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Sri Lanka's new president to visit India, steers away from China

Feb 5 (Reuters) Sri Lanka's President Maithripala Sirisena will visit India on Feb 16, his first state visit abroad, a govt official said, part of efforts to repair relations with New Delhi which soured under the previous govt. Sirisena earlier pledged to pursue a more global foreign policy in a break with his predecessor Mahinda Rajapaksa's pursuit of close ties with China, a key supporter of Sri Lanka's economy since its civil war ended in 2009. more..

Seven customers of Touchwood file urgent application

Feb 5 (FT) On 30 Jan, an urgent application was made to the Commercial High Court of Colombo by seven former customers of Touchwood Investment including JAT Holdings, into the winding up case of Touchwood Investment. The said customers had by a previous Motion brought it to the attention of the Commercial High Court on 18 Dec that their private properties to which they have title to were wrongfully and illegally attempted to be included as part of the assets of Touchwood Investment PLC. more..

Hybrid car importers want relief; say Budget tax hike merciless

Feb 5 (FT) Individual importers of hybrid cars who have been impacted by the sudden tax increase in the Budget called for relief from the Govt. They requested that the Govt give relief to hybrid vehicle importers who had opened LC accounts to reserve a vehicle from Japan before Interim Budget came into effect by releasing them from the tax. Interim Budget proposed revised excise taxes applicable on hybrid vehicles in view of the unhealthy tax disparity between hybrid and normal motor cars. more..

'Sri Lanka’s Cricket World Cup team lacks confidence'

Feb 5 (ST) Three of Sri Lanka’s greatest-ever cricketers – Arjuna Ranatunga, Aravinda de Silva and Muttiah Muralitharan – strongly believe the current Sri Lanka squad for the upcoming World Cup cricket tournament lacks confidence and may not be fully geared to ‘deliver the goods’. While expressing the hope, however, that Sri Lanka will – just like in the past where it faced similar odds and then managed to go into the semi-finals – more..

A complaint to JVP against President’s brother

Feb 5 (LT) The JVP office for public complaints received a complaint yesterday (3) from a person engaged in mining sand at Welikanda in Polonnaruwa District against President Maithripala Sirisena’s brother Raju Sirisena, also engaged in sand business. Mr. Sujeewa Sudasinghe, a businessman engaged in mining and selling sand complained that sand mined by him is forcefully removed by Mr. Raju Sirisena. The JVP office to receive complaints established near more..

'Discarding extremism, fundamentalism, racism and terrorism totally'

Feb 5 (FT) Following is the message issued by Most Excellent Rev Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith, Archbishop of Colombo: I am pleased to write a message regarding the 67th Independence Day of Sri Lanka. It should be deeply emphasised that the duty of protecting the pride which was maintained for 67 years as a sovereign state is bestowed on each and every citizen of the country with a Sri Lankan identity. When reconsidering the past 67 years, it can be observed that we have failed to build more..

For Sri Lankan refugees, time may have come to return

Feb 5 (TOI) Sujivani is quick to turn philosophical when asked about her life as a Tamil returnee to Sri Lanka. "Life has always been a struggle but it looks better now," says the 24-year old who makes a living taking English tuitions for children in Vavuniya. A graduate of English literature at the Govt Arts College in Arani, Tamil Nadu, Sujivani is among the more than 8,000 refugees who returned to their homeland after end of war in 2009. more..

Modi may visit Jaffna, Kandy or Anuradhapura too

Feb 5 (Island) When Narendra Modi arrives in Colombo in mid-March on the first stand-alone bilateral visit to Sri Lanka by an Indian PM in 28 years, he may utilise the opportunity to visit Jaffna and either Kandy or Anuradhapura as well. A top Indian diplomatic source said "It all depends on how much time Mr Modi will get to spend in Sri Lanka." Jaffna Peninsula was where the worst destruction took place during the three-decade-long civil war that ended with the defeat of the LTTE more..

JKH to engage with govt on waterfront project rebranded as Cinnamon Life

Feb 5 (CT) Premier blue chip corporate conglomerate John Keells Holdings will engage with the new govt on the Waterfront Project, a Ceylon Cold Stores said in a Colombo Stock Exchange filing. This follows the announcement by PM Ranil Wickremesinghe in Parliament last week that the agreements entered into with Waterfront Properties (Pvt) Ltd under the Strategic Development Projects Act will be amended to restrict the ability to rent space for gaming activities. more..

