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Pushing against closed doors in Parliament

Nov 17 (NS) Now the CHOGM 2013 ends officially today. Some of those delegates who arrived in the country had visited Parliament while others had better things to do. On Thursday, the delegates of the Commonwealth Women’s Business Forum visited Parliament. This delegation consisted of approximately 50 women entrepreneurs from Sri Lanka as well as different Commonwealth countries. Delegation was received by the Secretary General of Parliament, Deputy Secretary General, more..

NZ All Blacks fan club Sri Lanka launched

Nov 17 (NS) The official New Zealand All Blacks Fan Club in Sri Lanka was launched on Friday, by Murray McCully, Minister of Sports and Foreign Affairs of New Zealand, at the Cinnamon Grand Hotel. Adding a new chapter to Sri Lanka’s history book in its development as a rugby nation, this initiative was the brain child of MP Namal Rajapaksa. The president of the official fan club, Lohan Ratwatte MP, stated that it was indeed a pleasure to be a part of the legacy of the more..

Mark, Marvan and the CV factory

Nov 17 (ST) It may not seem so on face value, but I feel Sri Lanka’s cricket is at a critical juncture in its evolution right now. For a moment I do not envy the job delegated to Ranjit Fernando and co. They are entrusted with the task of deciding between home grown hero Marvan Atapattu and South African born Mark Davis, a member of the Sussex coaching staff to replace the incumbent coach Graham Ford. In reality the choice is more..

Strained SL ties not in TN's interest

Nov 17 (ENS) It is regrettable that PM Manmohan Singh has succumbed to pressure from the Dravidian parties-the DMK and AIADMK-and a section of his own Congress party and stayed out of the Commonwealth summit in Colombo. For reasons of political expediency, India has apparently forfeited the diplomatic and strategic advantage in the region to China and to a lesser extent Pakistan. This will stand this country in poor stead in times to come. The atrocities committed by more..

UNP insists it never invited C4

Nov 17 (SL) The UNP insists it never invited Channel 4 to attend a media conference or human rights exhibition last week. UNP General Secretary Tissa Attanayake said the British journalists attended the event on their own accord. “The govt is attempting to convey a different idea to the public by saying that Channel 4 was present at Sirikotha on a request made by the UNP. The UNP did not invite Channel 4 under any circumstance. Any person or a journalist had access to the event,” he said. more..

Did PM misread the spin in Sri Lanka?

Nov 17 (Independent) Sri Lanka's most famous cricketer and symbol of the country's post-civil-war reconciliation triggered acute embarrassment for David Cameron yesterday when he said that the PM had been "misled" over the plight of the Tamil people. Mr Cameron's historic trip to the north of Sri Lanka on Friday, in which he became the first world leader to meet Tamil refugees and visited a newspaper whose journalists had more..

Goons of Sirikotha incident to flee country

Nov 17 (NS) Sources close to The Nation revealed that the persons who involved in the Sirikotha incident to flee the country with the assistance of a foreign High Commission. Several persons, allegedly the UNP supporters, had assaulted the members of the Bodu Bala Sena (BBS) at the Sirikotha entrance on last Thursday. The activists had stripped off the robes of the monks who tried to enter the Sirikotha premises. “Ven Sumedha Thera and a UNP council member had made a complaint about more..

Pakistan funds to boost CYC

Nov 17 (NS) Pakistan PM Muhammad Nawaz Sharif announced a special donation of US$100,000 at the Commonwealth Summit in Colombo for the newly established Commonwealth Youth Council (CYC). The contribution, which underscores the importance Pakistan gives to the youth agenda, is intended to fund the youth-led development projects of the CYC in its early years. CYC was formally launched during the 9th Commonwealth Youth Forum held on the margins of the Commonwealth Summit. more..

Crown seeks to be "critical part of SL’s tourism strategy’’

Nov 17 (Island) James Packer’s Crown Sri Lanka with elaborate plans to build a 5-Star integrated resort here expects their facility "to become a critical part of the country’s tourism strategy." This was stated in a plush brochure promoting Crown’s case for redefining luxury tourism here that was issued in Colombo last week during James Packer’s visit here to participate in the Commonwealth Business Forum. more..

Sri Lanka official praises Chinese business at largest ever trade exhibition

Nov 17 (Xinhua) China's presence at the largest ever trade exhibition in Sri Lanka involving 90 countries was praised by a local official Saturday on the sidelines of the Commonwealth leaders' summit here. Ninety foreign companies are taking part as machinery and hi- tech equipment exhibitors represent such key markets as China, India, Germany, Thailand, Dubai, Britain, Japan, Canada and South Korea. Also, business delegations from India, Iran, Germany, Bangladesh, more..

