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JHU firm on electoral reforms deadline

Feb 23 (NS) JHU is firm in its stance that the promised electoral reforms under the Maithripala Sirisena Presidency should apply to the upcoming General Election, Minister and JHU General Secretary Champika Ranawaka stated. Expressing his views regarding the delay in implementing electoral reforms pledged in the 100-Day program of President Sirisena’s govt, Ranawaka said they had been told the reforms would be presented more..

Been there, done that, say apathetic Mullaitivu voters

Feb 23 (ST) Mullaitivu, a hotspot during the war, seems to be saying “no thanks” to one of the dividends of peace – the freedom to vote in local council elections – with a lacklustre campaign ending next Saturday for two councils up for polls. The voters of Puthukuduirippu and Maritimepattu are not actively engaged with any of the parties campaigning in the elections, said PAFFREL Executive Director Rohana Hettiarachchi. more..

WPC coup in the making to oust CM Ranatunga

Feb 23 (Island) A pot had been hatched to remove Western Province Chief Minister Prasanna Ranatunga and appoint Provincial Council Minister Ranjith Somawansa to that post, a senior SLFP spokesman said. A powerful minister of the incumbent govt was behind the conspiracy and he had gone into overdrive to oust Chief Minister Ranatunga following the latter’s participation in the recent massive public rally more..

Ranil dares MR to contest

Feb 23 (Island) PM Ranil Wickremesinghe has dared former President Mahinda Rajapaksa to contest the next general election as the UPFA’s prime ministerial candidate. He said he would reduce Rajapaksa’s votes to five million from 5.8 million if the latter entered the fray. Wickremesinghe said: "There has been a call for Rajapaksa to come forward as the UPFA’s prime ministerial candidate. more..

Electoral reforms: A must; SLFP decides

Feb 23 (CT) SLFP MPs, who met in Negombo over the weekend, agreed on five key issues, which if implemented, could prevent the breakup of the Party. A few SLFP MPs had attended a rally, on 18 Feb, calling for the return of former President Rajapaksa, President Sirisena's coordinating secretary, Shiral Lakthilake said. Among the decisions are; not to take disciplinary action against SLFP members who attended more..

President wants reports on Uma Oya, Port City projects

Feb 23 (DN) President Maithripala Sirisena has instructed Central Environmental Authority (CEA) officials to submit two reports on the Uma Oya Project and Colombo Port City Project with the coordination of other relevant institutions. The President issued these instructions during a visit to the CEA last week as the Mahaweli Development and Environment Minister. The report on the Uma Oya project is being compiled by more..

Sri Lanka hopes President Sirisena will usher in an era of peace and reform

Feb 23 (GN) President Maithripala Sirisena is a busy man. No sooner has he finished his morning walk around Colombo’s Independence Square than a stream of officials, visitors, business people, soldiers and ambassadors file through the colonial-era gates to his white-washed residence in Sri Lanka’s principal city. One day last week he appointed a new appeal judge and the head of a key committee, had a two-hour security meeting, more..

Sri Lanka anti-graft chief wants special court

Feb 23 (EN) Sri Lanka's newly appointed anti-graft chief said a dedicated court would be needed to handle hundreds of potential cases of bribery corruption that had piled up at her office and institutional reform may also be needed. Dilrukshi Dias Wickramasinghe told reporters that she had already requested for the administration that a bribery court would be required to move cases forward quickly, and PM has agreed. more..

Complications of smoking

Feb 23 (CT) Parliament timely approved legislation to cover 80% of the cigarette pack with a health warning. President Sirisena who was the former Health Minister pursued that need amidst many obstacles in the past but managed only to get 60% health warning coverage on the pack. Medical specialists claim that it seemed impossible to believe that smoking is even more harmful to health than it was thought. Studies have shown that many millions perish in the world annually due to smoking. more..

Exposé: Questions haunt health ministry’s Rs 7 billion cancer project

Feb 23 (CT) Few are surprised by accounts of corruption on Sri Lanka’s mega-projects such as highways, ports and airports. These were widely rumoured at the time and hardly come as a surprise. But even as President Sirisena struggles to implement Senaka Bibile drug policy reforms in an attempt to reduce healthcare costs, emerging revelations from Health Ministry cast shadows over the transparency of a multi-billion rupee cancer treatment project inherited from former govt. more..

Jaffna Revisited

President Anura Kumara Dissanayake?

