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SL trying hard to put controversy behind

Mar 22 (DM) Mum’s the word for Sri Lanka cricketers on controversial player retirements as their ICC World T20 campaign begins today. “No questions on player retirements would be answered,” snapped Sri Lanka team manager Michael de Zoysa as several journalists started questioning Sri Lanka captain Dinesh Chandimal at the pre-match press conference about the controversially announced retirements of more..

UN says Ban clear on accountability

Mar 22 (CG) United Nations (UN) says UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon is clear on his views on Sri Lanka and on the issue of accountability over the war. Responding to a question at the daily press briefing at the UN Headquarters, UN Deputy Spokesman Farhan Haq said that it is up to the member states of the UN to decide what action needs to be taken on Sri Lanka via the pending resolution. Haq however refused to comment directly on a report on Sri Lanka by human rights more..

'Follow Indian example and empower EC'

Mar 22 (Island) Elections Commissioner was powerless to enforce many of his directives, since the 18th Amendment to the Constitution had made him a mere figure head, the UNP said. Senior UNP’er Gamini Jayawickrema Perera MP, said that the Polls Chief Mahinda Deshapriya himself had admitted that his hands were tied and there was nothing he could do to implement many of his orders aimed at ensuring free and fair elections. The 18th Amendment which was bulldozed more..

Commercial Complex for Dematagoda

Mar 22 (MoD) Secretary Defence and Urban Development Gotabaya Rajapaksa was the Chief Guest at the foundation stone laying ceremony of the planned Commercial Complex in Dematagoda in Colombo today (20). The complex is to be built by the Colombo Municipal Council (CMC). Upon being received by the Mayor of Colombo His Worship AJM Muzammil, Mr. Rajapaksa took part in religious observances conducted by more..

PB saves ministers from COPE

Mar 22 (SM) The ministry of Finance and Planning has informed that Ministries and Departments need not submit annual plans in the future as they are not profitable institutions. A letter by the Finance Ministry secretary - P.B. Jayasundara forwarded to Ministries and Departments state that annual plans for future years are not required from March 01, 2014. Accordingly, this could hint that the ministries could function according to the whims of its ministers. more..

Beware of e-dispensing

Mar 22 (Island) Cosmetic Devices and Drug Authority (CDDA) warned of a possible threat of counterfeit drugs being sold online to youngsters and adults through ‘e-dispensing’. Director of the CDDA, Dr. Hemantha Benaragama said that a majority of drugs were meant for cosmetic needs or sexual stimulants and promised to work wonders for those purchasing them. He warned that a majority of them were not sanctioned by any drug authority while no quality evaluation more..

Kusal salvo hides seniors' foibles

Mar 22 (CI) When a team has three players of the calibre of Sangakkara, Mahela and Dilshan approaching the twilight of their careers, there are bound to be fears about the future. That august trio have nearly 4000 T20I runs between them; against South Africa they made 14, 9 and 0 respectively. That those failures did not extinguish Sri Lanka's chances of victory was largely down to a 23-year-old named Kusal Perera. more..

EC accuses all media of being biased

Mar 22 (Island) Not only the state media, but even private media outlets showed bias for political parties of their choice in telecasting, broadcasting and publishing stories in the run up to the Western and Southern Provincial Council elections, Elections Commissioner Mahinda Deshapriya said. He said all media in the country, including state media were divided according to the political lines of each institution head during elections like the American media. more..

Australia-bound refugees to be settled on Pacific island

Mar 22 (TP) Refugees who try to enter Australia by boat through Papua New Guinea will be settled in the country's Manus Island in a few months, Australia’s Prime Minister Tony Abbott has promised. Located in the southwest Pacific Ocean, Papua New Guinea is on the transit route to Australia for many refugees from Asia and the Middle East. Abbott, who was speaking in Papua New Guinea on Friday during a state visit, said he is determined to implement an agreement, more..

Sri Lanka Quest

Let's unite to face the challenge

Mar 23 (SO) Next Saturday's elections would not be a mere poll to elect members to the Western and Southern PCs but an indirect referendum at which the international community could gauge the Government's popularity. There is no doubt, whatsoever, that the ruling UPFA would romp home at the forthcoming PC elections. At a time the international community is going hammer and tongs against Sri Lanka and those with vested interests are attempting to exploit the UNHRC to more..