Navy insists Sri Lankan Seas are safe

Nov 17 (SL) The Navy insists Sri Lankan seas are safe despite concerns raised by a global maritime security company. AdvanFort International, a global maritime security, training and intelligence operations company in a statement had raised concerns over maritime security in Sri Lankan waters. According to the officials of AdvanFort International, they have been warned about the threats to safety and security due to increasing crimes in the region. more..

Shavendra challenges Callum to a debate

Nov 17 (CT) Sri Lanka's Permanent Representative to the UN (New York), Maj. Gen. Shavendra Silva, said he is willing to debate Channel 4 Film Director, Callum Macrae, on his documentary that 'accuses' Sri Lanka of having committed war crimes. Silva, in a telephone conversation from New York, said that a few years ago, when Sri Lanka's Representative to the UN, Palitha Kohona, was invited for the screening of the film, more..

Abbott sets foreign policy tone

Nov 17 (SKY) Tony Abbott's trip to Sri Lanka has set the tone and direction for his govt's foreign policy agenda. Sri Lanka's president Rajapaksa summed it up as succinctly as any foreign policy expert could. 'It's very practical,' the president told reporters when asked about Abbott's approach at the CHOGM in Colombo. 'I thank the Australian PM for taking that stand.' The president was referring to Abbott's decision to approach CHOGM not as a forum to criticise the SL regime's human rights record, more..

Key dovish on Sri Lanka, wins elephant

Nov 17 (NZW) New Zealand has gained an elephant and PM John Key has fired off a tweet to someone who isn't the British prime minister while attending the CHOGM. Mr Key attended CHOGM despite calls at home for him emulate the leaders of Canada, India and Mauritius and boycott it over concerns about Sri Lanka's human rights record. Mr Key says it is better to be talking to Sri Lanka than not, and he also defended his refusal to back calls for an independent inquiry into more..

Labor blasts 'culture of secrecy' on boats

Nov 17 (AAP) Labor has questioned PM Tony Abbott's decision to give two retired navy boats to Sri Lanka, renewing its attack on what it calls the got's "culture of secrecy" on asylum-seeker arrivals. Mr Abbott will announce on Sunday that the govt is giving the patrol boats to Sri Lanka in a bid to disrupt people smugglers and stop asylum-seeker boats leaving the country. But opposition frontbenchers back home want details about more..

Dinner too good for lift to budge!

Nov 17 (Island) Several guests who had enjoyed a sumptuous meal hosted by Minister G.L. Peiris when he entertained the Commonwealth foreign ministers and some local guests to dinner at the Cinnamon Grand Hotel on Friday night crowded into a lift to go up to the lobby level. But the lift wouldn’t budge as there were too many people on board. "It’s the dinner," chuckled one of those in the car. "They’ve been feeding us too very well." A couple of passengers got off and lift glided smoothly more..

Police probe claims of destroying pro-govt. banners

Nov 17 (Island) UPFA Eastern Provincial Councilor and SLFP Organizer for Pottuvil, Dr. Thuraiappah Navaratnaraja alleged that on Friday night had torn down tri-lingual banners put up in the town wishing President Rajapksa all success at CHOGM. Navaratnaraja, the former Eastern Provincial Minister for Agriculture, said that similar tri-lingual banners he had hung in the Kalmunai town remained up to now, whilst the banners in the Akkaraipattu were damaged around 2 am yesterday. more..

Gota slams Cameron for politicking in Colombo to placate LTTE rump back home

Nov 17 (Island) Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa yesterday alleged that UK Premier David Cameron was playing politics in Colombo to placate the LTTE rump back home. Cameron’s strategy was obviously influenced by the UK based Global Tamil Forum (GTF), British Tamil Forum (BTF) and Tamils against Genocide, he said. The British govt delegation to the CHOGM went to the extent of meeting representatives of more..

Sirikotha arrest: Mistaken Identity

Nov 17 (SL) The suspect who was arrested last week at the UNP headquarters during an exhibition, on suspicion of having links with the LTTE, has been released on bail. The suspect, identified as Sudarshan, was handed over to Mirihana Police and was later released after being cleared of the accusations raised against him. Investigations carried out had found there was no evidence linking the suspect to the LTTE. Sudarshan had travelled to Colombo from Mullaithivu to attend more..

Macrae agrees to pay taxi fare

Nov 17 (CT) Callum Macrae and the Channel4 team yesterday appeared at the Slave Island Police Station and agreed to pay Rs 30,000 taxi fare to the driver who drove them from Anuradhapura to Colombo. The team was on the way to Kilinochchi on the Yarl Devi train, which was blocked by protesters at the Anuradhapura Railway Station. Then the team was driven back to Colombo in a van. However, the driver of the van had lodged a complaint with the Slave Island Police that more..

