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Valuable species of fish vanishing from our seas

Feb 7 (ST) The escalating use of banned fishing nets in the seas off Kalpitiya has resulted in the wasteful killing of between 20,000 – 30,000 kilos of fish and poses a grave threat Antony Fonseka, president of ‘Our Lady of Sorrows Fisherman’s Organization’, based in the island of Battalangunduwa, said urgent action needed to be taken, as the practice posed a grave threat to fisher families in the area. He added that as late as last Friday, groups of men had used banned nets more..

SLMC takes East CM’s post amidst Kalmunai turmoil

Feb 7 (Island) SLMC Eastern Provincial Councillor Hafiz Ahamed yesterday succeeded M.N. Abdul Majeed as the Chief Minister of the council. SLMC leader Rauff Hakeem went ahead with Ahamed’s appointment in spite of protests by a small group of supporters. The appointment was made in accordance with an understanding between the SLMC and the SLFP. SLFP agreed to share 5-year term of Eastern PC two & half years each more..

Visit varsity hostels, report necessary action- Prof Wijesinha directs VCs

Feb 7 (ST) On Prof Rajiva Wijesinha’s instructions, Vice Chancellors (VC) of all State universities have been directed by the Higher Education Ministry to submit reports on shortcomings of all hostel facilities managed by their institutions. This followed discussions between State Minister for Higher Education, Prof Wijesinha and the VCs under the 100-Day programme. “Each VC has to personally visit all hostel facilities and check on their shortcomings. We have received complaints more..

Two convicts of VAT scam brought to SL

Feb 7 (GDI) Two convicted persons of the VAT scam case have been arrested by the CID. SSP Ajith Rohana said that the two persons were brought to Sri Lanka from Malaysia last night. The two convicts are currently in CID custody. One of the convicts, Raseed Mursheed, had been fined 6.3 billion rupees and charged with a 280-year prison sentence. The other convict, Nagur Adumai Nasmy had been charged with a 100-year prison sentence and a fine of 2.4 billion rupees. more..

TNA, OHCHR team discuss report

Feb 7 (CG) TNA has had talks with the team from the OHCHR investigating Sri Lanka in Geneva and discussed the report scheduled to be presented to the UNHRC next month. TNA MP, M.A. Sumanthiran has told the team headed by Sandra Beidas that the report should be presented to the Council as scheduled next month and not deferred. TNA MP Suresh Premachandran said that TNA was aware of the fact that there will be more..

A new beginning

Feb 8 (SO) Govt led by President Maithripala Sirisena has barely completed one month in office, but fresh winds are already blowing in the arena of Sri Lanka's foreign relations which sank to a nadir during the previous regime. It is clear that the new administration is seeking a distinct change in the foreign policy direction that will benefit all Sri Lankans. Part of the credit should go to the new Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera, who has lost no time in renewing our ties with more..

A King in his own right

Feb 8 (SL) President Maithripala Sirisena’s speech on Independence Day was a refreshing change from such speeches the nation has been subjected to for a long time. It was a plain, simple speech sans rhetorical flourishes and bombast but was relevant to most of his audience which expected changes as he had promised in his election campaigns. Within 35 days of his assuming office he has kept some of the substantial pledges he had given the people such as the whopping salary increase more..

'Nomination Board to decide on MR's candidacy for general election'

Feb 8 (SO) In a Q & A; Opposition Leader Nimal Siripala De Silva discussed the SLFPs plans for the forthcoming general election including the possibility of former President Rajapaksa contesting the polls under the UPFA ticket. While explaining the SLFP's decision on a national govt after the election, he said his party will support moves to scrap dictatorial powers of the Executive Presidency under the new Govt's 100- day plan, provided more..

That one step by Sampanthan, one giant leap for reconciliation!

Feb 8 (CT) 'That one step for man, one giant leap for mankind' was the first comment to be made by Neil Armstrong soon after he became the first human being to land on the moon in July 1969. The legendary Armstrong's comment could be interpreted in a manner with regard to Lankan Tamil politics, with the TNA Leader R. Sampanthan attending the 67th Independence Day celebrations at J'pura Kotte, as 'that one step by Sampanthan, one giant leap for reconciliation'. more..

