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Working behind the scenes for change in SL

Jan 18 (Hindu) A combination of political factors may have led to the defeat of the former president, Mahinda Rajapaksa, in the Jan 8 polls, but a small group of activist-lawyers may have sowed the seeds of regime change at least two years ago. It all began with the impeachment of CJ Shirani Bandaranayake by President Rajapaksa in Jan 2013, recalls constitutional lawyer J.C. Weliamuna, who was at the forefront of more..

CBSL makes its own financial crisis

Jan 18 (CT) The global financial crisis of 2007/08 caused foreign banks to keep their excess liquidity in their own vaults rather than in Central Bank of Sri Lanka's standing deposit facility (SDF) for fear of losing their capital. However, they came out of this cocoon a few years later. But, contradictory moves made by CBSL in a short space of nine days, last year, made those banks to once more return to their cocoon, by keeping their excess liquidity in their own vaults, market sources told Ceylon FT. more..

An expat’s account of an Pope's visit to SL

Jan 18 (WSJ) As a Singaporean Hindu, I never imagined I would find myself in the midst of a vast throng of people in the heart of Colombo, Sri Lanka, cheering for the pope. But that’s exactly what happened. Galle Road, this city’s main thoroughfare was closed to traffic. Rather than the usual cacophony of blaring horns and veering tuk-tuks, streams of pilgrims flowed along the asphalt to the hypnotizing sound of hymns broadcast from PA systems and floating over the surrounding more..

Crackdown on illegal deals

Jan 18 (SL) The new govt is to review agreements signed between the former govt and other countries. Finance Minister Ravi Karunanayake told The Sunday Leader that legal action will be taken against anyone, irrespective of their status, if they are found to have been responsible in illegal deals. He also stressed that the govt of President Maithripala Sirisena will take legal action against anyone found guilty of corruption. more..

Rift in TNA over Maithri policy

Jan 18 (SL) A rift has developed in the TNA over President Maithripala Sirisena’s 100 day policy. TNA MP Suresh Premachandran said that there is a difference of opinion among the leaders of the TNA over the 100 day programme presented by President Sirisena. According to him, even though all the members of the TNA support the reforms as suggested in the 100 day programme, there are some who cannot fully support the programme as it does not contain any provision to address more..

Immigration Department unaware

Jan 18 (SL) The Immigration and Emigration Department says it is unaware of the new govt’s policy on foreigners staying in Sri Lanka illegally. It is alleged that a group of foreigners who arrived in Sri Lanka to carry out some BOI approved projects are now engaging in different projects. The Immigration and Emigration Department Investigation Unit has received information regarding many foreigners who have arrived in Sri Lanka to engage in BOI development projects such as more..

Former President spent over Rs.2 bln in state funds on election ads

Jan 18 (ST) Normally money talks loud and convincingly in influencing the masses to a great extent in deciding a winner in Sri Lanka’s previous elections, but this time at the 2015 Presidential election, the highest spending candidate Mahinda Rajapaksa was defeated by opposition common candidate Maithripala Sirisena who resorted to a low key campaign with a smaller advertising budget. more..

Rajapaksa was no Indira, Gotabaya was sadistic; Sri Lanka can now regain ...

Jan 18 (ENS) In yet another miracle of history, Sri Lanka has survived its Indira Gandhi phase. Rajapaksa family twisted the Constitution to achieve what Indira did with the Emergency. A family dictatorship took over, ruthlessly supervised by President’s brother Gotabaya Rajapaksa. Parliament was turned into a branch of the executive, the judiciary into a rubberstamp. The press was handcuffed; a prominent editor was shot dead, openly in daylight, as if to send a message. more..

SLC still in deficit of Rs 311m at end of 2014

Jan 18 (NS) Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) is still left with a deficit of around Rs, 311 million to clear at the end of 2014. The statement of accounts for the year is expected to be tabled for approval at the next ExCo meeting to be held on Tuesday. However the 2014 figures are a big improvement from the Rs. 1.1 billion the SLC was left with at the end of 2013. The majority of the debts still to be cleared come from financing the construction and upgrading of the three stadiums used to host 2011 World Cup more..

SL to start ties with India on a clean slate

Jan 18 (Hindu) Sri Lanka’s new govt will start its relationship with India on a clean slate, Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera said ahead of his departure to New Delhi. Coinciding with his trip, the Sri Lankan govt released 15 Indian fishermen in its custody, and officials here said the Sri Lankan fishermen, currently in Indian prisons, were also being released. He said the visit was intended to put the two countries’ relationship more..

