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Customs say deputy minister tried to get seized copper rods released

Apr 30 (ST) Customs officials have thwarted an attempt by a deputy minister to secure the release of an impounded container of copper rods from Dubai on a duty free basis, a top Customs officer said. He said Deputy Minister Sujeewa Senasinghe visited the Customs to secure the release of the container of copper rods worth millions of rupees. When contacted said he did not intervene to get the container released. more..

Vulnerable among the vulnerable

Apr 30 (SL) The war that lasted for over 30 years in the country has left many women in the North and East in a very sad state of poverty resulting in many women becoming widows or the sole bread-winners of the family. A large number of women who head their families struggle due to poverty, scarcity of livelihood options and social-cultural marginalization. They are further subjected to being harassed, misused, taken advantage more..

US welcomes passing of 19-A

Apr 30 (CG) United States has welcomed the passing of the 19th Amendment to the constitution by Parliament. USDS Spokesperson Marie Harf, said the US sees the move as part of the new govt’s domestic reform agenda. “Well, we certainly welcome the news of the passage of measures that you mentioned that curb presidential powers as part of the govt’s domestic reform agenda. Certainly something we welcome,” more..

'Indo-Lanka CEPA only if beneficial'

Apr 30 (FT) Deputy Minister Dr. Harsha de Silva yesterday said that the Govt would not enter into any trade agreement if it was not in the best interest of the country. He made these remarks speaking at a forum on the ‘Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) and its Implications on Sri Lanka’s Economy’. “I’m not going to be influenced by those who are for and against the signing of CEPA. more..

Time to begin work on 20A: JHU

Apr 30 (DM) JHU General Secretary Champika Ranawaka said the JHU’s mission to get the 19th Amendment approved in parliament was achieved and it would soon start the next mission to introduce the electoral reforms by way of the 20th Amendment. Despite many allegations levelled against JHU it did not give up its unwavering commitment resulted in the 19A being approved with the support of all parties in parliament. more..

'Some Independent Commissions not answerable to Parliament'

Apr 30 (Island) The govt declared that the proposed independent Election Commission (EC) and Judicial Service Commission (JSC) wouldn’t be answerable even to parliament, though the President was now accountable to the legislature in accordance with the 19 Amendment to the Constitution. Minister Dr. Rajitha Senaratne said that the 19 Amendment to the Constitution had given special status to EC and the JSC. more..

Indian govt asks Tamil Nadu fishermen not to trespass into Lankan waters

Apr 30 (TOI) Reiterating the Centre's stand that TN fishermen should not cross the international maritime boundary line (IMBL), minister Sushma Swaraj advised a fishermen delegation that met her in New Delhi not to trespass into Sri Lankan waters and invite trouble. She suggested they to take to deep-sea fishing. Sushma also said that Indian govt would not be able to help in getting the fishermen released if they got arrested more..

Second phase of Outer Circular Road from Kaduwela to Kadawatha to open next month

Apr 30 (Island) Linking the Southern Expressway from Kaduwela to Kadawatha, the 8.9 km long second phase of the Colombo Outer Circular Highway (OCH) would be completed and opened to the public next month. Construction of the OCH is being carried out in three phases including Phase 1, an 11 km section from Kottawa to Kaduwela, which was opened earlier by the previous govt, Phase 11, an 8.9 km section from more..

Brutal periods in Sri Lanka & the idea of 'responsible action

Apr 30 (CT) Thank you very much for inviting me to speak a few words on the book Palmyra Fallen – From Rajani to War’s End by Dr Rajan Hoole. What I thought I would do today is to share a few thoughts about certain themes that I found particularly relevant, interesting and provocative. First let me say that I was in absolute awe of the wide range of ideas touched in this book – ranging from Apartheid South Africa, to conflict-ridden Ireland and Nazi Germany; the poetry of T.S Eliot, more..