New govt reshaping foreign policy

Feb 8 (ST) Hardly has the country finished celebrating its 67th year of Independence from the yoke of four centuries of foreign rule, than her Foreign Minister jets off to Britain and then the United States of America, brief in hand, to plead the country’s case to be treated as a respectable member of the comity of nations. Sri Lanka’s more recent foreign policy initiatives have been a total disaster. Towards the end of his term, even former President Rajapaksa, while proclaiming more..

'This is good governance'

Feb 8 (SL) Senior Minister of the newly formed govt Dr Rajitha Senaratne reiterates that the principles of good governance are well in place and maintains that this positive situation has brought in international support to the country. He speaks to The Sunday Leader about the situation with regards the UN probe against Sri Lanka, stressing that a viable domestic investigation had received the nod of the US. more..

Let Chinese come

Feb 8 (CT) "Let the robber barons come!" were the controversial words of President J.R. Jayewardene, when he opened up the economy in 1977, wanting much needed capital to flow into the country. That was an era where unemployment was in the double digit percentage levels and the country ran a huge infrastructure deficit. Shortages and rationing were the order of the day. Nevertheless, Sri Lanka ran a trade surplus in 1977 due to stringent exchange control methods adopted by previous regime. more..

Port City die seems already cast

Feb 8 (Island) The govt back-pedaling on its previous decision to stop the mega multi-billion dollar Port City project is no cause for surprise. These things are easier said than done and last week’s cabinet decision that the project will go on, announced by Minister Rajitha Senaratna who is the cabinet spokesman, was easily predictable. However PM Ranil Wickremesinghe went on record in Parliament on Friday indicating that no hard decision has yet been taken and more..

Colombo Fashion Forecast

Rocky honeymoon for marriage of political convenience

Feb 8 (ST) A month after the landmark Jan. 8 election that put the UNP in office, the uneasy arrangement of working with an Opposition which has more members in Parliament than the Govt side, is proving to be a challenge. The decision by the UNP-led Govt to support the ouster of Mohan Peiris from the post of Chief Justice (CJ) followed by the attack on a group of UPFA members of the Wattala Pradeshiya Sabha (PS) allegedly by supporters of Minister John Amaratunga, more..

Justice: Just his own undoing

Feb 8 (ST) My dear Mohan, I thought I must write to you because I am as confused as you are. They tell me that you have been removed from office, or to be more precise, you never held office at all. You must pardon us for being puzzled because we must be the only country which had three Chief Justices within three days! Of course, we had been promised in Maithri’s manifesto that all of Shirani’s privileges would be restored, so I suppose you could not say that you were not warned. more..

'I am now a very poor man'

Feb 8 (CT) Deshamanya Lalith Kotelawala is the man who, like King Midas, turned all that he touched into gold, until Golden Key spelled 'doom' to the Emperor. Today Kotelawala is fighting to regain his company and reputation and is determined more than ever to make a comeback. Q: You have been one of the richest men in this country. What contributed to your success and downfall? A: I have to go back to the 1996 more..

Yahapalanaya failing the test

Feb 8 (Island) Each passing week sees a mockery made of the term yahapalanaya. The most surprising episode we have seen yet after the ouster of the CJ Mohan Peiris, is the acceptance of the Chairmanship of the Board of Investment by Upul Jayasuriya the President of the Bar Association. Under Upul Jayasuriya the Bar Association was more politicized than ever before. His predecessor was Wijedasa Rajapakshe - himself a UNP politician. But even he did not politicize more..

Govt jumps the gun on Colombo Port City

Feb 8 (SL) Maithripala Sirisena, who ascended to Presidency on January 09, took part in his first Independence Day ceremony last week as the Executive President of Sri Lanka. The Independence Day ceremony this year showed a remarkable difference from the ceremonies that were held under President Rajapaksa’s govt. Independence Day state ceremonies, under former President Rajapaksa, were characterised with pomp and demonstration of grotesque power of military more..

'CJ & EC cannot go to Temple Trees'

Feb 8 (CT) Election Commissioner Mahinda Deshapriya says that when the Presidential Election results are being released, Chief Justice and the Election Commissioner cannot step into Temple Trees. Q: The govt which was accused of misusing power and violating the Election Law was sent home. Do you expect the present govt to obey the rules and regulations? A: The politicians will act wisely if the people, the officers of the EC's more..

