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Credible reports of bid to harm new govt leaders at National Day military parade

Feb 22 (ST) The talking point in a section of the National Unity Govt this week was an intelligence warning President Maithripala Sirisena received ahead of the National Day celebrations on February 4. Though sketchy, the warning spoke of a possible assault on a leader or leaders of the Govt when they attended the military parade held outside the parliament complex at Sri Jayawardenapura-Kotte. more..

Right to Information is a human right

Feb 22 (CT) The new govt, since the election of its President at the presidential poll, has done many things to ensure transparency and fair reporting. As the first step, the State media is now 'covering' the opposition, a matter that one could not believe would have happened prior to 8 Jan. However, there had also been some progress made in regard to financial reporting, prior to that regime change, probably due to external pressure by multilateral donor agencies such as the IMF. more..

Nugegoda rally & govt’s midlife crisis

Feb 22 (Island) Govt’s 100-day plan is nearing its halfway mark. The record so far is somewhat mixed. The big concern is whether all the constitutional and legislative changes proposed in the plan can be implemented within the remaining 55 days and certainly before the meaningless April 23 deadline for dissolving parliament. More than anybody else, PM Ranil Wickremesinghe is insistent on sticking to the dissolution deadline with the expectation of forming an all-party national govt more..

'People in N-E and CP yearn for palpable change'

Feb 22 (SO) People in the North, East and the Central Provinces are waiting for a palpable change to take place in their lives. A long-awaited vibrancy is the need of the hour, Ven. Maduluwawe Sobitha Thera said. The Thera told a forum on the “Resurrection of war-affected North, East and North Central Provinces” held in Colombo recently, that with the change of Govt, aspirations and expectations have reached higher levels and more..

'SLFP, not Wimal Weerawansa will decide on its PM candidate'

Feb 22 (Island) The "Official SLFP" and not small organizations such as the one headed by Wimal Weerawansa would decide on who its prime ministerial candidate would be, a leading member of the party said.  Minister Rajitha Senaratne, who along with President Maithripala Sirisena now wield considerable influence in the SLFP, said that last weeks rally in Nugegoda organized by the NFF leader Wimal more..

Commodities worth Rs. 150 million found dumped in Lanka Sathosa warehouse

Feb 22 (Island) In a startling discovery, non-essential commodities worth more than Rs. 150 million were found gathering dust in a Lanka Sathosa warehouse in Colombo, with most of the stocks past their shelf life, senior officials said. The store at Maligawatte was raided last week by the internal audit division on a directive by Lanka Sathosa Chairman, Kiran Atapattu, and huge stocks of slow-moving, non-essential more..

Mahela, Thisara douse Afghanistan hopes

Feb 22 (CI) The World Cup has had its first thriller. And guess what? It involved a Full Member against an Associate. Afghanistan glimpsed the greatest victory of their short international history in Dunedin before Sri Lanka dragged themselves over the line to win by four wickets with 10 balls to spare - and the finish was tenser than that suggests. When Mahela Jayawardene departed, two balls after completing his 19th ODI hundred, more..

Indian officials here for gas talks

Feb 22 (ST) A team from Cairn India, the company which discovered natural gas in the Mannar basin, will arrive in Sri Lanka this week for discussions on future action, industry sources said. While Cairn India’s quarterly report released in January says it will start 3D seismic reprocessing to further investigate the potential, the company also admits that finding a market for the gas remains a challenge. more..

Disciplinary action against principals soliciting funds for admissions

Feb 22 (ST) School principals who continue to accept donations in violation of a recently issued Education Ministry circular regarding admission of students will face disciplinary action, warned Education Minister Akila Virja Kariyawasam. He said they have identified the principals and the schools where illegal collection of funds continue, and action will be initiated against them shortly. He said that some of the schools where the more..

Last presidential election recorded highest ever voter turnout

Feb 22 (Island) The last presidential election was one where the power was bestowed back to the people. Elections Commissioner Mahinda Deshapriya said, "Two very important things happened during the last election; the power of the people was given back to the people and youth in this country engaged in politics." The Commissioner whose attention was repeatedly diverted towards a bird which kept pecking on his window for more..

Children of Sri Lankan refugees born in India uncertain about future

Feb 22 (WP) Election of a new president in Sri Lanka in January ushered in renewed hopes for the return of thousands of ethnic Tamils displaced by war – and uncertainty for their children born abroad during decades of bloody conflict. Many of the children are in their twenties now and have spent their entire lives in refugee camps in southern India. Their parents tried to shield them from the worst stories of their terrifying exodus during more..

