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Gnanasakthi Sritharan: From EPRLF comrade to UPFA candidate

Sep 21 (DBS) Northern Voters will be casting their votes on Sept 21st at the historic first election to the NPC. Although population figures indicate that women are more in number than men in the North, the lists of candidates fielded by the major political parties do not reflect this gender balance. However among the few women contesting polls two candidates from rival configurations in the Jaffna district have aroused much interest more..

Chinthanaya compromised

Sep 21 (Island) Minister Vasudeva Nanayakkara said that even if the TNA won the NPC election, the Council would not be given more powers than others. After failing to get the JVP’s support to run the govt, Mahinda Rajapaksa had to look for MPs to secure the numbers in Parliament after his first election as President. Although the President was elected with a clear majority to lead the country according to the pledges he made under ‘Mahinda Chinthanaya’ his party had only 57 MPs more..

Editorial: What’s in a box?

Sep 21 (Island) Today, we front-page a photograph of Elections Commissioner Mahinda Deshapriya holding one of the new ballot boxes introduced as part of a pilot project. This is a very good move in that people could see what’s in those boxes. However, plastic boxes alone won’t help solve the various problems associated with elections. The incumbent Polls Chief is doing everything in his power to eliminate malpractices and restore public confidence in the electoral process. more..

Beyond Boston with J.C. Weliamuna

Help make this place worth living for generations to come

Sep 21 (Island) on receiving the The National Peace Council Citizens Peace Award 2013 I was in primary school when the 1972 insurrection struck the South, when we saw dead bodies floating in rivers. I recall very well the 1983 July riots, which I witnessed in Colombo, where a large number of Tamils were killed and their property destroyed, followed by the notorious 6th Amendment, chasing the Tamil political leadership away from the main stream of politics. Disappearances, dead bodies and more..

Gross development product or gross national happiness?

Sep 21 (SL) For a moment we thought that the theorists of the ‘International Conspiracy to wreck the Rajapaksa govt and tarnish Sri Lanka’ were right, as we read the report about our country being ranked the 137th in the World Happiness Index among 156 countries by the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network. It was in a report on the front page of a daily newspaper. Right along we thought we were a set of jolly boys and girls come what may, any govt. more..

After 25 years: Curtain rises on northern provincial poll

Sep 21 (FT) On the eve of Sri Lanka’s most crucial post war election for the island’s minority Tamil population, the capital of the Northern Province is a strangely quiet place. Jaffna saw a violent surge in the wee hours of election eve, with the attack on the home of a prominent TNA candidate and consistent reports of intimidation and military involvement in electioneering. But the anticipated fever pitch that brought most of more..

Election fever!

Sep 21 (CT) By Sept 22, 2013, the day after NPC elections, we will know who will be elected to fill the 38 seats (Jaffna 16, Mannar 5, Mullaithivu 5, Kilinochchi 4, Vavuniya 6, and 2 bonus seats). A good turnout is expected this season. As the first Provincial Election for the Northern Province after the EPRLF’s Varadaraja Perumal was elected Chief Minister of the then merged North-East Province, the province has a chance to design actively its future and choose its leaders. more..

Rendering Pirapaharan relevant

Sep 21 (CT) Victor Klemperer, who occupied his purgatory years as a German-Jew in Hitler’s Germany by studying Nazi semantics, warned that “if someone replaces the words ‘heroic’ and ‘virtuous’ with ‘fanatical’ for long enough, he will come to believe that a fanatic is a virtuous hero and that no one can be a hero without fanaticism”. Vellupillai Pirapaharan can be a hero only if brutality, intolerance and ruthlessness are accepted as essential ingredients of heroism. more..

Midnight terror for Ananthi

Sep 21 (FT) Historic elections in the Northern Province took a vicious turn 24 hours after campaigning ended, when the Jaffna home of the TNA candidate Ananthi Sasitharan was besieged and her supporters and a local election monitor assaulted early last morning. Sasithran had noticed uniformed personnel outside her home out of her window and made several phone calls in quick succession. The first was to the Police Emergency hotline 119 more..

PEOI: Confidence continues to sag

Sep 21 (FT) After a slight increase in optimism in July, the Perceived Economic Opportunity Index (PEOI) fell once again ending up among the worst-ever performances since the index was developed two years ago. Index compiler Foundation for Economic Freedom in Sri Lanka said perhaps falling growth throughout the period as well as the weakening currency and rising price level could be contributing to the negativism. An important point to note is that the PEOI is measured more..

