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Dhanapala quits Cargills Board to take up Senior Presidential Advisor role

Jan 14 (FT) Top diplomat Dr. Jayantha Dhanapala has resigned from the Cargills (Ceylon) Board to take up the position of Senior Advisor on Foreign Relations to President Maithripala Sirisena with effect from 12 January. Cargills said the Board reluctantly accepted Dr. Dhanapala’s resignation and expressed its appreciation of his services as an Independent Non-executive Director and the loyalty and support extended to the company and his colleagues over the past six and half years. more..

Pope Francis to give Sri Lanka its first Catholic saint

Jan 14 (Reuters) Pope Francis will give Sri Lanka its first Catholic saint on Wednesday, ending a 300-year campaign to recognize the sanctity of an Indian-born missionary who was captured as a suspected spy after he crept into the tropical island in disguise. Joseph Vaz was born in 1651 in India's Goa, then a Portuguese colony. He traveled south at the age of 36, dressed as a poor laborer, to a country then known as Ceylon more..

New media culture vital for democracy

Jan 14 (DM) We urge the reformist govt led by President Maithripala Sirisena to extend its 100-day programme by one more day to take necessary policy initiatives to change the despicable media culture prevailing in the country. Like the country’s bankrupt democracy, the media sector is also badly in need of proper checks and balances if it is to flourish. In his address to the nation soon after he took oaths as the 6th Executive President of Sri Lanka he briefly mentioned the more..

Priorities for the 100 day programme

Jan 14 (DM) The 6th President of Sri Lanka Maithripala Sirisena (MS) gives a fresh start to politics in Sri Lanka. He is the very first President to win the hearts and minds of all Sri Lankans, irrespective of any differences and divisions in post-war Sri Lanka. This is a remarkable achievement for democracy loving people, not only in Sri Lanka but also in the world as well. The people of Sri Lanka have voted for President Sirisena under the NDF without looking at any of his past more..

Did Mahinda believe he will win?

Jan 14 (DM) Yes, he did. It was not only a hope or wish. It was a strong conviction and belief that he would win and win convincingly. He was a hardened “street-smart“ politician with over 45 years of experience in politics. He had held office (power) since 1970 first as one of the youngest ever parliamentarians, then from 1994 onwards as a Minister and then as Prime Minister and from 2005 as President. more..

'SL will leverage on 2014 arrivals for 2015'

Jan 14 (CT) Sri Lanka will leverage on the success of the 2014 tourist arrivals to create a steady growth in 2015. A steady growth is expected in terms of the ongoing year, based on the success of the industry last year, Chairman of the Sri Lanka Association of Inbound Tour Operators Mahen Kariyawasam said. Commenting on the giant Chinese market, he said: "There has been a tremendous growth contributed to our market more..

Mystery aircraft looks similar to Dr Ray's Lihiniya - enthusiast

Jan 14 (EN) A mystery aircraft discovered at a state warehouse in Colombo reportedly belonging to a son of ex-President Rajapasksa looks similar to a plane once owned by a Sri Lankan scientist, an aviation enthusiast said. Published pictures of the dark and light blue painted aircraft with its wings dis-assembled looks like a Kitfox classic aircraft. Kitfox is one of the most popular kit planes ever produced more..

Move to prevent ministers’ kith and kin being appointed secretaries

Jan 14 (Island) The Ministers’ Secretaries’ Union (MSU) yesterday urged the newly-formed government not to appoint Ministers’ and Deputy Ministers’ family members and their supporters as secretaries. Addressing a press conference held at the Mahaweli Centre, MSU General Secretary Ajith Jayasundera asked the govt to appoint knowledgeable people to the posts of secretaries in a transparent manner. more..

Harin Fernando takes oaths as Chief Minister

Jan 14 (AM) Harin Fernando took oaths as the new Chief Minister of Uva province before Uva Province Governor Nanda Mathew. With this move, Shasheendra Rajapaksa, the present Chief Minister of the province, will become the leader of the opposition in the council. Fernando yesterday informed the Governor of the Province that he had secured the majority in the Council. Fernando had informed that he had support of 17 members more..

Oil exploration office under energy ministry

Jan 14 (EN) Sri Lanka's oil exploration office which came directly under the President during the ousted Rajapaksa regime has been allocated to the energy ministry by the new administration. The Petroleum Resources Development Secretariat (PRDS) being under former president Rajapaksa was regarded as yet another display of excessive use of presidential powers in Sri Lanka. Several SL Presidents had also kept finance more..