Next hurdle, Geneva

Apr 30 (CT) The controversial 19th Amendment (19A) which seeks to curb executive presidential power was passed by a resounding 94.2% majority in Parliament yesterday. This is 41.2% more than the required two thirds majority or 66.7% of the vote that was needed in the 225-seat House to make it law. In the final count, 212 voted for it, one abstained, another voted against and 10 were absent from Parliament at the time of voting. Among the absentees was former President more..

Sinhala & Tamil New Year in Berlin, Germany

Apr 30 (IL) Sri Lankans domiciled in Berlin, Germany, celebrated the Sinhala & Tamil New Year organized by the Embassy of Sri Lanka in Germany. The event consisted of New Year rituals and games and was held at the Embassy premises on Saturday (25). The theme this year was; Peace and Reconciliation. Ambassador Amunugama inaugurated the event by hoisting the National flag followed by singing of the National anthem. more..

Sri Lankan shares hit over 8-wk closing high on earnings hope

Apr 30 (Reuters) Sri Lankan shares edged up to their highest closing level in more than eight weeks on Thursday, as retail investors picked up risky assets in moderate volumes on hopes companies would report better earnings and as low rates perked up sentiment. The passage of constitutional reforms that would help establish independent bodies for good governance also buoyed the market, analysts said, adding however concerns over political stability remained. more..

President has lost his immunity, answerable to parliament: Rajitha

Apr 30 (Island) Following the enactment of the 19 Amendment to the Constitution, incumbent President Maithripala Sirisena had lost his immunity and was also answerable to parliament, Minister Dr Rajitha Senaratne said. He said that the 19 Amendment had achieved what many believed was impossible. Dr. Senaratne said that the new piece of legislation did away with the President’s right to dissolve parliament just one year after a general election. more..

Sri Lanka Navy denies allegations of shooting Indian fishermen

Apr 30 (Xinhua) Sri Lankan Navy on Thursday denied allegations that it had shot Indian fishermen who had illegally strayed into local waters and said such an action would be taken only as their final resort. Sri Lanka's response comes a day after the Indian govt requested the Sri Lankan Navy to act with restraint and not to fire on Indian fishermen if they stray into the waters of the island nation. Indian Minister of State for External Affairs more..

What does regime change in Sri Lanka mean for the United States?

Apr 30 (TD) Tom Malinowski, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights and Labor (DRL), recently travelled to Sri Lanka. From the looks of it, he had productive, busy visit. Malinowski even managed to visit the place in Mullaitivu district, where Sri Lanka’s civil war ended and alleged violations of international human rights and humanitarian law (on a massive scale), including war crimes, took place in 2009. Based on some of the quotes he provided to journalists more..

'19th Amendment will benefit minorities'

Apr 30 (Hindu) 19th Constitutional Amendment Bill, adopted by the Sri Lankan Parliament with a massive majority, will create an enabling environment to address the Tamil question and other issues faced by all minorities, including Muslims, say a cross section of leaders of political parties. Minister Rajitha Senaratne said the office of President had “dictatorial powers” till now. He asserted that “all the benefits of the new Amendment will come to the minorities.” more..

Video: Vasu, Wimal digs up CBK probe

Apr 30 (DM) MPs Vasudeva Nanayakkara and Wimal Weerawansa today submitted a complain to the Bribery Commission regarding a probe into a Ports Authority land that was provided to a private company on which the Supreme Court had earlier asked that action be taken against ex-President Chandrika Kumaratunga. The former ministers charged that the Bribery Commission, CID more..

CID probes breach of presidential security

Apr 30 (Island) CID is probing how an armed army commando allegedly working for UPFA MP Namal Rajapaksa gained access to a meeting attended by President Maithripala Sirisena at Agunakolapelessa recently, ASP Ruwan Gunasekara said. He said IGP N. K. Illangakoon had ordered the probe when the serious security lapse on the part of the PSD was brought to the notice of the IGP. "Police Special Task Force (STF) personnel attached to Presidential Security Division (PSD) removed more..