Dhammika Prasad injured; will miss WC

Feb 8 (ST) Sri Lanka Cricket informed yesterday that Lankan speedster Dhammika Prasad was hit on the outside of the left hand when attempting a return catch while bowling. X-ray showed a fracture of the 5th metacarpal bone. The fracture has been realigned and put in a cast. Dhammika will not be available for the upcoming World Cup. Sri Lanka Cricket will follow the ICC protocol in order take the process forward. Commenting on the situation a senior spokesman of SLC said more..

DFCC-NDB merger in the balance

Feb 8 (ST) The much hyped merger between the triumvirate of local banks, DFCC Bank, DFCC Vardhana Bank and NDB Bank is now hanging in the balance with the present govt billed to probe all the mergers which were done by the previous government under the banking consolidation programme. Former Commercial Bank Chairman Dinesh Weerakkody has been appointed as the Chairman of a Committee under the Banking and Finance Sector of Ministry of Policy Planning more..

Lankans being lionized to lambast Kiwis

Feb 8 (ST) Sri Lanka’s hopes for the World Cup opener on Feb 14 are on an upward trajectory with the players in their best of mind frame and gelling well, while the secret weapons Malinga is all set to unleash his force at the opponents, Chief Selector Sanath Jayasuriya said, prior to his departure to NZ yesterday. “After the win in the last outing the Lankan team is in much better shape mentally and began their serious training more..

WC warm-ups in Australia to be telecast

Feb 8 (ST) The start of the World Cup 2015 is upon us and host broadcaster and ICC global media rights partner Star Sports is gearing up its production to make sure that the 2.5 billion people who have access to the live pictures from more than 200 territories around the world will enjoy an unrivaled spectator experience on their viewing platforms. It won’t be possible for all cricket fans to be in the venues to watch the action first-hand so the next best thing will be WC 2015 broadcast’s more..

Ministerial appointments worry JHU

Feb 8 (CT) Due to the majority of the appointments, made to the membership of the proposed National Medicinal Drugs, Devices and Cosmetics Authority (MDDCA), being Ministerial, concerns were raised about its independence, at a forum organized by the JHU. The main concern raised was regarding the composition of the authority, 10 of the 13-member authority being appointments made by the Minister, as it would raise questions as to the independence the Authority. more..

Culprits of the former administration yet to be punished

Feb 8 (ST) Comments from RCB’s pre and post budget polls: (Pre budget): 1/3 of the cabinet is incompetent. Three wheel drivers are happy with the new oil prices and they hope for a reduction of fares in comparison with the 10% concession on oil. A Govt that corrects the wrong things is putting things in place. Culprits of previous administration are not being punished. Stable door was left open for culprits & now govt is searching for them. more..

State Defence Minister inspects project launched by Gotabhaya

Feb 8 (Island) The new govt is going ahead with the construction of Defence Headquarters complex on Akuregoda Road, Pelawatte, Battaramulla, in spite of concerns expressed by some that the project could be derailed due to the change of govt. State Defence Minister Ruwan Wijewardene on Thursday visited the building project to review the progress. Minister received a comprehensive briefing as regards the status of the project at the Defence Ministry before his first visit to the site. more..

SriLankan to post approximately US$130 m loss FY 2014/15

Feb 8 (ST) National carrier SriLankan Airlines is expected to post reduced losses amounting to approximately US$100 million for 2014/15 in the wake of the Sirisena led administration calling for a tie-up with budget airline Mihin. With govt plans underway to tie-up these failed institutions the national carrier was still awaiting directives from authorities in this regard, the carrier’s CEO Kapila Chandrasena said. A decision on the modality of carrying out the merger between more..

Remarks by US Deputy Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken on Sri Lanka

Feb 8 (USDS) Thank you, Ambassador Kariyawasam. It is a privilege and a joy to celebrate Sri Lanka’s National Day with all of you. This year the whole world is celebrating with Sri Lanka. Following January’s elections, you have every reason to hold your heads high and take pride in what you have already accomplished in this young year. We all know democracy is a work in progress. You have to look no further than America’s more..

More time for probe on missing

Feb 8 (SL) The mandate of the Presidential Commission to Investigate Missing Persons has been extended till Aug 15, 2015. Secretary of the Presidential Commission to Investigate Missing Persons, H. W. Gunadasa told The Sunday Leader that the commission will continue its work as usual and will commence public sittings to complete the instigations into the rest of the complaints lodged with the commission. Gunadasa said that the Presidential Secretariat had informed the more..

