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Two more UPFA defectors speak out for Sirisena

Dec 21 (Island) Dissident SLFPers Jeevani Kariyawasam, Member of the Chilaw MC and Sarath Sandanayake, UPFA member and Chairman of the Eheliyagoda PS yesterday appealed to the public to choose their president carefully at a press conference held at Opposition Leader’s office. UPFA defectors who arrived at the press conference accompanied by UNP stalwart Ravi Karunanayake spoke briefly of their own experiences on the ground in their respective areas. more..

TN to release only 30 Sri Lankan fishermen

Dec 21 (Hindu) Apparently disappointed with the Sri Lankan govt’s decision to release 66 Indian fishermen sans their boats, the Tamil Nadu govt has decided to set free only 30 Sri Lankan fishermen on Monday. This was evident from a letter written by Chief Minister O. Panneerselvam to PM Narendra Modi on Saturday wherein there was no mention of the release of 19 boats of the Sri Lankan fishermen. On December 16, when Mr. Panneerselvam wrote to Mr. Modi, he stated that the State govt was more..

Colombo opposition takes anti-China stand

Dec 21 (Hindu) Amidst concern in India over the growing Chinese presence in Sri Lanka, joint opposition platform here has begun questioning China’s role in the island nation ahead of the presidential election. Earlier this week, leader of UNP Ranil Wickramasinghe pledged to scrap the $1.34-billion Chinese-funded Colombo Port City Project, citing threats to the environment, once the joint opposition candidate Maithripala more..

Two Russian Naval Ships arrive at the port of Colombo

Dec 21 (SLN) Two Russian Naval Ships, “Moskva” and “Cola”, arrived at the port of Colombo on 19th December 2014 for replenishment and crews. The ships belonging to the Black Sea Fleet of the Russian Navy were ceremonially welcomed by the Sri Lanka Navy in accordance with naval traditions on their arrival. Moskva is a missile Cruiser, which is 187 meters in length. It has a displacement of 9,270 tons and consists of a complement of 514 naval personnel. more..

SEP presidential candidate addresses Colombo meeting

Dec 21 (wsws) Socialist Equality Party (SEP) presidential candidate Pani Wijesiriwardena, a member of the SEP political committee and retired teacher with an almost four-decade record of fighting for the working class, outlined the party’s election program last week at a public meeting. Held on December 12 in Maharagama, about 15 kilometres from Colombo, it was the first in a series of SEP and IYSSE meetings for the January 8 presidential election. more..

Boom-Boom over Boom-Doom

Dec 21 (NS) Central Bank Governor Ajith Nivard Cabraal dismissed claims made by JHU General Secretary Champika Ranawaka that numbers about the health of the economy are doctored. Cabraal said that there was ‘100% data integrity,’ pointing out that multilateral agencies such as the World Bank, IMF and ADB as well as investors who deal in billions of dollars have essentially endorsed this view in placing their trust on the Govt’s more..

'Fuel price will drop by about Rs 50'

Dec 21 (NS) The joint-media spokesperson of the common opposition Rajitha Senaratne clarified different remarks made by opposition leaders on the fuel prices, adding that the policy statement has clearly said that Rs 40 billion of the tax imposed on fuel will be reduced. It will transform into the reduction of the price of a petrol liter by about 50 rupees, he added. Senaratne stated that anyone can see that the policy statement of Maithripala Sirisena is not a new edition of Ranil more..

Sri Lanka opposition presidential candidate to probe spin doctors

Dec 21 (EN) Common opposition candidate Maithripala Sirisena has pledged to investigate contracts given to foreign lobbying firms and public relations companies to defend Sri Lanka's human rights record. In his manifesto, Sirisena referred to more than half-a-dozen contracts the Central Bank of Sri Lanka had awarded to US-based companies on behalf of the Sri Lankan govt at millions of dollars. "I will take steps to investigate and take legal action over contracts, advisory services and more..

Move to impersonate 100,000 foreign workers suspected

Dec 21 (ST) In a bid to prevent the alleged impersonation of more than 100,000 Sri Lankans living in Kuwait, independent monitors demanded that the passport of those who have come from abroad be produced as proof before they are allowed to vote. CaFFE spokesperson Keerthi Tennakoon said they had informed EC Mahinda Deshapriya about covert moves to impersonate Sri Lankans working overseas. more..

Commonwealth election monitors arrive

Dec 21 (SO) The preliminary team of Commonwealth election monitors are now in the country to observe the pre-election phase, a spokesperson for the Election Secretariat said. In addition to the Commonwealth team a small group of Asian election monitors are also in the country since December to observe the run-up to the polls. The Forum of Election Management Bodies of South Asia (FEMBoSA) and Association of Asian Election Authorities (AAEA) will send a 35-member more..

