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Concerns over religious attire distribution

Dec 28 (SL) Transparency International (TISL) has brought to the notice of the Elections Commissioner a programme to distribute religious attire (Sil Redhi) amounting to Rs. 1000 Million across the Island in a manner that supports the UPFA presidential candidate. S.Ranugge Executive Director of TISL in his letter to the Elections commissioner urged him to take action to immediately halt this programme of distributing 800,000 packs of Sil Redhi using an exorbitant amount of state funds. more..

As crucial election nears, main candidates gear up for final lap

Dec 28 (ST) The man who led troops to victory against Tiger guerrillas, former General Sarath Fonseka, caused some alarm on Thursday in the Opposition camp after threatening to pull out of the NDF coalition. A concerned political aide, Senaka de Silva, hurriedly intervened. He arranged for meetings with former President Chandrika Kumaratunga, UNP leader Ranil Wickremesinghe and former party chairman Malik more..

An all-party splitting poll

Dec 27 (CT) Presidential Election of 2015 will certainly go down as one of the most entertaining and unpredictable campaigns in the history of democracy in SL. Quite frankly, no-one knows who will do what, next. If a key measure of the vibrancy of SL's democracy is the independence of members of various parties, then we can safely say that our country's political system is very much alive and kicking. Never in the long history of SL politics have so many politicians split from their parties more..

Sirisena reneges on his pledge

Dec 27 (Island) Mr Sirisena’s Manifesto caused consternation and disappointment among those who trusted his pledge to rescind the hated autocratic executive presidency and replace it with a democratic parliamentary system. What he now offers is "an essentially Executive" presidency wrapped in a honeyed sentence about an alliance with "Parliament through Cabinet"; what’s new in that! If Mr Sirisena does not amend his position, as far as hope of ending authoritarian more..

Talk at the Cafe Spectator

Dec 27 (ST) When New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio wanted a new Commissioner for International Affairs, he turned to Sri Lankan-born Penny Abeywardena who will serve as the primary liaison between the city and the diplomatic community. Her interaction will also include foreign govts, the UN and the US State Department. A former Director of Girls and Women Integration at Clinton Global Initiative, more..

Day 3: NZ on top despite Karunaratne 152

Dec 28 (CI) A duck in the first innings. His team following on amid consistent movement for the seamers. The deficit humongous and the pressure applied made it seem larger. These were the conditions Dimuth Karunaratne beat to register his maiden Test ton. The dream would have been to bat out the day, but Trent Boult matched Karunaratne's fitness and concentration to deliver the strike NZ desperately needed more..

Wanduramba OIC to be charge-sheeted

Dec 28 (NS) A charge sheet will be prepared against the Wanduramba OIC IP P.L. Keerthisinghe for aiding and abetting to kidnap three suspects in police custody, revealed by SSP Ajith Rohana. He said such a charge will be made if it is revealed through investigations that the OIC had made a deliberate omission with regards to Deputy Minister Nishantha Muthuhettigama’s alleged attempt to take away three suspects more..

Alternative SLFP in the offing

Dec 28 (SL) SLFP members who joined the opposition are to hold a convention in an attempt to create an alternative SLFP. The convention is to be headed by former SLFP General Secretary and Presidential candidate Maithripala Sirisena and former President Chandrika Kumaratunga, and will be held after the presidential election. The alternative SLFP group is to elect a committee and will look to function as the main SLFP group as more..

No loss to the country through the construction of expressways: RDA

Dec 28 (ST) Road development and its costs have become the focus of intense discussion, particularly in the political arena, R.W.R. Pemasiri, the Road Development Authority’s (RDA) Acting Chairman admitted this week. He was reacting to an article by transport and logistics expert Prof. Amal S. Kumarage titled ‘Road Building or rip-off?’ Below are excerpts from Mr. Pemasiri’s response, edited for reasons of space. more..

'Shed differences, victory or defeat, unite to welcome the Pope'

Dec 28 (ST) Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith has urged everyone to come together, devoid of Party differences and irrespective of whoever emerges victorious at the Presidential election, to welcome the Holy Father next month. Cardinal said, “Just moments prior to the Papal address following the Holy Father’s appointment to office, I invited him to visit SL. This he accepted. It is only after he accepted this invitation more..

