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'No Presidential Commission has powers to punish'

Dec 31 (LP) The Chairman of the Presidential Commission on Disappearances Mr. Maxwell Paranagama said that no Presidential Commission has powers to prosecute or punish a person. He said this when Lankapuvath News Agency sought his views on the statement made by the General Secretary of the JHU Champika Ranawaka that the Presidential Commission on Disappearances headed by Mr. Maxwell Paranagama has been appointed with the view to punish the war heroes. more..

Opposition says Sirisena a joker

Dec 31 (CG) The UNP warned of attempts to mislead the public by using Rathnayaka Aarachchige Sirisena, a candidate at the upcoming Presidential election. UNP MP Mangala Samaraweera said that one attempt by the Govt is to announce that Sirisena has decided not contest the Presidential election. Samaraweera said the Government will look to use Rathnayaka Aarachchige Sirisena to confuse the public over opposition Presidential candidate Maithripala Sirisena. more..

Last days of the Raj?

Dec 31 (Economist) When he called a presidential election for Jan 8th, two years before he had to, Percy Mahinda Rajapaksa must have been confident of victory. Provincial elections had shown that his once unassailable popularity was waning. But the opposition was fractured, the economy was doing well and incumbency bestows benefits, both legitimate and nefarious. Mr Rajapaksa, who fosters myths that portray him as the reincarnation of a great king more..

Salman's 'campaign' for Rajapaksa 'shameful': CPI

Dec 31 (PTI) CPI today criticised Bollywood actor Salman Khan for reportedly campaigning for Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa, saying it was “shameful” for an Indian artiste to do so. “Artistes are known to stand in the frontline for protection of human rights. But it is very serious and shameful for an Indian artiste to campaign for someone who has been accused of genocide. It is shameful for the artiste to stoop to that level,” party National Secretary D Raja said here. more..

Sri Lankan Star urges Salman Khan to stay away from country's politics

Dec 31 (PTI) Sri Lankan actor-turned politician Ranjan Ramanayake today asked Bollywood star Salman Khan to stay away from the country's politics, a day after he campaigned for the incumbent President Rajapaksa. The Sri Lankan movie idol, who is also an opposition parliamentarian, advised the Indian actor not to "sell" himself to "the corrupt politicians" and appealed him to go back to India. "You are very popular in Sri Lanka and I am a fan of you. more..

BBS says TNA joined Maithri to spread extremism

Dec 31 (DM) BBS organisation charged that the TNA was supporting the common opposition because they want to accomplish their aim of spreading Tamil extremism again in the country. They said that Western Embassies had made some promises to the TNA and with that help the TNA could help spread Tamil extremism again under the common candidate’s govt. BBS General Secretary Ven. Galagodaaththe Gnanasara Thera said that by influencing Sri Lanka these more..

Editorial: Fancy a cuppa?

Dec 31 (Island) Elections are a Dickensian paradox in this country. They are the best of times and they are the worst of times. It is only during elections that thieves who help themselves to public funds fall out and rat on one another. Hapless voters also get some relief in the form of price and tariff reductions in view of electoral contests; they receive handouts when the wealthy dregs in politics open their political hope chests full of slush funds to garner votes. more..

Presidential election 2015 and the Tamil voter

Dec 31 (Island) What is striking about the 2015 elections? It is the upsurge in the call for democracy and the call to put an end to aggression, arbitrary actions. Significantly, it has opened up spaces for the minority community, the minority voter, to once again find a voice within the politics of the state. My writing here concerns largely Tamil politics, political leadership and the north and east Tamil voter, particularly of the north. In this, I wish to state at the outset, more..

Worries over rise in foreign debt

Dec 31 (CT) The Govt of Sri Lanka (GoSL) may be exposing its vulnerability to external shocks in the backdrop of the rapid rise of its external debt profile, market sources said. As per the latest data released by Central Bank on Friday, it showed that external debt in the nine month period from last year end to end September of this year increased by Rs 222.5 billion (7.5%) to Rs 3182.9 billion, constituting 43.2% of GoSL's total debt profile. more..

‘Local SMIs need tie-ups with important overseas markets’

Dec 31 (Island) If we tie up with important export markets such as China, India, the USA and Europe in a way that our Small and Medium Industries (SMIs) get to manufacture products required by them according to given specifications, with an understanding to buy those products from us, our SMIs will be able to substantially contribute to a manufacture-led economy, Mohideen Cader, President, Sri Lanka Chamber of Small and Medium Industries told The Island. more..