Govt to probe victimised envoys

Jan 18 (SL) External Affairs Ministry is to review politically victimized Ambassadors and officials of the foreign service during the former regime. Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Ajith P. Perera said that those who are currently in the Foreign Service are unqualified and that most of the appointments are political. Therefore, the Foreign Ministry has focused on recalling every official in foreign embassies and to make new appointments according to a concrete policy, Deputy Minister said. more..

Basil here soon to clear name

Jan 18 (CT) UPFA MP Basil Rajapaksa, who is currently in the US, said he would be returning to Sri Lanka soon to clear his name, as he had done his best for the people of this country. In a text message (SMS), he said, he had done his best for the people and needs to clear his name once he comes back. It is speculated that PM Ranil Wickremesinghe, who heads the Policy Development and Economic Affairs Ministry, will be moving to a new office and will not operate from the office of more..

President Sirisena paving the way for Chandrika to be SLFP leader

Jan 18 (Island) President Maithripala Sirisena, who was installed as the new Chairman of the SLFP last Friday, is to propose an amendment to the party Constitution shortly paving the way for Ex-President Chandrika Kumaratunga to become the SLFP leader. A senior SLFP’er said that during a meeting between Srisena and Kumaratunga in Colombo on Friday they had discussed abolishing the clause in the party constitution stipulating more..

Rs 232B to meet Statutory Reserve Ratio requirements

Jan 18 (CT) Banks having to lock in a sum of Rs 232 billion to meet Central Bank's statutory reserves ratio (SRR) requirements which do not give them a return, is a waste of money, official sources said. "What is needed to ensure banking sector stability is proper oversight and not billions of rupees in bank deposits unproductively stashed away this way as a means of protecting depositors' money," they said. Rs 232 billion locked in this way is, equivalent to 2.7% of GDP. more..

SLFP to cooperate with Govt: Chamal stays on as Speaker

Jan 18 (ST) Speaker Chamal Rajapaksa will continue in office for the next three months during which the new Govt hopes to pass several important laws, including the Right to Information Act, a Cabinet minister said. Newly appointed Minister and House Leader Lakshman Kiriella said that as the SLFP hads pledged to cooperate with the Govt for the implementation of the 100-day programme, the Speaker, who is the brother of former President Rajapaksa, could continue in office. more..

Corruption and abuse of power probes by special tribunals

Jan 18 (ST) Just a week after the presidential poll, President Maithripala Sirisena crowned himself with another victory. He became the leader of the SLFP. This most significant, if not historic, development places him in an unassailable position. Until constitutional changes, whose contours are being worked out by a team of experts, he remains the Executive President. He is head of State, head of Govt, head of Cabinet more..

Multi billion rupee scandal in foreign reserves

Jan 18 (CT) The new bipartisan govt, jointly led by recently elected, left of centre SLFP Leader President Maithripala Sirisena and the newly appointed, right of centre, UNP Leader, Premier Ranil Wickremesinghe, will have a tremendous job to do in trying to haul-up Sri Lanka's debt driven economy, threatening to tear it asunder. These developments come in the back of the previous regime which governed (misgoverned may be a better word) this country as recently as 8 Jan more..

Assessing the present to make the change

Jan 18 (Island) The people of Sri Lanka who elected the common candidate as President agitated for change, voted for change and made the change. Now it is time to make the change meaningful. We have today a President elected by all sections of the people of Sri Lanka – the Sinhala Buddhists, Tamils, Indian Tamils, Christians, Muslims, Burghers and others. The president is fortunate to have a unity govt at hand. Now is the time for the leaders to use special skills to work out more..

Talk at the Cafe Spectator

Jan 18 (ST) A purported photograph of former Minister Basil Rajapaksa arriving at the Los Angeles International Airport together with his wife Pushpa went viral on websites. Its veracity has not been confirmed. However, what many did not know is what went on after the couple came out of an Emirates flight and went to collect their luggage. Four suitcases which had been checked in at the BIA did not arrive. more..

Pope Francis visits former war zone in SL

Jan 18 (AJ) The last mile was the hardest. Sarojinidevi Tangarasa, a 58-year-old grandmother, traveled on Wednesday for seven hours over 80 miles of rough roads from her home in Mallavi, a village in northern Sri Lanka, to Madhu. “I have been on the road since five in the morning,” Tangarasa said. Seven hours later, she reached a blue and white church in a clearing in the jungle to hear Pope Francis hold a prayer service more..

