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'Defence Ministry influences LG members'

Dec 18 (DM) Local politicians of the JHU had been influenced by Defence Ministry and that they had been unable to attend Pradeshiya Sabha and Urban Councils or carry out their election campaign, General Secretary of the JHU MP Champika Ranawaka charged. “Our local politicians have been unable to attend Pradeshiya Sabha and Urban Councils or engage in election campaign due to the influences of Defence Ministry. more..

Video: President seeks Tamil support

Dec 18 (CG) President Mahinda Rajapaksa today held election rallies in the north and sought the support of the Tamils for his bid for a third term in office. Speaking at an election rally in Mullaitivu, the President said that the people of the north faced 30 years of hardship with no hope for a future. However he said his government changed everything five years ago by defeating the LTTE and giving the public a good future. more..

Make those figures believable

Dec 18 (CT) On the front page of our Business Section today is an article which talks about the figures on economic growth which are released by the state; an article which gives us much food for thought on statistics versus reality. In many other countries, economic growth is measured through several different indicators. Unemployment, exports, public consumption, strength of currency, demand for fuel, demand for electricity... all these are indicative of how fast an economy is growing, more..

Gods, foons and gimmicks

Dec 18 (CT) Before commencing his official election campaign, Candidate Mahinda Rajapaksa flew to Andra Pradesh with an entourage of 56, for a special pooja in the Tirumala Venkateshwara Temple. In his eagerness to win divine backing for his election campaign, not only did he become a temporary-vegetarian; he reportedly ordered the entire Sri Lanka flight to follow suit: “There were strict orders to the Sri Lanka Airlines special flight to serve only vegetarian food on board”. more..

Language rights be in at home

Dec 18 (CT) The word 'empathy' means the ability for a person to see another person's situation through their eyes, and then to be less prejudiced and more understanding. Imagine being involved in a terrifying road accident, and finding yourself being questioned by the police in a language you didn't know, although you have lived in that country all your life, and your own language is an official language of that country? more..

Sri Lankan stocks recover from 3-week lows

Dec 18 (Reuters) Stocks rose on Thursday for the first time in six sessions, with telecoms leading the recovery, but stockbrokers said gains may not be sustainable due to political worries ahead of the Jan. 8 presidential poll. The main stock index ended 0.43% firmer at 7,230.52, recovering from its lowest close since Nov. 28 in the previous session. Stockbrokers said the market rose due to some optimism after President Rajapaksa and a few top govt officials met leaders from more..

UNP tells govt. to reduce fuel prices further

Dec 18 (Island) The benefit of plummeting oil prices in the world market should be passed on to the people, Convenor of the UNP trade union organisation at the Ceylon Petroleum Corporation (CPC) Ananda Palitha said. Local fuel prices could be slashed drastically. He said that the recent fuel price reductions were insufficient as at yesterday the price of a barrel of crude oil was only USD 86 and the price of a litre of refined petrol shipped to the Colombo port cost only Rs. 70. more..

Cardinal says Pope’s visit is on

Dec 18 (CG) The head of the SL Catholic Church, Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith says the visit of Pope Francis to Sri Lanka next month will not be cancelled under any circumstances. He said that preparations for the visit of the Pope have almost been finalised. Earlier there were reports that some members of the Catholic Church had made a request that the historic visit by the Pope be cancelled over fears of violence during more..

Dengue strikes back this year

Dec 18 (Island) Public Health Department of the Colombo Municipal Council said that a majority suspected dengue cases in the city were children. Dr. Ruwan Wijayamuny said that over 2,980 suspect dengue cases had been reported in the city from the beginning of the year to Dec 15. Out of them 764 cases were below the age of five years. About 1203 cases were between six and 20 years of age. Last year, too, over 20 per cent of dengue cases had been below the age of 20, he said. more..

'Maithripala needs no cut-outs'

Dec 18 (AM) UNP National Organizer Daya Gamage stated that common candidate Maithripala Sirisena does not need cut-outs as he is residing in the heart of the people in the country. Speaking at a public rally, he added that the UPFA was taking people to political rallies from distant places, adding that 3000 CTB buses were used to take people to Anuradhapura. People came even from Hambantota he said. It was reported that a section of the crowd had apparently asked for a fisheries harbor more..

