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New Environmental Engineering Laboratory established with Japanese grant

Dec 13 (Island) The new Environmental Laboratory at the Faculty of Engineering, University of Peradeniya has been declared open by Japanese Ambassador Nobuhito Hobo. The Japanese embassy issued the following statement: "This laboratory possesses cutting edge technology and capability for empirical analysis in the field of environmental engineering and is expected to cater to the growing demands in environmental analysis and research. more..

Sri Lanka state TV warned over election campaign bias

Dec 13 (AFP) Sri Lanka's elections chief warned state-run television networks on Friday not to broadcast programmes supporting President Rajapakse in upcoming polls. Elections Commissioner Mahinda Deshapriya said he had received complaints from independent monitors that the state networks were openly campaigning for Rajapakse ahead of the Jan 8 election. "This is a serious hindrance to a free and fair election," more..

SL foreign reserves peak as credit picks up

Dec 13 (EN) Sri Lanka's foreign reserves remained at 8.8 billion US dollars in October 2014, unchanged from a month earlier, but down from in August, Central Bank data showed. Sri Lanka's foreign reserves peaked at 9.2 billion US dollars in August, with weak or negative bank credit leading to a build-up of rupee liquidity in the banking system. Gross official reserves, made up of Central Bank and government reserves were equal to 5.5 months of imports in October. more..

The king of Kandy delights his public

Dec 13 (CI) Sri Lanka had eked out a mere 27 for the loss of Mahela Jayawardene come the end of the initial ten-over Powerplay, and England decided to call on Moeen Ali. His fourth delivery was a no-ball full toss that nearly did Tillakaratne Dilshan a mischief, the next short and wide and chopped down to third man for four. The final ball then spun sharply back through the gate as Dilshan played forward but also foxed Jos Buttler and went for four byes. Eleven off the over and SL never looked back. more..

Questions over opposition's manifesto

Dec 13 (AM) Questions have now been raised over the 36 page draft election manifesto of the Common Opposition as it contains certain “populist” proposals that do not tally with the core message of the political campaign of the opposition. The Common Opposition’s campaign was based on a number of proposals pertaining to good governance, transparency, abolition of Executive Presidency & introducing democratic reforms. more..

Maithri to restructure foreign service

Dec 13 (AM) Common candidate Maithripala Sirisena promised to bring back the country's Foreign Ministry to its former glory. The Common Candidate added that the foreign service is being 'ruined' by whom he termed as some lackeys of the of the first family who have been appointed to key diplomatic missions overseas. "This has brought disrepute to the country," Sirisena added, addressing an election meeting in Puttalam. He also added that the country was beleaguered in more..

Retiring CEB General Manager’s last tango in for surprise

Dec 13 (Island) The Ceylon Electricity Board Management will reconsider its earlier decision to provide Rs. 37 million to hold the 2017/2018 Conference of the Electric Power Supply Industry (CEPSI). Some months back, CEB General Manager Shavindranath Fernando requested Rs. 139 from the Board to host the conference that will cost more than Rs. 500 million, though the Board last month approved Rs. 37 million, it was unlikely to release the money. more..

Journalists rally in Colombo over media restrictions ahead of election

Dec 13 (UCAN) Hundreds of journalists and trade union activists protested on Friday against government threats to the media ahead of a contentious presidential election in January. The protest, organized at the Colombo Fort railway station by the civil society group Citizen’s Power, condemned the interrogation of KW Janaranjana, editor in chief of the Ravaya Sinhala weekly newspaper, by the CID. more..

Disorganised planning leaves landslide victims in limbo

Dec 13 (ST) Confusion reigns among the govt units tasked with providing transitional housing for families left homeless after the landslide disaster in Meeriyabedde, with the evacuees still camped in makeshift evacuation centres such as schools and temples more than a month after the tragedy. A plan to build transitional shelters costing Rs. 60,000 each has been drawn up and the Disaster Management Ministry has been holding talks with an NGO on providing the shelters, more..

Presidential contenders get 90 minutes to air their views

Dec 13 (ST) All Presidential election candidates, who place deposits with the Elections Secretariat, have each been allocated 90 minutes of television time and radio time, Elections Additional Commissioner U. Amaradasa said. “Each candidate would be able to claim 90 minutes in one go or could claim it on a 30 minute or 15 minute basis,” he said adding that if the candidates wished to claim more TV time or radio time, they could do so by paying the media organisation separately. more..