CHOGM-SHOWGM: Highs and lows of Govt.’s magnum opus

Nov 17 (ST) From luxury cars, shuttle buses and electric golf carts to defender jeeps and BMWs, the gleaming new vehicles had customised four-digit ‘CHOGM’ number plates. Even the bottled water was branded ‘CHOGM Sri Lanka’. Security was so tight that everyone, including the mahouts leading a long line of elephants to the opening ceremony at the Nelum Pokuna, had security passes around their necks. more..

President cancels media briefing: Slanging match ensued

Nov 17 (Island) Spokesperson for the CHOGM 2013, Richard Uku said that the Commonwealth was committed to resolving issues as best as possible, without naming and shaming member countries. He was responding to the contention by Britains Channel 4 journalists Callum Macrae and Jonathan Miller during a press conference on Friday that despite President Rajapaksa claiming the rule of law prevailed here, Sri Lanka was only second to Iraq when it came to disappearances. more..

Sri Lankan restaurant in UK attacked by suspected Tamil youth

Nov 17 (ST) A gang armed with bats and metal bars smashed up the exterior of a Sri Lankan restaurant in London, while terrified customers were dining inside, a British news report said. A mob of up to 20 people attacked Yaal Cafe at 9 pm on Sunday, in Foleshill Road, Coventry, as patrons were enjoying a meal. They spent about five minutes smashing the windows of the Sri Lankan restaurant, showering diners and food with glass. Owner Shirantha Fernando took on the restaurant a year ago more..

After CHOGM, Rajapaksa Regime faces fresh challenges

Nov 17 (ST) The Commonwealth summit that ends today has posed tough and newer challenges to the UPFA Govt. It is still too early to make a fuller assessment of the week-long event including the three-day meeting of leaders. Yet, some important foreign policy and domestic issues have already come to the fore. One is Sri Lanka’s future relations with India, the country’s one time strong ally and closest neighbour. more..

Redefining the character of the UNP

Nov 17 (CT) A political blunder of monumental proportions was committed yet again by the UNP, when it hosted an exhibition titled ‘Celebration of Human Rights’ at its headquarters in Pitakotte, last week. Among the sponsor-organizations of the event were the group of ‘Eelam apologists’ who call themselves the ‘Vipakshaye Balavegaya.’ When the country is hosting an international summit of world leaders, the CHOGM, and when the frenzy of nationalistic feelings are calibrated to the more..

Cameron goes to Jaffna, Singh stages no show, President stays his ground

Nov 17 (Island) By the time this piece appears in print, the CHOGM 2013 show would be over bar the final statement of the Heads of Govt, and bar too the final counting of the cost. What follows is mostly the second part of what I started last week as a brief survey of SL’s ties and tangles with India and Britain from DS Senanayake to Mahinda Rajapaksa. To that I have added a few prefacing paragraphs to capture the main moments of what has been the Rajapaksa Govt’s weeklong tryst with CHOGM, more..

Talk at the Cafe Spectator

Nov 17 (ST) British PM David Cameron arrived at the BIA an hour before midnight on Thursday. Soon after alighting from his aircraft, he chose not to go through the arrival reception and headed straight to his vehicle. Most of those present were puzzled when it happened. Cameron did not board one of the waiting Mercedes Benz S 400 vehicles that were lined up. Instead, he boarded one of four Range Rovers that were flown to Colombo for more..

Malta chosen as host of 2015 CHOGM

Nov 17 (Xinhua) Malta was on Sunday unanimously chosen as the host of the 2015 Commonwealth summit, the PM of Malta said. Joseph Muscat said that his country will rise to the occasion after being selected to host the biennial event. The decision was made at the retreat session of the CHOGM in Colombo after Mauritius withdrew as host of the 2015 Commonwealth summit as a result of its PM's boycott of the Colombo more..

Spouses get a feel of the country as heads of government meet behind closed doors

Nov 17 (ST) At any international gathering, it is usually the spouses who get the opportunity to explore the host country and it was the same at this week’s Commonwealth Forum. Spouses of heads of govts and foreign ministers were able to travel to a number of places of interest in Colombo and Kandy. On Wednesday the wives of foreign ministers visited the Gangaramaya Temple and after lunch the National Museum, and more..

