ‘wolf’ and that is why you decided to change the Constitution again. more..

Frontline Socialist Party in crisis

June 16 (NS) Divisions within the Frontline Socialist Party (FSP), the breakaway faction of the JVP, have resulted in hundreds of its grassroots and mid-level members leaving the party, sources said. They revealed to The Nation that the party was plagued with conflicts and internal rifts since its inception last year. It was revealed that cadres – hundreds in grassroots, dozens and tens in the middle level and a few more..

Disappearance of provincial police powers from the constitution

June 16 (Island) Last week’s cabinet meeting was described by one minister not just as the stormiest cabinet meeting since the present govt came into power, but as probably the stormiest cabinet meeting ever held in this country since independence! For two hours complete bedlam prevailed. Cabinet was divided between the anti-13th Amendment and pro-13th Amendment groups. While the likes of Vasudeva Nanayakkara, Dew Gunasekera, and Rajitha Senaratne were more..

Declining tax revenue and vital need to reverse trend

June 16 (Island) The focus of economists and financial policy experts is currently being laid on the declining tax ratio to GDP and its serious consequences on govt revenue and the realization of the objectives of the economic development plans as envisaged in the Mahinda Chinthanaya and the five hubs concept. This has been pointed out in numerous articles such as in the Sri Lanka Tax Review of 2012, Talking Economics Digest of the IPS, December 2012, and even recently by more..

New laws for Websites

June 16 (SL) Following the announcement by the govt that a Code of Ethics will be introduced for the print and electronic media, the Media Ministry now says it hopes to introduce new laws for websites. Ministry Secretary Charitha Herath said that a committee is to be formed to draft the new laws for websites operating in Sri Lanka. Herath said that so far just 67 websites have been registered with the Media Ministry but yet more..

Lyceum celebrates 20 years

June 16 (CT) The 20th anniversary celebrations of Lyceum International School will be held under the theme 'Inspiring Dream – indomitable reality,' on 14 June 2013. The school was established by Mohan Lal Grero, on 14 June 1993 at No. 3/1, Raymond Road, Nugegoda. Grero, speaking of the past 20 year said: "When I reminisce through the past, it reminds me of the simple beginning we had with just seven students and five teachers. I am proud to say that today we have eight branches more..

Fishermen face huge losses

June 16 (SL) The fishing community is facing huge losses with the Department of Meteorology issuing weather advisories since last Monday warning of dangerous sea conditions. Head of the National Fisheries Solidarity Movement (NAFSO) Herman Kumara said that in one anchorage point comprising 90 boats in the Matara area alone, the estimated average loss of revenue is around Rs. 1.5 million per day. There are approximately 15,000 small fishing boats operating around the country. more..

Mahela praise for Mathews' captaincy

June 16 (CI) There are few better experts on captaincy in Sri Lanka than Mahela Jayawardene, who was so well-respected in the role that the selectors effectively forced a second stint upon him. In his first four years in the job, Sri Lanka enjoyed a period defined as much by the allure of their cricket as their success in Tests and ODIs. Test series victories over India, England and South Africa (the 2006 loss remains their last defeat away more..

Man who allegedly assaulted meter reader gets bail

June 16 (ST) A consumer who assaulted a meter reader in protest over the increase in his electricity bill, in Weeragula, Gampaha, was granted bail by Attanagalle Additional Magistrate. The incident occurred when a meter reader went on his monthly rounds to compute electricity tariffs. The consumer on seeing his increased bill, had asked the meter reader the reason for it. In response, the meter reader explained that he was merely a meter reader and asked the individual to make a complaint more..

Strong winds cause havoc: Nuwara Eliya plunged into darkness

June 16 (Island) The Nuwara Eliya town and its environs were plunged into darkness around 1.30 am yesterday after strong gusts of wind toppled a transformer and damaged power lines, officials said. The power transformer collapsed near Gamini Maha Vidyalaya on the Nuwara Eliya-Welimada road. The roofs of many houses were also damaged by the gale force winds which developed after midnight but subsided by morning. Power was restored to a section of the town by afternoon yesterday, more..

Ekneligoda’s wife asks court to call Arundika as witness

June 16 (ST) The wife of missing cartoonist Prageeth Ekneligoda is to request court to allow UPFA MP Arundika Fernando to be called as a witness when the Habeas Corpus case filed by her is taken up at the Homagama Magistrate’s court on Wednesday. Sandya Ekneligoda said she wanted the politician to disclose whatever details he knew about the whereabouts of her husband. The UPFA MP stirred a hornet’s nest by claiming more..

France hands over World Blood Donor Day flag to Sri Lanka for 2014

June 16 (AT) Sri Lanka will play host to the Global Celebration of World Blood Donor Day in the 2014. The official handing over ceremony took place today (16) at the headquarters of UNESCO in Paris. The Ambassador and Permanent Delegate of Sri Lanka to UNESCO, Professor Karunaratne Hangawatte accepted the official flag on behalf of Sri Lanka and handed it over to Dr Anil Dissanayake, Director of the National Blood Transfusion Service of Sri Lanka. The commemoration of World Blood Donor more..