Sangakkara hundred secures series

Dec 13 (CI) A masterful century from Kumar Sangakkara helped Sri Lanka wrap up the ODI series against England with a thumping 90-run victory in Pallekele. Sangakkara, who had made half-centuries in the four previous matches, compiled the 20th century of an exceptional career as Sri Lanka reached 292 in their 50 overs. On a slightly two-paced pitch offering assistance to bowlers of all varieties and at a ground where more..

Candidates pushed on HR issue

Dec 13 (CG) As the people of Sri Lanka prepare for the presidential election in Jan 2015, Amnesty International has called on the presidential candidates to commit publicly to ensuring that human rights are protected, respected and fulfilled in accordance with international human rights law, transparency, accountability and through rebuilding strong independent institutions to protect human rights, including civil and political rights as well as social, economic and cultural rights. more..

Executive presidency wrong only after leaving govt - Rajapaksa

Dec 13 (AD) President Mahinda Rajapaksa says that certain individuals see the wrong and corruption of the executive presidential system only after they leave the government. He stated if a Presidential Election was not coming up ahead those individuals would not see the shortcomings of the Executive Presidency. Rajapaksa said that everyone should unite to defeat the objectives of such “opportunists”. Speaking at a campaign meeting in Naula, he further said that the journey of a country cannot be more..

UNP urges EC to ensure Mahinda declares his assets

Dec 13 (Island) UNP urged Elections Commissioner Mahinda Deshapriya to ensure that President Rajapaksa declares his assets, while pointing out that Joint Oppositions Presidential candidate Maithripala Sirisena had already done so. It also requested the Polls Chief to ensure that a free and fair Presidential Election. Arrogance & extravagance of the Rajapaksa family regime was all too visible in their latest jaunt to Tirupati in South India. more..

An escalating human tragedy

Dec 14 (Island) During the 1965–70 govt of PM Dudley Senanayake which the then opposition saucily labeled as the hath havula (it has seven constituents), Sri Lanka had to contend with illicit immigration from India which was a problem that had existed for many years. Older readers might remember that then Lt. Col. D.S. Attygalle who was to later command the army and also serve as Defence Secretary one time headed a military unit called the Task Force Anti-Illicit Immigration more..

UPFA should give Gammanpila a break

De 14 (SL) President Rajapaksa pulled out another ace from his sleeve and produced JHU Deputy General Secretary Udaya Gammanpila back in the UPFA fold. JHU General Secretary Champika Ranawaka and Gammanpila were the recognised duo of the party articulating party policy while it was engulfed in the UPFA and struggled to avoid being swamped by the big brothers in the coalition. JHU was considered an extremist Buddhist Sinhala party and departure of milder partner of the duo, more..

'Maithripala just a house rat compared to President'

Dec 14 (SO) Former UNP General Secretary and party stalwart Tissa Attanayake says an inner circle headed by Ravi Karunanayake, Mangala Samaraweera and Malik Samarawickrema, has overpowered the UNP's working committee to take secret decisions at the behest of former President Chandrika Kumaratunga to crown the New Democratic Front (DNF) Candidate. more..

Masses won't fall prey to Opposition's machinations

De 14 (SO) Politics has become the talk of the town - in most conversations and social gatherings today, be it in urban areas or far-flung places countrywide. From the day President Mahinda Rajapaksa signed the proclamation to conduct a presidential election after completing only four of his second six-year term, politics has become the focal point among family members, business circles, office mates or even in wayside boutiques. Although 19 candidates have entered the Presidential race, more..

The ‘default option’ is delusion

Dec 14 (NS) ‘We are not in the business of issuing character certificates to those who cross,’ JVP Leader Anura Kumara Dissanayake said. The past few weeks have seen a lot of politicians crossing party lines. These moves have been received with jeers and cheers, depending on whether the person left or arrived, respectively. Interestingly, if you took names of the ‘movers’ and the names of those who either praised or vilified the move out, it would be as though people are using the same script. more..

‘Tissa not fit to be Gen. Secy of UNP'

Dec 14 (SL) With the political situation in the country heating up, the main focus of the day is the crossovers. The most significant crossover last week was the former General Secretary of the UNP, Tissa Attanayake. Having come up to the position of the General Secretary from humble beginnings, Attanayake submitted a detailed explanation in his letter of resignation to the Party Leadership, where he placed significant more..