Bribery Commission under attack

Jan 18 (NS) The DNA MP Sunil Handunnetti alleged that since 2002, the Commission to Investigate Allegations of Bribery or Corruption had not withheld the passport of a single individual who had bribery or corruption complaints lodged against them. “This is despite the Commission having powers to withhold passports of those facing such allegations,” he added. Handunnetti also acknowledged that there also other serious more..

MR's govt spent Rs 62B to defend rupee in Nov.

Jan 18 (CT) The previous regime spent US$ 473.48 million (Rs 62 billion) of tax payers' money to prevent further depreciating pressure on the Rupee, coupled with the then Govt's foreign debt servicing commitments last November, latest Central Bank (CB) data showed. This comes in the backdrop that the CB, politicized under the previous regime, was planning to raise US$ 1.5 billion from international currency markets more..

Matale mass grave Lawyers doubt USA report

Jan 18 (CT) Lawyers appearing for the victims of the Matale mass grave expressed doubts over the report submitted by the USA, on the bone samples sent. Matale Magistrate ordered the CID to once again conduct a proper and thorough investigation into all reports being submitted, thus far, on the incident. Attorneys-at-law Sunil Watagala and Gazali Hussain, who are appearing on behalf of the victims, pointed out that a govt more..

Police seize 60,000 liquor bottles in 4 lorries

Jan 18 (AD) Police arrested eight suspects for the illegal possession of 60,000 bottles of locally-produced liquor, found inside four lorries in the Dematagoda area. Officers of the organized crime and anti-vice unit of the Police Headquarters yesterday carried out a special operation at No. 758 in Baseline Road, Colombo. During the operation police officer discovered close to 60,000 bottles of liquor, brewed by ‘Wayamba Distilleries’ more..

Major drug cases to be probed again

Jan 18 (ST) All investigations regarding smuggling of narcotics during the past two years will be reopened, Public Order Minister John Amaratunga said. “I have ordered the IGP to send me a progress report of all investigations regarding the cases of drug detections. We are not happy about the progress of these cases,” the new minister said. He said that among the investigations to be resumed would be the detection of more..

CID to check CCTV data and record statements

Jan 18 (ST) Closed Circuit TV recordings are to be checked by CID detectives to find out who was present and what took place at Temple Trees before dawn on Jan 9 when an alleged conspiracy was hatched to suspend the announcement of the Presidential election results. The detectives will also obtain telephone records of those present at that time as part of the probe. The investigations follow a complaint by Minister more..

Corruption charges against top ministers and officials: Offices sealed

Jan 18 (CT) Following the defeat of the UPFA, several institutions and office rooms of prominent officials, in the previous govt, have been sealed, in order to carry out investigations on allegations of fraud and corruption, Ceylon Today learns. It is also learnt that several rooms at Temple Trees, the official residence of former President Mahinda Rajapaksa, who occupied it till 8 January, have been kept 'closed.' more..

Hunt on for ex-President’s missing vehicles

Jan 18 (ST) CID detectives are probing as to how a large number of the 700 vehicles allocated to the Presidential Secretariat have gone missing, a senior police officer said. The probe has been launched on the directive of Inspector General N.K. Illangakoon following a complaint by an officer in charge of the transport section of the Presidential Secretariat. The CID has collected details of the vehicles, including luxury cars and jeeps, more..

President Sirisena needs to be resolute

Jan 18 (Island) Maithripala Sirisena’s victory was time for good cheer and his 100-day Work Plan occasion for exhilaration; two big steps forward. I certainly am no silly idealist who imagines that all 100 steps can be achieved in full, but if important matters are addressed to satisfaction President Sirisena will go down as the president who navigated the greatest achievements in the shortest time. It would be churlish to pick holes within a week of his taking office unless matters are more..

Strong in Appearance but Weak in Conduct

Jan 18 (Island) Before July 2013 Rathupaswala was a little known village near the emerging township of Weliveriya. The people in Rathupaswala and in a few adjoining villages gathered together in the month of July 2013 to launch a peaceful protest against the authorities for turning a blind eye to their burning problem relating to pollution of water in the area. They charged that the water in the area was polluted due to the release of industrial waste by a factory nearby manufacturing latex gloves more..