RTI Bill should cover private sector and NGOs

Feb 22 (NS) The govt’s Right to Information (RTI) Bill should be expanded to cover private companies and NGOs, activists have pointed out. It has been pointed out that the RTI Draft Bill, which is currently being discussed before being presented to Parliament, covers only ‘public bodies’ that are required to release information required by the public. Editor of The Colombo Telegraph, Uvindu Kurukulasuriya said that the bill should apply more..

Sri Lanka mulls future of Rajapakse's white elephants

Feb 22 (AFP) From a multi-million dollar airport ignored by airlines to a lavish cricket stadium rejected by players, SL's new govt is mulling the future of a string of white elephants. Former president Rajapakse ordered the state-of-the-art facilities built in his southern home town of Hambantota in extensive efforts to turn his rural constituency into a regional business hub. Vast revenues were channelled into the vanity more..

Refreshing simplicity of the new administration

Feb 22 (Island) It was really good to see on TV our President, with his wife and a few of the relevant Ministers in India recently. There was a happy mix of foreign relations being cemented, a couple of bridges high-handedly broken by the last regime mended, the apparent good relations and mutual respect when our President and the Indian Prime Minister were together and the fact it was the first foreign visit of our newly elected Head of State to our closest neighbour. more..

After the Welfare State – What Next

Feb 22 (Island) Now with the euphoria over the sweeping concessions for the people announced in the welfare oriented mini budget making good election promises beginning to fade away as is the case with most such concessions, a time will soon come when difficulties in implementing proposed taxation in order to collect additional revenues to balance revenue and expenditure will have to be faced. Sri Lanka has by and large been a welfare state since independence. more..

Rallying cry for MR at Nugegoda SLFP

Feb 22 (CT) The rally held at Nugegoda recently could be classified as one of the best held so far considering the turnout. Furthermore, people say that a crowd of this magnitude has never been witnessed at a rally organized in Nugegoda in the past. Tagline of the rally was "if you are one of the people out of the 5.7 million who voted for Mahinda Rajapaksa you should attend this rally," it was evident that there was more..

‘Don’t waste your money getting on a boat to Australia’

Feb 22 (Island) The Australian and Sri Lankan Governments continue to work closely to disrupt the dangerous and illegal activity of people smuggling. On Monday, 9 February 2015, a people smuggling venture carrying four Sri Lankan nationals attempting to travel illegally by boat to Australia was successfully disrupted. The people were returned to Sri Lanka on 17 Feb 2015. "People seeking to come to Australia should not listen to the lies of people smugglers. The way to Australia is closed," more..

Grievances of the police prioritized by Amaratunga’s ministry

Feb 22 (Island) Minister of Public Order, Disaster Management and Christian Affairs, Mr. John Amaratunga, has had his hands full since assuming office attending to various previously neglected matters under his purview. "We had to attend to the grievances of the Police, including transfers, promotions and welfare," he said. "I visited the Police Hospital and found how neglected it had been. I was able to take stock of requirements and even donated wheelchairs to more..

Shashi sick; probe delayed

Feb 22 (DM) Responding to reports which said his wife was to be arrested in a few days the Jathika Nidahas Peramuna (JNP) Leader and former minister Wimal Weerawansa said his wife, Shashi Weerawansa was only asked to come to CID on February 19. In a statement Mr. Weerawansa said this request was made by the CID in writing though the Talangama Police on February 18. Former Minister said they had informed more..

Golden ducks for openers; Mahela on song

Feb 22 (CI) 1075: Runs for Mahela Jayawardene in World Cup cricket. He is the fourth Sri Lankan in the 1000-run club, after Sanath Jayasuriya, Aravinda de Silva, and Kumar Sangakkara. His four hundreds is joint third in the all-time list; only Sachin Tendulkar (6) and Ricky Ponting (5) have more in the World Cup. 56: Jayawardene's World Cup average since the start of the 2007 tournament - he has scored 952 runs in 20 innings, with all nine 50-plus scores coming during this period. more..

Rajiva Wijesinha to resign tomorrow?

Feb 22 (AM) State Minister of Higher Education Prof. Rajiva Wijesinha stated that he will take a decision on resigning from his post tomorrow. He said that if he does not get a response to the letter he sent the President by tomorrow, he will have to take a decision. His main grievance is the instructions given by Cabinet Minister for Higher Education Kabir Hashim without his knowledge to several individuals including former Chairperson of UGC Prof Kshanika Hirimburegama. more..