Feb 23 (CT) What is JVP’s ultimate goal, Presidency? Do you think that Sri Lankans would elect comrade Anura Kumara Dissanayake as our president? Things that seem impossible and politically unpalatable today, with time, can turn into things that are real and politically palatable. What are Anura’s barriers? Has the JVP already dug Anura’s grave because the blood of our brothers and sisters that the JVP has killed continually cries out to us? It seems like most Sri Lankans think that more..

WC 2015: England beat Scotland

Feb 23 (CI) The timely appearance of the Auld Enemy proved to be a World-Cup blessing for England. Scotland rarely pass muster these days even in their most culturally-ingrained team sports of football and rugby union and, as far as cricket is concerned, their fortunes have yet to cause much impassioned debate on Sauchiehall Street. England, easy victors by 119 runs, were grateful for that as they began to restore their World Cup reputation. For all the belligerent pre-match cries more..

Video: Wimal rejects allegations

Feb 23 (DM) Former Minister Wimal Weerawansa rejected the allegations levelled against his wife Shashi Weerawansa as possessing a fake diplomatic passport and said the charge was ‘a complete lie’. He said he would prove that the allegations were false in court. He said Yahapalana Officials had been agitated by the huge turnout at Nugegoda Rally and that therefore they were attempting to end his political more..

WC 2015: India beat South Africa

Feb 23 (CI) India showed just why no one was writing them off even after they had spent two-and-a-half months in Australia without a win. They might not be the strongest team in the field, but on big days in limited-overs cricket they stay calmer than most. In a match to potentially decide who finishes top of their group, India sat back and saw South Africa work themselves up into a frenzy, get too funky and wilt under the weight of their own mistakes. This was India's first win more..

Sri Lanka stocks edge up

Feb 23 (EN) Sri Lanka's benchmark stock index closed higher Monday supported by gains in Ceylon Tobacco Company and CT Holdings with a hydro power firm attracting much investor interest and hitting a 52-week high, brokers said. All Share Price Index edged up 11.40 points (0.16%) to 7,326.31 while the S&P SL20 index, ended at 4,127.49, down 5.52 points (0.13%). Turnover was just over a billion rupees with several crossings or off-the-floor negotiated deals John Keels Holdings, more..

NPC member writes to Al Hussein

Feb 23 (CG) NPC member M K Shivajilingam has written to Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights saying the Tamil people sincerely hope that the UN System will not victimize the Tamils once again by delaying or denying them full and complete justice. He says the Tamils see the delay to release the report based on the probe on the war in Sri Lanka as a failure of UN system to protect and listen to more..

Treasure hunters destroy ancient Dagoba

Feb 23 (Island) Treasure hunters had destroyed the dagoba of Poorwarama Purana Raja Maha Vihara at Veheragoda, Urugamuwa in Dickwella on Saturday night, police said. They had demolished the Devata Kotuwa (citadel of the gods or the conical spire) and the Hathares Kotuwa (four-cornered enclosure) of the Chaitya believed to have been built by a regional king known as Minikirula around 89 BC during the reign of King Valagambahu, police said. Temple situated atop a hill at Radampola-Walasgala more..

Sigiriya Mirror Wall to get protective cover

Feb 23 (CT) Ministry of Culture and Arts has taken steps to safeguard the Mirror Wall in Sigiriya from damage, by building a glass covering in front of the historical wall, said the General Manager of the Sigiriya Project of the Central Cultural Fund, Chandana Weerasinghe. A team has already been dispatched to build the covering to protect the wall from damage by both humans and animals. The Sigiriya 'Mirror Wall' was subjected to various defacement, the most recent one more..

Australia silent on Sri Lanka abuses in boat people deal

Feb 23 (AFP) Australia stayed silent about human rights abuses in Sri Lanka in exchange for its cooperation in cracking down on people-smuggling, Colombo's new PM Ranil Wickremesinghe said. Wickremesinghe said former president Mahinda Rajapakse had agreed to help stop boats carrying asylum-seekers leaving for Australia if Canberra kept quiet about alleged abuses by Rajapakse's regime. more..

Teacher trainees forced to live on starvation diet

Feb 23 (Island) The monthly allowance of Rs. 2,250 paid as food allowance to Diploma Teacher Trainees at National Colleges of Education (NCOE) is mere pittance, complain the teacher trainees and the administration of NCOE. The teacher trainees are paid a monthly allowance of Rs. 2,500 during the residential training of two years and Rs. 3,000 during the one-year internship in schools. Of this amount 10 per cent is deducted by the administration for welfare. College administration faces the more..

