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Education Minister debunks Colombo school myth

Jan 7 (SO) Education Minister Bandula Gunawardena denied allegations that there was a move by the Education Ministry to scrap the Grade 5 scholarship exam. He said the move was to simplify the exam and recommendations were made after a thorough evaluation of opinions expressed by reputed medical consultants, child experts and other officials. Sunday Observer met Minister on the controversial issue more..

David Cameron and Jayalalitha, or Mahinda Rajapaksa?

Jan 7 (CT) There are two main positions with regard to the international campaign against the Sri Lankan state of which the current spearhead is the upcoming session of the UNHRC in Geneva. I hasten to add that I regard it as a campaign against the state because the main charges are not on issues of human rights and domestic governance but on precisely the ‘last stages’ of the (popular) war which liberated Sri Lanka from terrorism and reunified its territory as a state; a country. more..

View from Ritigala - by mahasona

Jan 7 (NS) The Chairman of the Damana Pradeshiya is reported to have fainted when the annual budget was defeated. Now if defeat of a mere budget and that of a mere local govt authority warrants fainting, what kind of collapse must we expect from the Grandmaster of Defeat, Mr. Ranil Wickremesinghe? The man has not flinched. Respect! Perhaps defeat after defeat after defeat can nurture defeatism, but lack of self-confidence? We had Ravi Karunanayake saying more..

'Keep politics out of rugby'

Jan 7 (CT) UPFA maember of the North Western Provincial Council (NWPC) Johann Fernando say that Sri Lanka players are seriously lacking in sports nutrition and conditioning aspect in an effort to become the perfect rugby playing machine. However, Fernando - the former S. Thomas’ College rugby captain turned politician in an interview expressed optimism of Sri Lanka rugby reaching the next level. more..

Duty cast on us to ‘respect’ our systems first

Jan 7 (ST) President Rajapaksa’s admonition during the 2013 CHOGM meet, aimed primarily at United Kingdom PM David Cameron, that other countries should ‘respect Sri Lanka’s systems’ raises several interesting questions. Do Sri Lankan politicians respect Sri Lanka’s systems? Indeed, does the common man or woman demonstrate such respect? Fundamentally, what is meant by our ‘systems’ in the context of the Rajapaksa administration post 2009? more..

MR, Wignes must orchestrate peace waltz

Jan 7 (ST) The life of Nelson Mandela demonstrated, as did the life of Mohandas Gandhi illustrate, that a people’s legitimate aspirations cannot be snuffed out but will triumph in the end. A people’s spirit that finds incarnation in a determined soul to give it life, flesh and blood cannot be extinguished. It cannot be incarcerated. It cannot be stifled or stilled. It cannot be killed. The use of raw force can overpower it. Military might can flay it. The entire state apparatus of more..

Mahela under microscope after horror Test

Jan 7 (CI) Out three times off the last three balls he has faced, all to a 22-year-old on debut. It can't feel great to be Mahela Jayawardene right now. Given he became a father only a month ago, perhaps there is only so low Jayawardene can feel. To his credit, cricket has never consumed him to the extent it defines so many other players. But it is the kind of Test match a 36-year-old really does not want to have, not even if he owns more than more..

Editorial: A pie in the sky

Jan 7 (Island) India has reportedly called upon its fishers and their Sri Lankan counterparts, scheduled to meet in Chennai on Jan. 20, to participate in talks with all seriousness and resolve the contentious issue of poaching. Indian Minister P. Chidambaram is sanguine about a solution being evolved if there is goodwill on both sides. He has also faulted the TN govt for not cooperating and causing delays in finalising talks. One should not be so naďve as to expect its cooperation to solve the problem. more..

Facing the challenge of single-issue international agenda

Jan 7 (Island) Stephen J. Rapp, Ambassador-at-Large of the Office of Global Criminal Justice of the United States will be in Sri Lanka this week. He will be meeting with political leaders and also with other influential opinion formers to ascertain the situation in the country relevant to his interests and to make known his own views. His visit will be followed shortly thereafter by Assistant Secretary for South and Central Asian Affairs of the US govt, Nisha Desai Biswal. more..

Bouquets and brickbats for CB’s 2014 Road Map

Jan 7 (FT) The Central Bank’s Road Map for 2014 yesterday received both bouquets and brickbats at a top level discussion hosted by the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce and the Daily FT, involving Governor Nivard Cabraal and private sector experts. Business leaders and an economist noted that while the Road Map outlined the way forward for Sri Lanka’s march, there were a few crinkles that needed to be ironed out first. more..