EU to oppose Sri Lanka’s move to resume judicial executions

Feb 5 (Island) The European Union is likely to seek a clarification from Sri Lanka consequent to Justice Minister Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe’s declaration in Kandy that the new govt wouldn’t hesitate to re-implement the death penalty to fight what he called a crime wave. The announcement was made soon after he paid courtesy calls on Mahanayakes. Sri Lanka suspended judicial executions many years ago in accordance more..

First Tourism Roadshow in Colombo

Feb 5 (Island) South African High Commission in partnership with South African Tourism kick-starts its first ever Tourism Roadshow on a robust note with the launch our first ever Tourism Roadshow in Colombo. The roadshow is scheduled to trigger an incredible start which will bring delegates from some of South Africa's leading operators to exhibit their products and packages to both the local operators and potential travellers. Roadshow will showcase for the first time several popular South African more..

History by TNA at national event

Feb 5 (CG) The TNA created history today by taking part in the national independence day celebrations at Parliament grounds in Kotte, the first time since 1972 when it was decided that Sri Lanka’s main Tamil political parties will boycott independence day celebrations. TNA leader R. Sampanthan, who was among those who agreed in 1972 to boycott national independence day celebrations, attended today’s event. His participation at the national event after 43 years boosted President Sirisena’s call for more..

Full text: President’s address at the 67th Independence Day celebrations

Feb 5 (Island) This is the occasion when we celebrate the 67th Independence Day with due honour and dignity. It is most fortunate that I am able to address you at this historically important city of Sri J'pura Kotte, today, in the precincts of the House of Parliament that confirms the sovereignty of the people. As we celebrate the freedom obtained 67 years ago, it is our duty and responsibility to remember with honour the heroes who fought more..

‘Probe govt officers on payroll of agrochemical companies’

Feb 5 (Island) Chronic Kidney Disease Research Scientist Dr. Channa Jayasumana requested President Sirisena to appoint an investigation committee to conduct a probe and reveal the names of agrochemical companies, Agriculture Ministry top officials and politicians who had taken bribes not to ban harmful agrochemicals. Health Minister Dr. Rajitha Senaratne has claimed that the previous govt officials, especially in the Agriculture Ministry had taken Rs. 1 billion in bribes. more..

Tamil Nadu asks envoy in Sri Lanka to expedite release of boats

Feb 5 (TOI) The Tamil Nadu govt has sought the help of the Indian envoy to Sri Lanka to get the boats of Indian fishermen released. In a letter, state fisheries secretary S Vijayakumar has asked high commissioner Y K Sinha to secure the release of the boats without procedural wrangles. "I request you to clarify the procedure by which the owners of the 81 boats can obtain the quick release of their boats. The boats were released earlier along with the fishermen but now Lankan govt wants more..

Ministry refutes Wedaarachchi’s claims of lifting of EU embargo

Feb 5 (DM) Contradicting Fisheries State Minister Dilip Wedaarachchi’s statement on the suspension of the European Union’s ban on the export of fisheries products for six months, the Ministry of Home Affairs and Fisheries said that they had not received any such news. “The ministry has not been informed of such a decision being made and as far as we know the EU embargo on the import of fish from Sri Lanka is still in place,” Ministry said. more..

Tissa’s wrong career turn

Feb 5 (DM) Former UNP General Secretary Tissa Attanayake may be the unluckiest politician currently in the country. After toiling hard for the party’s success for about two decades and uniting the party that had been divided right in the middle, the man took the worst decision in his political career and defected to the Rajapaksa govt, but only to see him again on the losing side. That was not all. Apparently to draw the attention of his new-found master, former President Mahinda Rajapaksa more..

Govt needs to look hard or history will repeat itself

Feb 5 (DM) There Ravi Karunanayake sat, flanked by the lieutenants of his new fief, gamely fielding combative questions thrown at him by members of the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce. Many of them, including the Chamber’s President Suresh Shah, addressed him simply as ‘Ravi’—no Honourable Minister he. The atmosphere of the occasion was almost surreal: a sea-change from just one month ago, when even the Rajapaksa Govt’s Treasury Secretary, P.B. Jayasundera, acted as if more..

MPs of SLFP want to unite

Feb 5 (DM) After the January 8th electoral defeat, SLFP is now in a political predicament trying to evolve strategies to propel the party to victory again at the next Parliamentary Elections. Its political luck now lies, particularly, in the hands of President Maithripala Sirisena, who took over the party chairmanship. In this context, the SLFP seniors keep their fingers crossed in anticipation that President Sirisena would lead party to victory more..

