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'We support the one who addresses Tamil national issue'

Nov 23 (SL) TNA claims that they would decide supporting a candidate contesting the next presidential election based on the ground how they expect to address the Tamil national issue in the country. TNA MP Suresh Premachandren said that Tamil people however have lost faith in President Rajapaksa as he has failed gravely to prove his commitment to solve the Tamil national issue. He also welcomed move of JHU to break away more..

Cooray’s efforts appreciated, Lakmali’s negligence criticised

Nov 23 (Island) The manager of country’s track and field team has appreciated the efforts of marathoner Indrajith Cooray and track athletes Chandrika Subashini and Thushari Abeyratne, while criticising thrower Nadeeka Lakmali for her negligence, in his Asian Games report submitted to authorities. Manager Saman Kumara’s report credits Cooray for his commitment in the run up to the Games and during the event. Report cites his commitment as the reason for his success at the Games. more..

Battle lines drawn

Nov 23 (Island) The battle lines are drawn and the country now knows that after months of agonizing debate, discussion and, if truth be told, manipulation, the SLFP’s long-serving general secretary, former Minister Maitripala Sirisena, will be the so-called common opposition candidate against President Rajapaksa who is seeking a third term. Insiders say that the govt did not know until Thursday that Sirisena planned to cross the Rubicon. He is now passed the point of no return and more..

How Colombo released the fishermen

Nov 22 (Hindu) Actor Salman Khan appears to have, perhaps unknowingly, played an indirect role in the release of the five Indian fishermen on death row in Sri Lanka. His friend, journalist Rajat Sharma, was in Colombo to invite President Mahinda Rajapaksa and his son Namal Rajapaksa for the wedding of Arpita Khan, the actor’s sister. During the visit Mr. Sharma is said to have raised the issue of fishermen’s release. more..

Stop polls violence

Nov 23 (CT) Election violence has been the 'unholy' order of the day in Sri Lanka's political landscape since independence. It's a stain on this country which boasts of a 2,500 year old civilization. Polls violence appears to be a 3rd World phenomenon. So, the cause of this violence may be due to poverty. When people are poor, it's easy to manipulate them. In as much as one may sell one's body for a plate of rice or a loaf of bread; a bottle of arrack, nay a glass of arrack may be a more..

Who’s for a Red Herring?

Nov 23 (SL) Perhaps it is only a sophisticated political mind that can set the cats amongst the pigeons – or lay out an intricate plan in order that the worms start coming out of the woodwork. The analysis of this is around for all to see – and the beneficiary can only be the owner of that sophisticated mindset, Sri Lanka’s incumbent President, Mahinda Rajapaksa. The mere speculation of a national election has seen a rather strange set of affairs emerging. more..

Can Sanga trust SLC?

Nov 23 (Island) Kumar Sangakkara has accomplished many feats in the game of cricket. He led the country exemplary for a brief two year period in which the team reached the finals of the ICC World T-20 and the World Cup. His batting statistics will be hard to match for a long time to come as the left-hander has set the benchmark in both forms of the game. Sanga once won the ICC Cricketer of the Year award and this year was shortlisted for more..

UDA to launch debenture by year end

Nov 23 (ST) The UDA is gearing to launch its Rs. 10 billion debenture issue by next month, UDA officials said. “We’re planning to close our financials and then we will announce the debenture,” a UDA official told the Business Times. He said the UDA gets calls daily from interested parties on this debenture as the budget has proposed an exemption on the interest or discount accruing from the investment in any Corporate Debt Security issued by on or after 1 January 2015. more..

Access contracted to build 608 homes In Borella for public sector employees

Nov 23 (Island) A news release issued in this connection said that the project at Borella, which is executed by the UDA, is a result of govt’s initiative to make housing more accessible to the public sector in Sri Lanka. Scheduled for completion in Nov 2017, the project has generated wide interest with calling of applications being advertised. "This design build contract between the govt of Sri Lanka and Access Engineering is considered to be the first public- private partnership initiative undertaken after more..

Govt’s motorcycle subsidy scheme takes a political twist

Nov 23 (ST) Deliberately ignoring the country’s constitution, budgetary provisions and fiscal management responsibility, govt authorities have begun distributing motor cycles worth Rs.200,000 at a subsidised price of Rs.50,000 to provincial politicians and policemen even before the conclusion of the 2015 budget. 2015 budget proposal permits the implementation of any of its proposals (other than taxes which come more..

