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Lobby Correspondence in Sri Lanka - It’s been a long trek

July 27 (NS) Lobby correspondence is considered one of the mainstream beats of journalism in countries where parliamentary democracy prevails. The term lobby correspondent is originally British and BBC describes it as the name given to a member of small group of journalists who enjoyed privileged access to certain parts of parliament. Though reporting on legislature seemed to be a tradition that we inherited from British along with Westminster system of governance, more..

Views expressed on the SC verdict

July 27 (SL) Recently the Supreme Court (SC) issued a verdict that Muslim mothers could enter schools wearing their traditional dress but without covering their face and in a manner in which the wearer could be identified. This verdict of the SC on the Muslim dress, followed a petition filed by the mother of a student of President’s College, Rajagiriya, with the SC as she was prevented from entering the school in her chosen attire. more..

Domingo does not rule out SA win

July 27 (CI) They did it in Adelaide, when they batted out 124.3 overs in a match they were never trying to win. They did it again in Johannesburg, when they saw off 136 overs and surprised everyone by getting within eight runs of a huge target. Now South Africa are gearing up for Survivor 3: SSC. This time though, survival is not the only objective on the visitors' minds. Despite falling well behind in the game after conceding a first-innings deficit of 139 and using most of day three to more..

Chinese invade local cricket

July 27 (ST) For the first time a Chinese Company has come forward to sponsor the Mercantile Cricket Association’s Under-13 and Under-15 Inter-Academy Cricket Tournament for 2014. This was revealed at the presentation of the sponsorship package by Chinese Machinery Engineering Corporation to the Mercantile Cricket Association at a press briefing held at the MCA Pavilion. U-13 and U-15 tournament matches are scheduled to be played from August 9 to 24. more..

Herath takes South Africa on rough ride

July 27 (CI) Rangana Herath was in the Sri Lanka dressing room when his destiny two days into the future began to materialise. On the first morning of the Test, Vernon Philander bustled in from the SSC's South End and sent his first one down, full and wide for Upul Tharanga to leave alone. But it was not the delivery or the shot that would concern Herath. Half a second after the new ball left Philander's hand, the spikes on his more..

Resolve Tamil issue for better trade: India

July 27 (PTI) India has told Sri Lanka that it needs to resolve the Tamil issue for making progress in bilateral trade and commerce, a senior BJP leader has said. "We have told them (Sri Lanka) that you should resolve the Tamil issue if you want trade and commerce between Colombo and New Delhi (to progress)," Seshadri Chari, National Convener of Foreign Policy Cell of the BJP, told PTI. He made the remarks after addressing a Singapore forum on "PM Modi's Govt: Imperatives & Challenges". more..

Malaysian star of Lanka origin dies in MH17

July 27 (E24|7) A Malaysian film star, who has roots in Sri Lanka, was on the ill-fated MH17 with her family. Subhashini Jeyratnam, 38, an actress, dancer and TV star was onboard the flight along with her only daughter and Dutch husband. Just two days before taking the flight she had celebrated her birthday in Amsterdam. They had gone to Amsterdam to visit her husband’s family and show their 21-month-old baby girl, Kyla Maya Jey. She was a resident of Kuala Lumpur. more..

EPF pulls back on some benefits for private sector workers

July 27 (ST) The Employees Provident Fund (EPF) is to pull back some EPF benefits for private sector employees since the fund anticipates a negative cash flow due to increasing withdrawals by retirees. The 30% EPF loan facility, one of the benefits granted for private sector employees before they reach retirement age of 55 years for medical treatment or housing, has been pulled back due to cash flow fluctuations in the fund, more..

Dheerasinghe’s conflict of interests at Commercial bank

July 27 (ST) Just as Dinesh Weerakkody steps down tomorrow as chairman of Commercial Bank, a well-managed institution, conflicts of interest of his natural successor, Dharma Dheerasinghe are surfacing once again, three years later. Dr. Dheerasinghe retired from the Central Bank in late 2011 as Deputy Governor and soon after was appointed to the Commercial Bank as a director, representing a state stake in the private bank. In Dec 2011 when Mr. Weerakkody took over more..

Maalu Maalu goes to Kalpitiya

July 27 (ST) A bigger version of the existing Maalu Maalu Pasikudah property would be established in Kalpitiya and marketed as a beach resort. The 4+star resort, named Maalu Maalu Kalpitiya, would be constructed at a cost of Rs.1.8 billion. It is to comprise 82 rooms with a state-of-the-art conference facility and located next to the kite surfing lagoon. Key interests in this area are dolphin and whale watching attractions for visitors with May to Oct planned as the kite surfing period. more..