Single engine plane: 'Yoshitha asked for it'

Jan 14 (AM) The single engine plane, which was found inside a container at Narahenpita Economic Centre last evening, originally belonged to film producer Chandran Rathnam and he had later handed it over to Yoshitha Rajapaksa, former President Rajapaksa’s second son. Giving a statement to Narahenpita Police, the film producer said Yoshitha Rajapaksa asked for the plane and that was why he gave it to more..

Govt frees 692 prisoners

Jan 14 (CG) The Govt has set free 692 prisoners based on three categories, to mark the visit to Sri Lanka by Pope Francis and President Maithripala Sirisena’s election victory. Commissioner General of Prisons Chandrarathna Pallegama said that President Maithripala Sirisena and Justice Minister Wijeydasa Rajapaksa had issued instruction to free the inmates. Accordingly, prisoners from 31 prisons over the age of 75, more..

UNP union renews promise to reduce fuel prices

Jan 14 (Island) Trumpeting that the newly elected govt would reduce fuel prices soon, Convenor of UNP trade union organisation at the CPC Ananda Palitha said they would hold a discussion with new Power and Energy Minister Champika Ranawaka soon. He said that the govt would be able to reduce one litre of petrol to Rs. 120 and one litre of Diesel to Rs. 100 after considering all costs of production and compulsory taxes. more..

Huge crowd gathers to see pope give Sri Lanka first saint

Jan 14 (Reuters) Hundreds of thousands of people packed a Colombo oceanfront on Wednesday to see Pope Francis give Sri Lanka its first saint, a climax to a 300-year campaign to recognise the holiness of Indian-born missionary Joseph Vaz. The pope, who on Tuesday was tired after starting his trip under a blazing sun, looked rested as he was driven through the hushed crowd in an open vehicle to start the open-air Mass more..

The mighty fall from grace!

Jan 14 (CT) On 19 Nov 2005, when you Mr. Percy Mahendra (Mahinda) Rajapaksa, assumed the mantle of the 6th Executive President of Sri Lanka, many of us, including diehard UNP supporters, hailed you as a true son of the soil, who would finally make things right, for our country. Such was the hope we optimists, had in you. Some even said, “Mahinda is one President, who has blundered his way to success”. At the time, it sounded funny, but true. more..

Pope Francis to canonize Joseph Vaz and usher in Peace to our land

Jan 14 (CT) Pope Francis arrived in the country yesterday and will depart tomorrow. He is the third pope to visit Sri Lanka. The first was Pope Paul VI who came to the country in 1971. The second was Pope John Paul II who visited the island 24 years later in 1995. Now, 20 years later, it's Pope Francis' turn. In visits to the island made by three Popes, who have headed the Roman Catholic Church, over a period of 45 years beginning in 1970, such visits were made on the invitations of more..

Daily Mirror Cartoon

Media not permitted to cover Sajin Vass’ elephant raid

Jan 14 (CT) Local media had not been allowed to cover the raid carried out by Hikkaduwa wildlife officials on the baby elephant that was being held at the Ambalangoda residence of Sajin de Vass Gunawardena. The Wildlife officials had raided Sajin’s residence on Monday afternoon, which the media had been allowed to cover. The residents had not submitted the permit which is required to legally hold an elephant domestically and had requested the officials to return on Tuesday in order to more..

Wijepala new CEB chief?

Jan 14 (Island) Senior Electrical Engineer Anura Wijepala is tipped to be the next Chairman of the Ceylon Electricity Board (CEB). Power and Energy Minister Champika Ranawaka is awaiting the endorsement of President Maithripala Sirisena to appoint Mr. Wijepala, according to sources. The majority of the CEB officials and particularly engineers are in favour of the appointment. Wijepala is a batch mate of Minister Champika Ranawaka at the University of Moratuwa. more..

SL seek upsurge against injury-hit hosts

Jan 14 (CI) Nine game days, three matches, and no victories so far - Sri Lanka had not expected to steamroll their opposition in New Zealand, but the disappointments have now begun to stack up, and a pattern to their woe has emerged. With the bat, they sustain too many early losses, and even when batsmen play sublime innings, as Sangakkara and Mahela already have done on tour, they cannot gain enough ground to make up for their more..

