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Never ending conundrum of the Rajapaksa govt

June 2 (SL) The Rajapaksa govt for the past few months has been engaged in a constant search for solutions to a rising wave of crises within the govt. External reasons like an opposition that is gathering momentum due to the govt’s own disabilities and govt policy statements made by public officials who do not have the mandate to utter such declarations have added to the fast eroding popularity of the once blue-eyed Rajapaksa govt. The post war exuberance of the govt is now on the decline more..

'I have no regrets'

June 2 (CT) As I reached the house opposite the police guard post close to the Royal Park condominiums, a policeman shouted; "Where are you going?" When I replied to him, I saw a lady dressed in a purple blouse and a pair of black trousers standing at a stark black gate nearby. "He has come, putha, can you open the gate?" she asked a young man, who appeared to be her son. The lady, who stood before me, was none other than the 43rd CJ, Dr. Shirani Bandaranayake. more..

Consumers unhappy with food testing process

June 2 (ST) A BT-RCB poll this week on food and consumer rights shows that consumers are generally unhappy with the level of quality testing of local and imported food. Consumers said there was no use complaining about food issues as officials were either not responsive or it was time consuming. “Much of today’s food is full of sugar and salt which is bad for pressure,” said one respondent to the poll. Others called for rigorous tests and proper dates of manufacture and expiry on products. more..

SLMC high command meets today to discuss crucial political issues

June 2 (Island) The SLMC high command is expected to take up for discussion many crucial political issues, including the controversy surrounding the 13th Amendment to the Constitution, when the party meets today, SLMC General Secretary, M.T. Hassen Ali, MP, said. Party leader, Minister Rauf Hakeem will preside at the crucial sessions. Amongst the many key issues expected to be discussed are the ongoing boycott of the sessions of the Eastern Provincial more..

Sino - Lanka relations now a 'Strategic Cooperation Partnership'' says GL

June 2 (Island) Minister G.L. Pieris described President Rajapaksa's State visit to China as the most successful ever that has upgraded already warm relations between the two countries into a `Strategic Cooperation Partnership.' Pieris who was a member of the president's delegation said there had been meeting with all three leaders of the People's Republic - the president, the vice-president and the prime minister and more..

Dhammika Perera seen reducing stake in Lanka Ceramic

June 2 (ST) Anthony Page, Chairman Lanka Ceramic is expected to buy 30% in this company from businessman Dhammika Perera who would still hold a 51% stake, officials close to Mr. Perera said. A consortium of investors led by Mr. Perera’s Royal Ceramics bought over 24 million shares or 80% of Lanka Ceramics held by the Page family-owned Ceylon Theatres Group early this month at Rs 2.9 billion which saw a share traded at Rs.120. In the transaction, Vallibel One controlled more..

'Pressure from foreign missions, NGOs impede media freedom'

June 2 (SO) For some people, media freedom means the freedom from state influence, but in actual sense it is the acceptance of ‘santhosam’ from and yielding to the pressure of certain foreign missions and NGOs that impedes media freedom, said Minister Wimal Weerawansa. He was addressing a ceremony at ANCL to mark the second anniversary of the Janasewana publication. ANCL Chairman Bandula Padmakumara presented a copy of a special edition of the publication to the more..

Sri Lanka mulls discontinuing private sector-generated power deals

June 2 (ST) The govt is considering discontinuing the purchase of privately-generated power or reducing the purchasing price aimed at cutting current power tariffs by at least 75% through renegotiation of Independent Power Purchase (IPP) contracts, a top official said. Power and Energy Ministry Secretary M.M.C. Ferdinando said that the CEB Chairman W.B. Ganegala has given an assurance to renegotiate these more..

Northern fishers hail South Indian decision to fine poachers

June 2 (SO) Northern fishermen’s unions have welcomed their South Indian counterparts’ decision to impose a Rs. 100,000 fine on any of their members violating the fishing territory and entering Sri Lanka’s fishing grounds for poaching. The decision is a significant move to end the decades-long poaching issue that remained unresolved despite repeated discussions between the two govts and fishermen’s representatives. The Indian Centre and the State govt should help implement more..

UC Chairman fears for his life

June 2 (SL) The Chairman of the Kolonnawa Urban Council Raveendra Udaya Shantha says his life is under threat. He says on several occasions he had requested for security from the govt but had been provided security only for his house and office – not when he moves around. His brother had been abducted last February and has not been heard of him since while an attempt was made to abduct him last year. Udaya Shantha says he fears his brother may have been killed after being abducted more..