Sri Lanka, the world's most seductive island

Dec 18 (DL) Women sashay past, saris fluttering and hips swaying rhythmically to the thumping drums. The high-pitched whining of a wind instrument draws me like the call of the Pied Piper. I'm swept along by the crowd of spiritual devotees circling a massive white stupa at Anuradhapura in Sri Lanka's Cultural Triangle. The region, in the centre of the island, was the seat of two powerful kingdoms, Anuradhapura and Polonnaruwa. more..

Provide adequate security for Opposition rallies – CaFFE

Dec 18 (CT) Adequate security must be provided for the election rallies of the common Opposition alliance to ensure the safety of its leaders, CaFFE said. Writing to the Commissioner of Elections, CaFFE said it is deeply concerned about local authorities not providing meeting places for the rallies of the common Opposition candidate. The fact that these sites, usually used for political rallies, are denied to the Opposition for their rallies, mean that organizers have to use more..

'Sajith spoke to Namal and Shiranthi Rajapaksa'

Dec 18 (AM) Rupavahini Corporation, in its political programme 01/08 last night, cashed in on the statement made by UNP Deputy Leader Sajith Premadasa that the latter was unaware of the agreement signed by the party with the Common Candidate of the opposition. Those who presented the show – who openly supported the candidature of President Rajapaksa – said the UNP Deputy Leader and the former General Secretary Tissa Attanayake were kept in the dark about agreements. more..

Police nab suspect who burgled Aravinda's home

Dec 18 (NS) Police have arrested the suspect who had allegedly broken into the home of former Sri Lanka cricketer Aravinda De Silva and stolen over Rs.4 million worth of local and foreign currency after breaking open a safe inside. A complaint regarding the incident had been lodged with the Kollupitiya police on Oct 21. Officers who were engaged in special duties in the Colombo Fort area in view of the holiday season, had more..

Remand of 38 Tamil Nadu fishermen extended by Sri Lanka court

Dec 18 (PTI) A Sri Lankan court on Thursday extented till Dec 31 the remand of 38 TN fishermen, arrested for allegedly fishing in the territorial waters of the island nation between September and November this year. A magistrate at Oorkavalthurai ordered extension of the remand when the fishermen were produced before him, Rameswaram Fishermen Organisation President S Emerit said. The fishermen, hailing from Rameswaram, Pudukottai and Nagapattinam were arrested more..

'Child rights not paid enough attention'

Dec 18 (Island) Vice Chairperson of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child emphasised in Colombo that the UNCRC had laid down what govts and individuals should do to promote and protect the rights of all children, but many govts had been ignoring it. Dr. Mrs. Hiranthi Wijemanne said that by ratifying the convention the Sri Lankan govt would commit itself to ensuring that its children could grow up in safe and supportive conditions with access to high quality education and health care and more..

Video: UNP explains trips to Singapore

Dec 18 (CG) UNP said that some of the opposition members had made trips to Singapore for medical reasons and there was no conspiracy involved as alleged by the govt. UNP MP Mangala Samaraweera said that all the discussions with regards to the common opposition took place in Sri Lanka and at times in the Parliament premises and not Singapore. Govt had recently said that there was suspicion over several trips undertaken more..

Police to strictly enforce order on pictorial health warnings

Dec 18 (NS) Police said they will take stern action against any trader found selling cigarette packets that don’t contain 60% pictorial health warnings from January, next year. SSP Ajith Rohana said Senior DIG (Administration) Gamini Nawaratne has already sent out a circular to all police stations instructing them to strictly enforce the Supreme Court order that all cigarette packets should contain the stipulated percentage of pictorial health warnings from January. more..

Govt in talks with Sri Lanka to find solution on fishermen issue

Dec 18 (PTI) Govt is steadfastly working in close cooperation with relevant stakeholders in finding a long-term solution to the Tamil fishermen issue, the Rajya Sabha was informed today. In a written reply, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj said India and Sri Lanka have discussed measures for expeditious release of bonafide fishermen and have set up a Joint Working Group (JWG) to resolve the issue. "Govt is steadfastly working, in close cooperation with the relevant more..

'Parties weakened to cause political turmoil'

Dec 18 (Island) The govt alleged that former SLFP General Secretary Maithripala Sirisena lacked foresight to realise that he was being used by Western powers to weaken the largest single political party in parliament. The govt asserted that Maithripala Sirisena was pursuing an agenda extremely inimical to the country at the behest of Western powers. Minister Dilan Perera claimed that those having ultimate control of the project more..