'Chandrika said only Mahinda can win'

Feb 5 (Island) Communist Party leader and opposition MP D.E.W. Gunasekera speaks to C.A. Chandraprema about the unexpected outcome of last month’s presidential election and the situation that has arisen in the country with the fall of the Rajapaksa regime. Q: You had been warning the govt not to hold the presidential election early. So obviously you were not surprised by the result. A: No. more..

Public Order Minister claims he is innocent

Feb 5 (Island) Minister John Amaratunga said that he was ready to face the no-confidence motion against him proposed by the opposition. Commenting on the recent statement made by Opposition Leader Nimal Siripala de Silva that a no confidence motion would be moved against him, the minister said: "I am not afraid of these challenges which are usual in politics. They can move motion but that does not mean it will be passed more..

FSP takes President to SC for continuing to use draconian law

Feb 5 (Island) Supreme Court will take up today a fundamental rights violation petition filed by FSP against incumbent President Maithripala Sirisena continuing to call out all members of the armed forces under the provisions of Public Security Ordinance for active service. "We filed a petition against continuation of routine acts practiced by previous regimes which amounts to violation of fundamental rights of people. more..

Poor public school students exempted from paying fees

Feb 5 (ST) State schools cannot compel parents or students to pay school fees. If a child is unable to pay school fees due to financial difficulties, they must be exempted from doing so, subject to a letter issued by the gramasevaka, certifying the circumstances of the child concerned, the Education Ministry said. This is one of the directives in a Ministry circular regarding soliciting money from parents for school activities. more..

Video: Sri Lanka always find a way to be in contention

Feb 5 (CI) Sri Lanka stunned the world by winning the World Cup in 1996, a mere 14 years after becoming a Test nation. Since then, they have come close on a couple of occasions, finishing runners-up in the last two editions. In this episode of Contenders, former India captain Rahul Dravid and former SA captain Graeme Smith analyse Sri Lanka's chances of clinching a second title. Can the experienced players in the more..

Sri Lankan President reaffirms commitment to ties with China

Feb 5 (Xinhua) Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena on Wednesday pledged to continue strong ties with China. In a message to mark the Chinese New Year, President Sirisena noted the importance of Chinese President Xi Jinping's visit to Sri Lanka last September and affirmed that ties between Sri Lanka and China will continue at a strong level during his tenure. Sirisena was sworn in as the new president on Jan. 9 after beating more..

Mannar demands justice for the missing…

Feb 5 (SL) The previous govt launched several investigations and even appointed a presidential commission to look into the complaints related to missing persons during the war in order to help the friends and relatives of the missing persons to find as to what happened to them – and also to establish truth and to help them move on. However, many have observed that these investigations and the commission have not more..

Tissa allowed to attend Parliament

Feb 5 (AD) The Fort Magistrate’s Court today allowed Tissa Attanayake MP to attend Parliament sessions on 5, 6, and 7, February. Attanayake who was the former General Secretary of the UNP have been remanded until 11 February over reports he displayed an alleged secret agreement letter said to have signed between President Maithripala Sirisena and PM Ranil Wickramasinghe at a press conference. more..

Court prevents KP from leaving

Feb 5 (CG) The Court of Appeal today issued an order preventing former chief LTTE arms procurer Kumaran Pathmanathan (KP) from leaving the country. Lawyers said that the Court of Appeal had also issued instructions to the Immigration and Emigration Department to ensure KP does not leave Sri Lanka till the case filed against him is complete. The Court of Appeal had last month sought a report on the allegations more..

Casinos: The unmaking of UNP

Feb 5 (CT) Though Mahinda Rajapaksa (MR) regime was defeated by a coalition of different political parties, the UNP seems to be in the driving seat for now. And for major changes to take effect, it would be only fair to give them a reasonable time frame. But when detrimental-to-society economic policies of the previous regime are being camouflaged and re-presented, I find myself being forced to write again interrupting my self-imposed hiatus. Casinos and betting on horses, more..

Education, tool for economic takeoff

Feb 5 (CT) Though Sri Lanka has been enjoying free education since 1943, it has been subjected to three bloody youth revolutions since obtaining independence from the British in 1948. The last of such insurrections was squashed only six years ago and lasted for 26 long years, leaving in its wake tens of thousands dead and economic losses were amounting to billions of rupees. The cause is politics interfering with SL to its detriment and not for its uplift, beginning with 1956 & Sinhala Only Act more..