It’s not I, but my telephone!

Mar 23 (ST) My dear Rishard, I didn’t even know who you were until I heard about you last week but I thought I must write to you when I heard that you had apologised to a magistrate and to the courts. This must be an extremely rare event for a minister, which is why I thought I must convey my thoughts to you. Now, don’t blame me for not knowing who you are until last week. These days being a minister doesn’t guarantee that everyone will know who you are because there are so many of them more..

'UN dictates terms to sovereign nations'

Mar 23 (SO) Minister Anura Priyadharshana Yapa said the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay is biased and is predetermined to take action against our country. He said Navi Pillay has no right to violate the UN Charter and interfere in the internal affairs of sovereign nations. To safeguard human rights and help countries to promote human rights is a good move but to dictate terms and interfere into more..

Editorial: MR vs. CBK

Mar 23 (Island) Both President Rajapaksa and former President Chandrika Kumaratunga, who’s been having a go at each other last week, will best know how well equipped the Sri Lankan State is to mount illegal surveillance on its citizen and how widely used such facilities are. It is the tragedy of this country that such spying is too often used not necessarily for valid reasons of national security but for the gathering of political intelligence for the use of the incumbents in power. more..

The wages of flirtation

Mar 23 (NS) There are road blocks again in the North. That’s an ominous sign. If the threat of terrorism is the reason, then let it be recognized, again, that terrorism is something that is never restricted to a particular territory. Road blocks have their purposes in terms of ensuring security of course. All countries have them. Borders, after all, are guarded. But terrorism is not contained by road blocks alone. Those road blocks will, if things don’t get better, start appearing in other parts of more..

'We will not have to fear'

Mar 23 (SL) As the Sri Lankan govt has openly rejected the amended US draft resolution, there is a general fear that it might damage Sri Lanka’s diplomatic relationship with other countries. At the same time, the recent arrests of the human rights activists in the North have raised concerns that the govt is developing a “no care” attitude towards the international community. When The Sunday Leader contacted Minister Rajitha Senaratne more..

Dealing with India: From Parippu to fish diplomacy

Mar 23 (ST) President Rajapaksa in an uncustomary lashing out – not so obliquely either – at India last weekend set the tone for Sri Lanka’s reaction to the upcoming resolution against the country at the UNHRC. While Ministers of his Govt have so far vented their wrath restrictively on the West, President Rajapaksa went the extra mile to say Sri Lanka’s foreign policy was not a ‘parippu’ foreign policy – a reference that left little doubt to where, and to whom it was directed. more..

Third World needs an effective forum like NAM

Mar 23 (SL) The Western juggernaut led by America that has been rolling effortlessly over weaker nations was brought to a halt last week by Russian President Vladimir Putin. Since the end of the Cold War there was no countervailing force to the only Superpower left. A rejuvenated Russia 23 years after the demise of its predecessor the Soviet Union halted this unchallenged global power by annexing Crimea which has been a part of Ukraine since 1955 and absorbed it into the Russian Federation. more..

'Don’t have a confrontational attitude'

Mar 23 (SL) While the govt has rejected the amended US draft resolution, the TNA has praised it saying that through it there is a possibility of carrying out an independent inquiry into the allegations of human rights abuses reported during and after the war. The TNA is now urging the govt to accept the resolution and not to take a confrontational attitude towards the UN. TNA MP M A Sumanthiran expressed his views on more..

Govt. doesn’t see threats in Geneva or at elections

Mar 23 (NS) Sri Lanka is just a few days away from the elections in two provincial councils as well as the UN sponsored resolution against the island. The govt was taking a very neutral stance as speculation suggests that nothing serious would develop against Sri Lanka, in Geneva. UNHRC sessions were continuing in Geneva and media reports revealed that India had again decided to support the resolution, regardless of its content. Back at home in Sri Lanka, the main Opposition UNP or more..

The importance of numbers in parliament

Mar 23 (NS) UNP’s idea of boycotting last week’s parliamentary sittings over the issue of govt not allocating a date for debate on a no-confidence motion before March 29 provincial polls, did not matter as their parliamentary group had to meet on Wednesday, a day after sittings commenced. On Wednesday, at the group meeting, party leader Ranil Wickremesinghe had inquired from his subordinates about the possible outcome of the provincial polls. more..