New look Col 2: UDA to acquire private land

July 27 (ST) A redevelopment and mixed development project on eight acres of land in Kompannaveediya will enable the UDA to acquire private lands in underdeveloped or underserved areas of Colombo City, a gazette notification said. The project labelled as a pioneer concept for urban renewal is to be undertaken by a private company which will get tax concessions running into millions of rupees for project related work. more..

Touchwood Kiwlegedera on the run

July 27 (ST) While courts are trying to track down former Touchwood Investments chief Lanka Kiwlegedera, the Liquidator is now seeking ways to prevent the reported felling of trees on lands owned by the company last week. Summons were issued on Mr. Kiwlegedera to appear before courts on July 31 as he had failed to submit the assets of the company as requested by the liquidator Sudath Kumar. It was learnt that Mr. Kiwlegedera has either fled the country or was seeking to do so and more..

H'tota island open for investments next year

July 27 (CT) A man-made island off Hambantota will be open for investment and lease next year and will be off limits to locals. This second man-made island of Sri Lanka, located in the government's focus area, the Southern Coast, is nearing completion and will be available for lease starting next year. According to a senior official this 50 acre island located in proximity to the Hambantota port would be a no entry zone for Sri Lankans unless authorized. SLPA Chairman, Dr. Priyath B. Wickrama, said that more..

Tobacco tax a double deception

July 27 (NS) The Alcohol and Drug Information Center (ADIC) - backed study titled ‘Parliament should have a formula for regulating cigarettes’ conducted by Verité Research finds tax and price setting system for cigarettes in Sri Lanka is ad hoc and in the clutches of political and bureaucratic discretion. “The first such research published four years ago was completely ignored by the Treasury,” said ADIC Executive Director of Pubudu Sumanasekera. more..

There was only one Geoffrey Bawa — there could not be another

July 27 (Island) Architect Geoffrey Bawa’s memory and his greatness were over riding influences that provoked a representative gathering of mostly architects last week. They were to witness another within its confraternity to win handsomely, in an addition to the growing artistry of architecture that hopefully would level what Geoffrey Bawa left behind. At last week’s Geoffrey Bawa Awards for Excellence in Architecture, Pradeep Kodikara won the top accolade of Rs. 1 million for his more..

Laughing Heads of State

July 27 (CT) A special discussion was held last week between President Rajapaksa and Prime Minister of Portugal, Pedro Passos Coelho. This was the first time a Portuguese Head of State visited the island after the 1505 AD conquest of Ceylon by Portugal. Therefore, the President did not forget to recall this past. A smiling President asked if this was the first time a representative of Portuguese Govt visited Sri Lanka. A beaming PM of Portugal said that the earlier visit of the Portuguese was more..

Solheim ready to testify

July 27 (SL) Former Norwegian peace envoy, Erik Solheim, says he is ready to testify before the Govt Commission of Inquiry tasked to investigate the war. Solheim said that he has nothing to hide and is willing to share whatever he knows with the Govt Commission. Earlier, Solhiem had offered to testify before the UN led investigation which has already commenced investigations into the war. Now that the domestic Commission more..

Australia PM defends treatment of migrants held on boat

July 27 (AFP) Australian PM Tony Abbott said his govt's treatment of a boatload of 157 asylum-seekers who have been kept at sea for weeks would underline its resolve to stop people-smuggling. Abbott, who came to power in September promising to "stop the boats" bringing asylum-seekers from countries such as Iran and Afghanistan, said Canberra would not dodge its international and legal obligations. "What we do is always in accordance with our international obligations, more..

Eastern Province women: Gold smugglers’ new accomplices

July 27 (NS) Customs officials believe smugglers have started a new trend of using women from the Eastern Province as ‘carriers’ for smuggling gold to India. The suspicion has arisen following the arrest of three women from the Eastern province within a span of 24 hours at the BIA as they were about to board flights to India, carrying concealed gold in their possession. Customs officials were able to recover gold weighing over two kilograms from the women. more..

Govt. busted millions in lobbying

July 27 (CT) Govt has gone after several US based lobbying firms squandering over USD 100 million in order to defend its status in the global arena, especially the US. It is said that the administration of President Rajapaksa currently pays four US lobbying firms to defend the country and four are under contract or active accounts in the US. Latest additions with the Foreign Agents Registration Act contracts in the US more..