Wimal also changed DoB: CID

Feb 23 (DM) The CID had informed the court today that former Minister and NFF Leader Wimal Weerawansa has also altered his original date of birth. Though he was born on March 7, 1965, he had changed it to March 7, 1970 as his date of birth, the Police said. His wife, Shashi Weerawansa was yesterday arrested on charges of changing her date of birth as well. Mrs. Weerawansa is said to have altered her DoB by four years. CID officials said that the couple had done this with the intention of more..

South Africa, SL to sign cooperation pacts

Feb 23 (AA) International Relations and Cooperation Deputy Minister Nomaindiya Mfeketo will on Tuesday visit Sri Lanka, where representatives of the two countries are expected to sign cooperation agreements. SA and Sri Lanka will sign agreements on tourism cooperation and cooperation between the South African and Sri Lankan Zoological Gardens. "It is expected that Mfeketo will meet her counterpart more..

Undergrad’s death by hanging; case closed

Feb 23 (Island) Investigations into the death of a female undergraduate of Sabaragamuwa University by hanging had concluded and it was a case of suicide, SSP Ajith Rohana said. As there was no evidence to take forward the investigation the police had closed the case. SSP said, however, that the police would inform the courts of their decision. First year female student of Sabaragamuwa University’s Applied Sciences Faculty died of hanging at her home in Pannipitiya on Feb 17. more..

MR visits Kataragama

Feb 23 (DM) Former President Mahinda Rajapaksa visited Kataragama Maha Devalaya and engaged in religious rituals this morning. It was speculated that Mr. Rajapaksa had visited the temple aspiring to re-enter into active politics. He had engaged in religious activities since Sunday with Mrs. Rajapaksa and sons Namal and Yoshitha. Former CM Shashindra Rajapaksa, Provincial Councillor Udaya Gammanpila and Ex-Minister Gamini Lokuge were also present. more..

Fisheries talks postponed indefinitely as Sri Lanka is busy

Feb 23 (ENS) Talks between India and Sri Lanka on fishing in the Palk Bay and Palk Strait, which were to be held in Chennai on March 5, have been postponed indefinitely because the Lankan govt is busy with other more pressing issues, the Director General of Fisheries, Nimal Hettiarachchi, said. “Fisheries Minister Dilip Wedaarachchi had to seek postponement because govt is busy implementing its post-election 100-day program more..

Over 300 hundred acres in biodiversity complex destroyed by fire

Feb 23 (Island) Over 300 acres of forest belonging to the Ambuluwawa biodiversity complex at Gampola have been destroyed by a fire that raged for two days from Friday. The fire sparked off from the Galpaya area in Ganga Ihala Korale, Gampola near the Wattakade on the Hemmatagama Road on the Kegalle District border raged destroying pine cultivation and spread up to the Ambuluwawa Mountain. Villagers had first seen the fire around 10 am on Friday, police said. more..

Muthuhettigama's passport released

Feb 23 (AM) Baddegama Magistrate ordered to release the surrendered passport of UPFA MP Nishantha Muthuhettigama today. He was accused of damaging the stage of an election rally of Common Candidate Maithripala Sirisena in Wanduramba last December and damaging two shops in Udappuwa. He was also accused of attempting to forcefully release two suspects in police custody. He was arrested at BIA on Dec 28 and his passport was impounded by court. more..

No probe on assassination fear

Feb 23 (CG) The govt says it has no plans to investigate information it received over an alleged attempt to assassinate President Maithripala Sirisena at the Independence Day anniversary celebrations held earlier this month. Minister John Amaratunga said that there was suspicion to the effect that some members of the security forces may have attempted to use their weapons to assassinate either the President or some govt members. more..

Weerawansa's interrogation linked to Buddhadasa's complaint

Feb 23 (AM) It has now been revealed that the CID interrogation of former Minister Wimal Weerawansa was based on a complaint lodged by Kaduwela Mayor G.H. Buddhadasa who is known as a political rival of the NFF leader. Weerawansa was questioned for over an hour in connection with a complaint lodged by Buddhadasa on an alleged election law violation. In addition to the CID complaint, Kaduwela Mayor has also filed a law suit against NFF Leader Wimal Weerawansa and more..