Renegades full of contradictions: SLFP

Dec 18 (Island) SLFP Treasurer and Minister Dallas Alahapperuma has pointed out that former Public Management Reforms Minister Navin Dissanayake (UPFA/SLFP) as well as Deputy Ministers, Palani Digambaram (UNP/National Workers’ Front) and V.S. Radhakrishnan (UPFA/CWC) having joined the Opposition campaign have given contradictory explanations with regard to their decision to quit the ruling coalition. All three represent the Nuwara Eliya District. more..

Mother jumps into well with daughter

Dec 18 (E24|7) A 36-year old woman jumped to death into a well with her 10-year old daughter after her older daughter, 16, consumed poison. Investigations revealed that the elder daughter had taken poison because her lover had suddenly stopped conversing with her. The teen used the neighbour's computer to chat with her boyfriend on a social networking site, when he withdrew without any notice. The girl was depressed and consumed the poison while her mother was away. more..

BASL asked to locate illegal cutouts

Dec 18 (DM) Bar Association of Sri Lanka (BASL) was today directed by the Court of Appeal to prepare a list containing the locations of unauthorized hoardings and cutouts and hand it over to the respondents by 1.30 pm today. Three Writ Petitions filed by the Bar Association of Sri Lanka, seeking an order from Court requiring the Colombo, Dehiwala-Mount Lavinia and Sri J'pura Municipal Councils and other relevant authorities to more..

'Govt using satellite surveillance to spy on bedrooms of UPFA MPs'

Dec 18 (AM) UNP Anuradhapura district Parliamentarian P Harrison said that the government had fixed surveillance ‘satellites’ in government MP’s toilets and bedrooms in fear of crossovers. This remark comes in the wake of the statement made by former President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga that the govt had made various moves to prevent its MPs from joining the opposition – such as offering “cash prizes” and giving them special perks and privileges. more..

Rajitha acusses Muthu of arson attack

Dec 18 (DM) Common opposition stalwart and MP Rajitha Senaratne today levelled the accusing finger at UPFA MP Nishantha Muthuhettigama for Wednesday’s arson attack on the stage that had been erected at Wanduramba for the public rally of Common Opposition candidate Maithripala Sirisena. Dr. Senaratne said the common opposition candidate’s camp possessed material evidence to prove Muthuhettigama’s involvement in the crime as a person nearby had recorded on video more..

Housing project for Meeriyabedde landslide victims

Dec 18 (GDI) The resettlement of the families affected by the recent landslide in Meeriyabedde in Koslanda got off the ground today. Commencing the project Secretary Defence Gotabaya Rajapaksa laid the foundation stone for the new housing scheme during a ceremony held there this morning. The UDA is to build 75 houses for the affected families. The project will be carried out with the collaboration of the SL Army. more..

'Let us march ahead, with this goal of success for today and the generations ahead'

Dec 18 (GDI) I am sure the people of Wayamba rejoiced the elimination of terrorism from our motherland more than anyone else, as majority in the armed forces who contributed to liberate the country were from the North Western Province, said President Rajapaksa in Kuliyapitiya, Wednesday. President made these remarks addressing the fifth main public rally held at the Shalika Grounds in Kuliyapitiya. During the campaign meeting Democratic Party Chief Organizer more..

I have no faith in astrologers: Maithri

Dec 18 (AD) Opposition Common Candidate Maithripala Sirisena said that he has no faith or belief in astrologers or personal horoscopes. He also accused the astrologers of scaring the general public by spreading false rumors. “Now some astrologers attempt to tell omens on me. They would tell you nothing, but lies,” he added. Maithripala also challenged President Mahinda Rajapaksa for an open debate on the topic ‘good governance principles and democracy'. more..

Sri Lanka military denies dabbling in politics

Dec 18 (AFP) Sri Lanka's military rejected opposition allegations that it had deployed troops to campaign for President Rajapakse's re-election. Brigadier Ruwan Wanigasooriya denied opposition claims that soldiers were distributing material in support of the President who is seeking an unprecedented third term at Jan 8 elections. "Statement that the army has employed soldiers for election-related propaganda is more..

A free and fair election: Commissioner’s role

Dec 19 (CT) We, the people have a sovereign right to exercise our franchise at free and fair elections. The very last time we could do so was in 1977. Disgusted with the governance prevailing at that time, we gave J.R. Jayewardene, who claimed to be the long awaited saviour of the Sri Lankan nation, a 5/6th majority. Election malpractices thereafter escalated exponentially. In an attempt to arrest and reverse this dangerous trend Independent Commissions including more..