Story of the seventh presidential election

Jan 18 (CT) Sri Lanka just concluded its seventh presidential election, which was as dramatic as well as a landmark. The elections were held in a country with an authoritarian regime that had abolished all independent commissions, including the Election Commission. They were conducted by a govt official designated as the Commissioner of Elections, with no power or control over the election bureaucracy and the Police. more..

President, PM and Ministers attend religious rites at Kelaniya Raja Maha Vihara

Jan 18 (GDI) As a govt which came into power with peoples mandate, in performing the responsibilities and duties towards the motherland, we will always seek advises of the Maha Sangha said President Maithripala Sirisena. He also pledged to take all possible steps to nurture and uplift Sambuddha Sasana. The president expressed these views after attending religious activities at Kelaniya Raja Maha Vihara Saturday evening. The president also called on Chief Incumbent of the Temple more..

India to keep close eye on PM’s ‘serious’ statement

Jan 18 (AD) Indian Union Minister Venkaiah Naidu replying to a question on Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickramasinghe’s remarks on offering more autonomy to Tamils in the island nation, he said it was a ‘serious’ statement and the NDA Government had taken note of it, the News X agency reprorted. “It is a very serious statement and we have taken note of it. We have age old relationship with Sri Lanka and we want to continue our relationship”, he said. more..

CPC offices sealed, Chairman denies Sajin’s Rs. 170 mn. debt report

Jan 18 (Island) Security officers of the Ceylon Petroleum Corporation (CPC) sealed the headquarters offices on Friday morning leaving many of its staff in the corridors until close of business. Its former Chairman and former Secretary to the Prime Minister, Mr. S. Amarasekara, said, "I have heard that my office room was sealed as were some of the others. But no one can possibly keep a secret in a govt office. more..

Sri Lankan winners to receive young leadership award from the Queen

Jan 18 (Island) Kavindya Thennakoon and Thejitha Edirisinghe from Sri Lanka are among 60 young people from across the Commonwealth who are being recognised as exceptional leaders in their community. These 60 young people are the first ever to receive a prestigious Queen’s Young Leaders Award. The Award, which will be presented in London by Her Majesty The Queen in June, and is part of The Queen’s Young Leaders Programme, celebrates the achievements of young people more..

68,000 wall clocks with MR, Namal photos found

Jan 18 (DM) 68,000 wall clocks with pictures of former President Mahinda Rajapaksa and PM Namal Rajapaksa were found in a store at Mabima in Sapugaskanda today, Police said. They said several election posters were also found inside the store. They said the Sapugaskanda Police had obtained a search warrant from the Mahara Magistrates court on an information received that some suspicious items were being hidden in the store in the Mabima area. more..

Ketagoda to give back Parliamentarian post to Fonseka

Jan 18 (AD) MP Jayantha Ketagoda said that he is willing to alienate his Parliamentarian post to DNA leader Sarath Fonseka. In 2011, Ketagoda became a MP replacing Sarath Fonseka’s place, as the party leader was convicted and imprisoned over several law suits against him. However, Ketagoda added that he made the decision upon a request made by Fonseka. more..

Teacher complains to Pope Francis for justice

Jan 18 (Island) Harold Fernando, a teacher formerly employed at De Mazenod College, Kandana, a school managed by the Brothers of the Order of De La Salle, has, in an appeal channeled to Pope Francis during his visit last week, complained that he was "unjustly dismissed from the school". He has referred his appeal to the Pontiff through Archbishop Pierre Nguyen Van Tot, Apostolic Nuncio to Sri Lanka. Fernando has outlined the antecedents stemming from his dismissal, more..

FLSP demands investigation of deaths and disappearances

Jan 18 (AM) The govt should investigate the unresolved assassinations and disappearances that happened during the previous regime if it was sincere in establishing democracy in the country, FSP Propaganda Secretary Pubudu Jayagoda said. He stated that the govt should take steps to investigate incidents such as the murder of Lasantha Wickremetunge, shooting at Rathupaswala, killing of Roshen Chanaka at Katunayake and various disappearances including that of more..

US lauds steps taken by new Lankan govt

Jan 18 (PTI) Lauding the steps taken by the new Sri Lankan govt, the US has said it looks forward to to work with the administration of newly elected President Maithripala Sirisena. “Our expectations from the new govt are the expectations of the Sri Lankan people. We simply want to support the new govt in fulfilling its campaign pledges to the Sri Lankan people,” Assistant Secretary of State for South & Central Asia Nisha Biswal said. more..