Sri Lankan students win Gold at APICTA 2014

Dec 31 (CT) Two students from Ananda College Colombo have brought glory and fame to Sri Lanka by winning the most coveted Gold award at the Asia Pacific ICT Alliance (APICTA) awards held in Jakarta, Indonesia recently. Pasindu Wijesena and Charith Wickramasinghe, the winners of the Young Computer Scientist (YCS) competition organized by the Federation of IT Industry, Sri Lanka in association with Ministry of Education, who were nominated to participate in the APICTA competition, more..

UNP took our idiot says Mahinda

Dec 31 (CG) President Rajapaksa says the UNP took an idiot to contest on behalf of the opposition at the Presidential election next month. Speaking at an election campaign rall, he said that the UNP is not contesting the election this year the same way it supported former Army Commander Sarath Fonseka for President in 2010. “The UNP shivers when an election comes and my name is mentioned and so they look for someone and our idiot got caught,” more..

Attack on artistes assailants absconding

Dec 31 (Island) North Western provincial councillor Kamal Indika and his driver who are alleged to have masterminded the attack on young artistes at Kumbukgete in the Gokarella police area on Monday afternoon were at large until this edition went to press. OIC of the Gokarella Police station, Chief Inspector Palitha Dias said that the suspects had fled the area. Artistes, Samanali Fonseka and Lakshman Wijesekara, who sustained injuries are being treated in hospital. more..

Elections Commissioner to cancel ballots if voters are intimidated

Dec 31 (FT) Polls Chief Mahinda Deshapriya has warned that any attempt to intimidate or chase away voters or threaten polling officials will result in the cancellation of ballots in the affected polling booth. Addressing a press briefing yesterday, the Polls Chief said that he would recall elections if there were any incidents at polling booths on Election Day. Deshapriya said his department had made arrangements to assist voters affected by the recent floods. more..

Sri Lanka still in search of a comprehensive disaster management plan

Dec 31 (IPS) About six months after a massive tsunami slammed the island nation of Sri Lanka on Dec. 26, 2004, large plumes of smoke could be frequently seen snaking skywards from the beach near the village of Sainathimaruthu, just east of Kalmunai town, about 300 km from the capital, Colombo. A petrified population had devised a makeshift early-warning system that would alert their fellow villagers of any incoming tsunami more..

Sri Lanka coroners back Rajapakse

Dec 31 (EN) President Rajapakse has received strong support from inquirers into sudden deaths. They hold honorary appointments, but are not expected to engage in politics. However, in an unusual open verdict, the Association of Inquirers into Sudden Deaths supported President Rajapakse at the January 8 vote. The coroners accuse the opposition of trying to betray the country even though the common opposition candidate Maithripala Sirisena has promised to restore rule of law more..

Korea grants USD 78.6 mn in concessional loans

Dec 31 (Island) Republic of Korea agreed to provide two concessional loans for Rs. 10,230 million to improve water supply facilities in the Kurunegala and Kegalle districts in line with the govt’s target of providing safe drinking water for all citizens. The rapid spread of chronic kidney disease has become a burning issue in Sri Lanka. Mahawa and Polpithigama divisions in the Kurunegala District have been identified as areas affected by the chronic kidney disease more..

UPFA criticizes UN chief for ‘wrongful inferences’

Dec 31 (AD) UPFA today harshly criticized the UN Secretary-General Ban-Ki-moon for his call to the Mahinda Rajapaksa-led govt to ensure “peaceful and credible conduct” of the Jan 8 presidential election. “UPFA expresses strong resentment over the recent statement made by United Nations Secretary-General Ban-Ki-moon conveying his “strong expectation” that the Government of Sri Lanka will ensure “the peaceful and credible conduct” more..

Wayamba PC member surrenders to police over Kumbukgate incident

Dec 31 (AD) Wayamba PC Member Kamal Indika has surrendered to police over the alleged assault on a group of artists in Kumbukgate on Dec 29, DIG Kurunegala District Anura Sarath Kumara said. A group of mostly young Sri Lankan artists, who backs Common Candidate Maithripala Sirisena, were attacked by an angry mob allegedly led by the Provincial Councillor in Kumbukgeta, Kurunegala, on 29 Dec. The said group of artists was engaged in a campaign to educate the masses when more..

Election Commissioner blasts candidates on contracts

Dec 31 (Island) Elections Commissioner Mahinda Deshapriya yesterday tore into presidential candidates who pledged their support to other candidates during the propaganda campaign for wasting public funds. He said that there were 19 candidates including two independents who had handed over nominations for the January 08 polls, but no one had informed him that they would pull out of the race after pledging their support to other candidates at election meetings. more..