The UNP's last chance...

Sep 21 (CT) The much awaited elections for the trio of Provincial Councils are upon us. In the next 48 hours, the people in these three Provinces would line up to cast their votes, and if the enthusiasm shown by the average voter during the campaign is any indication, no more than 55% would be on these lines. A lackluster campaign conducted by all parties hardly enthused any voter to wait eagerly for the day of elections; terror campaigns unleashed among the Estate sector Tamils in the Nuwara Eliya more..

SL set for historic vote in northern areas

Sep 21 (BBC) Voters in Sri Lanka's north are set to elect their first ever semi-autonomous council, four years after the army defeated separatist Tamil Tiger rebels. The Tamil-majority Northern Province, which was first promised such a body decades ago, is the only region which has never had its own council. But the run-up to the vote has seen allegations of army intimidation - all denied by the authorities. On Friday a Tamil more..

34 fishermen from Nagapattinam, Karaikal to be repatriated today

Sep 21 (Hindu) 34 fishermen from Nagapattinam and Karaikal, detained in a camp for immigration law violators at Mirihina near Colombo since a court ordered release on Sept 3, will be repatriated on Saturday, but they would return home without their five trawlers. The fishermen who had refused to return without their vessels are being repatriated by the Sri Lankan Navy in Kankesanthurai in Jaffna district on Saturday, according to U. Arulanandham, president of the Alliance for the Release of more..

Commonwealth’s first Youth Development Index places Sri Lanka in medium category

Sep 21 (FT) The Commonwealth Thursday launched a development index that ranked the development and empowerment of young people in 170 countries worldwide. The first Youth Development Index (YDI) offers an inter-country comparison of the environment for young people aged 15 to 29 across five key areas: education, health, employment, civic participation and political participation. The Index, which ranges from 0-1, 0 being the lowest youth development and 1 the highest, more..

Army violates polls laws: Transports journalists to KP’s press briefing - Ranil

Sep 21 (Island) The abuse of State property, during the PC Election campaign, was unprecedented with army vehicles being used to transport journalists to cover a press conference by the LTTE’s former Chief Arms Procurer Kumaran Pathamanthan in Iranamadu on Sept 18, the UNP said. UNP leader Ranil Wickremesinghe said that the govt, by engaging the Army to do its political work, had violated polls laws, but more..

Father who cheated disabled son storms newspaper office

Sep 21 (DM) A man identifying himself as the father against whom the Colombo Fort Magistrate had issued an arrest warrant on charges of having defrauded his son of Rs.150 million is alleged to have stormed the Ada newspaper office of Wijeya Newspapers Ltd. today and threatened the editorial staff. Lodging a complaint with the Slave Island police, Ada News Editor Duminda Balasuriya said the suspect who had stormed the Ada office with two others had charged that the news report more..

ECtHR tells France to postpone expulsion of a Tamil

Sep 21 (DM) The European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) has invoked on Thursday article 39 of its Rules indicating an interim measure in a case involving the expulsion of a Tamil from France. The request for an interim measure means that Paris will have to refrain from expelling the man until the judgment becomes final or until further order. The case deals with the claims of an applicant of a Tamil ethnic origin, originally coming from Batticaloa, who claims he had been persecuted by the more..

Amid violence, returning to elections in Sri Lanka after a void

Sep 21 (NYT) The thugs first appeared around 11:20 on Thursday night, a dozen or so men lurking outside her house. Two wore army uniforms. Ananthi Sasitharan — a Tamil candidate in the first provincial elections to be held in 25 years in the former insurgent stronghold here — said she had woken up her three daughters and prepared for the worst. She called a few friends, who soon appeared and persuaded her and her more..

No election rigging if… –TISL

Sep 21 (Island) The Executive Director of Transparency International Sri Lanka branch, S. Ranugge yesterday said there was no room for ‘Computer Jilmart’ at the forthcoming elections if all the party officials were ready to do their duties. Addressing the media, at the Nippon hotel, Colombo yesterday, Ranugge cited some instances where Government officials violated election rules. He urged all voters to go to the polling stations and vote for their candidates without fear. more..