LSSP: 79th anniversary or 4th anniversary ?

Dec 19 (CT) The 79th Anniversary of Sri Lanka’s oldest political party, the Lanka Samasamaja party (LSSP) falls on December 18th. The party of NM, Colvin, Leslie and Bernard not only played a major role in the anti-imperialist struggle but was also responsible for fighting for and obtaining many of the benefits enjoyed today by the working class and the ordinary people of Sri Lanka. Most of them have been diluted and even been made irrelevant on World Bank and IMF advice by more..

'A stable govt draws investors'

Dec 19 (SO) Legendary former Malaysian leader Dr. Mahathir Mohamad said Sri Lanka could reach the level of Malaysia's development much faster if the country could retain the political stability that it enjoys today. "When govts are changed, as happens in all democratic countries, there comes changes in policy. Changes of policy is always unsettling for investors. So stability is important for foreign investment and investment is crucial more..

Is the Buddha smiling on Modi’s India?

Dec 19 (NS) Since PM Narendra Modi seldom speaks in Parliament, and also refrains from interacting with the Indian media, the only source one can turn to in order to appraise his record in office are his own words and actions and, no less significant, his studied silence on matters that cause grave anxiety to large swathes of public opinion. His moves to energize the country’s Leviathan bureaucracy and to compel it to be tightly focused on his govt’s priorities -- rapid economic more..

The floating voter weighs options

Dec 19 (NS) In all elections, people talk of the floating vote. The undecided. Those who may be swayed one way or another. In some elections the floating vote can decide an election. Naturally, come election time all kinds of theories are floated about the floating vote. Some say it has expanded and some say it has contracted. Some say ‘won’t count this time’ too. No one seems to have succeeded in putting a finger on the floating vote. But in a parallel universe, the floating voter has a voice. more..

'Tsunami was an alien word in 2004'

Dec 19 (CT) Major General Gamini Hettiarachchi was the security forces commander, in charge of the Eastern Province, when the Boxing Day tsunami struck Sri Lanka. He was heavily engaged in rescue and relief operations when an interim committee, appointed by then President Chandrika Kumaratunge, soon after tsunami, decided to set up Disaster Management Centre (DMC) and selected him as Director General more..

Sri Lanka at another crossroads: A half-outsider’s view

Dec 19 (FT) Sri Lanka has thrown up a few surprises in the past month. Only a few months ago, the hegemony of the Rajapaksas seemed assured for years ahead. Then cracks appeared with the Uva PC election results. President Rajapaksa called a snap election believing he would cruise to a third term in power. But, unexpectedly, a hitherto feeble and divided Opposition united around a common, seemingly viable presidential candidate. SL appears to be approaching another fateful crossroads. more..

Are restrictions imposed on female migrant workers discriminatory?

Dec 19 (Island) Female migrant workers make a vital contribution to the Sri Lankan economy, mainly through remittances. However, this economic gain often comes at a heavy social cost on the children they leave behind. This article, written to coincide with the International Migrants Day, is aimed at highlighting the discriminatory nature of the recent restriction on labour migration of mothers. Females dominated migration for employment from Sri Lanka over the last two decades. more..

‘UNPers are enthusiastic about Maithreepala’

Dec 19 (Island) "Winston Churchill is credited mostly with the victory during World War II. But at the subsequent general election, he lost. In 1948, D.S. Senanayke brought freedom to our country. But by 1956 people were not voting for the UNP anymore. So times change." SLFP MP Wasantha Senanayake who recently crossed over to the opposition speaks about the prospects of common opposition candidate more..

Blondes and crossovers

Dec 19 (FT) There is this blonde out for a walk. She comes to a river and sees another blonde on the opposite bank. “Yoo-hoo” she calls out, “How can I get to the other side?” The second blonde looks up the river and then down the river and shouts back “You ARE on the other side” To the confused public observing the endless cross-overs and cross-backs occurring in the political arena in the run-up to the presidential elections, it must be like chancing on a conference of blondes, in this very tropical more..

Editorial: It is no bogey

Dec 19 (Island) Bad news has come from India and the politicians who argue that issues such as threats to Sri Lanka’s national security and territorial integrity are only bogeys because Prabhakaran is long dead have had to eat their words. Officials representing the Indian Centre and the govt of TN have recently told the Delhi High Court tribunal, set up earlier this year to review whether the ban on LTTE in India should be renewed for another five years, that the proscription should continue. more..