STF sent to Yala to stop poaching

Apr 30 (CT) Several STF teams have been sent to the Yala National Wildlife Park to stop the large-scale poaching of animals there under the cover of carrying out chena cultivations. Commanding Officer of the STF, Ranjith Perera said that the police teams were sent to Yala on orders of the IGP. Information has been received that hunting of animals is being carried out by a group of racketeers in the Yala Park in Kochchipathaana, Thambarawewa, Kambagamuwa and Daluwahena. more..

Sri Lanka to legislate minimum wage with 25% increment

Apr 30 (EN) Sri Lanka will legislate a minimum wage of 10,000 rupees which will be pushed up by 25% in two stages, according to a decision made by the cabinet of ministers. Labour Minister S B Nawinna had made submitted to proposal to prepare a bill to set minimum wages. A 1,500 rupee increment will be made effective from May 1, 2015 and a second increment will be made effective from Jan 1, 2016. more..

SLFP eager to welcome former President Rajapaksa at their May Day rally

Apr 30 (Island) The SLFP said it was eager to welcome its former leader, ex-President Mahinda Rajapaksa at the party’s May Day rally at Hyde Park tomorrow. Opposition Leader Nimal Siripala de Silva, said the former president had accepted the party’s invitation. However, he had not confirmed his participation at the rally, MP de Silva said. Silva said that their processions to Hyde Park would commence from the Nelum Pokuna junction and D. R. Wijewardena Mawatha and more..

Hambantota mayor further remanded

Apr 30 (AM) Hambantota Mayor Eraj Fernando was further remanded till May 13 after being produced before the Hambantota Magistrate Court on Thursday. He was arrested by Special Investigations Unit of Police Headquarters, and was produced before the Hambantota Magistrate on Wednesday, who remanded him for a day. Fernando was arrested regarding an incident in March 2014, where he stormed into the Ambalantota Police Station and attempted to attack and kidnap a suspect more..

President given copy of No Fire Zone

Apr 30 (CG) President Maithripala Sirisena has been supplied with a personalized copy of the Sinhala language version of the controversial film No Fire Zone. The film’s director, Callum Macrae, told the President in a message: “The truth is coming out. I appeal to you not to obstruct that process, but to encourage it. To be on the side of truth.” The film’s director handed the copy of the film – which contains his personal more..

Images tell the truth

Apr 30 (Hindu) The surveillance radars installed by the Sri Lankan Navy on a few islands along the Palk Bay have captured images of TN fishermen venturing into their territory. The images were handed over to the Indian High Commission in Sri Lanka and subsequently forwarded to the Ministry of Defence for appropriate action, defence sources said on Wednesday. The Coast Guard on Monday filed an affidavit in the Madras High Court Bench in Madurai that 36,865 Indian fishing boats more..

19 A not panacea for all problems: Mangala

Apr 30 (Island) Minister Mangala Samaraweera told parliament on Tuesday that the 19 Amendment alone would not be the panacea for all problems Sri Lanka was faced with. He said that the reduction of the executive powers of the Presidency would be only one important step in the challenging journey that we, as a nation, must undertake in order to create a new Sri Lanka. April 28 should be remembered as the day which heralded the beginning of the end of all powerful executive more..

Singaporean climbing Adams Peak died of heart attack

Apr 30 (AM) A Singaporean who died while climbing Adam's Peak last month suffered a heart attack, Sri Lankan police said. Tan Ah Hiang, 55, was part of a Buddhist tour group of about 20, which began the climb just after midnight on March 17. 2,243m-high Adam's Peak, is about a four-hour drive from Colombo. It is said to be a holy site, and is a popular destination for Buddhist pilgrims, especially in run-up to Vesak Day. more..