Youngsters step up for the challenge

Jan 7 (Island) Sri Lanka were down and out in the first two days of the Abu Dhabi Test against Pakistan and in the next two days fought back admirably and earned a draw. What was more satisfying was that it was Sri Lanka’s young brigade that stood up for the challenge. Here is confirmation that the future, at least with regard to batting, isn’t bleak. The New Year Test in Sydney in 2013 was the first occasion in a long time that we saw some of the younger players rising to the challenge. more..

Brandix & HSBC build water supply schemes

Jan 7 (Island) More than 800 families in two villages on the outskirts of Pooneryn, a township on the northern coast below the Jaffna peninsula, have been provided with life-sustaining year-round water supply through an initiative by Brandix and HSBC. The first of the two-phase initiative consisted of building two solar-powered water supply systems for the villages of Pallikudah and Neplow, situated five and three kilometres respectively from Pooneryn, an area that suffers from severe shortages of more..

Students forced to stand out in the rain

Jan 7 (CT) Students of Ibbagamuwa Central College were made to listen to a speech by Minister Bandula Gunawardena, whilst standing outdoors during heavy rain. The students were subjected to this predicament during the inauguration of the National Physical Wellness Programme, which was held at Central College, Ibbagamuwa. Students of many surrounding schools including Gokarella Central College, more..

SriLankan Airlines to borrow $250 mln

Jan 7 (ST) National carrier, SriLankan Airlines is gearing to borrow US$250 million overseas in an effort to raise capital, officials said. “We raised $150 million with Mashreq Bank in 2012 and we want to raise another $200 to $250 million this year,” Kapila Chandrasena, CEO SriLankan Airlines said. He said this has been discussed with major international investment institutions over the past two months. He added that this year the national carrier wants to raise debt to further capitalize more..

COMBank ATMs set new record by dispensing Rs. 29.8 b in December

Jan 7 (FT) The ATMs of the Commercial Bank of Ceylon dispensed Rs. 29.8 billion in Dec 2013, establishing a new record for cash dispensed electronically in a single month. The 585-terminal ATM network, the largest owned by a single bank in Sri Lanka, processed a record 6.4 million transactions during the month at an average of more than 206,000 transactions per day (or 143 per minute), reaffirming the role it plays in the day-to-day lives of millions of Sri Lankans. more..

Maithri wants time to endorse UNP convention resolutions

Jan 7 (Island) Leading member of the UNP rebel group Maithri Gunaratne has requested the Leadership Council (LC) for time to consider whether or not he is willing to accept the main resolutions adopted at the party convention held last month. Spokesperson for the LC, Kabir Hashim said that the LC at its first meeting for this year held at Sirikotha yesterday discussed several matters including reorganization and strategies more..

Demo over murder of Homagama Telecom Branch Superintendent

Jan 7 (DN) Residents of Ingiriya-Handapangoda area including bhikkhus participated in a protest at the Ingiriya, Kirigala junction on Saturday, requesting the authorities to arrest the suspects responsible for the murder of the Superintendent of the Homagama Telecom Branch. He was killed in Ingiriya, Handapangoda on January 1. The residents numbering nearly 1,000 blocked the Ingiriya-Colombo main road for about two and half hours causing a traffic jam. more..

DMC & Army attempting to douse fire in Muthurajawela Forest

Jan 7 (CT) A fire that erupted in the Muthurajawela forest reserve this morning is still raging and spreading further into the forest area, the Disaster Management Centre said. DMC said that the fire had erupted around 11 this morning, while the cause for the fire has not been identified as yet. Officials attached to the DMC, Police and Army personnel are currently engaged in activities to douse the fire. DMC further said that the fire has not been contained as yet; more..

'Fully fledged Sports Complex at Panagoda'

Jan 7 (Island) Sri Lanka Army is one of the leading institutions that contributes to the country’s sports by nurturing sportsmen and women and providing other services. While its sportsmen engage in almost all competitive sports, athletics is undoubtedly the leading sport it takes part in. The Army nurtured Duncan White and Susanthika Jayasinghe, most successful (Olympic medalists) athletes the country ever produced, more..

The Bandula/Udaya debate at 10 tonight

Jan 7 (CT) The much publicized debate between Education Minister, Bandula Gunawardana, and JHU Legal Adviser and Western Province Minister of Agriculture, Udaya Gammanpila, on the Grade 5 Scholarship examination, will be held today. The debate is scheduled to be aired on Swarnavahini from 10.00 p.m. onwards. Education Minister Gunawardana had challenged WPC Minister, Udaya Gammanpila, to a public debate on the pros and cons of the Grade 5 Scholarship exam. more..