Public officers given a warning

Dec 28 (CG) Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka (HRCSL) has sent directives to public officers saying investigations will be conducted against them if they fail to act in a manner to ensure that the forthcoming Presidential election is conducted freely and fairly. According to HRCSL, if public officers vested with legal responsibility misuse such responsibility, act beyond legal boundaries, fail to perform duties which more..

Anti-tobacco labeling implemented

Dec 28 (Island) The first in the series of pictorial warnings on packs of cigarettes was implemented last week, with the initial deterrent cautioning ‘Smoking Causes Heart Disease’ printed in all three languages. Graphical warning, covering 60% of the front and back surfaces of each pack of cigarettes manufactured by Ceylon Tobacco Company (CTC), depicts a patient with heart disease lying on a hospital bed in the ICU. more..

Low pressure area expected to move northwards

Dec 28 (AD) The Department of Meteorology says that the low pressure area is still located in the vicinity of East coast and is expected to move northwards, affecting the weather of the country and surrounding sea area. Under the influence of the system, showers or thunder showers will occur over most parts of the country particularly in the Eastern, Northern, North central, North–Western, Central and Uva provinces. more..

Debate unlikely: Gammanpila has Date-Issues!

Dec 28 (AM) It now appears as if the debate between the JHU and its former Deputy General Secretary Udaya Gammanpila is not taking off the ground as the latter has said he is only able to allocate time for the television debate after January 5 – when the propaganda campaign is over. Gmamanpila, issuing a media statement, said his dates were already reserved for election meetings for the UPFA at home and abroad. more..

Last 10 Days before the vote and the Verdict

Dec 28 (Island) It was intended to be an astrologically choreographed presidential coronation, but it is turning out to be anything but, even as astrology is finally being put in its place by political uncertainty and a meteorological disaster. The unprecedented Christmas-New Year holiday season election, with an impending Papal visit to follow, is now being literally inundated by the country’s heaviest rainfall and the worst floods since 1957. Although rains seem to be subsiding more..

Needs and Wants in the New Year

Dec 28 (Island) I have needs, wants, desires and hopes for the New Year that will be upon us in a couple of days. Expectations are very much present, a few dreams too. Before I am labeled a greedy person, let me qualify what I have just written by saying it’s not for myself, but for the ordinary people of the country, who deserve much better than they have now, and for this wonderful country too. That calls for another explanation. Who are the ordinary people and their counterparts - the more..

Pope's Visit, CMC and the capture of Dogs

Dec 28 (CT) Pope Francis's visit to Sri Lanka will commence on 13th January 2015. Assurances have been given by the two main presidential candidates that there will not be any post-election threat to the security of the Pope. Catholics here are fervently awaiting the arrival of the Pope. Buddhists too should be happy to honour and welcome this religious leader of world stature, bearing in mind, the words of the Buddha, more..

BASL writes to President and Maithri

Dec 28 (CT) In a letter to President Rajapaksa and opposition common candidate Maithripala Sirisena, Bar Association of Sri Lanka (BASL) has invited the duo to a discussion on the rule of law, independence of the judiciary, good governance, ensuring law and order and the elimination of corruption, BASL President, Upul Jayasuriya said. "The BASL, which represents the entire legal profession of our country, believes that, the rule of law, independence of the judiciary, good governance, ensuring more..

Watling pleased with seamers' toil

Dec 28 (CI) BJ Watling praised the New Zealand quicks' perseverance on what was a drier day for them than the previous one, in which they had taken 10 wickets. The hosts' seamers only claimed half that amount on day three, but conceded just 209 runs. Sri Lanka had battled towards parity with big partnerships for the third and fourth wickets, but Trent Boult claimed two wickets in his last spell and further strengthened New Zealand's dominance. "The boys kept running in there and more..

Karunaratne's day of self denial

Dec 28 (CI) When you're young and impetuous, waiting makes little sense. Patience is a game for men who have seen years slip through their fingers; who have had decades melt together, and moments stretch into months, in their minds. The millennial generation, of whom Dimuth Karunaratne is a full-blown, card-carrying member, is the epitome of youthful impudence, many say. Everything in 140 characters. more..

Your Vote is more powerful than You think: Use it!

Dec 28 (Island) On account of the unwarranted diffidence of Sri Lankans when it comes to asserting their constitutional rights, the Citizens’ Movement for Good Governance (CIMOGG) has found it necessary to assert repeatedly over the years through the media that the People are sovereign and that no one, however mighty, should be allowed to usurp their powers. Nevertheless, the reality is that, once an election is over, our citizens have got used to watching impotently whilst their elected more..