Promo’s ill-timed outburst

Mar 23 (Island) Pramodya Wickramasinghe appears to have made a mountain out of a mole hill over the announcement made by two former Sri Lankan captains Sangakkara and Mahela on their future in T-20 cricket. Selector Pramodya’s contention is that they have not briefed the selectors and SLC before announcing their decision to retire. That is a flimsy excuse good for the gullible. Why the big fuss? more..

Oops She does it again!

Mar 23 (SL) Former President Chandrika Kumaratunga dropped another bombshell in the political ring last week when she sent a letter to President Rajapaksa saying she is under constant surveillance by defence authorities of the country. She said in the letter that her telephone conversations and emails are under constant surveillance and her personal residences in Colombo and Horagolla are being watched by security authorities. more..

USA running circles in Geneva

Mar 23 (Island) Last week, the Indian press revealed that the Indian central govt was going to vote against Sri Lanka yet again. That was no surprise as the Indian central govt is not in control of their foreign policy any more. But what was surprising was the way the Americans continued to treat this valuable ally without whose help they would never be able to get a majority of UNHRC votes against Sri Lanka. We have in the recent past written in this column about the string of insults that more..

Strict election laws disappoint the candidates?

Mar 23 (SL) With the elections coming closer, the competition among the candidates of the PCs is gradually heating up – the competition is seemingly tougher among the candidates of the same political party to secure a large voter-base. Even though a considerable amount of election related violence has been reported to the election observation centres, some candidates seem to think that the strict election laws have tamed the more..

Opposition in ‘No-Confidence’ motion against Govt

Mar 23 (ST) A ‘No-Confidence’ motion against the Govt, handed over by the UNP, is to be taken up for debate in May, after a failed attempt by the UNP to secure a two-day debate in early April. UNP Leader Ranil Wickremesinghe said the ‘No-Confidence’ motion, which is based on the failure of the Govt to crack down on the proliferation of illicit drugs in the country, needs to be debated for at least two days, so that Opposition MPs will have adequate time to get their views across on the matter. more..

Tissa invites Sajith to attend Ranil’s meeting

Mar 23 (CT) That was the main topic of discussion among all those who are sensitive to politics in Sri Lanka, throughout the last few weeks. Although, the Western countries including the US have submitted a resolution against Sri Lanka to the UNHRC, and the govt has, in parallel to it, made all arrangements to hold the PC elections, the Chandrika Kumaratunga issue came to the fore, rising above all other political topics as she became a news maker all of a sudden. more..

Research rules curb academic freedom

Mar 23 (ST) A new Treasury circular relating to increased funding for research in state universities has raised alarm bells amongst Sri Lankan academics as such research must now conform to govt policy. The circular sent to heads of state institutions and received by the UGC has raised concerns among academics that this is another attempt to stifle independence of universities and academic freedom. more..

'We lost momentum at the death' - de Villiers

Mar 23 (CI) With five overs to go in their opening match at the World T20, South Africa were 115 for 3, needing another 51 runs to win. At the same stage of their innings, Sri Lanka had been 117 for 4. That South Africa failed to get over the line owed something to Sri Lanka's wicket-taking ability and something to a familiar failing of nerve by the chasing side. Sachithra Senanayake had delivered a tight spell and he capped it by having the set batsman, JP Duminy, caught on the more..

World T20: New Zealand beat England

Mar 23 (CI) Brendon McCullum is such a master of the dark arts of Twenty20 that it seemed entirely appropriate that he should bat to a backdrop of thunder and lightning. But the storm in Chittagong was not a theatrical prop, it was real, and as the rain soon tippled down upon New Zealand's captain it also drenched him in a premature victory that left England awash with frustration. New Zealand needed to bat for five overs, in reply to England's challenging but far from secure total of 172 more..

Dangerous weedicide: No total ban

Mar 23 (ST) The Govt will not impose a total ban on the herbicide known by its trade name “Roundup” which contains glyphosate, though some experts have warned it could cause cancer and is linked to the Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD). Instead the Govt will introduce measures to restrict the use of the herbicide only in areas where CKD is highly prevalent. The move to ban the herbicide — widely used in the plantation sector and more..