Give citizens RTI now

Dec 14 (ST) Over the years, politicians have uniformly driven Sri Lankans to the polls without first guaranteeing their right to information. This glaring and unacceptable anomaly has meant that generations of citizens have cast their vote at successive elections on the basis of pledges and promises, with only passing knowledge about how their country is run. The two positions are fundamentally incompatible. People who are deliberately deprived of information about more..

Gross encounters of a political kind

Dec 14 (ST) My dear Tissa, I thought I must write to you when I heard that you had crossed over from the Green camp to the Blue camp after being with the Greens for more than thirty years and serving as their secretary for the past ten years. I must admit I was shocked by what you did, Tissa. I suppose there is no real reason to be surprised about all this when Maithri did almost the same. If at all, his service to the Blues was far greater than what you did for the Greens. more..

A presidential election at the height of the tourist season?

Dec 14 (Island) There was something very light about him. He was a big man but he seemed weightless as his very articulated motions appeared very fast. He sat, checked his laptop, picked up a cigarette, lit it and sat back all in one great stream of rapid motion. I missed the first few words as I attempted to recover from the atomic gestures. Affable and sharp his every word seemed to carry meaning - resplendent as they were more..

Common Opposition’s dream of a Bundestag Model

Dec 14 (NS) Despite there being many speculations outside Parliament that there would be crossovers when the House met for the last day of the year, on Friday, there was nothing of that sort – most of the MPs were not present and the sessions ended earlier than expected. There was nothing special except for Amir Ali swearing in as a UPFA national list MP before Deputy Speaker Chandima Weerakkody. Former All Ceylon Muslim Congress (ACMC) Eastern Provincial Council member, more..

Campaigning gains ground

Dec 14 (SL) President Rajapaksa got his 3rd Presidential election bid off the ground with a blistering meeting in Anuradhapura. A near capacity crowd estimated variously between 12,000 and 20,000 with the figure more likely to be in the 15,000 range. He almost jogged on to the stage to thunderous applause. He declared, “There is no need to speak!” to thunderous applause again, then, “You are here” and the crowds were mesmerised. It was pure electioneering at its vintage best. more..

The promise of constitutional reform

Dec 14 (SL) The govt maintains that there is no consensus reached even among the parties who have come to form the coalition to support the opposition common candidate Maithripala Sirisena on the proposed Constitutional reforms. However, the parties who have come together to support the common candidate say that the abolition of the executive presidency is one of the long standing demands of the people and there will be a more..

Underside of the Tissa Attanayake saga

Dec 14 (NS) Whatever said and done, UNP General Secretary Tissa Attanayake’s crossover, which took place on the final day of nominations, was a surprise move that rocked the country’s main opposition – the UNP. Attanayake’s possible crossover was in the grapevine for more than two weeks, but it all ended when he made an emotional public speech at ‘Sirikotha’ saying he would never betray his conscience by accepting money from the govt and leave the party. more..

Opposition gains in Nuwara Eliya District

Dec 14 (Island) The biggest boost that the joint opposition got last week was the defection of P. Digambaram and (to a much lesser extent) V. Radhakrishnan from the govt. There may not be an actual shift of votes in the Nuwara Eliya district because of these defections as Digambaram was elected on the UNP list in any case. As for Radhakrishnan, he was elected to parliament as a member of the CWC at the parliamentary election in 2010 and within a few months he fell out more..

World Cup 2015: Zeroing in on final fifteen

Dec 14 (ST) There is one undeniable notion that grips every top cricket playing nation. Wittingly or unwittingly they have braced themselves into this four-year cycle while all their future plans, retirements and evictions are done with this grand event in mind. Ladies and gentlemen, it is described as the ICC World Cup, which takes place every four years after it was baptised in England in 1975. Initially it was brought on to give cricket more..

Tropic of Linen to open boutique in Colombo

Dec 14 (ST) Home-grown clothing label, Tropic of Linen, opened a new boutique in Colombo yesterday. Specialising in premium linen apparel for men and women, Tropic of Linen has been retailing at the Orchid House, at the historic Galle Fort heritage site, for over seven years. However the opening of the Colombo boutique, situated at No. 1 Wijerama Road,Colombo 7, marks the brand’s first exclusive store, the store owners said. The Tropic of Linen brand is owned by Quantum more..