'We voted for you, now you are playing double games with us'

Jan 7 (LT) Don’t we have freedom even after our deaths? We voted for you and now you are playing double games with us” These words were said to Deputy Speaker Chandima Weerakkody when people in Kanda area at Ahangama in Galle District engaged in a campaign to protest against attempts to take by force a 100 year old cemetery by a petrol shed owner. JVP SPC member Nalin Hewage and UPFA Councilor Ajith Prasanna had arrived at the scene on invitation from the agitators. more..

Brokers seek permission to close shop temporarily

Jan 7 (DM) Several struggling stock brokers have written to the Colombo Stock Exchange (CSE) requesting permission to temporarily halt their operations mainly due to low activity levels in the bourse. This was confirmed by SEC Chairman Dr. Nalaka Godahewa during an inquiry. “There is a proposal by several brokers requesting temporary deactivation of their operations. The CSE has forwarded it to us and we are considering it. more..

Whatmore rues Pakistan's complacency

Jan 7 (CI) Dav Whatmore, on his final assignment as Pakistan's head coach, picked out complacency on the part of his side as one of the main reasons for the first Test against Sri Lanka ending in a tame draw. Pakistan had dominated the first three days of the Test in nearly all departments, but their bowlers were unable to close out Sri Lanka in the second innings. Angelo Mathews struck a career-best 157 not out to help his side draw the game. "It wasn't the batting collapse [of the lower order in more..

UNP sacks Raththaran

Jan 7 (CT) The UNP Leadership Council, which met at Sirikotha yesterday, has decided to expel Provincial Councillor, Chrishantha Pushpakumara (Raththaran), of the Southern Province, from the Party for joining the government. "We had to do this on disciplinary grounds and appoint the member who has polled the next highest number of votes," UNP Leadership Council Spokesman and Kegalle District Parliamentarian Kabir Hashim told Ceylon Today last night. more..

'No letup in abuse of domestic workers'

Jan 7 (AN) Around three complaints are filed daily by Sri Lankan domestic workers against their Saudi sponsors, according to a statement issued by the Sri Lankan Consulate. M.B.M. Zarook, consul for labor affairs, said the complaints are mostly regarding lack of salary payments, the renewal of the domestic workers’ contracts without their consent and some instances of beatings and physical abuse. more..

Foreigner found dead in hotel pool

Jan 7 (Island) Slave Island police handed over the body of Chan Yee Kong (29) a resident of Malaysia which was found in a swimming pool of a hotel in Colombo to the mortuary of the Colombo National Hospital for the conducting of the post-mortem, yesterday. Police found the body in the swimming pool on the third floor of Hilton Colombo Residence. The deceased had visited Sri Lanka on a short holiday and the cause of death was not known. Slave Island Police is conducting inquiries.

Traders’ meat almost consumers’ poison with 2,000 successful raids

Jan 7 (ST) Two weeks of raids in Colombo and the suburbs targeting adulterated and outdated food items, has culminated in 268 cases filed against errant traders and importers. According to Public Health Inspectors’ (PHI’s) Union Secretary Senerath Bandara, more than 1,068 food categories that had their expiry dates lapsed, or were rotten, and unfit for consumption, had been discovered. “The suspects will be fined under the Food Act, and the stocks destroyed,” he said. more..

JVP to present motion to remove Bribery Chief

Jan 7 (CT) JVP is to present a motion in Parliament, requesting that the Chairman of the Commission to Investigate into Allegations of Bribery or Corruption (CIABOC), be removed from his position. Addressing the media, JVP MP, Vijitha Herath, said they expect CIABOC to act quickly on the complaint lodged by the JVP against its Chief, Jagath Balapatabendi, who is allegedly involved in corruption. more..

Gang that terrorised north busted at last

Jan 7 (Island) Kopai, Chunnakkam and Achchuveli police together busted an underworld gang known as ‘Avaa Group’ that terrorized and extorted money from the people in the North, police said. Police seized hand grenades, swords, knives and seven motor bikes belonging to the extortion gang. The group had engaged in ransom taking, robberies, attacking people and injuring them emulating underworld groups in Tamil films, police said. Seven members of the group had been taken more..