NCCSL Calls for a violence free election campaign

Dec 28 (Island) Observing the many events unfolding in the run-up to the Presidential Elections to be held on Jan 8, the National Christian Council of Sri Lanka (NCCSL) urged the authorities; candidates and political parties to ensure the carrying out of the campaign without violence and without violating election laws. All parties contesting the elections should be facilitated to have equal opportunities for their campaign without intimidation and threat. We recognise the fact that it is the democratic more..

Blazing exposure of CPC’s multi-billion rupee losses

Dec 28 (ST) The Ceylon Petroleum Corporation (CPC) lost a staggering Rs. 3.2 billion in just six months due to bad procurement procedures and mismanagement, AG’s latest report shows. Other areas of mismanagement include failure to conduct timely and dependable laboratory tests, inability to meet challenges arising from market vagaries, overspending and delay in securing crude oil products. more..

President visits landslide affected areas in Badulla District

Dec 28 (GDI) The President cancelling six rallies in Badulla on Saturday, toured the Badulla District in the afternoon to inspect the relief activities that are being carried out for the people who were affected by the inclement weather. President met the affected people in the Ella, Kumbalwala and Uduwala areas and looked into the needs of them. He inspected the damaged houses, cut slopes across roads and also Subodhagama in Uduwala where landslides had occurred and instructed the officials to more..

Police nab 355 drunk drivers

Dec 28 (NS) The Police have arrested 355 drunk drivers since the start of an island-wide operation to detect drunk drivers on the country’s roads was launched on December 24. During the 24-hour period from 6.00am on December 26 to 6.00am on December 27, police had nabbed 192 drunk drivers. According to figures released by Police Media Unit, nine lorry drivers and three private bus drivers were arrested during this 24-hour period for drunken driving offences. more..

Govt accuses the SLMC

Dec 28 (CG) Within hours after the SLMC announced it had decided to support Maithripala Sirisena at the Presidential election, the Govt accused the main Muslim party in the country of joining forces with those looking to divide Sri Lanka. UPFA said that the SLMC withdrew its support for President Rajapaksa as the President had refused to agree to a demand for a separate Muslim administrative district in the east. more..

Auto Company mulls legal action against ex People’s Merchant Leasing Chairman

Dec 28 (Island) A leading automobile parts company is contemplating legal action against the former Chairman of a govt-controlled company in the financial service industry for alleged default of Rs. 2.25 million due as final payments on the purchase of two vehicles. Three cheques to the value of Rs. 3 million given by him to meet the due payments had bounced as the HSBC account had been closed at the time of their issuance. The company, Japan Lanka Auto Parts (Pvt) Limited of Mirihana, more..

Discussions going on regarding recruitment of staff to SLT : CEO

Dec 28 (ST) Engineers’ Union attached to SLT has written to the Telecommunications & IT Minister Ranjith Siyambalapitiya expressing concern over the alleged decision by the management to recruit 2000 temporary workers attached to an SLT subsidiary company. Union charges that 90% of the management consists of professional engineers and that a majority were against the alleged decision to make 2000 employees of Human Capital Solutions Ltd. as permanent staffers. more..

Dual citizenship process streamlined

Dec 28 (ST) A proposal by President Mahinda Rajapaksa to adopt a new administrative procedure in the granting of dual citizenship was approved by the Cabinet this week. However, the new procedures are yet to be communicated to the Department of Immigration, Acting Controller M.N. Ranasinghe said. “There were a few changes in the draft policy sent to us and but we have not seen the final version approved by the Cabinet,” more..

Christmas dampened by rain

Dec 28 (ST) Christians across Sri Lanka remembered the birth of Jesus Christ with happiness in their hearts whether kneeling at a church altar or enjoying a cooked meal at a camp set up for forlorn flood victims – but the barrage of rain and the disasters brought in its wake dampened seasonal high spirits. Christian devotees of Colombo moved through rainswept, muddy streets with their hearts only warmed by the goodwill intrinsic to the season. Water dripped from strings of LED bulbs more..