STF in countrywide ops in support of regular law enforcement

Feb 23 (Island) The elite Special Task Force (STF) has further stepped-up operations against those who had been involved in the ganja trade with 48 arrests during Jan 10-Feb 21 period. Acting on a directive given by the STF headquarters, the police commandos had carried out a series of raids in Thanamalwila, Kataragama, Hambegamuwa, Buttala, Tissamaharamaya, Teldeniya, Angunakolapelessa, Wellampitiya, Jaffna, Mannar and Chunnakam, a spokesman for STF said, more..

Petition over Port City at HRCSL

Feb 23 (CG) A petition was filed at the Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka (HRCSL) today against the Colombo Port City project by environmental groups. Environmental groups said that the human rights of the public, including fishermen, had been violated as a result of the Chinese funded project. They also alleged that an initial environment assessment report issued by a SL university, which had cleared the project, more..

Koslanda landslide victims get 75 houses

Feb 23 (Island) Ministry of Plantation Infrastructure Development has taken the initiative to construct 75 houses for Koslanda landslide affected families in the Badulla District. Landslide occurred on Oct 29, 2014 rendering 75 families homeless. Secretary to the Ministry of Plantation Infrastructure Development V. Sivagnanasothy said that under the govt’s 100-day programme, action had been initiated to construct good houses for the families affected by the landslide disaster. more..

BBS to meet govt about Kuragala

Feb 23 (CT) BBS has requested a meeting with the govt, to call for the Antiquities Ordinance to be enforced with regards to the Kuragala monastery. BBS had previously threatened that if the Antiquities Ordinance was not enforced within a month, they would remove the Sufi mosque within the premises brick by brick. The BBS are scheduled to be given an appointment by Minister Karu Jayasuriya on 25 Feb and they are also attempting to meet Minister of Cultural Affairs, Nandimithra Ekanayake. more..

Singapore hails Sri Lanka’s efforts

Feb 23 (CG) Singapore today commended the initiatives of the new Govt on national reconciliation and revitalization of the democratic processes in the country, including the credibility and stability of its institutional framework. The Minister for Foreign Affairs and Minister for Law of Singapore, K. Shanmugam, who is on a two day visit to Sri Lanka, met with Foreign Affairs Minister Mangala Samaraweera today at the Ministry. more..

Army in the North: Contesting the views of Prof. Rohan Gunaratna

Feb 24 (GV) I do agree with Prof. Rohan Gunaratna that “Without security there is no freedom and development”, but I would argue that vice versa is true as well; that is, without freedom and development there is no security. While Prof. Rohan Gunaratna opines that “Security is first”, I would argue that human security should be first. If there is human security, securing national security (against domestic armed opposition) would be easier. Analogy that this venerable International more..

To a secured future under Maithri Rule for our biggest minority group

Feb 24 (CT) For a secured brighter future as a developing country, today we are focusing a formidable and sustainable national economy. It is thus imperative to arrest colossal economic and social waste that plague the country in untold proportions. Two prerequisites here are: (i). Arresting the waste of human potential and instead mobilizing this asset and (ii). Minimising unwanted dependents through empowering, inclusion and equal opportunity. more..

Siddique's tractor ploy comes a croppper

Feb 24 (SO) Heroin is a vicious drug that seeps into the veins of the Sri Lankan social system through various ports unlawfully. Throughout the past it had been smuggled into the country by numerous methods which authorities caught on to quickly. The narcotics that came in oranges, potatoes, tins of grease and iron bolts have finally arrived inside tractor engines making it the latest modus operandi. more..

Dayan Jayatilleka, The incorrigible nitpicker

Feb 24 (CT) Dayan Jayatilleka, the incorrigible nitpicker’s performance at the Nugegoda meeting of the UPFA, organized by the discards of the Sirisena coalition to bring back the tyrannical Mahinda Rajapaksa as the Prime Ministerial candidate at the next general elections, could have put Joe Abeywickrama’s best cinematic performance to shame.He was tasked to read out a simple message from President Mahinda Rajapaksa, and our dear Dayan, the nitpicker takes the podium, more..

The SLFP’s identity crisis

Feb 24 (NS) The SLFP is suffering from an identity crisis. The signs are all over the place. SLFP has more MPs than any other party, and yet finds itself in the Opposition. The man who secured the support of a majority of voters is the leader of the SLFP, and yet neither he nor the party seems to be calling any shots as of now. We have an unprecedented situation where a mandate has been effectively transferred to someone, who didn’t trust himself to go before the people. more..