Vasan not for supplying warships to SL

Sep 21 (Hindu) Union Shipping Minister G.K. Vasan on Friday wanted the Union govt to keep in abeyance its proposal to supply two warships to Sri Lanka until the problem of Tamil Nadu fishermen being arrested and attacked by the Sri Lankan Navy was resolved. “Though it is an old pact between the two countries, people in Tamil Nadu feel that India should not help Sri Lanka in the present situation. I only echo their feelings and all pacts between the two countries should be kept in abeyance,” more..

Sri Lanka needs citizen participation in politics to truly achieve peace

Sep 21 (Guardian) The debate about what will replace the millennium development goals (MDGs) after 2015 has been lively. One of the positive things to emerge is the recognition that development cannot be reduced to a set of technical goals linked to education, health and incomes. These are important, but their achievement and sustainability depend also on the political system, and especially on the degree to which citizen participation more..

Wigneswaran compares Keppeitpola to Prabhakaran!

Sep 21 (FT) The Chief Ministerial candidate of TNA former Supreme Court judge C.V. Wigneswaran has compared a national hero to the slain Tamil Tiger terrorist leader V Prabhakaran. Reiterating his statement that Prabhakaran is a freedom fighter, Wigneswaran has told the Indian daily Times of India that a national hero of Sri Lanka Keppetipola Disawe was once considered by the British as a dangerous criminal but now has roads named after him and statues built for him. more..

Provinces poll today

Sep 21 (FT) Three provinces will vote to elect provincial legislators today under the contentious 13th Amendment to the Constitution, even as the world turns its eyes on the historic ballot that will get underway in the country’s formerly embattled north. The North Western and Central Provinces will begin voting at 7 a.m. where violent internecine battles for preferential votes have broken out within the ruling UPFA which is widely expected to cruise to comfortable victory in today’s election. more..

SC suspends pictorial warnings regulation

Sep 21 (Island) The Supreme Court (SC) yesterday suspended, till Jan 22, 2014, the regulation, published by the Minister of Health making it mandatory for 80% of the packets, of tobacco products, to be covered with pictorial warnings. The SC also granted the Ceylon Tobacco, Special Leave to Appeal, to the SC, against a Court of Appeal order, which refused interim relief against the regulation which ordered that 80% of the packs be more..

Poll fever grips Northern province

Sep 21 (HT) It’s a fever that Sri Lankan Tamils have waited to catch for a quarter of a century. Sri Lanka’s Northern Province will go to the polls on Saturday: historic elections that are almost certain to see the oppositional TNA come to power in provincial capital Jaffna under former CJ CV Wigneswaran as chief minister. For weeks, compound walls have been plastered with colourful posters and buntings in party colours have criss-crossed streets across the five districts of more..

PAFFREL commends holding of NPC poll

Sep 21 (Island) The People’s Action for Free and Fair Elections (PAFFREL), NGO monitoring the PC polls, said that it was commendable that the people of the North were afforded the opportunity to exercise their franchise at a PC election after three decades. PAFFREL Executive Director Rohan Hettiarchchi said that his organisation had detailed about 3,500 stationary observers, 750 mobile observers, 116 at Divisional Secretariat level and eight international observers. more..

Two arrrested after Sri Lankan plane diverted to British airport

Sep 21 (AFP) British police arrested two men on suspicion of endangering an aircraft after a Sri Lankan Airlines plane was forced to make an emergency landing at Stansted Airport, officials said Saturday. The Airbus A330, which was carrying 267 passengers and crew, was due to land at London Heathrow Airport but was diverted to Stansted, eastern England, just after 1830 GMT on Friday. "The aircraft, which was flying from more..

Polls a litmus test for Rajapaksa's rehabilitation efforts

Sep 21 (TOI) The elections to the NPC will be a litmus test of the Rajapaksa govt's development work and reconstruction in the war-ravaged areas. The government's efforts in demining and building roads, schools and hospitals are expected to help win his UPFA a handful of seats. Many of the Tamils in villages, which have been resettled, are hopeful that the election outcome could help speed up rehabilitation programmes and facilitate their participation in governance. more..

TI calls for party vigilance to ensure credible elections

Sep 21 (FT) Dispelling concerns of a possible “computer jill-mart” as alleged by some candidates, Transparency International Sri Lanka yesterday called on party monitors to keep an eagle eye on vote counting to ensure a credible outcome from the elections today. TI Executive Director S. Ranugge insisted that rigging results was not as easy as intimated by some candidates and that the responsibility is with party monitors to ensure that counting takes place in a credible manner. more..