SLMC to participate in PSC

June 16 (NS) The SLMC while condemning the Govt for tampering with the 13th Amendment has decided to take part at the Parliamentary Select Committee (PSC) meetings scheduled to commence this week, said Hassen Ali, General Secretary to the party. “The commotion over the merger of the North and East provinces is a deviation from pertinent issues surrounding the 13th Amendment.” He said. “The position of the SLMC remains unchanged. We do not wish to make piece-meal changes but more..

Sapugaskanda unable to produce Octane 90?

June 16 (CT) The Sapugaskanda Oil Refinery has weakened to its lowest level and it can no longer produce Octane 90 petrol, and the Ceylon Petroleum Corporation (CPC) is in a quandary as it is unable to release the substandard Octane 88 petrol produced by the refinery during the last few days. So far, some 3,500 metric tonnes of the substandard petrol – Octane 88, produced using the consignment of crude oil imported from more..

UNP to boycott PSC

June 16 (SL) The UNP has decided to boycott the Parliament Select Committee which will look at making proposals on the changes to the 13th Amendment to the Constitution. UNP MP John Amaratunga said that the UNP will take part in the process only if some conditions are met. The Cabinet had last week decided to change the clause where the provinces can be merged under the 13th Amendment to the Constitution. Minister Keheliya Rambukwella had announced more..

Polls on September 7

June 16 (SL) Elections for the Northern, North Western and Central Provincial Councils will be held on Sept 7, Govt sources said. The North Western and Central Provincial Councils will be dissolved by June 20 after which the dates for the elections will be announced. The Northern Provincial Council is also to be formed in time for elections to be held on Sept 7. Additional Elections Commissioner said that the date for the elections are usually announced after the Provincial Councils are dissolved. more..

'Reintroduction of 17-A more important than toppling Govt.'

June 16 (Island) The immediate reintroduction of the 17th Amendment to the Constitution which established the independent commissions was more important than ousting the Rajapaksa regime, UNP leader Ranil Wickremesinghe said yesterday in Colombo. Addressing a "Peoples Assembly" which was attended by a cross section of civil society and members of various political parties at more..

Eastern PC impasse: President summons members for urgent meeting

June 16 (Island) President Mahinda Rajapaksa has summoned members of the UPFA-administered Eastern Provincial Council (EPC) today for an urgent meeting in Colombo in a bid to resolve the continuing month-long boycott of sessions of this key provincial body, govt sources said. All members, including the Board of Ministers are demanding the replacement of the Governor and the Chief Minister (CM) of the province who they assert are "inefficient and an impediment to development". more..

JVP drafts fresh proposals for Govt

June 16 (NS) The JVP is working on fresh proposals to solve the ethnic issue. The new set of proposals is expected to be handed over to the govt mid July, according to JVP General Secretary, Tilvin Silva. He said the JVP had earlier formulated a set of proposals on how the war-torn North and East provinces could be developed, soon after the war. These proposals were handed over to President Mahinda Rajapaksa on May 27, 2009. “It had proposed a “Task Force” which represents all more..

Fireworks at Cabinet meeting on 13 A

June 16 (ST) The Govt took a step backward on Thursday from stripping two major provisions of the 13th Amendment to the Constitution. Instead, it chose to go ahead with only one change after a stormy weekly ministerial meeting. Some ministers hurled strong insults and accusations against one another. As it reached a crescendo, on three different occasions, President Rajapaksa had to warn his ministers not to leak anything more..

In a hurry to leave Sri Lanka!

June 16 (CT) A news report said a boat carrying some 68 Sri Lankans illegally heading for Australia had gone missing. This is just one of many recent attempts by the Sri Lankans to flee their land of birth for a better life in the greener pastures in the Down Under and Canada. Though the majority of those would be asylum seekers would cite gory tales of torture and murder at the hands of the State military apparatus, in order to appeal to their western audience, the majority of them are, more..

The forgotten conflict and post-war justice and accountability in Sri Lanka

June 16 (CT) On 21st March 2013, the United States introduced a resolution on war crimes and crimes against humanity aimed at Sri Lanka for its role in the prosecution of war against the LTTE in the UNHRC. An earlier resolution sponsored by the United States in March 2012 called up on the Lankan govt to “implement the constructive recommendations made in the report of the LLRC", and take all necessary steps to “initiate credible and independent actions to ensure justice, more..

New Stroke unit at Central Hospital

June 16 (SL) The Central Hospital in Colombo is initiating a 24-hour ‘hyper acute stroke unit’ for stroke victims. This unit will employ the first ever Biplane Digital Subtraction Angiography Unit in Sri Lanka, radically revolutionising the calibre of medical treatment hospitals have offered in the country thus far. Dr Manjula Karunaratne, Director of Medical services at the Asiri Group of Hospitals said it was a collective decision. more..