Dunesh Gankanda takes oath as Deputy Minister

Jan 14 (AD) Dunesh Gankanda sworn in as Deputy Minister of Urban Development, Water Supply and Drainage before President Maithripala Sirisena, this after noon. President Maithripala Sirisena, on 12 January, appointed 27 Cabinet Ministers, ten State ministers and eight Deputy Ministers at a ceremony held at the Presidential Secretariat in Colombo. Rauff Hakeem took oath as Minister of Urban Development, Water Supply and Drainage, on the same day. more..

Election fever galvanise group to attempt land grab

Jan 14 (Island) Balangoda Magistrate G.L. Kannangara recently released 25 suspects on personal bond of Rs. 250,000 each, when they were produced before him by the Balangoda police on charges of criminal trespass on a land belonging to Rye Kapok Tea Group at Walawwatta, Balangoda Estate, an abandoned tea plantation. Suspects were also ordered to appear in courts on Jan 22. Police arrested the suspects following a complaint lodged by the Superintendent of the estate that more..

Maithri's national advisory committee hits majority snag

Jan 14 (AM) PM Ranil Wickremesinghe has informed his close associates that the setting up of the National Advisory Committee has been delayed due to "majority" issues in the Parliament. According to 100 day programme of President Maithripala Sirisena, the National Advisory Committee was scheduled to be appointed on Jan 12 - a day after the swearing in of the cabinet. However, the setting up of the committee more..

Illicit distillery raided finally after people’s protests

Jan 14 (Island) Gampaha police raided an illicit distillery at Aluthgama, Bogamuwa and seized 10 barrels containing 1,800,000 ml ‘kasippu’ recently. One suspect was taken into custody. The police said it had operated for some time with impunity and following protests by the villagers it was raided. Investigations revealed that the man behind the operation wielded political influence. The suspect would be produced before the Gampaha Magistrate, the police said. more..

New Zealand not risking burnout - Taylor

Jan 14 (CI) New Zealand's heavy schedule before the World Cup is no more taxing than that of several other teams, Ross Taylor has said, though some experts had warned the team was risking burnout. New Zealand play six more ODIs against Sri Lanka, then play two matches against Pakistan, ahead of two practice matches immediately prior to the World Cup. In all, the team is set to play 10 more one-day games before the World Cup curtain-raiser, and it is the crammed schedule that more..

Video: Truck set on fire: Man burnt

Jan 14 (DM) SSP Ajith Rohana said investigations were underway into an incident where a truck parked outside a house at Hakuruwela in Weeraketiya had been set on fire by a group of people and killing a mentally retarded person who was sleeping inside the vehicle. Weeraketiya OIC had received information about 1.30 a.m. on Tuesday that a vehicle parked outside a house at Hakuruwela in Weeraketiya was on fire and more..

Gammanpila claims Rs 890 billion required for 100-day programme

Jan 14 (CT) General Secretary of the Pivithuru Hela Urumaya, Udaya Gammanpila, claimed during a press briefing that Rs 890 billion would be required to implement the 100-day programme. How will the govt earn Rs 890 billion within 100 days, Gammanpila asked. He said that to find Rs 890 billion within 100 days either the govt should increase taxes, reduce expenditure or take more loans. As the previous govt had an idea about the country's economy they did not implement more..

Drunken son-in-law clubs mother-in-law to death

Jan 14 (Island) An alcohol addicted son-in-law is alleged to have clubbed his mother-in-law to death when the latter warned him not to come home drunk and assaulted her daughter and damaged furniture at their home in the fishing village of Kepumgoda in Pamunugama last Saturday. The mother-in-law who succumbed to her injuries at the Colombo North hospital Ragama was Dorin Shia (50) a mother of two children. The deceased was living with her younger daughter at a house in Kepumgoda. more..

Namal rejects allegations

Jan 14 (DM) UPFA MP Namal Rajapaksa rejecting the allegations levelled against him said he was fully prepared to face the consequences, if he had done any wrong. “I want to tell all my supporters that these allegations have no basis. More than being angered, I am saddened. While we never claimed to be perfect, we always had the best interest of the country and the Sri Lankan people in mind,” Mr. Rajapaksa said. more..

Weerawansa charged with fraud & corruption

Jan 14 (LT) A complaint has been filed at the Commission to Investigate Allegations of Bribery or Corruption against former Minister of Rajapaksa govt Wimal Weerawansa and his wife. Complaint filed by Attorney at Law Namal Rajapaksa states Wimal Weerawansa and his wife led very ordinary lives when Mr. Weerawansa joined Mr. Rajapaksa’s govt but during the last 6 years they have become millionaires and owners of luxury houses, lands and businesses. more..

National Executive Council would comprise members of all parties – Govt.