'I can easily play for another 2-3 years'

Feb 22 (CI) Tillakaratne Dilshan believes he has a role to play in Sri Lanka's limited-overs teams after Mahela and Sangakkara retire at the end of the ongoing World Cup. With form on his side and no fitness concerns, Dilshan hoped to last another two to three years in international cricket. "My ambition is to continue playing ODI and T20 cricket," Dilshan said. "After the World Cup I will have to discuss with my captain and more..

Borrowed boots and a busted bat

Feb 22 (CI) Quicks love the sights and sounds of broken timber, and though Shapoor Zadran may have shattered a few stumps in his life, he busted wood in a less meaningful, but in some ways more impressive manner. The 136kph back-of-a-length ball he delivered was met with a defensive push by Mahela Jayawardene. His bat middled the ball, or was it that the ball middled the bat? The willow in Jayawardene's hands snapped at the point of impact, and he was left holding the handle more..

President says freedom is for all

Feb 22 (CG) President Maithripala Sirisena today assured that under his leadership people of all communities and religions will be able to enjoy freedom. Speaking at an event in Kaduruwela, the President said that Sri Lanka is now at peace following the defeat of the LTTE. The President said that he is committed to ensure an environment prevails were all can live in peace and without fear. “It is our responsibility to meet the expectations of the people,” he said. more..

Review on dual citizenship

Feb 22 (SL) Govt has decided to review dual citizenships granted to over 2000 people and most of it will be cancelled. Minister John Amaraunga said that a special committee will be appointed to review dual citizenships granted by the Defence Ministry during the previous regime. He said, even though the granting of dual citizenships was cancelled in 2010, with the approval of higher officials at the Defence Ministry, more..

Singaporean Foreign Minister to visit SL

Feb 22 (CNA) Minister for Foreign Affairs and Law K Shanmugam will be visiting Sri Lanka and India from Feb 23 to Feb 26. Mr Shanmugam's trip to Sri Lanka is aimed at reaffirming the strong and friendly relations between Singapore and Sri Lanka. He will visit Colombo, where he will call on President Maithripala Sirisena and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe. He will also meet Minister of External Affairs Mangala Samaraweera and central bank governor Arjuna Mahendran. more..

TNA casts doubts on domestic investigations

Feb 22 (NS) Tamil people of Sri Lanka have no faith in a domestic investigation or in a domestic mechanism into alleged human rights violations and possible war crimes said TNA MP Suresh Premachandran. According to him, the people have lost faith as several commissions organized by earlier govts to investigate the matter never released their reports while some were halted abruptly. “Therefore, as a party we are calling for the timely release of the war crimes report and further more..

Sri Lanka notes no protests in India

Feb 22 (CG) The Govt has noted that there are no more protests in India against Sri Lanka following the defeat of the Rajapaksa Govt. Deputy Minister V. Radhakrishnan said that usually there are black flag protests when a Sri Lankan Minister or leader visits India but when President Maithripala Sirisena visited India everything was calm and peaceful. “We would like to see ties between both countries strengthen further,” more..

Sri Lanka’s tourism sector nets US$ 1.7 Billion in foreign exchange

Feb 22 (Island) Chairman Tourism Promotion Bureau, Rohantha Athukorale, said that although tourism earnings in foreign exchange was US$ 1.7 billion in 2014, its potential was not exploited more enthusiastically. "The value chain was substantial. Its growth currently could be said to be minimal subject to what Sri Lanka had to offer. Areas that had still not been explored included beach boys, three wheelers, hotel operators, and our natural advantage of literally the sand, sea, wild life, more..

Will Rs. 200mn monthly levy on booze manufacturers wipe out small-timers?

Feb 22 (Island) The imposition of a minimum Rs. 200 million monthly levy on liquor manufacturers by the interim budget has evoked mixed reactions in the industry, with some players welcoming the move, but many others warning that it would sound the death knell to small-time businesses. The provision for the new taxation on all liquor and beer producing companies was made to "discourage the small-time operators and rationalize the number of manufacturers", Finance Minister, more..

