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Cyril Ramaphosa : What’s he doing out here?

July 17 (CT) Not usually, does the second in command of a regional power, flanked by a presidential delegation, fly thousands miles to some embattled small State, disguised as 'tourists' to talk to the adversaries of a protracted domestic problem. However, Cyril Ramaphosa, the Deputy President of South Africa and the ruling African National Congress, pretty much did that-- at least if you are to believe the Sri Lankan govt's initial remarks on the visit by the South African delegation. more..

A simple solution to ease the power crisis

July 17 (CT) With the much hyped Norochcholai Coal Power Plant breaking down for the 26th time, the hapless public pray to rain gods on a regular basis yielding very little results. And with corruption being rife and mismanagement being the order of the day at the Ministry of Power and at CEB, it need not be rocket science to figure out the two options of overcoming the power crisis that threatens our lifestyle and the development of the country. Firstly, power generation has to be increased more..

The fine art of making costumes for Kandy elephants

July 17 (SO) At a national level, we in Sri Lanka entertain a massive collective soft spot for the largest animal on land. Our attitude towards the elephant in general moves along in a fluctuating continuum of love-and-hate. But the national adoration of the elephants associated with the sacred temple rituals has flourished over long centuries, undiminished. The most privileged among the temple elephants are those that figure more..

Mohan Pieris’ Kohila Dhamma and Gnanasara’s Abasarana

July 17 (CT) Kohila Dharmay became famous due to a relationship that he had with a particular magistrate. The magistrate was on such good terms with this man, who acquired the nickname Kohila Dharmay as a youth when he became a convicted criminal, to an extent that when auctions were held on court premises for confiscated goods, Kohila Dharmay would get the best of items for the cheapest price. Unfortunately for the magistrate, this was exposed and the magistrate lost his job. more..

New tax on common commodities axed… partly

July 17 (NS) Following persistent protests from Opposition Lawmaker and economist Dr Harsha de Silva, the Consumer Affairs Authority (CAA) has relaxed its regulation on the ‘safety sticker’ which was supposed to come into effect by August 1. In a startling new gazette notification issued by the CAA, commodities such as soaps, shampoos, toothpaste and even water and frizzy drink bottles were to be required by law to affix a ‘security sticker’ on every product. more..

'I welcome governer Chandrasiri’s reappointment'

July 17 (CT) Minister Douglas Devananda welcomed the South African peace initiative and said sharing the South African experience would definitely help Sri Lanka deal with its problem in a constructive manner. However, he said for any attempt to find a political solution, the TNA must come forward to participate in the Parliamentary Select Committee (PSE) and added that he had even requested South Africa's special envoy, more..

MR plays his trumps against India

July 17 (CT) While Foreign Minister G.L. Peiris was having discussions with Indian Minister of External Affairs, Sushma Swaraj, President Rajapaksa extended the service of NPC Governor Major General G.A. Chandrasiri. It was an unexpected move for the TNA. TNA and its CM C.V. Wigneswaran had been demanding the removal of Chandrasiri from the post of Governor of Northern Province for a long time. Former Congress Govt of India was also in support of this. more..

A new narrative for economic growth

July 17 (NS) From the speech at the Biennial Conference on Science & Technology BICOST at Waters’ Edge, Battaramulla on July 7. Today, we as a nation are going through an era where the debate on national economy has probably assumed unprecedented heights. Yet, it is an irony that no clear dialogue has yet emerged about the future strategic direction of the development of Sri Lanka’s economy. The time has come for us to view the economic future of the country from a more..

Sri Lanka cracks down on asylum seekers

Cinnamon Chain with travel bloggers to iconize ‘Brand Sri Lanka’

July 17 (Island) ‘Brand Sri Lanka’, the familiar fast growing brand to lure tourist traffic, would be further enhanced when the Travel Bloggers’ Conference, expected 14th through 18th Nov, would be launched for the time in the Asian region. Past President Travel Bloggers’ Association, Michael Hodson, said Sri Lanka was unique. Answering a press question, ‘Why would a tourist leave behind half the world to visit Sri Lanka; what would provoke him to come here?’, he said SL was an exceptional more..

Is Islam or Islamophobia the real danger to Sri Lanka?

July 17 (FT) Is the real danger to Sri Lanka the (hypothetical) rise of Islam in Sri Lanka or the (real) rise of an anti-Islamic movement and the ideology of Islamophobia? The Sri Lankan Govt is making a grave strategic error which compounds the potential for separation of the north and east. That error is to permit the BBS, Sinhala Ravaya, JHU et al to alienate the Muslim community from the national mainstream. This may have at least four seriously damaging effects: more..