Consultancy charges levied by private medical practitioners to be regulated

Nov 17 (NS) The Health Ministry is to draft fresh regulations to standardize consultancy charges levied by private medical practitioners, officials said. Health Ministry Private Medical Institutions Development Unit Director Dr. Kanthi Ariyaratne said that the Ministry had received reports of irregular consultancy fees charged by doctors and specialists for the same illness. She said that increasing complaints of adhoc charges levied at more..

UCLan campus launched by UK minister

Nov 17 (LBO) A campus of UK's University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) launched in Sri Lanka this week will strengthen links between the two countries, British foreign secretary William Hague has said. UCLan is the fifth largest in the UK in student numbers and has over 500 undergraduate programmes and 180 postgraduate courses. "I am pleased to take part in the launch of the University Of Central Lancashire campus in Sri Lanka, more..

Deserted streets greet CHOGM delegates

Nov 17 (ST) The closure of roads in Colombo for the CHOGM including the opening ceremony at Nelum Pokuna on Friday, left the public and motorists in and around Colombo in a state of confusion. Many public and private sector employees opted to stay away from the city leaving many roads deserted as seen in pictures captured outside the Fort Railway station at around 9.00 a.m. on Friday. Less vehicles entered the city more..

Crimes by the LTTE do not justify alleged crimes by the Govt. – Macrae

Nov 17 (CT) The controversial Channel 4 director of the documentary, No Fire Zone: Killing Fields of Sri Lanka, Callum Macrae, is in Sri Lanka to cover the CHOGM. The father of two children who is happily married, said he had visited the country two years ago, having arrived here under cover, and went on to say that Sri Lanka is a beautiful country with lovely people. He however said, he and his C4 team have had to more..

No business for countries to intervene in others' affairs: PM Lee

Nov 17 (CNA) Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong says countries cannot force reconciliation on Sri Lanka, nor is it their business to intervene in another country's affairs. Mr Lee was speaking to Singapore media at the close of the CHOGM in Colombo. Host country Sri Lanka faced strong pressure from some members over its alleged human rights abuses during its war with the separatist Tamil Tigers. more..

UK to help clear landmines in Sri Lanka

Nov 17 (PTI) Britain will fund an additional 2.1 million pound program to clear landmines and explosive remnants from the Tamil-dominated former war zone in northern Sri Lanka. The fund was launched by British PM David Cameron. The fund will be provided over the next 2 years for the program which will clear landmines from some of the most heavily mined areas of the country. The program will allow heavily contaminated land to be more..

CHOGM over, prepare for a tough budget

Nov 17 (ST) The Govt, as the dust settles down on the conclusion of the CHOGM, is preparing a tough budget aimed at reducing the deficit to 5.2% from 5.8% of GDP amidst plans to raise more revenue from taxes. No new salary hike is envisaged in the budget to be presented on Thursday, November 21 by President and Finance Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa. These measures would include accommodating available more..

BASL on cancellation of Conference

Nov 17 (Island) The Bar Association of Sri Lanka (BASL) announced that the conference on Commonwealth Values and the Role of the Legal Profession to schedule for Nov 13 was cancelled due to unavoidable circumstance. A statement by BASL President Upul Jayasuriya said: The BASL in collaboration with the International Bar Association (IBL), of which the BASL is a member was organizing a seminar on "Commonwealth Values and the Role of the Legal Profession" Nov 13 more..

Defang the chauvinists for keeps!

Nov 17 (Island) The Northern Province conducted its Provincial Council (PC) elections smoothly, the TNA scored a resounding victory and the NPC Administration has been installed with Wigneswaran as Chief Minister; this, notwithstanding blood curdling warnings from BBS and like minded extremists foretelling division of the country, demanding cancellation of elections, and vowing to repeal of the Thirteenth Amendment (13A). The army did its bit to disrupt proceedings including, more..

BBC Sinhala Head Suspended

Nov 17 (CT) Head of the BBC Sinhala Service, Priyath Liyanage, has been suspended, the Colombo Telegraph can exclusively reveal today. A non-Sinhala outsider has been specially appointed to look after all BBC Sinhala Service activities for the first time of its history and the Sinhala Service staff has been informed about Priyath Liyanage’s suspension in writing. Unprecedentedly, the BBC Sinhala Service reporters have been asked more..

Kalmunai new Deputy Mayor to be appointed soon

Nov 17 (NS) The Sri Lanka Muslim Congress (SLMC) will make an announcement on the appointment of the new Deputy Mayor for Kalmunai in another three weeks time, SLMC General Secretary Hasan Ali said. He said the SLMC High command was yet to decide the Deputy Mayor of Kalmunai. “The High Command is having discussions, if a decision cannot be made at the meeting, we’ll go to Kalmunai to hold further discussions and reach a final decision,” more..