Move to import 50,000 tonnes of rice

July 27 (ST) Cabinet approval has been sought to import 50,000 metric tonnes of rice to keep as buffer stock to overcome any shortfall occurring due to the severe drought. Anticipating rice shortages in the market due to crop failures in the Yala and Maha seasons this year, Ministry of Internal Trade had proposed the import of rice from India. Ministry planned to import the stocks to avert any artificial price hike or shortage caused by hoarding of stocks by unscrupulous market players. more..

Diaspora can make submissions

July 27 (SL) The Sri Lankan Diaspora will be able to make submissions to the Presidential Commission of Inquiry on Missing Persons which has now been asked to investigate the war. Chairman of the Presidential Commission, Maxwell Paranagama told The Sunday Leader that the Commission on Missing Persons will publish a notice inviting the public to make submissions. “Even the Diaspora is allowed make submissions to the Commission and testify before the Commission,” he said. more..

Crisis-riddled Govt. goes into denial mode

July 27 (ST) UPFA Govt seems to be in a state of denial. Latest addition to that syndrome came from Minister G.L. Peiris. He was asked in Parliament by UNP Leader Ranil Wickremesinghe for his response to a reference in Sunday Times (Political Commentary) that Govt has allowed state owned China National Aero Technology Import-Export Corporation (CATIC) to set up an Aircraft Base Maintenance Centre in Trinco. more..

For every 100 Kg detected...

July 27 (CT) The Customs last week confiscated close to 100 kg of heroin, with a street value of Rs 700 million, from its compound in Orugodawatte, making it the second largest haul detected so far, pushing to third place the 85 kg, with a street value of Rs 760 million, confiscated from Biyagama barely a month ago. A 260 kg consignment, known as the largest haul of heroin in South Asia was detected, also in Orugodawatte, several months ago. However, cause for concern is not the more..

Lankan polity ‘twixst devil and deep blue sea’

July 27 (Island) Observe that I refer to Lankan polity not only the regime though it is obviously the centre forward player and principal actor. My objective today is to separate the critical conflicts in Lankan polity in this period into two separate categories, they are linked but not the same. My objective is to organise thinking about Lanka’s state and society into as simple terms as possible though you may be a little surprised when I begin with a decidedly odd sounding concept. more..

Simply appalling!

July 27 (CT) Environmentalists have voiced their concerns over the deteriorating conditions at the National Zoological Gardens (NZG) in Dehiwala and its animals. With the recent transfer of some of the Veterinary Surgeons at the NZG, Environmentalists say the animals are badly neglected and are being kept in very poor living conditions. Sathva Mithra President, Sargarica Rajakarunanayake, said she is appalled at more..

Poor turnout: Pro-LTTE demo in Glasgow

July 27 (Island) With "security concerns" keeping President Rajapaksa away from attending last week’s opening ceremony of the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, Scotland, the planned pro-LTTE demonstration opposite the Celtic stadium lost its steam. "The number of activists expected to turn up for the demonstration dwindled as news spread that the President would not be coming for the event", sources said. more..

‘President didn’t ask me to leave’ – Navin

July 27 (Island) Minister, Navin Dissanayake said that he was not shown the door by the President at a recent Cabinet meeting. Asked to comment on media reports that President Rajapaksa had asked him to quit the govt, Minister said these stories had emanated after an incident at the Cabinet meeting. "President was angry following a heated discussion over the actions of certain Cabinet Ministers", he recalled. more..

Ambassador recalled after exposing abortion scandal in Oman

July 27 (ST) Sri Lanka’s ambassador in Oman has been recalled after he ordered a probe on the activities of Foreign Employment Bureau labour officers allegedly involved in getting Lankan housemaids to undergo abortions there. At the centre of the controversy, are labour officers, who, it is alleged, had asked a housemaid who sought refuge at the embassy to undergo abortion. The officers in question were in league with more..

Public still unconcerned over dengue danger, say health officials

July 27 (ST) The anti dengue campaign is well into three months but breeding sites are still prevalent primarily due to public negligence, health officials said. Although 8,322 cases have been filed in courts against offenders, the risk still persists, the recently concluded phase three of the emergency dengue programme revealed. Phase three targeted high risk areas that included Modara Mattakkuliya, Wanathamulla, Grandpass, more..