Google SL’s Rohan Jayaweera joins Micro image Mobile Media

Dec 14 (ST) Rohan Jayaweera, former country consultant to Google – Sri Lanka, has joined Microimage Mobile Media as the Chief Operating Officer. Mr. Jayaweera, according to a Microimage announcement, was the first representative for Google in Sri Lanka where he drove all initiatives to and from Sri Lanka. Prior to Google he worked in Singapore as a Business consultant. Mr. Jayasekera has represented other technology companies such as Cisco Systems, IBM, Lenovo in his career. more..

Selectors look to mysterious Chinaman for World Cup success

Dec 14 (Island) The mood among Sri Lankan cricket fans was dull following the 5-0 humiliation in India and for the ongoing series against England there was lukewarm response in the stands. Not many fancied Sri Lanka’s chances in next year’s World Cup. Last week captain Angelo Mathews gave insight to team’s strategies when he told journalists that they had been quietly working with 23-year-old spinner Lakshan Sandakan, more..

‘Right to Information’ has become the domain of the President

Dec 14 (ST) The Right to Information of the Sri Lankan people has become the domain of President Rajapaksa, according to an eminent rights defender, and thus it is now in limbo. Elmore M. Perera, a former President, Organization of Professional Associations (OPA) expressed this view while speaking as the Chief Guest at the National Integrity Award 2014 organized by Transparency International Sri Lanka to commemorate the UN Anti- Corruption Day – 9 December more..

12% interest offer to senior citizens with restrictions

Dec 14 (ST) The recent budget offer of 12% interest on deposits held by senior citizens, aged 60 years and over, in state banks is being restricted to a cap of Rs.1 million and strictly one account per person, bankers said. Central Bank (CB) has directed that applicants should make a declaration that they have one account that would be entitled to this above-market interest rate to prevent senior citizens from having multiple accounts and getting 12% interest on all. Several senior citizens said that more..

Fiji sevens coach alarmed at exodus to SL

Dec 14 (AFP) Fiji's rugby sevens coach Ben Ryan is concerned at the loss of talented players overseas, particularly to Sri Lanka, saying it threatens to derail the Pacific islanders' preparations for the Rio Olympics. Ryan said a huge number of players had been lured offshore, estimating 30 Fijian wingers were plying their trade in France alone, including 2014 world sevens player of the year Samisoni Viriviri, who recently signed for more..

TNA to study manifesto

Dec 14 (SL) The TNA is yet to study the election manifesto of the opposition common candidate Maithripala Sirisena. According to TNA MP Suresh Premachandran, the TNA has not yet taken any stand regarding to whom they would support at the presidential election. However, he added that there may have been some unofficial level discussions with certain political parties regarding the matter. “We have not received any official invite from the opposition common candidate for any form more..

Funerals of three airmen today

Dec 14 (NS) The funerals of three of the four airmen killed in last Friday’s Antanov-32 plane crash will be held today. Air Force Spokesman Wing Commander Gihan Seneviratne said the funerals of Squadron Leader J.M.W.N. Abeywardena (Captain), Flight Lieutenant A.A.D.T. Amaratunge (Co-Pilot) and Corporal W.W.A.N. Wijeratne will be held with full military honors. The funeral of Flight Sergeant M.W.L. Priyantha (Flight Engineer) will take place at a later date this week. more..

All but one candidate file assets declarations

Dec 14 (Island) 18 out of the 19 candidates running for president have submitted their asset declarations, Elections Commissioner Mahinda Deshapriya said. One more candidate has promised to make his declarations by Monday though he has under the law one month to do so from the time of submission of nominations. Asked whether the two principal candidates have submitted their asset declarations, more..

Elections Commissioner moves to free venues for Sirisena’s meeting

Dec 14 (Island) Asked whether his office would intervene in the event that the govt continued to deny the common opposition venues for their meetings, Elections Commissioner Mahinda Deshapriya said, "my office has already intervened and through our Returning Officers have sorted all these issues in the electoral districts of Kurunegala, Kotmale and Attanagalle." He said his Returning Officers have spoken to the heads of the relevant Municipal Councils, and Pradeshiya Sabhas more..

Long thought dead, man returns home after 25 year detention

Dec 13 (ST) A resident from Chunnakam in Jaffna returned home on Friday after more than 25 years in a detention camp, residents said. S. Vairavanathan was arrested at Armour Street in Colombo soon after a bomb blast in 1990. He was 28 then. Since then, he had been detained at a detention camp in Hambantota for 25 years without any charges being filed against him. Both his parents died not knowing where their son was after they had searched for him for a long period without success. more..