MPs who crossed to file case

Dec 21 (SL) The Govt MPs, who crossed over to the opposition, are to file a case in the Supreme Court against the SLFP. The legal action will be taken against the statement made by the present General Secretary of the SLFP Anura Priyadarsana Yapa that SLFP party membership of those who crossed over to the common opposition would be cancelled. A legal team has been appointed by SLFP members who joined the opposition to deal with the move to cancel their SLFP membership. more..

ACMC to announce its stand on Presidential poll on Monday

Dec 21 (Island) As a key player in the political firmament, the ACMC led by Minister Rishard Bathiudeen is expected to announce on Monday its stand on the Presidential poll. Dismissing speculation that ACMC will lend its support to President Rajapaksa, a senior official said the party’s politburo will determine whether to back the incumbent’s candidature or Maithripala Sirisena, the opposition presidential aspirant. more..

Senior citizens upset over delay on 12% interest benefit

Dec 21 (ST) Several senior citizens, who have deposits in state banks, have expressed anger and frustration over the delay in implementing the 2015 budget proposal to offer 12 per cent on their deposits. T. Rusiripala, President of the Peoples Bank Pensioners Association, said he was the first to welcome the proposal but today “we are in a quandary as the state banks have failed to implement the scheme to give effect to this proposal”. more..

Police OIC to be charged for act of cowardice?

Dec 21 (ST) Police said they are contemplating action under the provisions of the Police Ordinance against the Wanduramba Police Station OIC for an act of cowardice in failing to prevent Deputy Minister Nishantha Muthuhettigama from forcibly freeing three suspects who were in Police custody. The three men were taken in on suspicion that they had set fire to the stage that had been erected for Presidential candidate Maithripala Sirisena to address a rally at Wanduramba in Galle area more..

Rifts within both alliances as campaigning hots up

Dec 21 (ST) At the end of a hectic schedule addressing election rallies in the South, President Rajapaksa returned to Temple Trees last Monday. There he sat down to a discussion with Deputy Minister Muthu Sivalingam and Central Provincial Councillor Senthil Thondaman. CWC duo was meeting Rajapaksa to urge that an interview be granted to TN’s Thanthi television network ahead of the presidential election. more..

Remember Vaddukoddai

Dec 21 (CT) Every single vote in an election is important. More so, in a national election such as at a presidential election or at a general (parliamentary) election. At times, parties and presidential candidates win or lose an election by a hairsbreadth, due to the receipt or non receipt of 'such crucial' votes. In Sri Lanka's 67-year old parliamentary election history, this has happened only once. Though UNP led by Dudley Senanayake won the March 1960 parliamentary poll, more..

Sirisena must avoid mixed signals

Dec 21 (Island) In last week’s column ("Challenges after Regime Change") I made the following comment (abridged): "There is alarm in the minority communities of an alleged Maithri-JHU anti Tamil-Muslim alliance which could be a threat to them and to 13A. This is endangering 18% of the vote (Ceylon Tamils and Muslims; 24% if you count Upcountry Tamils), but what for? The JHU can pull hardly 3% of the ultra-chauvinist vote away from Mahinda". This was in response to panic buttons that more..

Talk at the Cafe Spectator

Dec 21 (ST) A serving Govt official in the Anuradhapura District held a ceremony and distributed free mobile telephones to retired Grama Niladharis. This is the gist of a complaint made to the Commissioner of Elections by the district branch of the Bar Association of SL. It alleges the official in question would be acting as a Returning Officer on polls day and hence it violated the legal guidelines set out by Commissioner of Elections. more..

'Media has a special role covering election'

Dec 21 (Island) "If the Dhammapada, Bible or Holy Quran is revered by people, so is the media," asserted the Election Commissioner Mahinda Deshapriya emphasizing on the decisive role played by the media in shaping the mindsets of the public at a panel discussion on Election Reporting held on Wednesday at the Sri Lanka Press Institute. The event was organized by the Press Complaints Commission of SL. more..

Buddhist monk among victims, man stripped naked: Police assault in Batticaloa

Dec 21 (Island) A group of civilians including Buddhist priests led by Rev Ampitiye Sumanaratna Thero yesterday alleged they were attacked by the police at around 6.30 p.m. on Friday in front of the Batticaloa Police Station. "The CMEV received a complaint from Rev Ampitiye Sumanaratna Thero alleging that a group of civilians protesting that their voting rights should be ensured were attacked by the police in front of more..