'LTTE responsible for 80% of alleged abductions'

July 27 (Island) The LTTE was responsible for nearly 80% of the alleged abductions, of the cases already heard in four districts except Jaffna, the Presidential Commission investigating cases of missing persons in the North and East was told. The Commission has held public sittings in Kilinochchi, Jaffna, Batticaloa and Mullaitivu from January to June this year and heard 831 cases of missing persons, Chairman of the more..

NFF, SLMC yet undecided To go with UPFA or not at Uva PC polls

July 27 (CT) Two Parties within the ruling coalition UPFA, have still to decide on whether to contest the Uva Provincial Council polls in their own or under the UPFA banner. The Wimal Weerawansa-led NFF and the Rauf Hakeem-led SLMC, will decide on whether to go it alone or as part of the UPFA, at the end of this month, their respective Party spokesmen said. Both Parties have in their ranks a Cabinet Minister each. more..

TUs welcome MR’s about-turn on imposition of new taxes

July 27 (ST) Trade unions have welcomed President Rajapaksa’s decision to remove newly imposed taxes on public and private sector employees, but await fresh gazette notifications to ensure there are no implications on the employees. President Rajapaksa who met with Ceylon Bank Employees’ Union (CBEU) representatives on Monday, said the tax imposed on housing loans, distress loans, vehicle loans, more..

First ever international film festival to be held in Sri Lanka

July 27 (ST) Making a historical move the first ever ‘International’ film festival in Sri Lanka under the title ‘Colombo International Film Festival’ will be held in Colombo from September 2 to 7. Organised by the Film Directors’ Guild of Sri Lanka the festival will provide a golden opportunities to all Sri Lankan film lovers, students and enthusiasts to experience a real international film festival. “Although Sri Lankan cinema has more..

Confident Ajmal aims to outfox Sri Lanka

July 27 (Reuters) Pakistan's leading spinner Saeed Ajmal has brushed aside concerns over his bowling form before the series in Sri Lanka, saying he can still outfox batsmen with his "doosra" delivery. "It gives me great joy to get any batsmen out who can read my 'doosra' because it just gives me confidence that I have become a complete off-spin bowler," Ajmal told reporters on Friday. The 36-year-old promised to play an impact role in more..

All in a week

July 27 (Island) The tittle should suggest what an agenda packed political week in Colombo now looks like. Sadly, however, the political agenda gets packed every week but political realities remain stubbornly the same. Hopefully, the figurative rainbow that was publicly aspired last Thursday at the Colombo Town Hall will turn out to be politically consequential unlike the real one that tantalizes and disappears. Going by the title’s order, India’s BJP stalwart Subramanian Swamy had more..

Hungry child treated to an avalanche of toku

July 27 (Island) A 10-year-old going to school on an empty stomach as her sick mother could neither prepare a meal nor afford to give her a little money to buy something to eat is something that would pull the heart strings of many. This child who arrived late at school and missed her turn to clean the classroom was treated to an avalanche of knocks on her head (toku) from her fellow students on the orders of the principal. 10-year-old Sithmini Sandanayake, a Grade 5 student from more..

A question still unanswered

July 27 (CT) Why does the Sri Lankan Govt want to build an Aircraft Maintenance Centre in Trincomalee to solely maintain and repair its Chinese aircraft? This is the question the Leader of the Opposition, Ranil Wickremesinghe asked in Parliament last week, and this very same question has been on the minds of our closest neighbour India. Minister G.L. Peiris, who responded to Wickremesinghe's question, denied such a more..

JHU bitter over govt. ignoring constituent parties

July 27 (Island) JHU Western Provincial Councilor, Nishantha Sri Warnasinghe said the UPFA govt’s stand on national issues were akin to "monkeys building shelters when it rains". He charged that decisions are taken on national issues without consulting constituent parties and this proves that govt has no clear policy or strategy. Warnasinghe was referring to the govt’s decision to extend an invitation to acting President of South Africa, Cyril Ramaposa to visit Sri Lanka more..

NOLIMIT ranked among the Top 100 unlisted brands in Sri Lanka

July 27 (Island) Sri Lanka’s biggest fashion retail chain NOLIMIT was recently ranked among the Top 100 unlisted brands in Sri Lanka by Brand Finance in their annual analysis of the top brands in Sri Lanka. The brand was also ranked 2nd in customer service among retail stores by Living Magazine in a survey conducted this year. The Unlisted Brands rating was compiled on the basis of an independent market research study and presents a complete view of the brand’s landscape in Sri Lanka. more..