SLC to initiate Cricketers’ benefit fund

Mar 23 (Island) Sri Lanka Cricket Executive Committee met on Friday and the following decisions were taken. From the season 2014/15 the under-23 tournaments will be renamed to SLC Youth tournament. Composition of a youth team will be two Players from under-19, two under-21 players and the rest will be players below the age of 23. This will be made mandatory. Ex-Co approved to grant a special monetary assistance to the cricketers of the pre Test era who are now aged and more..

Beware of polluted coconut oil barrels – CAA

Mar 23 (SO) The Consumer Affairs Authority (CAA) has asked wholesale dealers to refrain from using empty barrels to store coconut oil and other edible oils, unless they are washed thoroughly to eliminate the harmful chemicals. “We recently found over eighty 200-litre barrels which had been used earlier to store toxic chemicals and later used to store coconut oil without being washed. This is a serious offence as it poses a grave health risk,” Deputy Director General CAA, Asela Bandara said. more..

Treasury Secretary under pressure to quit

Mar 23 (ST) Speculation is rife in the portals of the Ministry of Finance and Planning and the Ministry of Economic Development that its all-powerful chief executive (Secretary) Dr. P.B. Jayasundera is to quit in the next few months. The reason? Heavy pressure from persons with high political connections over financial disbursements for their projects. Disagreement on financial matters relating to mega development more..

Harvesting Rainwater as a Disaster Risk Reduction Tool

Mar 23 (Island) Let not a single drop of water that falls from the skies flow to the sea, without it being used for the benefit of man- King Parakramabahau the Great. "In a nation where a pot of water is seen as sign of good luck and punkalasa (which is mimicked by the rain water harvested tank) is the sign of prosperity, I find it very difficult to comprehend how rain water harvesting is perceived as the poor man’s option; because it is often reported that an RWH tank at the side of more..

World T20: England must improve again to beat Sri Lanka

Mar 23 (Telegraph) A much more coherent performance by England – their best in 20-over cricket this year – and still they lost, albeit on Duckworth-Lewis after a thunderstorm. It leaves them needing to beat at least two out of Sri Lanka, South Africa and Holland to stay alive in the World Twenty20 finals. England meet Sri Lanka next, on Thursday, and while the dew – and thunderstorms – in Chittagong can upset a lot of calculations, it will take another substantial improvement by more..

UK to vote for an international, independent probe into war crimes in Sri Lanka

Mar 23 (TOI) Britain will vote for an international, independent investigation into alleged war crimes in SL. British PM David Cameron said it will vote in favour of the resolution on Sri Lanka at the UNHRC that has been moved by the US. Cameron said he wanted to see reconciliation in the country which "President Rajapaksa has failed to do". Regarding an international probe into war crimes against Sri Lanka, Cameron said more..

Sri Lankan rights activist Sithie Tiruchelvam passes away

Mar 23 (Hindu) Noted lawyer and Sri Lankan human rights activist Sithie Tiruchelvam, wife of the internationally respected academic Neelan Tiruchelvan, passed away on Saturday after a brief illness. She was 69. Ms. Tiruchelvam, along with Neelan Tiruchelvam — one of the foremost, erudite activists of SL who worked on a devolution package and championed the political rights of Tamils — is known for her deep engagement with the cause of social justice and peace. more..

JVP, DP likely to pose challenge

Mar 23 (ST) Nearly 5.8 million people are eligible to go to the polls on Saturday to elect 155 representatives to the Western and Southern PCs with a resurgent JVP under a new leadership and Democratic Party (DP) of former Army Commander Sarath Fonseka expected to pose a challenge to the two main parties. The Western Province, the largest in the country, will elect 102 members and the Southern Province 53 candidates from more than 3,700 who are vying for a seat in the PCs. more..

Govt. shifts pension gratuity to bank loans

Mar 23 (ST) Gratuity payments to retiring public sector employees will be given as a bank loan in terms of a new scheme formulated by the Govt. Such payments will replace the existing system where an employee is paid 24 months of his or her gross salary through the ministry, department or the public organisation he or she served in. Planning of the new scheme has put on hold the payment of gratuity to some 14,000 pensioners for more..