Polls Chief says his hands tied

Dec 28 (SL) Elections Commissioner Mahinda Deshapriya says he has no powers to appoint a Competent Authority for the media as demanded for by the opposition. Deshapriya says he can only issue directives to the Government media and not appoint a Competent Authority. The opposition had called on Elections Commissioner Mahinda Deshapriya, to appoint a Competent Authority for the media until polling day to ensure blatantly biased behaviour by the State media ceases. more..

Video: MR wants good ties with India

Dec 28 (CG) President Rajapaksa, today said that he wants to maintain a good relationship with India as he has in the past. Addressing an election rally in Nuwara Eliya, the President also assured Indian origin Tamils, that he will ensure they are given better living conditions including permanent houses. He said that CWC's leader Arumugam Thondaman had offered him unconditional support for Presidential election more..

Hydro power generation soars amid heavy rain

Dec 28 (EN) Sri Lanka’s hydro-power generation has soared to 82% amid heavy rainfall and reduced overall demand in a holiday season. On Dec 28, out of a total demand of 24.8 GigaWatt hours 20.3 GWh or 82% came from hydro power. CEB also generated 2.84 GWh or 15.5% with coal power. Sri Lanka has seen record rainfall from inter-monsoonal depression weather over the past week after successive failures of monsoons, which has left large areas in east and north central areas more..

Govt loses 8 MPs 13 PC 163 LG members & majority power in Eastern PC

Dec 28 (AM) With the Sri Lanka Muslim Congress (SLMC) decision to pledge support to the Common Opposition, the ruling party has lost the support of 8 MPs, 13 Provincial Council members and 163 Local Govt members. Therefore, a total of 184 people’s representatives of the party have joined the Common opposition along with the SLMC. With this move, the UPFA has also lost the majority in the Eastern Provincial Council. The govt held the majority in the Eastern PC only with one seat. more..

Muthuhettigama arrested at BIA

Dec 28 (AD) Deputy Minister Nishantha Muthuhettigama, who recently left the country despite a warrant issued for his arrest, has been arrested at the Katunayake Airport upon arrival from Singapore. SSP Ajith Rohana stated that the deputy minister, who was arrested this morning at the Bandaranaike International Airport in Katunayake, will be produced before the Negombo Magistrate’s Court. more..

Election as planned: Amaraweera

Dec 28 (DM) While claiming that nearly 1.1 million people had been affected with 23 deaths and 8 missing by today from the worst floods and earth slips experienced in the country since 1956, Disaster Management Minister Mahinda Amaraweera expressed hopes that the Presidential Elections would not have to be postponed despite requests from certain quarters. He said the weather reports indicated that with the rain diminishing in the next few days the threat of floods and earths slips more..

EAM blocks Taiwan polls monitors

Dec 28 (ST) The External Affairs Ministry this week turned down a request from a monitoring body to bring 15 international election monitors from Taiwan, a spokesman for the monitoring group said. Chief Coordinator of the Centre for Monitoring Election Violence (CMEV) D.M. Dissanayake told the Sunday Times that they were informed by the Elections Commissioner that he cannot grant approval, as the External Affairs Ministry will not process their visa applications. more..

Video: SLMC for Maithri, Rauff resigns

Dec 28 (DM) The SLMC has decided to support common opposition candidate Maithripala Sirisena at the Presidential elections next year. In making the announcement, SLMC leader Rauff Hakeem said that he will be resigning as Justice Minister of the ruling UPFA Govt in order to back the opposition at the polls. The decision to back Sirisena was taken after days of discussions both as a party and with the two main candidates. more..

Divisive politics and Muslims

Dec 29 (CT) The reduction of the cut-off point from 12.5 to 5 percent by President Ranasinghe Premadasa to appease M H M Ashraff, and retain the support of the Sri Lanka Muslim Congress (SLMC) could be termed as the seeds that were planted to create racial politics. The reduction in the cut off point in each electoral district, to qualify for a seat in parliament paved the way for minority and small parties to get elected on their own, mostly along the communal divide. more..

Scorpion’s tail and societal vigilance

Dec 29 (CT) Recently several websites exposed a Rajapaksa plan to send presidential campaign material, thinly disguised as New Year greetings, to all military members. Around 200,000 of these letters were reportedly brought to the General Post Office and soldiers were reportedly engaged in readying them for the post. Transparency International SL complained to the Elections Commissioner. Commissioner, having verified the information, ordered Post Master General more..