Video: Govt called exiles back to arrest them

Feb 5 (DM) Charging that the govt had gone back on its stance to bring back those who were politically exiled, Propaganda Secretary of the Frontline Socialist Party Pubudu Jagoda said that govt officials were handling its leader Kumar Gunaratnam who had come back to engage in politics. Mr. Jagoda said that though JVP dissident Kumar Gunaratnam had stated that the reasons for his visit were political, more..

Sri Lanka stocks recover some losses

Feb 5 (EN) Stocks bounced back Thursday, partially recovering some of the heavy losses suffered since last week's govt budget which slammed hefty new taxes on big companies. All Share Price Index ended 0.67% or 47.25 points higher at 7,047.31 while the S&P SL20 index, which tracks the top 20 largest and most liquid stocks, closed at 3,865.59, up 40.61 points or 1.06%. Turnover was 2.4 billion rupees much of it coming from trades in John Keells Holdings, the most actively traded stock. more..

Harim Chairman of Resettlement Authority

Feb 5 (Island) Harim Peiris has been appointed Chairman of the Resettlement Authority, by D.M. Swaminathan, Minister of Resettlement, Reconstruction and Hindu Religious Affairs. Harim Peiris is a graduate in finance and has an MBA from the University of Texas, USA. He has a wide and varied professional background in both the private and the state sectors, having worked in consulting and investment banking in both Sri Lanka and abroad. He has served on the boards of more..

'Changes unlikely in World Cup squad'

Feb 5 (DM) The entire Sri Lanka World Cup squad is near full fitness levels and might not require any changes before the important tournament starts on February 14, Chief National Selector Sanath Jayasuriya said. “Even Lasith Malinga is nearing his peak, so we might have a fully fit quad by next week, but I can give the final word only tomorrow” said Jayasuriya who added that he has called for a full-fitness report on entire squad more..

Missing toddler fished found in the river

Feb 5 (Island) Anguruwathota police yesterday found the body of one-year-and-ten-month-old infant from the Kalu Ganga. The child went missing on Tuesday afternoon a few minutes after the toddler was fed by her mother. Police said that the baby girl, Umesha Dewmini, had been fed by her mother around 2.00 p.m. in the home compound close to her mother-in-law’s house. The mother of the child had gone into the kitchen for a few minutes, leaving Dewmini with the older child. more..

CID fears for the life of Wele Suda

Feb 5 (CG) Police CID had told the Colombo High Court today that there could be an attempt to kill notorious drug dealer Wele Suda. Wele Suda was to be produced in court today but the CID did not produce him and instead informed court that his life could be in danger if he is transported out of prison. Lawyers however told the High Court that Wele Suda should be produced in court as an order had been issued to that effect. Colombo High Court Judge Devika Tennakoon later postponed more..

Ex Minister rejects Sanga’s charges

Feb 5 (DM) Mahindananda Aluthgamage rejected the allegations made by Kumar Sangakkara who had reportedly accused the former sports minister of being part of an organised move to discredit the star cricketer. Aluthgamage alleged that Sangakkara had a habit of directly contacting the then President Rajapaksa whenever some issue came up and winning his demands, and questioned why the former Sri Lanka captain more..

Hemakumara new SP Governor

Feb 5 (Island) Hemakumara Nanayakkara will assume duties as Governor of the Southern Province today. Having studied up to GCE O/L at Richmond College, Galle and GCE A/L at Isipathana, Hemakumara completed a diploma in agriculture at Aquinas College, Colombo. Hemakumara obtained a degree in agriculture from the California State University and several other post graduate degrees. Hemakumara was appointed SLFP organizer for Galle in 1988. more..

Houses to be built on safe land for Koslanda landslide survivors

Feb 5 (Island) Minister Palani Digambaran ordered that alternative land be found for houses to be built for the families affected by the Koslanda landslide last October. The land already allocated for a housing project for them was not suitable, he said. He made that directive at a discussion held at his Ministry in Colombo. Officials from NBRO, UDA, representatives of estate management, Engineering Unit of the Sri Lanka Army participated in the discussion held to expedite the construction more..

TNA at odds over attending independence day celebrations

Feb 5 (Xinhua) A rift emerged in Sri Lanka's main Tamil political party on Thursday after some of its members including the party leader had attended the national Independence Day anniversary celebrations for the first time in 43 years. TNA Leader, R. Sampanthan had attended the 67th Independence Day celebrations on Wednesday on what was seen as a historic move aimed at supporting SL's newly elected more..