LTTE assets worth Rs. 1.2 billion seized

June 2 (ST) More than one billion rupees worth of assets belonging to the militarily defeated LTTE, were confiscated this week after they were brought to light during investigations by the TID. A senior TID official said these assets included land, apartments, printing presses, houses, machinery, garment factories and fishing trawlers – all valued at more than over Rs. 1.2 billion. They will be sold by public auction and the proceeds more..

Common candidate? Ex-CJ willing to make 'any sacrifice’

June 2 (Island) Impeached CJ Shirani Bandaranayake has hinted that she may enter politics to support the cause of a "just society where the rule of law reigns." In an interview with the Maubima on the streets, she spoke about her childhood, academic and legal careers and the parting of ways with the executive that eventually saw her become the first judge to be impeached in Sri Lanka. She said she was ending her public silence because she felt it important more..

Bala explains rationale for CMU participation in strike

June 2 (Island) We wish to inform you that the members of branches of our Union in industrial and commercial establishments will strike today, in solidarity with the members of a group of several other unions that have informed our Union of their joint decision to strike today. Their and our strikes will be in protest against the new system of electricity tariffs, imposed as from 20th April last, and as revised. The strikes will also be in support of the common demand for the complete more..

US MoU suspended

June 2 (SL) The Trincomalee Urban Council has decided to suspend the MoU signed with the US Embassy in Colombo to open a US corner in Trincomalee. Secretary of the Urban Council Abdul Nafeel said that the External Affairs Ministry had informed the Council that the deal was unacceptable. He said that the Eastern Provincial Council had been informed in order to obtain clearance to continue with the MOU. more..

Dr. Jayalath’s funeral tomorrow

June 2 (ST) The funeral of former minister and senior member of the UNP, Dr Jayalath Jayawardene, will take place at the family burial grounds in Weligampitiya tomorrow. Dr Jayawardene, 59, passed away at a private hospital in Singapore on Thursday. Dr Jayawardene was also the Deputy General Secretary of the UNP and Chairman of the party’s trade union the Jathika Sevaka Sangama (JSS) at the time of his death. Born on August 16, 1953, Dr Jayawardena, more..

New judge for Homagama, whither Abeysinghe?

June 2 (ST) A new judge has been appointed to the Homagama District Court while the Judicial Services Commission decides on what to do about the former judge who was arrested on Wednesday while allegedly taking a bribe of Rs. 300,000. JSC Secretary Sisira Ratnayake said Colombo’s Additional District Judge Mapa Bandara would take over as the District Judge of Homagama from tomorrow in place of Judge Sunil Abeysinghe who was arrested by Bribery Commission sleuths more..

Rajapaksa facing uphill task before Commonwealth summit

June 2 (ST) Two giant Russian Antonov 124 transport planes touched down this week at the BIA, taxied in the opposite direction towards the Sri Lanka Air Force (SLAF) base apron instead of the passenger terminal building to unload the heavy cargo in their bellies. They were six Mi 171 helicopters; part of a fleet of 14 Russia is giving to Sri Lanka under a 2010 credit line for US$ 350 million. Some US$ 200 million from the credit more..

The China ‘choice’

June 2 (NS) Before July 1987, few Sri Lankans had heard the term bhoo-deshapaalana yathaarthaya (geo-political reality). It was tossed around liberally by those who sought to give legitimacy to the infamous Indo-Lanka Accord and the 13th Amendment of the Constitution consequent to it. Strangely (and tellingly), the term is not used to describe post-LTTE Sri Lanka and the equally ‘legitimate’ argument for the abolishing of the 13th Amendment.Part of that exercise was to more..

Why did the 21 May electricity strike fail?

June 2 (CT) The strike was not defeated, it failed. Those who remember the July 1980 strike will appreciate the difference; the govt attacked the strikers and demonstrators, sacked over 80,000 and arrested the leaders. JR and his fascistic thugs broke the strike. That is not what happened this time though the govt used threats, enforced rigid attendance records and messed around with salary payment dates. Nevertheless this is not the main reason why the strike fizzled out; more..