Polls monitors at only 300 of 1,115 counting centres

Dec 21 (ST) The Elections Commissioner will permit polls monitors to be at only 300 of the 1,115 counting centres for the presidential election. The decision was conveyed to the election monitors on Friday at a meeting with Commissioner Mahinda Deshapriya. Seven election monitoring groups will have to share the 300 slots among them in consultation with the Commissioner, they were told. more..

Monitors accuse local govt politicos

Dec 21 (NS) Election monitors have accused local govt politicians of being behind some of the most serious incidents of election violence, while police have also confirmed at least 10 Pradeshiya Sabha (PS) members are under arrest and more are being sought for incidents of election violence since the handing over of nominations on Dec 10. CaFFE, Executive Director, Keerthi Tennakoon stated that local govt politicians are the people who more..

Bad weather causing havoc again

Dec 21 (ST) Bad weather is causing havoc again, with many parts of the country experiencing heavy rains, floods, landslides and strong winds. The North Central, Eastern, Uva and Central provinces are currently experiencing heavy rains while floods are reported in the Anuradhapura, Trincomalee, Polonnaruwa, Mannar and Puttalam Districts. Over 5,000 persons are at present reported displaced due the floods triggered by more..

Defence Ministry clearance required for foreign observers visiting North

Dec 21 (ST) International Observers (IO) visiting the country to monitor the presidential election will require a ‘special clearance’ along with a recommendation from the Elections Commissioner, to visit the Northern Province for monitoring purposes, Brig. Ruwan Wanigasuriya said. “We have not lifted the restrictions on travel to the North. Foreign nationals will not be allowed to visit the North under more..

Opposition activists attacked in Hambanthota by toy pistol mayor

Dec 21 (AM) A street protest involving Opposition members and activists has been attacked in Hambantota this morning, opposition sources said. The attack has allegedly been carried out by Hambanthota Mayor Eraj Fernando who rose to fame due to “toy pistol” controversy. Britto Fernando, Jayathilaka Bandara, Philip Dissanayake and several activists have been attacked by goons, opposition sources added. more..

Catholic Church ready to receive Pope

Dec 21 (CT) A Papal visit is no doubt a great privilege and honour to a country and the fact that a Papal visit is such a rare occurrence is further cause for great pride to that particular country. From the moment the Vatican announced that Pope Francis will be visiting Sri Lanka, tens of thousands of Catholics began preparations to welcome the Pontiff. This will be the third time a Pope visits Sri Lanka, the first time being, Pope Paul VI on more..

SLMC to leave the govt within next 48 hours

Dec 21 (AM) The SLMC will leave the govt within the next 48 hours. A senior spokesman said it has already decided to pledge support to Common Candidate Maithripala Sirisena. “However,” he said, “there are two or three people who believe that the party should remain with the govt. They can make their own decision and leave the party. But, the SLMC has arrived at a collective decision to support Maithripala Sirisena.” more..

Sri Lankan maid commits suicide in Saudi

Dec 21 (E24|7) A Sri Lankan housemaid committed suicide in the bathroom at her employers’ house in Saudi Arabia and police said they were investigating the incident. The maid’s Saudi employer found the maid dead after smashing the bathroom door when she failed to answer his repeated calls, ‘Sada’ newspaper said. It quoted police spokesman Colonel Ziad Al Rugaiti as saying the maid committed a suicide and that police are investigating her motive. ‘Sada’ did not say how the maid more..

Restoring the Jaffna Fort

Dec 21 (Island) According to Phillipus Baldeaues, the Dutch cleric and celebrated historian and writer, the Jaffna fort erected by the Portuguese ‘was not be taken by storm, owing to the unusual height of its walls, nor was it to be effected by mines owing to its rocky soil, nor was it to be leveled with the thundering of our cannons owing to the triple thick walls.’ The oldest extant Dutch map of the Jaffna town dating back to 1658 made by a Batavian map maker further confirms its substantial more..

Ten years on: Orphaned boys reach out in Sri Lanka

Dec 21 (CG) Two brothers orphaned in the devastating Boxing Day tsunami are opening a children’s home in Sri Lanka. Robert and Paul Forkan, were aged 17 and 15, when their parents were swept away in the 2004 tidal wave. The teenagers survived the horror during a holiday in Sri Lanka, along with their two sisters Mattie, who was 12 and Rosie, then eight. Now ten years later the brothers are to return to more..