Jan 14 (Island) The new National Democratic Front (NDF) govt said that the establishment of a National Executive Council (NEC) was one of its election pledges and would be implemented within its 100-day work programme. NDF sources said that as promised a National Unity Govt had been established on Monday and the number of Cabinet Ministers restricted to 30 of which 27 were appointed. "President Maithripala Sirisena addressing the nation from both the more..

'JVP will contest general election as a new front'

Jan 14 (AM) JVP leader Anura Kumara Dissanayake stated that his party is planning to contest the upcoming General Election as a part of a broad New Front. Speaking at a political talk show, he said that this front will not be an alliance of political parties in the normal sense. Dissanayake said that there were many intellectuals and other people who are not part of any political party but want the political system to change. more..

Dayasiri Jayasekara challenged by opposition leader

Jan 14 (AM) A contest seems to be developing for the Chief Ministerial position in the North Western Provincial Council after its Chief Minister Dayasiri Jayasekara and other UPFA members pledged to support President Maithripala Sirisena. Jayasekara had pledges his support to Maithripala Sirisena on Sunday. On Monday, he and other UPFA members held a press conference and said that they will support the new president. However, the opposition leader of the council, J.C. Alawathuwala, more..

Pathirana, Thevarapperuma, Ranjan, Ajith not considered when offering positions

Jan 14 (AM) Only four MPs of the UNP - namely Ranjan Ramanayake, Palitha Thevarapperuma, Ajiyh Mannapperuma and Buddhika Pathirana - have not received ministerial portfolios under the national unity govt, led by President Maithripala Sirisena. Dunesh Gankanda, who did not receive a portfolio on Monday , took oaths this evening as the Deputy Minister of Urban Development, Water Supply and Drainage. However, there is an outcry amongst party supporters that more..

Pope preaches reconciliation in ex Sri Lanka war zone

Jan 14 (Reuters) Pope Francis visited a former war zone in northern Sri Lanka on Wednesday, preaching forgiveness to tens of thousands of followers gathered at a Catholic shrine that was shelled during the country's long ethnic conflict. It was the first visit by a pope to the predominantly Hindu region that contains a large Catholic minority and was the scene of fierce fighting between Tamil Tiger rebels and the SL army for 26 years. more..

In Sri Lanka, an opportunity for national reconciliation

Jan 14 (TD) Sri Lanka’s remarkable presidential election on January 8 has restored its image as one of Asia’s oldest, most resilient democracies, rather than a failed one. The peaceful, rapid transfer of power from President Rajapaksa to the country’s new leader, Maithripala Sirisena, shocked most experts. Sirisena defected from the president’s own SLFP but ran as the “common candidate,” representing opposition parties from across the political spectrum that more..

A Step Forward for Sri Lanka

Jan 14 (NYT) It’s being called the most significant election in Sri Lanka in decades. On Jan. 8, voters gave a surprise victory to the opposition candidate for president, Maithripala Sirisena, and rejected the authoritarianism, corruption and dynastic ambitions of the incumbent, Mahinda Rajapaksa. It is to Mr. Rajapaksa’s great credit that, as soon as the people’s verdict was clear, he graciously acknowledged defeat. Mr. Sirisena has his work cut out for him. His biggest challenge more..

Mangala complains to CID on coup attempt

Jan 14 (AD) Minister Mangala Samaraweera has lodged a complaint with the CID today in connection with an alleged coup attempt by former President Mahinda Rajapaksa, whilst the election results were been released on 9 January. Minister in his complaint said “It has been brought to our notice that in the wee hours of 9 January there has been a serious attempt by former President Rajapaksa, and brother Gotabaya more..

Delicate balancing act for the new president

Jan 15 (GV) Normally, a newly elected President has a honeymoon period within which he/she has some breathing space after a hectic election campaign conducted under extremely stressful and challenging circumstances. It appears that the newly elected President Sirisena does not have even this privilege as he has to spring into action immediately on many fronts. Most importantly, he has to look after ‘the national interest’ as the executive President of the country while more..

A victory not just by the minorities

Jan 15 (GV) Images have been making the rounds on facebook, with various hues and shades, highlighting the fact that the sixth executive President of Sri Lanka, Maithripala Sirisena, won with the support of minority communities in Sri Lanka, whereas Mahinda Rajapaksa, the last President obtained the votes of a majority of the majority. There is another image on facebook, that of a line drawing of a rabbit, requesting those who have time to go about colouring a map of SL more..