Talk at the Cafe spectator

June 2 (ST) The occasion was the wedding ceremony of the son of Justice Sri Skandarajah, President of the Court of Appeal. A number of judges and those in the legal fraternity had gathered for the ceremony followed by lunch. President Rajapaksa who was among the guests sat to have lunch according to Hindu tradition. It was rice and other dishes served on plates covered with banana leaves. There were other delicacies too. more..

Senanayake is a woman of all sorts

June 2 (NST) Rosy Senanayake, former beauty queen and Colombo's senior-most diplomat in Kuala Lumpur, breezed into town last week wearing the hat of someone seen by many as an up-and-coming Sri Lankan politician and the country's most visible and vocal women's activist. The former Miss Sri Lanka and Mrs World, who was high commissioner in Malaysia for a little over a year before an unceremonious recall in 2004 more..

TNA ready to discuss UNP proposal

June 2 (CG) The TNA says it is ready to discuss the proposals put forward by the UNP for a new constitution. TNA MP M.A. Sumanthiran said that the proposal put forward by the UNP is only a structure and not a final document. He said that as the proposal is open for discussion in order to have a final document the TNA is willing to have discussions with the UNP. The UNP had last week made public its proposed constitution which more..

Veteran politician with the common touch

June 2 (NS) The news that the UNP MP Dr Jayalath Jayawardena passed away was an unexpected one. Coming from a well-to-do family entered into politics while serving as a doctor, he was an asset to the party. Since the date he joined the UNP, he had been devoutly loyal to the party and the party leader. The main trade union arm of the party; Jathika Sewaka Sangamaya (JSS) was his responsibility as he was a good organizer, more..

'Colombo University functioning smoothly'

June 2 (NS) Academic and administrative affairs at the Colombo University were ‘proceeding smoothly’, its new Vice Chancellor (VC) Dr. Kumara Hirimburegama said. He was responding to a question whether protests against his appointment by certain academics led by the FUTA, had impacted on day-to-day activities at the university. The new VC stressed his appointment made by President Rajapaksa this week was more..

Crisis deepens at Colombo Uni

June 2 (CT) Over the last couple of months, academics attached to the University of Colombo have been publicly speaking against what they feared would be an unsuitable appointment to fill the Vice Chancellor’s post at the university. The academics suspected, the post, left vacant since former VC, Prof. Kshanika Hirimburegama, was appointed as Chairperson of the UGC earlier this year, would be filled by her spouse, more..

BJP delegation likely to visit Lanka in June

June 2 (ENS) A three-member Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) delegation, led by Ravi Shankar Prasad, deputy leader of the party in the Rajya Sabha and former union minister, will be on a five-day visit to Sri Lanka from June 4, according to informed sources. Indian High Commission officials, however, said that while a visit by a BJP delegation in early June was on the cards, there was no official word from New Delhi more..

Enforced limit of 40 in Grade 1 classes

June 2 (ST) The Education Ministry states it is determined to keep class sizes to a maximum of 40 in Grade 1 admissions to govt schools next year, and adds that over the next two years this number will be cut to 35 in keeping with a Supreme Court order. “We are trying to strictly enforce (the maximum limit of 40 in 2014) and expect to reduce the number of students to 35 gradually in 2016,” Minister Bandula Gunawardena said. more..

Eastern Provincial Council in crisis: Members boycott sessions

June 2 (Island) The Eastern Provincial Council (EPC) has run into a crisis with 20 members of the ruling party (UPFA), including the four Ministers, boycotting sessions demanding the postponement of the Northern PC polls until the Governor and the Chief Minister are replaced and the administrative infrastructure restored. "We are talking of inefficiency and indifference which are an impediment to the working of the EPC", more..

Immediate tests on imported sugar for heavy metals

June 2 (ST) All imported sugar will be tested for toxic heavy metals with immediate effect, a top health official assured. A directive has been issued to test samples of imported sugar for heavy metals such as cadmium and arsenic, said Health Services Director-General Dr. Palitha Mahipala who is also the Food Authority. He said the tests would start immediately at the Industrial Technological Institute (ITI) to ensure more..

CJ to probe Judge’s security

June 2 (SL) Chief Justice Mohan Peiris has decided to initiate an investigation into the personal security of Homagama District Court Judge Sunil Abeysinghe. The personal security men had surrounded the Judge last week when he was taken to be presented before the Colombo Chief Magistrate on Thursday. The men had prevented journalists from getting close to Judge Sunil Abeysinghe and had even held up books in an attempt to cover the face of the Judge from more..