Towards One World: The Memoirs of C.G.Weeramantry

Dec 21 (Island) This is the third volume of the memoirs of C.G.Weeramantry (`Christie’ to his many friends all over the world, Judge Weeramantry to international lawyers, and `Professor’ to me). The first volume dealt with his childhood and early career in Sri Lanka and the second with his time as a Professor of Law at Monash University in Australia. This volume continues his story from his time on the International Court of Justice to the present. It tells of his experiences on the ICJ and more..

Plot to tamper with postal vote

Dec 21 (CT) Trade Union Coalition for a Just Society (TUCJS) said some reliable information had been received about a plot that is being hatched by the govt, to interfere with the postal voting scheduled for 23 and 24 Dec. Therefore, they have requested their members to be aware of the danger to their postal ballot and to take every precaution to safeguard it. TUCJS stressed that the Election Commissioner, monitoring groups and political Party representatives should take note of the dangers that more..

Postal voting begins tomorrow

Dec 21 (Island) As approximately 54,700 postal voters prepare to cast their ballot in a bid to select their next president on Dec 22, 23, 24 and 26, CMEV led election observers will mobilize 1,000 static observers to ensure that everything is in order, Manjula Gajanayake, National Co-ordinator, CMEV said yesterday. Member of the police will cast their postal votes on the last day – Dec 26 – which has been reserved for them, officials said. more..

EVKS Likens Rajapaksa to Prabhakaran

Dec 21 (ENS) TNCC president EVKS Elangovan on Friday compared Sri Lankan president Rajapaksa with LTTE leader V Prabhakaran and said that he considered both as ‘evils’. Speaking to reporters after the party’s State executive committee meeting here, he said while Prabhakaran was a “terrorist”, Rajapaksa massacred Tamils, and added that his party was opposed to both. The TNCC chief vowed to fight for the rights of Tamil Nadu if Karnataka was adamant in constructing dams more..

Sri Lankans struggle on seamers' day

Dec 21 (CI) Sri Lankans were reduced to 173 for 9 on their first day of competitive cricket in New Zealand, but had struck back through their own seamers before the close of play, in the two-day warm-up encounter in Queenstown. Lahiru Thirimanne top-scored for the visitors, scoring 50 with four fours and a six from the no. 4 spot vacated by Mahela Jayawardene's retirement. Although Sri Lankans played batsmen down to no. 8 in the 12-a-side match (11 batting and bowling), more..

Sri Lanka hope to solve ODI opener riddle in NZ Tests

Dec 21 (CI) Sri Lanka head coach Marvan Atapattu has said that the tour of New Zealand was always going to be a challenge for his team, but welcomed it as a timely one that will help them prepare for the World Cup. "Touring New Zealand is always going to be a challenge with the weather and the wickets. It is up to us to adapt and to be at our best. It's a challenge for us like all other teams coming to Sri Lanka," said Atapattu more..

Maithri, Ranil to address business community on Tuesday

Dec 21 (Island) Common Opposition candidate Maithripala Sirisena will make his case for a united and prosperous future for Sri Lanka at a meeting with the business community at a key forum on Tuesday 10.30 a.m. to 12.30 p.m. at Cinnamon Lakeside Hotel.  Accompanying Sirisena will be UNP Leader Ranil Wickremesinghe who will speak on the policy framework for boosting socio-economic development within a stable policy environment. They will address the business community at more..

President calls Pakistani PM; condemns terrorist attack, conveys condolences

Dec 21 (MoD) President Rajapaksa called Pakistani PM Nawaz Sharif on Wednesday to express condolences to the families of those who were killed in the terrorist attack at a school in Peshawar. President condemned the attack in the strongest possible terms and particularly highlighted the brutally of targeting innocent children while in school. Recalling how Sri Lanka suffered from terrorism for nearly three decades, President Rajapaksa told PM Sharif that Sri Lanka more..

Education Ministry to identify Best Classroom Practices in govt schools

Dec 21 (ST) Education Ministry has decided to identify Best successful Classroom Practices with regard to teaching -learning process in State schools, to be included in a Resource Manual to be compiled next year. Ministry also intends to prepare a Resource Directory to assist in developing professional competencies of teachers at school level, and raise students’ level of achievements. Education Ministry Secretary, more..

Secretary Defence graces Christmas under the Stars

Dec 21 (MoD) Secretary to the Ministry of Defence and Urban Development Mr. Gotabaya Rajapaksa graced the Christmas Carol eve held under the theme of 'Christmas Under the Stars' organized by the Urban Development Authority yesterday (19) at the Independent Arcade, Colombo. Distinguished Chief Guest of the Christmas Eve festive was His Eminence - Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith. Chairperson of the MOD Seva Vanitha Unit Mrs. Ioma Rajapaksa was also present at the occasion. more..