CB signals possible pressure on wages

Nov 23 (CT) Central Bank has cautioned of possible pressure on wages due to the increasing demand for labour, as this year's first quarter labour participation declined by one per cent, despite improvements in unemployment. Many investors have been complaining of labour shortages, and according to the Board of Investment, factories in some BoI Zones are currently facing a shortage of 15,000 workers. The corporate sector has been discussing the possibility of importing labour from more..

‘Ranil has found the ideal scapegoat’

Nov 22 (SO) Minister Mahinda Samarasinghe and several other UPFA Ministers who pledged to work for President Rajapaksa’s victory at the forthcoming election, said Minister Maithripala Sirisena has fallen into a trap set by the UNP with the connivance of external forces. “I see this as a conspiracy to destabilise the country; there are powerful external forces manipulating the whole situation’, he said while Senior Minister Tissa Vitharana termed the latest defection as a ploy by more..

SL senior citizens have bank deposits worth Rs.750 bln

Nov 23 (ST) Some 750,000 senior citizens hold accounts in 33 banks worth Rs. 750 billion, data shows. A senior citizen is defined as one who is 59 + years. This data collected at the request of the Central Bank (CB) on the back of the SLBA urging the CB and the Treasury to extend a scheme in the proposed 2015 budget applicable to state banks to pay 12% interest rates to senior citizens – to cover losses for banks. more..

LOLC eyes overseas expansion for micro financing/SME

Nov 23 (ST) After the success in micro financing in Myanmar and Cambodia, the LOLC Group is poised to venture with similar operations to nearby regions, top officials say. “We’re eyeing peripheral markets in Asia Pacific for micro financing and small and medium enterprises,” Kapila Jayawardena, CEO LOLC said. Overseas expansion will be the next big wave for LOLC, adding that the micro financing will be the focus in emerging markets in the greater Mekong Region of Southeast Asia. more..

Lankans not eligible for online Indian visas

Nov 22 (Island) India will offer online visa facilities for citizens of 45 countries, including US, Australia, Germany, Israel, Japan, UAE, Palestine, Jordan, Thailand, Singapore and Russia. But Sri Lanka, Pakistan and Afghanistan are not in this list. The facility will be announced on November 27 by the Ministries of Home Affairs and Tourism. Last year, seven million foreign tourists visited India. The country earned $18 billion from them. Elaborating on the Modi government’s focus on more..

Sampanthan favours Maithripala

Nov 22 (CT) Leader of the TNA R. Sampanthan has told BBC, that a final decision on supporting Maithripala Sirisena, who has been selected as the common candidate of the Opposition for the forthcoming Presidential Election, will be taken shortly, even though the party has not met so far to discuss the matter. He had also said that TNA believes that Sirisena will abolish the Executive Presidency if he was elected to the post. more..

Lankan envoy on challenges SAARC faces from extremist and terrorist activities

Nov 22 (Island) Sri Lanka’s Ambassador to Nepal, W.M. Senevirathna says that SAARC faces challenges in various areas, including development, connectivity, extremist and terrorist activities. He said various agreements that SAARC nations will reach during the upcoming 18th SAARC Summit, to be held in Kathmandu, the will help materialize the aspiration of South Asia to be integrated, peaceful and a developed region. Ambassadors from various SAARC member states and foreign policy more..

Insurance cover next year for students in State schools

Nov 22 (ST) All students in State-run schools will be given health insurance cover from next year, Minister Duminda Dissanayake said. He said together with Sri Lanka Insurance the Ministry will offer students an insurance policy covering many areas. Students will have to pay Rs. 250 annually to maintain the insurance cover. “Even if they collect one rupee per day the children can collect enough money to pay for it. We came up with this idea to help both parents and children financially,” more..

Joint opposition MoU on Tuesday

Nov 22 (CT) Political parties and individuals who have pledged to support the common candidate of the Opposition, Maithripala Sirisena, will this week sign a MoU. "The TNA has come to an understanding with the Common Opposition to support their common candidate Maithripala Sirisena," the Common Opposition's Media Spokesman, Dr. Nirmal Ranjith Dewasiri, said. He added, that he cannot comment on more..