Bid to scare voters thwarted; No secret cameras, confidentiality guaranteed

Sep 21 (Island) Polls chief Mahinda Deshapriya has intervened to guarantee the confidentiality of voters’ identity following threats that they would be under surveillance within polling booths, hence their preference could be established. He rejected claims that hidden cameras would be allowed in polling booths to identify those voting for a particular party. Deshapriya warned his staff would confiscate camera phones in case voters more..

Tap the full potential of the feminine genius

Sep 21 (DM) In the afterglow of Binara Full-moon Poya day which marks the inauguration of the Bhikhuni Sasana, the people and the Govt of Sri Lanka need to reflect on the multitude of crises facing women who comprise the majority of our population and who need to play a much bigger role in the political, socio-economic and spiritual dimensions of society. One of the major crises for women is the growing trend of domestic violence against them, and rape and sexual more..

A curse in the making

Sep 21 (DM) November is the month of the Budget: possibly the penultimate/final budget before the presidential election likely to be announced any time between Christmas in 2014 and Sinhala/Tamil New Year in 2015; Timing is on a presumption that festivities brightens the mood to offer a turbo boost to a govt confident in remaining in office with an opposition presenting no evidence of interest to mount a challenge. Presumably, the coming budget should radiate much sunshine more..

US, India should try to keep Lanka away from China's sway

Sep 21 (Rediff) On Saturday, for the first time in 25 years, Sri Lanka held elections to its NPC, a step that could facilitate reconciliation between the country’s majority (mostly Buddhist) Sinhalese and minority (mostly Hindu) Tamil populations. The election, if deemed free and fair, will mark the most significant step the govt has taken since the end of the civil war four years ago to address grievances of the Tamil community. more..

Schoolchildren’s increasingly poor health demands islandwide Child Support Centres

Sep 21 (ST) The country is in need of child-support centres island-wide to address rising child-related Health concerns varying from malnutrition, over nutrition and psychiatric issues, a senior official in charge of school Health division warned. Medical Officer of the Health Ministry’s School Health Office, Dr. Chintha Karunaratne said many present-day schoolchildren suffer from psychological problems triggered by a number of factors. more..

Slowly into Sri Lanka's green heart

Sep 21 (TW) As the 7am diesel train to Kandy pulls out of Colombo Fort station, leaving behind the early Sunday morning activity pulsing through the steamy Sri Lanka capital, there is ample time to settle back and study my fellow passengers. They are a diverse lot. Two Expo Rail trains a day make the 121km trip from Colombo to Kandy, and then on to Badulla, carrying a privately run air-conditioned car with special fares, wi-fi, more..

War-scarred SL Tamils see hope in election

Sep 21 (AP) Ethnic Tamil voters in Sri Lanka's war-ravaged north went to the polls Saturday to form their first functioning provincial govt, hoping it is the first step toward wider regional autonomy and a cornerstone to prevent another cycle of violence. They have fought for self-rule for more than six decades since independence through a peaceful struggle and then a bloody civil war, but failed. However, Saturday's elections are more..

New eNICs from November

Sep 21 (Island) The Department of Registration of Persons will commence issuing new electronic National Identity Cards from November for all citizens. The new IDs incorporating fingerprints, required for the current and future needs of national security, will be issued through the Department of Registration of Persons for persons over age 15. The new Electronic National ID with fingerprints will be introduced in November. more..

Queen, NZ PM to hold talks on Sri Lanka

Sep 21 (DM) New Zealand Prime Minister John Key and Queen Elizabeth II are to discuss about Sri Lanka which is hosting the next CHOGM in November. Prime Minister Key and his family are enjoying a lavish with the Queen at Balmoral Castle in Scotland. One place they will be discussing is Sri Lanka which is hosting the next CHOGM in November. The Queen will miss it for the first time in four decades. She is sending Prince Charles. more..

Dullas tells foreign countries not to pre-judge election

Sep 21 (Island) SLFP Treasurer, Youth Affairs and Skills Development Minister Dullas Alahapperuma urged all foreign countries not to undermine the Northern Provincial Council (NPC) election process or prejudge its outcome and impact. Addressing the media, he said that by prejudging the election results they were doing an injustice to 4.5 million eligible voters in all three provinces, Northern, Northwestern and Central. more..