Muhunthan Canagey new CEO of ICTA

Feb 8 (Island) Muhunthan Canagey will assume duties as the Chief Executive Officer of the Information and Communication Technology Agency (ICTA), which was founded under the vision of PM Ranil Wickremasinghe. He has been appointed in order to widen the role of ICTA in the public and private sector, and initiate and implement the national ICT policy, which will also include contributing to reforms, innovation, and ushering in new opportunities for the local ICT Industry. more..

Public confidence in new regime seen waning, opinion polls show

Feb 8 (ST) Inordinate delays in either filing action or prosecuting key figures in the former regime including close associates of the President may have led to a slump in public confidence in the new Govt, according to the results of a poll conducted over the past two weeks. Joint opinion poll was presented by Business Times and Research & Consultancy Bureau in a slightly different exercise this time. more..

Two amendments to the Constitution simultaneously

Feb 8 (SO) The Govt will introduce two Amendments to the Constitution simultaneously - the first to prune the Executive Presidency and the second to put in place electoral reforms during the 100-day program. Constitutional lawyer Dr. Jayampathy Wickremaratne who also worked on the draft Constitutional Amendments said the concept paper of the 19-A which proposes the pruning of the Executive Presidency, are now being studied by Opposition parties for their inputs. more..

Police to retake Attidiya Police Academy

Feb 8 (SL) Police Department is currently taking measures to retake the Attidiya Police Academy premises which was taken over by the former secretary of defence and handed over to the army, The Sunday Leader learns. The decision to establish a police higher education institution was taken in 1972 in addition to the basic police training. However it is learnt that the former defence secretary had taken over this land in 2009 for the army, and thus halted the police project. more..

UNHRC review on Sri Lanka suspended

Feb 8 (CT) The review on the UN report on Sri Lanka will be put off for Sept this year, and will not be taken before the UNHRC in Geneva this March as scheduled, highly placed sources sad. The US, the main sponsor of the resolution on Sri Lanka, is expected to ask the UNHRC to review the report in Sept when it will be taken up for discussion during the March session. This comes after new Govt of SL had urged the US to give 'time' to more..

Court throws out Writ Application - Attempt to block constitutional amendments

Feb 8 (CT) The Court of Appeal Friday dismissed a Writ Application seeking Writ of Prohibition to prevent Secretary to the Cabinet, Sumith Abeysinghe, from endorsing constitutional amendments as an urgent Bill. Jayantha Liyanage of Kurunegala filed the Application. Secretary to the President P. B. Abeykoon, Secretary to the Cabinet Sumith Abeysinghe, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe and the Attorney General have been cited as respondents. more..

Opposition Leader against hasty electoral reforms

Feb 8 (SO) Opposition Leader Nimal Siripala De Silva said his party would not support any hasty electoral reforms before the next parliamentary elections as there was barely any time to effect comprehensive changes to ensure fair representation in Parliament, electorate-wise. “In my electorate, Badulla, we have only 54,000 voters. In Kaduwela there are 170,000 voters and in Mahinyangana there are 120,000 voters. Is it fair to have one MP for 54,000 voters in Badulla more..

Worldwide hunt for assets of UPFA leaders

Feb 8 (ST) Measures to trace the foreign assets of top politicians and officials of the former UPFA Govt will get underway in Washington DC next week. For this purpose, Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera and eminent lawyer J.C. Weliamuna, a former local head of Transparency International, will meet officials of the World Bank’s Stolen Asset Recovery Unit (StAR) in the US capital. They left Colombo yesterday. more..

'Hybrid vehicle tax unfair by individuals'

Feb 8 (CT) DNA Leader, MP Anura Kumara Dissanayake alleged in Parliament that the newly imposed Hybrid vehicle tax was unfair on individuals buying Hybrid vehicles for personal use through small scale car dealers. Dissanayake said that although the govt was giving concessions on the new Hybrid tax to individuals who intend to purchase hybrid vehicles for personal use, which can be established by the individual signing an open Letter of Credit (LC), some individuals who more..

World renowned Architects to speak at Colombo conference

Feb 8 (Island) Sri Lanka Institute of Architects is gearing up for an international conference as never seen before in Sri Lanka. Expected to be a major contender at the regional level, the conference will feature Glenn Murcutt, an Australian architect honored with the Pritzker Architecture Prize, and Kengo Kuma, a prize-winning Japanese artists renowned for his iconic contemporary work, as keynote speakers. The conference will feature four speakers from around the world, more..