JVP not interested in UNP’s new constitutional formulation

June 16 (Island) The JVP denied that it intended to discuss the UNP’s new constitutional formulation, saying that economic issues were more important. Asked about reports attributed to the UNP General Secretary, Tissa Attanayake that the two parties were scheduled to meet, but a date was yet to be fixed, JVP MP Vijitha Herath said that the UNP’s latest move did not interest them. "You cannot alleviate the sufferings of the poor more..

Chinese vessels to fish under Lankan flag

June 16 (ST) A Chinese company has been granted permission to engage in fishing under the Sri Lankan flag beyond the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) of Sri Lanka. The company has entered into an agreement with the BoI to carry out fishing in the international waters. Under the agreement 90% of the catch would be exported to China and 10% given to the Ceylon Fisheries Corporation at one US dollar a kilogram, more..

Talk at the Cafe Spectator

June 16 (ST) One time Speaker of Parliament and now Sabaragamuwa Province Governor, W.J.M. Lokubandara is known for his love for traditional habits. When he was a Cabinet Minister, a staffer at his residence was trained to answer the telephone by saying “Ayubowan, Mahathmaya or Mahathmiya” as the case may be. Last Tuesday he was at the Getaheththa Temple where President Rajapaksa took part in a religious ceremony. more..

Farmers hit by the lack of subsidized fertilizer

June 16 (SL) The shortage of subsidized fertilizer has caused immense problems to the farmers, the All Ceylon Farmers’ Association claimed. Farmers note that they have not been provided with the subsidized fertilizers promised by the govt. Although the issue has been continuously brought to the attention of the Ministry of Agriculture, no substantial steps have been taken to address these grievances. more..

'No justification for the enactment of the proposed 19th amendment'

June 16 (Island) The Leader of the TNA, R. Sampanthan said that his party appreciates the position taken by the progressive forces within the majority Sinhala community to oppose the proposed 19th Amendment or any changes to the 13th Amendment to the Constitution. "We greatly appreciate the position taken by the SLMC, which genuinely represents the interests of the Tamil speaking Muslim people of the more..

Suspension or suppression?

June 16 (CT) The saga of State Universities appear to be never ending. In the past there have protests against private medical colleges, alleged suppression of student activists by the govt and of course, the suspensions doled out in what would seem to be an attempt to neutralize the protests. Up to date, reports by unionists and political parties place the number of suspensions at approximately 250 – which they claim to more..

Misery confronts orphans of the storm

June 16 (ST) 32-year-old Renuka Peiris stares at the ocean as she ponders an uncertain future with four children and an unborn child following the death of her fisherman husband whose boat was swamped by the devastating storm that killed 51 fishermen. The heavily-pregnant widow and her children are temporarily housed in a small room meant to store fishing equipment in the fishing village at Auburn Place, Dehiwela. more..

US$ 4b heavy industry zone in Sampur

June 16 (ST) A strategic development project to create a special zone for heavy industries at Sampur in Trincomalee at a cost of US$ 4 billion or more than Rs. 500 billion has been given the green light by the Govt. The first phase will see the construction of a deep-water jetty and a stockpile yard at a cost of US$ 700 million (more than Rs. 88.26 billion). The second phase will involve the construction of an iron ore and more..

Trail of death from DIG’s own house

June 16 (ST) Hours before businessman Mohamed Shiyam, 35 was murdered he was taken to the residence of Deputy Inspector General of Police (Western Province-North) Vass Gunawardena in Dehiwala, investigations into the abduction and murder of the businessman have revealed. More evidence into the crime was revealed this week as DIG Gunawardena was remanded until June 25. more..

Postwar Sri Lanka: Between expectation and fulfilment

June 16 (CG) Let me venture a banal observation. Most of us in this room -and most people we know- would have been positively disposed about the decisive termination of the war in May 2009. Now the term “positively disposed” covers a continuum from ‘relieved’ to ‘glad’ to ‘happy’. But I also think that most of us in this room and most of the people we know have a sense of disquiet about the present. If we take our minds back to May 2009, I dare say that none of us really expected to be here more..

Deputy Minister’s tourist hotel project resumes

June 16 (CT) The construction of a tourist hotel owned by a Deputy Minister in the reservation land of the Minneriya Tank in Polonnaruwa has resumed, after the construction was previously stalled due to protests by the villagers and environment groups, environment activists have charged. Though the Deputy Minister launched the project in July 2012, he had to put it off due to intense protests by the members of the Minneriya Tank Protection Organization and several other irrigation more..

Bodu Bala Sena at it again

June 16 (CG) The Bodu Bala Sena (BBS) has once again criticised Muslims who wear the Niqab and Burka in Sri Lanka saying that it should not be allowed. BBS Secretary General, the venerable Galagodaththe Gnanasara Thero, speaking at the BBS convention in Badulla, said that Sri Lanka should not be turned into an Arabian country. He claims that some local banks had contacted him and said that Muslim more..