Electoral stakes and reconciliation non-starters

July 17 (FT) Ten months ago, the Tamil people of the Northern Province who were liberated from the clutches of the LTTE by President Rajapaksa and his security forces went to the polls to elect a provincial govt for the first time in 25 years. During a heated election season, the Govt pledged to continue its ambitious development drive in the region, repeatedly recollected life under the LTTE yoke and issued subtle threats more..

Dr. Chris Nonis meets Jordan’s Prince El Hassan bin Talal

July 17 (FT) Sri Lankan High Commissioner to the UK Dr. Chris Nonis met Prince El Hassan of Jordan during his visit to London. In Jordan, Prince El Hassan established the Royal Scientific Society, the Arab Thought Forum, the Higher Council for Science and Technology, and the Royal Institute for Inter-Faith Studies. He is also Chair of one of the UN Secretary General’s Advisory Boards, and President of the Foundation for Interreligious and Intercultural Research and Dialogue (FIIRD). more..

Law amended to accommodate growing debt: Harsha

July 17 (CT) The government is increasingly transferring its growing debt burden on to banks as it amends legislation to extend by seven more years a 2013 deadline to bringing down the debt to GDP ratio by 60%. According to the Sri Lanka Economic Association, a debt to GDP ratio above 60% would have a negative impact on real economic growth. Last year, the ratio stood at 78.3% and economists have raised several concerns regarding this (see lead story PB excited). more..

Sri Lanka avoid the Sri Lanka treatment

July 17 (CI) All through the noughties, teams touring Sri Lanka all had the same basic experience. The team would arrive on the island and travel to a five-star hotel overlooking some sun-spangled curve of sand, which, over the next couple of days, they might admire with a fruit drink in hand and a sea-breeze in their hair. They might even arrive on the first Test match day with a stomach full of string hoppers and coconut sambol, or more..

Editorial: Polls Chief under fire

July 17 (Island) The UNP has trained its propaganda cannon on the Elections Department. With weeks to go for the Uva PC polls, it has declared that it has no confidence in Election Commissioner Mahinda Deshapriya. The Opposition does not expect the upcoming elections to be free and fair, it has said. Politicians’ claims are not to be taken as gospel. They are adept at making mountains out of molehills and molehills out of mountains depending on their political needs. more..

Opposition mulls legal action over Uva seat redistribution

July 17 (FT) Opposition parties are contemplating legal action over a decision by the Elections Commission to redistribute seats in the two districts of the Uva Province ahead of elections in the region over the next six weeks. Elections Commissioner Mahinda Deshapriya announced yesterday that the number of seats in the Badulla District have been reduced from 21 to 18, while the seats in the Monaragala District have been increased from 11 to 14. UNP MP Eran Wickramaratne charged more..

Harsha exposes failings of Mahinda Darshanaya

July 17 (FT) UNP MP Dr. Harsha de Silva fired fresh salvo on the Govt over claims of reducing the country’s indebtedness saying this wasn’t factual and it was the Ranil Wickramasighe “Darshanaya” in 2001 that the Fiscal Management Responsibility Act was implemented. “Although Minister S.B Dissanayake has said that bringing debt to GDP ratio down up to 65%, was ‘Mahinda Darshanaya’ the truth is that was more..

COMBank to buy Indra Finance for Rs. 870 m

July 17 (FT) Commercial Bank disclosed that it intends to fully acquire the unlisted Indra Finance, for Rs. 870 million. The deal is subject to relevant statutory and regulatory approvals and COMBank being satisfied of the financials submitted by Indra Finance, which is a subsidiary of motor trade fame Indra Traders. Commercial Bank said in the meantime it is carrying out a due diligence of Indra Finance. The acquisition complies with the consolidation road map of the Central Bank. more..

'Take steps to ensure BASL Chief’s security'

July 17 (FT) UNP Leadership Council Chairman Karu Jayasuriya has expressed concern over th attempt to intimidate Bar Association President and top lawyer Upul Jayasuriya on Tuesday, and called on the Government to ensure his security and conduct impartial inquiries into the incident. Attorney Jayasuriya made a Police complaint on Tuesday saying he had been followed by two men on a motorbike for several hours and expressed fears for his safety. Issuing a media release, more..