Sri Lanka tea markets seen too concentrated, threatened by weaker oil prices

Apr 30 (EN) Central Bank has warned that a further fall in oil prices and the Russian rouble could spell more trouble for Ceylon tea and called for a public-private sector effort to diversify markets. Export earnings from tea, which account for about 15% of total exports, grew by 5.6% in 2014 compared to 9.2% growth in 2013. “The slower growth of tea exports reflects decelerated demand from the main export destinations such as Russia & Middle East which account for 59% of total tea exports,” more..

Tapping wind power in Mannar: Ministry strategy still a mystery

Apr 30 (Island) Sustainable Energy Authority of Sri Lanka (SEASL) will today send a letter to Power and Energy Ministry Secretary Dr. B.M.S Batagoda, seeking a clarification on the handing over of the 100MW wind potential exploration and construction in Mannar to the CEB engineers. CEB engineers have resolved to take over the entire project without any private sector participation. SEASL Deputy Director General Wimal Nadeera said that there was no difference between CEB & private sector more..

Video: 'Gunerathnam should return back lawfully'

Apr 30 (DM) Minister for Law and Order John Amarathunga in reply to a question posed by a journalist said Kumar Gunarathnam is holding an expired visa and continuing to remain in Sri Lanka in hiding, therefore it is better for him to leave the country, and return back lawfully. He said, “We placed Kumar Gunerathnam’s matter before the Controller. A report had also been submitted after an investigation. more..

Northern Spring Programme: 86 villages still powerless

Apr 30 (CT) Nearly 86 villages are yet to obtain electricity under the Northern Spring programme according to the residents from those villages. The Northern Spring Programme was launched following the end of war in July 2009 to provide free electricity for those who were resettled by the former govt. However, under the 100-day programme of the present govt, during the past three months between January to March, 2 villages in Vavuniya, 12 in Mullaitivu, 3 in Mannar, 13 in Kilinochchi more..

Police officer injured at UGC protest undergoes surgery

Apr 30 (AM) The Sub Inspector who was admitted to the Colombo National Hospital after being injured during the IUBF protest near UGC underwent emergency surgery this morning, Police Media Unit told Asian Mirror. The police officer was seriously injured when a stone hurled by protester had hit him on the head. Protestors of the Inter University Bikkhu Federation and IUSF clashed with the police at the UGC on Wednesday and forced into the UGC premises. more..

Mixed scorecard for 2014 from Central Bank

Apr 30 (FT) Sans fanfare Central Bank yesterday released the 2014 Annual Report which in essence gave a mixed scorecard on the performance of the economy and fiscal management. As opposed to the targeted growth of 7.8%, the actual achievement was 7.4% but slightly higher than 7.2% posted in 2013. Central Bank said amidst uneven developments in the global economy, continued domestic economic activity helped more..

The Lion flag needs to be changed: BBS

Apr 30 (LH) General Secretary of the BBS, Ven. Galagodaththe Gnanasara Thero says the country’s national flag, the Lion flag needs to be changed. He observed that the Lion flag is extremist as it has differentiated the communities in the country. Thero explained that the national flag should not have two columns for minority communities as it is an extremist stand point. “If a national flag tries to assign colours for communities living in a country, then multi-ethnic countries like India would more..

Chaminda Vaas resigns as Sri Lanka fast bowling coach

Apr 30 (AM) Chaminda Vaas tendered his resignation as fast bowling coach of national cricket team, SLC sources said. Vaas, a former test cricketer, was appointed as fast bowling coach of the national team in Feb 2013. He was however, criticized by certain sections in the administration, when the team failed to perform. Despite this, some commentators said that he was being made a scapegoat. A high point of this criticism arose during the recently concluded World Cup. more..

JVP blames PM, UPFA of impeding 19A passage

Apr 30 (FT) The JVP accused PM Ranil Wickremesinghe and certain UPFA MPs of trying to sabotage the implementation of the 19th Amendment. JVP Leader Anura Kumara Dissanayaka said that Wickremesinghe was dreaming of becoming the PM again after the forthcoming general election. “Ranil tried and wanted to abolish the executive presidency by implementing 19A for his own interests. more..