Who should decide on the 13th amendment ?

June 2 (CT) A seemingly democratic-looking statement, popular with the liberal-minded types like the candle-vigil people of Colombo is the proposition, “It is up to them, and not to us, to decide what the scope of the 13th amendment should be. Who are we to impose our will on them? If the TNA is representative of the Tamils, then we know that they have always officially rejected the 13th amendment in any form. They have merely found it useful as a bone of contention. more..

Red meat, processed meat linked to cancer risk

June 2 (NS) In the face of scientific evidence connecting high intake of processed and red meet to cancer risk, local processed food manufacturers contend that while there is strict adherence to safety standards, improper storing in outlets is where there could be a problem. According to an official at Prima, the manufacturers used nitrates and nitrates at the allowed level of 125 particles per million (PPM), a standard set more..

Political machinations: The Norwegian need for transparency

June 2 (CT) I have long had faith in the Norwegian govt and its representatives in Sri Lanka, even though – as I have always made clear to them – I thought that Eric Solheim was a shifty character and should not have been trusted. However, though he was not I think an honest broker as far as the 2002 Cease Fire Agreement and the negotiations that followed were concerned, I believe the Norwegian Mission here more than made up for his lapses. At least I believe that is true after more..

Traitors and destabilizing initiatives distancing President from populace

June 2 (EAR) With 43 years’ experience in politics, President Rajapakse does not need to be told what politics is all about – he’s been there, seen it and gone through all the ups and downs. It is probably using that cunning that he envelops under his purview all the men and women who in our eyes are unworthy of public office. While this may be a good way to keep a watchful eye it is a dangerous scenario in so far as the safety of state secrets and the manner that they can legally influence more..

Villagers, environmentalists agitate against TSP plant

June 2 (NS) Villagers and environmentalists in Eppawala, Anuradhapaura have warned the govt against the proposed Triple Super Phosphate (TSP) fertilizer plant that is to use phosphate deposits in Eppawala. The Committee for the Protection of Natural Resources (CPNR) in a letter to President Rajapaksa said that the govt was trying to revive a project that was stopped over a decade ago due to a directive by the court. more..

Tobacco companies make large profits despite tax hike

June 2 (NS) Anti tobacco activists claim that their tax increase on tobacco has been very minimal compared to essential commodities, with tax rates generally indicating a downward trend since the year 2000. According to research carried out by Alcohol and Drug Information Center (ADIC), the country’s tobacco industry does not contribute to the country’s revenue. Executive Director, ADIC, Pubudu Sumanasekara, said studies done by ADIC showed a 10.6% tax on tobacco in the year 2000, more..

Sri Lanka out to create best immunization program

June 2 (LB) With the initiative to create the best immunization programme in the island, Sri Lanka plans to formulate a national immunization policy. The National Immunization Programme in Sri Lanka is acclaimed in the Asian region as well as in the world for its success in providing protection to almost 100 percent of the population. The Health Ministry says that such a high percentage of successful immunization is not recorded in any other Asian country. more..

Lankan parliamentary delegation in wide-ranging talks in Brussels

June 2 (Island) A multi-party Sri Lankan parliamentary delegation held wide ranging discussions with elected members of the European Parliament and officials of other key EU institutions during a visit to Brussels last week. The team headed by Deputy Speaker Chandima Weerakkody and comprising MPs Muthu Sivalingam, (Deputy Minister of Economic Development) representing the CWC, Sudath Wickremasinghe (SLFP), more..

Sri Lanka supplied 90% of world cinnamon demand but now faces production downturn

June 2 (Island) Minister of Minor Export Crop Promotion Reginald Cooray said the cinnamon Iindustry was perhaps the oldest export crop Sri Lanka has been reputed for. But, currently, as indicated by the Spice Council, the cinnamon trade and production has come on dire circumstances. Priorities have been set in place to enhance production, and have the industry move to a more modern era to include technology and value addition. He conceded that the industry faced more..

Probe on rotten potato mystery

June 2 (ST) A mystery over how and why 25,000 kilograms of potatoes, declared unfit for human consumption, ended up in an abandoned rice mill in Dambulla, is being probed by the Customs. Customs Director General Jagath Wijeweera had ordered the probe on how the huge stock of rotten potatoes which he had wanted destroyed under Customs supervision had ended up in the rice mill. An inquiry was under way to ascertain why Customs officers had not followed the DG’s orders. more..