'Salman gets Rs.700 million for amusement'

Dec 31 (DM) President Rajapaksa has roped in Salman Khan and indulges in a spree of merry making in the hope of gaining power, Presidential candidate Maithripala Sirisena said in an election meeting. “Instead of inviting Salman Khan spending Rs. 700 million, for a political carnival, I advise the President to desist engaging in cheap politics and to spend that huge sum of money on thousands of desperate people who are affected by the floods,” he said. more..

Ananthi Sasitharan decides to boycott presidential election

Dec 31 (AM) TNA NPC Member Ananthi Sasitharan has said that she will be boycotting the presidential election, despite the decision by her party to support the common opposition candidate Maithripala Sirisena. She has pointed out that the TNA election manifesto for the last Northern Provincial Election was clear on its stance on the Tamil identity and the autonomous rights. Therefore she has said that she cannot support a candidate who is against these policies. more..

Lankan caught in India with gold

Dec 31 (CG) Customs officials arrested a Sri Lankan Tamil in connection with the smuggling of three kg of gold from the island nation and seized two gold bars weighing 694 gm from him. With this development, all three persons involved in the case have been arrested and the entire consignment was seized. Two days after arresting Dhanushkodi-based fishermen, Denison (38) and Murugavel (26), and seizing from them nine unmarked gold bars weighing 2.3 kg, more..

'Maithri's campaign in North hindered'

Dec 31 (CT) Polls monitors have raised issues with regard to alleged obstacles placed by the govt to deny common candidate Maithripala Sirisena to campaign freely, waste of public funds to invite foreign film stars to sway voters and the assault on artistes campaigning for Sirisena. CMEV, an NGO alleged on Monday, Sirisena's proposed travel to the North had been hindered as the government had not allowed the helicopter he was travelling in to land, coupled with more..

Patriotism and national pride redefined

Dec 31 (DM) Many Sri Lankan politicians seem to suffer from a conspiracy phobia and view everything against them or not in line with their thinking as a conspiracy. This malady surfaces especially during elections. Before former Health Minister and SLFP General Secretary Maithripala Sirisena joined the Opposition to contest the presidential election it was highly rumoured that UNP Leader Ranil Wickremesinghe would be the Opposition’s choice for the presidential race and more..

Last throes of a corrupt regime…

Dec 31 (DM) One more week for the Presidential Elections. The people of Sri Lanka are being asked to make a decision and it’s going to be the most crucial political judgment they have been challenged to make. Bewildered by the unprecedented crossovers from both sides, the voters are still meandering between this valley and other peaks, wondering whether the incumbent is really serious about restoring the fast-disappearing socio-cultural values. While the leaders are pontificating from more..

'We don’t have horses or Lamborghinis'

Dec 31 (DM) Namal Rajapaksa, the son of President Mahinda Rajapaksa and Hambanthota District parliamentarian, in a candid interview with the Dailymirror responded to allegations against him, the state of the country, broken promises and the way forward. Q: This has been one of the shortest election campaigns this country has witnessed. This is an election in which the campaign lasts for only 3 or 4 weeks, and I think we have done very well. more..

National issue: TNA won’t accept backdoor deal

Dec 31 (Island) The TNA warned the govt against making what it called clandestine efforts to settle the national question. Having declared its intention to thwart incumbent President Rajapaksa securing a third term at January 8, 2015 poll, TNA chief R. Sampanthan, MP, didn’t mince his words when he declared: "The national question cannot be resolved through a backdoor deal. Such an agreement is not possible. more..

Police attack on HNDA students

Dec 31 (SL) Students undertaking the Higher National Diploma in Accountancy (HNDA) who were staging a protest in front of the UGC came under police attack last week. Many including FUTA condemned the way state police forces acted to disperse the students. The students claimed that the HNDA which started in 1943 has been the first and only higher national professional diploma in accountancy in Sri Lanka and about two decades back more..

Solangaarachchi seeks court intervention over attempted arrest

Dec 31 (AM) Former Chairman of Kotikawatte-Mulleriyawa Pradeshiya Sabha Prasanna Solangaarachchi today filed an anticipatory bail application before Colombo Chief Magistrate’s Court to pre-empt the possibility of his arrest over charges levelled by Colombo Crimes Division (CCD) over possession of a weapon. In his petition, Solangaarachchi cited the OIC of the CCD as therespondent. Accordingly, the OIC of the CCD was ordered to more..