Sirisena’s security, vehicles withdrawn

Nov 22 (ST) The security provided to the three Cabinet Ministers and the Deputy Minister who left the Government on Friday has been withdrawn and they have been provided with the security that is accorded to MPs, Police spokesman Ajith Rohana said yesterday. They include former Health Minister and the ruling SLFP’s former General Secretary Maithripala Sirisena who will be the joint opposition common candidate for the January 8 Presidential election. more..

SLMC and ACMC likely crossovers

Nov 22 (CT) SLMC and ACMC are likely to cross over to support the common candidate of the Opposition at the forthcoming Presidential Election. SLMC is awaiting a call from the UNP to discuss their proposals. "If the Opposition welcomes the minority proposals, then of course we are ready," said SLMC General Secretary, Hasan Ali. He said that SLMC was waiting for a call from the Opposition for talks on supporting the common Opposition candidate in the presidential race more..

Three Provincial Councils up for grabs

Nov 22 (NS) Following the cross over of former SLFP General Secretary Maithripala Sirisena and several other ruling party MPs to the opposition, a lot of horse-trading is being done at the provincial council level to seize the power of at least three provincial councils before the next presidential election. Highly placed political sources said that three provincial councils – namely Uva, Western and Central – are vulnerable to an unexpected more..

First stage of struggle successful: Sobitha Thera

Nov 22 (NS) National Movement for Social Justice (NMSJ) Head Ven Maduluwawe Sobhitha Thera who campaigned for the abolishment of the Executive Presidency said that the first phase of their struggle has been successful, as the common opposition candidate has already agreed to abolish the executive presidency. Thera said that NMSJ wanted it to be repelled within a six months period after the new president takes office. “We have three main issues; abolishment of the Executive more..

JVP still tight-lipped over support for Maithripala

Nov 22 (NS) JVP Leader Anura Kumara Dissanayake said that his party’s aim at the forthcoming presidential election will not be limited to working to defeat President Mahinda Rajapaksa. Speaking at a political TV talk show yesterday evening he said that the JVP will be capitalizing on this opportunity to form a new mass movement which will defeat the president and then act as a pressure group, urging the new leader to abolish the Executive Presidency. more..

Mass crossovers tomorrow

Nov 22 (CT) Mass scale crossovers are expected from both the govt to the Opposition and vice versa on Monday, coinciding with the vote on the Third Reading of the 2015 Budget. A large number of Ministers and MPs will be crossing over, from the govt, to the Opposition following Friday's announcement that former SLFP General Secretary Maithipala Sirisena would be the Opposition's common presidential candidate, more..

Ratnasiri will stay put

Nov 22 (CT) Squashing rumours that former PM Ratnasiri Wickremanayake will join hands with common candidate Maithripala Sirisena, UPFA MP Vidura Wickremanayake said he or his father will never abandon their voters. Wickremanayake said he was entrusted with the responsibility, by his father, of protecting SLFP supporters above anything else, and he will stay true to that. "There were reports and rumours that I and my father were going to crossover with Maithripala Sirisena. more..

No change in papal visit despite presidential election

Nov 22 (NS) The Roman Catholic Church in Sri Lanka yesterday reiterated that the Papal visit scheduled to take place on January 13, 2015 will go ahead as planned despite the announcement of Presidential Election, which is to be held on Jan 8. Accordingly, the Pope’s visit to the country will take place from Jan 13-15. Director of the National Catholic Center for Social Communication, Rev. Fr. Cyril Gamini Fernando said there will be no changes regarding the Papal visit. more..

Govt may consider dissolution if there is mass defection

Nov 22 (ST) Govt seniors were this week considering the possible early dissolution of Parliament, Sunday Times learns. Consultations at the highest levels were held on the pros and cons of dissolving Parliament. This comes against the backdrop of the revolt by a section of ruling UPFA Ministers and MPs who have opted to back the opposition’s common candidate, former SLFP General Secretary Maithripala Sirisena more..

Historic defection & A political thunderbolt

Nov 23 (Island) The defection of SLFP General Secretary Maithripala Sirisena, from the Rajapaksa govt is historic and momentous on several counts. As a political party, the SLFP is not unaccustomed to defections. The founding of the party itself was the result of the defection of SWRD Bandaranaike, himself a Minister of Health and Local Govt, from the first UNP govt after independence. But his defection was a personal statement of political frustrations as well as aspirations that had no immediate more..

Will the opposition wake up in time?