A photography exhibition in Guangzhou

Jan 7 (GDI) “Lanka Impression”, a photography exhibition takes place at Redtory, the premier art space in Guangzhou, China, from December 20, 2013 to February 23, 2014, organized by the Consulate General of Sri Lanka in Guangzhou. The Exhibition is a pictorial depiction of Sri Lanka’s eight UNESCO World Heritage Sites, giving visitors a chance to explore Sri Lanka’s historical and cultural heritage as well as the country’s unique biodiversity. An outstanding collection of photographs by more..

Govt's Mathata Thitha, a cropper

Jan 7 (CT) The govt's much-hyped campaign to abstain from intoxicants (Mathata Thitha) has come a cropper in the light of a startling revelation that the biggest offenders of drugs, in a single segment are school children, both boys and girls. Statistics reveal that in 2008, as many as 8,032 people in Colombo District had been arrested for possessing/using cannabis while 5,843 people had been arrested for possessing heroin. more..

Over 22 skeletal remains found

Jan 7 (CG) Over 22 skeletal remains have been unearthed at the mass grave in Mannar as of today, reports from the area said. Excavation at the grave in Thiruketheeswaram, Mannar continued today from morning to afternoon. Reports said that four human skulls were recovered from the site today during the excavation carried out in the presence of the Mannar Magistrate and other officials. Reporters in the area said that remains of a child were also found at the grave today. more..

More bad weather today

Jan 7 (Island) Meteorology Department yesterday predicted heavy showers accompanied by strong winds in the Northern part of the country today, while thunder showers were predicted for the coastal areas in the southern part due to deep depression around Sri Lanka. Met Department, Duty Meteorologist, K.D. Sujeewa said that the center of the deep depression still persists over Mullativu area and under its influence very strong winds, about 70 kmph and heavy rain fall, more..

President a Star of Palestine

Jan 7 (IL) President Mahinda Rajapaksa who is currently on a tour in the Middle East left Jordan and arrived in Palestine for a two day official visit this morning (6). The Govt of Palestine conferred Sri Lankan President with the “Star of Palestine”, the highest award of the State of Palestine when President Rajapaksa met his Palestine counterpart at the Presidential Palace in the West Bank city of Ramallah. more..

Fate of death row convicts hanging in the air

Jan 7 (DM) The fast by the prisoners condemned to death for various crimes atop the Bogambara prison over the weekend brings forth a long-forgotten or long-ignored issue by the authorities. Their demand was to have the capital punishment imposed on them implemented, to have their sentence commuted or to be released. The essence of their demand was to rid their fate of uncertainty. However, it was certain that they were not really demanding gallows, but exerting pressure more..

The Cabinet and Sri Lankan Tamils

Jan 7 (DM) The executive power exercisable by the Cabinet of Ministers plays an important role in the governance of parliamentary democracy. The executive power under both the Soulbury and 1972 Constitutions was vested with the Cabinet of Ministers headed by the Prime Minister. Under the 1972, the First Republican Constitution, the sovereignty was vested with the People and the same was exercised by the President and Cabinet of Ministers. However, the President under more..

CEB blowing off wind power?

Jan 7 (SL) Although the Mahinda Chinthana policy document has a Non-Conventional Renewable Energy (NCRE) electricity generation target of 20% of total power generation by the year 2020, experts believe that without proper analysis, it will be impossible to attain that target. It is alleged that the CEB is stalling the progress of local developers engaged in renewable power generation, in order to grant opportunity to foreign more..

610 jeeps, 60 trackers – sum of one day’s tragedy for hunted Yala animals

Jan 7 (ST) Despite recording increased tourist traffic through the years Yala National Park still struggles to meet the demand for guides who accompany visitors to the park. During December, a peak period, visitors were allowed to enter the park without a tracker, the only persons authorised to step out of vehicle when inside the park grounds. Park needs at least 200 trackers to meet the demand during the peak periods. more..

Douglas Devananda slams NPC

Jan 7 (DM) EPDP leader Douglas Devananda charged that the Northern Provincial Council had failed to deliver anything to the general public despite high hopes pinned on it by people at the elections. Mr. Devananda refuting the allegation about militarization of the north, called upon all those concerned to follow the example of South Africa’s iconic President Nelson Mandela. Excerpts of an interview with him. more..

'Sri Lanka facing a challenging arena'

Jan 7 (CG) Sri Lanka is facing a challenging global arena in its efforts to advance local interests, the Permanent Mission of Sri Lanka to the United Nations noted. The Deputy Permanent Representative of Sri Lanka to the UN in New York, Major General Shavendra Silva told his staff at the UN to strive to work for the benefit of the country and its people. He said this at a function organised by the Permanent Mission of SL more..