Election blackmail at CEB?

Dec 31 (Island) Nearly 10,000 employees representing JVP and UNP trade unions of the CEB vowed to stage a walk-out unless they got a 45% pay hike and Rs. 13,800 allowance by Jan. 2015. JVP backed Lanka Viduli Sevaka Sangamaya (LVSS) and Jathika Sevaka Sangamya (JSS) said that CEB Board of Management had failed to respond to their demand. LVSS General Secretary, Ranjan Jayalal said that they had given the Jan. 1 ultimatum and more..

Sri Lanka's tense presidential race deepens ethic divides

Dec 31 (Xinhua) Deputy Minister Faizer Mustapha quit the govt on Monday and pledged to support the opposition candidate in one of the tightest presidential races in the island's history. The deputy minister announced his support for Opposition candidate Maithripala Sirisena. He also resigned from SLFP headed by incumbent President Mahinda Rajapaksa. "I have made this decision for the sake of a united country," Mustapha told more..

Anandasangaree hits out at TNA

Dec 31 (CG) The Secretary General of the TULF V Anandasangaree has hit out at the TNA for publicly calling on the Tamils to vote for common opposition Presidential candidate Maithripala Sirisena. He said that the public announcement by the TNA could have consequences and in his opinion the TNA should have allowed the Tamils to make their own choice. “The TNA had taken three weeks from the day of nomination, to announce the name of the candidate of their choice. more..

Video: Kelaniya University survey predicts win for MR

Dec 31 (DM) A survey carried out by the Kelaniya University today predicted 53% of the votes for President Mahinda Rajapaksa and 44% for Common Opposition Candidate Maithripala Sirisena at the January 8 presidential election with a five per cent margin of error. Kelaniya University Mass Communication Department Head Professor Rohan Lakshman Priyadasa said they had conducted the survey in two stages. more..

Colombo University Survey predicts Maithri victory

Dec 31 (DM) A Colombo University survey has found that common opposition candidate Maithripala Sirisena was ahead in the polls with 53% of the votes. According to the survey report released on December 27, the assessment was made by taking into consideration the Sinhalese voter base while predicting that the Muslim and Tamil votes would be equally divided between the candidates. more..

Jacqueline backs Salman’s visit

Dec 31 (CG) Bollywood actress and former Miss Sri Lanka Jacqueline Fernandez has defended the visit to Sri Lanka by actor Salman Khan after he was accused of using the visit to win support for President Mahinda Rajapaksa at the Presidential election next month. Jacqueline said that it was she who insisted that Salman extend the efforts of his Being Human charity to parts of her home country too, the Times of India reported. more..

How efficacious is the proposed drugs policy?

Dec 31 (CT) Minister, Nimal Siripala de Silva, probably as a polls gimmick, is reported to have had said that 95% of the govt's proposed drug policy that has been in the drawing boards for years, is now complete and that it would be enacted by the incumbent regime. His statement was based on the assumption that President Rajapaksa would be elected for a third time at the forthcoming presidential poll, scheduled to be held in under 10 days time, that is, on 8 January. more..

The Battle Lines

Dec 31 (CT) It may not measure up to any ideal. But given the Lankan condition, it may be the only possible alliance of moderates. A key problem with the Common Opposition was that, for a while, it looked too much like the common Southern opposition. True, most of the minorities, alienated by Rajapaksa extremism, were likely to vote for Maithripala Sirisena. But at the party-level, there were no minority stakeholders with sufficient gravitas in the opposition camp. more..

Supporters of Dayasiri, Johnston crossover

Dec 31 (DM) A total of 21 Pradeshiya Sabha members and organisers, who supported UNP defectors Dayasiri Jayasekara and Johnston Fernando today pledged to support Maithripala Sirisena together with three other SLFP PS members. The 21 PS members from the North Western Province said they made a unanimous decision to support the common candidate as they wanted to change the dictatorial govt. The supporters also said they were holding discussions more..

Sri Lankan stocks pushed up on low volumes

Dec 31 (EN) Sri Lankan stocks closed the year marginally higher Wednesday with index heavyweights pushed up on small transactions in dull trade as investors stayed away because of year-end holidays and uncertainties ahead of the presidential poll. The All Share Price Index rose 7.62 points (0.1%) to 7,298.95 while the S&P SL20 index, which tracks the top 20 largest and most liquid stocks on the Colombo Stock Exchange, ended up 2.54 points (0.06%) at 4,089.14. more..