PB excited

July 17 (CT) Treasury Secretary Dr. P.B. Jayasundera says the upcoming budget for 2015 would be very exciting for him. Dr. Jayasundera while addressing several IT/BPM industry representatives recently said, President Rajapaksa's tenure as the Finance Minister emphasized the credibility of budgets he has presented for nine consecutive years. The govt has made commendable progress in trying to stick to fiscal targets, but more..

Police nab two burglars with gold

July 17 (Island) Policemen patrolling Periya Arkadi Road in Chavakachcheri yesterday nabbed two members of a robber gang with one million rupees worth of jewellery robbed from a businessman’s house. The four-member gang had burgled the house of the businessman, who owned a hardware shop while he was away at his business place. They had removed a door to enter the house on Periya Arkadi Road and while they were busy burgling the place, businessman had returned home more..

South Africa look to break 21-year jinx

July 17 (CI) 21: Number of years since South Africa have won a Test series in Sri Lanka. They had achieved it on their first tour there in 1993, when the hosts were beaten 1-0. In their three subsequent tours, they only managed to win one Test, losing two series and drawing one. 53.34: Bowling average of South African spinners in Sri Lanka, the only country in which they average over 50. Their economy rate of 3.36 in Sri Lanka is also their worst in any country. more..

‘There is a need to redefine diplomacy’

July 17 (Hindu) When Sri Lankan archaeologist Sudharshan Seneviratne drove down to Chanakyapuri on a hot day recently, memories of his Delhi days came back gushing. From being a student in the city in the 1970s to returning now as the highest representative of his country, life has come a full circle, says Sri Lanka’s High Commissioner to India who, as a student, spent a decade in India, studying in New Delhi and more..

Who is responsible for the missing of the white cobra?

July 17 (CT) Five workers in Dehiwala zoo have been questioned regarding the missing cobra from the zoo. The box where the white cobra was kept has been unlocked using the right key and it has been locked as before after taking the cobra. According to sources it is difficult for an outsider to enter to the chamber where the cobra was placed and find the right key and unlock the box. Reportedly a worker of the zoo had mentioned about a foreigner looking for a white cobra for Rs. 200,000.

President declares open medical reference laboratory

July 17 (MoD) President Rajapaksa declared open the Sri Lanka's first ever medical reference laboratory Lanka Hospitals Diagnostics at a function held in LHD Colombo yesterday (16). The mastermind of the project and the chairman of the hospital, Secretary Defence Gotabaya Rajapaksa was also present among the distinguished invitees during the opening ceremony. The new medical reference laboratory Lanka Hospitals Diagnostics, a subsidiary of Lanka Hospitals, fulfils more..

Online sex offenders identified

July 17 (DM) The National Child Protection Authority (NCPA) said today its Cyber Watch Unit had identified nearly 30 sex offenders and 300 potential sex offenders who had allegedly lured children and youth through social media network sites. NCPA Chairman Anoma Dissanayake told a media briefing today that the Cyber Watch Unit had arrested seven people on charges of perpetrating crimes against children and more..

Uva PC composition: ‘No gerrymandering’

July 17 (DN) The composition of a Provincial Council is clearly mentioned in the Provincial Councils Act (No 2 of 1988) and the Govt cannot go beyond the Provincial Council Elections Act, the United Peoples Freedom Alliance observed yesterday refuting allegations that the Government was planning to change the composition of the Uva Provincial Council. Hence, the Elections Commissioner’s decision was the final and critical decision and it cannot be questioned in any court. more..

Accelerated programme to supply drinking water to drought hit people in Polonnaruwa

July 17 (GDI) Polonnaruwa District Secretary Nimal Abeysiri said that an accelerated programme had been launched to supply drinking water and to provide relief to the people affected by the drought situation prevailing in the district. The District Secretary said so while addressing the Polonnaruwa District Agriculture Committee meeting held at the District Secretariat on Tuesday. He said that 266 projects have been ear-marked to renovate agricultural canals and anicuts with more..

Asylum seekers held behind locked doors at sea, denied proper legal help: claim

July 17 (Age) More than 150 asylum seekers whose boat was intercepted near Christmas Island more than two weeks ago are being held behind locked doors on a customs ship in rooms without windows on the high seas, with no clue to where they are or where the Abbott govt plans to take them. A document lodged with the High Court on Wednesday provides the first news of the asylum seekers, who set off for Australia from India more..