Spike in dengue cases in Colombo

Feb 22 (NS) There is a one and half fold increase in the number of dengue cases in Colombo, when compared to last year, and a twofold increase in the number of cases, island-wide. “There were 470 cases in Colombo by this time last year, and there have been 628 cases so far this year. We cannot be complacent about this,” CMC Chief Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Ruwan Wijayamuni said. Out of the 3,538 houses inspected by CMC on Feb 19 more..

Udaya to register Pivituru Hela Urumaya

Feb 22 (SL) WPC MP Udaya Gammanpila says that he will seek approval of the Election Commissioner at the end of this month to register his Pivituru Hela Urumaya party. However new political parties will not be registered on February 28 since there is an election at the Maritimepattu Pradeshiya Sabha. Gammanpila further said since he was not a member of the SLFP he would seek to contest the general election via the Pivituru Hela Urumaya after he gets it registered. more..

New replacements for recalled diplomats soon

Feb 22 (NS) Govt hopes to soon finalize the appointments of a majority of diplomats who would be replacing the recalled ‘political appointees’ as Heads of Mission. Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ajith P. Perera, stated the govt hoped to finalize the majority of the appointments of the Heads of Mission within the next two weeks. These appointments need to be ratified by the Parliament’s Committee on High Posts. Ministry of Foreign Affairs has so far recalled 65 non-career diplomats more..

Sri Lanka’s leader grapples with release of political prisoners

Feb 22 (NYT) Paintings at Temple Trees, this country’s White House, are still leaning against walls waiting to be hung, and the gated grounds are no longer teeming with guards and stewards who served the home’s previous occupant like supplicants at a royal court. But more than a month after taking over this iconic home after a shocking electoral triumph, PM Ranil Wickremesinghe said in an interview more..

Japanese assistance to move Analog electronics to digital mode in Sri Lanka

Feb 22 (Island) Two Japanese parliamentarians , President, New Renaissance Party, member of the House of Councilors, Arai Hiroyuki, and Government Parliamentarian, Shimpei Matsushita, met with the media in Colombo last week. Invited by Chairman, Sri Lanka – Japan Friendship Association, Medagama Sunil Gamage, Arai Hiroyuki, said their visit was, at this stage of Sri Lanka’s economic development, important to further cement friendly ties between both countries. more..

UNP-SLFP joint strategising for future Parliament

Feb 22 (SO) The top leadership of the two main political parties in govt, the SLFP and UNP, are currently in close consultation in moves to clarify leadership positions and begin strategising for the planned parliamentary elections later this year, the Sunday Observer learns. Even as cabinet ministers and their teams work overtime to implement the ‘100-day program’, senior party officials are already engaged in talks to strengthen and build their parties to prepare for the complex challenge of more..

Abbott’s close link with Rajapaksas was a mystery: Ranil

Feb 22 (DM) PM Ranil Wickremesinghe said that Australian PM Tony Abbott’s close relationship with the Sri Lanka’s Rajapaksas was ‘a mystery’ to Sri ­Lankans, and that Australia’s ­new Immigration Minister, Peter Dutton, would be unlikely to get the warm welcome received under the previous ­govt. He also said that the Australian govt’s silence on alleged human rights abuses was the price it paid to secure co-operation from more..

Yoshitha wants to join his father's security division: Ruwan

Feb 22 (DM) State Defence Minister Ruwan Wijewardene said Yoshitha Rajapaksa, the son of former President Mahinda Rajapaksa had requested authorities to attach him to his father's security division. In an interview with the BBC Sandeshaya, Minister Wijewardene said that the request had been made to President Maithripala Sirisena and PM Ranil Wickremesinghe. However, he said that no action had been taken with regard to the request as yet. The Minister also said that more..

Ranil to summon media owners

Feb 22 (CG) PM Ranil Wickremesinghe says he plans to summon the owners of local media to warn them against attempting to create communal disharmony in the country. Wickremesinghe said that he will also invite media rights groups to attend the meeting for them to raise concerns they have over the owners of the local media. The PM said that some Sinhalese language newspapers have been publishing reports which give the impression that there is an attempt by the LTTE to revive more..

Wimal Weerawansa’s wife arrested

Feb 22 (AD) Shashi Weerawansa, wife of former Minister Wimal Weerawansa, who was under investigation for allegedly submitting forged documents to get a diplomatic passport, has been arrested by CID, SSP Ajith Rohana said. “CID apprehended Shashi Weerawansa at a private hospital in Malabe, this evening,” SSP added. A manhunt had been launched to locate Weerawansa, after CID officers found that suspect has fled more..