Nov 23 (Island) Political soothsayers say presidential elections are on course for January. I have no idea how Pope Francis’ visit is to be slotted-in, but am certain that Sarath Silva’s constitutional challenge will be seen off irrespective of legal rectitude. The regime did not squander decency and credibility, impeaching, popping up henchmen, and despoiling the higher judiciary for nothing. On the Rajapaksa side, strategy is integrated, unlike the opposition. more..

Talk at the Cafe Spectator

Nov 23 (ST) Last week’s story headlined ‘President’s armed guards play havoc at Montessori’ has drawn a response from Brigadier H.D.G. Ranasinghe, USP for Commander, the President’s Guard. He said; ”Your kind attention is drawn to the above story in your newspaper of 16 Nov, in which a minor altercation has been exaggerated with factually wrong information”. “Considering serious nature of its contents, an inquiry was held by more..

Sri Lanka faces isolation

Nov 23 (SL) Minister G.L. Peiris at several occasions has accused the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (UNHCHR) Prince Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein alleging that he maintains double standards when it comes to dealing with Sri Lanka. Speaking to The Sunday Leader, several civil society and human rights activists expressed their views on these remarks. Being Offensive Not The Best Forward Defence more..

Coal-gasification on the cards?

Nov 23 (NS) Sri Lanka needs major capital injections in the energy sector as a recent study suggests it will be viable for coal power plants to convert to gas in the longer term, opines expert. According to Ranali Perera, a Analyst at the Petroleum Resources Development Secretariat (PRDS) the timely need is to transform and re-define the Petroleum Exploratory Sector as a growth engine of the national economy more..

LTTE Heroes’ Week events banned

Nov 23 (SL) Police and the military said it would not allow events glorifying the LTTE to be held this week to mark the LTTE heroes week. Brigadier Ruwan Wanigasooriya also denied allegations that surveillance centres were being set up to prevent the university students and other activists from staging activities glorifying terrorism. “The LTTE is a terrorist organisation proscribed in Sri Lanka, in the name of heroes or otherwise more..

Thousands made happy on President’s birthday

Nov 23 (ST) President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s birthday last week was resonant with echoes of ancient tradition and history. On the morning of the President’s 69th birthday last Tuesday, a pandal bearing the words Lovan hamuwe rata bebalewu ape kalaye rajathumani obata chiran jayathu (Long live the king of our times, who brought international fame to the country) appeared near the Gangarama Temple more..

Top UNP member is to join Mahinda ?

Nov 23 (CG) There is strong speculation a top UNP member is to join President Rajapaksa’s Govt. UNP sources said that the party is aware of moves by this UNP member to join the govt and has decided to keep him out of key UNP meetings. The move comes as the opposition and the govt look to rope in members from both sides ahead of the Presidential election. The opposition had scored the first points last week after more..

Video: Watch the blocked Satana TV program

Nov 23 (CT) There is absolutely no foreign conspiracy behind my coming forward to contest at the upcoming Presidential polls as the common candidate, SLFP stalwart Maithripala Sirisena said during a TV program, as he refuted the allegations leveled against him by govt ministers this evening. Sirisena who was the general secretary of the SLFP responding to the allegations leveled against him by his peers in the party said, more..

President places omniscient sacred relics in Sandahiru Stupa

Nov 23 (MoD) The ceremony to enshrine the omniscient sacred relics in the Sandahiru Seya, the triumphant Stupa was held today at Anuradhapura under the patronage of President Rajapaksa. First Lady, Shiranthi Rajapakse, Secretary Defence Gotabaya Rajapaksa accompanied by the Chairperson of the Seva Vanitha Unit of the MOD&UD were also present at the occasion. more..

Amid polls fever, over hundred police officers transferred

Nov 23 (ST) More than one hundred police officers, including officers in charge of stations, were suddenly moved out ahead of nominations for the January 8 presidential election – while questions were being raised as to who transferred them. Police spokesperson Ajith Rohana said the officers, including 85 OICs, were being moved out but insisted no permission was required from the Commissioner of Elections to do so. more..

Sirisena revolt: Presidential race gets on the road

Nov 23 (ST) There are neither permanent friends nor permanent interests when it comes to politics in Sri Lanka. The players involved keep changing roles and shift their solemnly declared ideals from time to time. The search for a presidential candidate by the UNP, for a second time in four years, lays bare this fragility of a recurring political drama. It had the shades of the Jan 2010 presidential poll where former Army more..