Dutch assistance to boost SL economy

July 17 (GDI) Netherlands plans to provide Sri Lanka with technical and specialist knowledge according to Netherlands Vice Minister of Foreign Trade Simon Smits. He said this when he met Minister Basil Rajapaksa on June 15. At this meeting a MoU was signed in assisting Sri Lanka to construct 467 rural bridges under the programme of building 1,210 rural bridges island-wide to strengthen the rural economy by reducing the gap between the village and town. more..

Dambadiva pilgrimage racketeer at large

July 17 (DM) The Police Special Investigations Unit had begun an investigation to arrest a racketeer involved in cheating devotees who were expecting to go on pilgrimage to Dambadiwa after promising them to arrange concessionary prices for their tours through MP Namal Rajapaksa. The complainant a resident of Polonnaruwa in his complaint to the Police Special Investigations Unit had said his sister and three other relatives had been cheated of Rs.180, 000 by the suspect who posed as more..

Sri Lanka urges U.S. to reduce human rights focus as China gains

July 17 (BN) Sri Lanka is urging the U.S. to avoid letting human rights concerns dominate the relationship between the countries five years after the end of a civil war that killed as many as 40,000 civilians. Reconciliation in Sri Lanka is occurring at a “rapid pace” and the govt is focused on strengthening its economy, Sajin de Vass Gunawardena, a lawmaker and coordinating secretary to President Rajapaksa, said more..

Attacks on Muslims in Asian states denounced

July 17 (AN) The attack on Muslims in Sri Lanka, China and Myanmar by extremist Buddhists and religious fanatics backed by govts is a matter of “serious concern” for the Muslim world and international community, said Saleh Al-Wohaibi, chief of the Riyadh-based World Assembly of Muslim Youth (WAMY). He voiced deep concern over the systematic persecution of innocent Muslim minorities in these three countries. “The Muslim communities in China, SL and Myanmar more..

Khuram Shaikh murder trial verdict to be announced this week

July 17 (RO) A Sri Lankan court is set to deliver its verdict on the murder trial of Rochdale Red Cross worker Khuram Shaikh this Friday. The trial at the High Court in Colombo represents years of campaigning after Khuram Shaikh was murdered in December 2011 and his partner brutally assaulted while they were on holiday at the tourist resort of Tangalle. Rochdale MP Simon Danczuk has visited Sri Lanka on a number of occasions to press ministers to speed up the legal process and more..

Nine kilos of heroin recovered; eight arrested in Borella

July 17 (Island) Acting on information elicited from suspects caught with small amounts of heroin, Borella police have arrested eight suspects including two women with nine kilos of heroin with a street value of Rs. 63 million at Wanathamulla. The heroin detected by a six-member police team led by OIC, Sarath Premachandra is the biggest drug haul taken into custody by the police in recent times. more..

A bold and essential move by BRICS

July 17 (DM) The BRICS nations -- Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa -- yesterday announced the creation of a US$100 billion bank and an emergency reserve fund. The BRICS bank and the reserve fund would be major competitors for the World Bank Group and the IMF as they have been structured to mirror the functions of the two global lenders. Emerging economies have always complained about Western bias of these institutions, which were controlled and funded by more..

'Only Jayasuriya opposes my entry into politics'

July 17 (DM) In a recent interview, popular cricketing personality and Matara SLFP organiser Sanath Jayasuriya expressed his views regarding Minster Mervyn Silva’s son Malaka’s decision to make his political debut from the Matara district. The following is Malaka Silva’s reply to some of the comments made by Mr. Jayasuirya. Q: You are hoping to enter the political arena from the Matara district. What are the latest developments with regard to that decision? A: Well, I can say I am receiving a more..

Elephant conservation challenges in SL

July 17 (NG) Shermin de Silva, 33, is president of the Asian elephant conservation organization Trunks & Leaves. A post-doctoral student at Colorado State University, de Silva was born and raised in Sri Lanka and has returned regularly to Udawalawe National Park since 2005 to study its elephants, which she believes number some 1,200. Conservationists estimate that Sri Lanka is home to between 2,000 and more..

Football controversy takes a heated turn: FFSL chief receives death threats

July 17 (AM) Giving a new twist to the power struggle in the country’s football administration, President of the Football Federation of Sri Lanka Ranjith Rodrigo has lodged a complaint with the DIG of Colombo that he has received death threats. Rogrido had said those who were involved in financial misappropriations in the football Federation of Sri Lanka should be held responsible for death threats. FFSL Chief has told the DIG more..