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'Improvement with private sector support'

Jan 18 (CT) Reappointed Minister of Industry and Commerce Rishad Bathiudeen said that his ministry would improve on the export and industry performance further, in collaboration with the Sri Lanka's private sector. The private sector is set to be the driver in Sri Lanka's new phase of industry and international trade development," the minister said. His remarks came after he assumed duties as the Industry and Commerce Minister for the second time amidst a gathering of Buddhist monks, more..

Even with a change of regime in Colombo, China’s sway will continue to grow in SL

Jan 18 (JT) In a stunning blow to President Mahinda Rajapaksa, Sri Lankan voters opted for his former colleague Maithripala Sirisena to end a decade-long regime that has been increasingly marked by allegations of nepotism, corruption and authoritarianism. Rajapaksa, after defeating the LTTE, had won an overwhelming mandate for himself and his party in the 2010 elections. The LTTE had been fighting since 1983 for an independent homeland for minority Tamils more..

India, Sri Lanka fishermen's association meeting proposed for long term goals: MEA

Jan 18 (ANI) Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) stated that a meeting of the fisherman associations of India and Sri Lanka has been proposed in order to work out a long term solution with regards to this issue, adding that the matter needs to be dealt with in a humane manner. "It is proposed to have a meeting of the fishermen's associations of the two countries at an early date to discuss how to address longer term goal in this regard. more..

Loosening Beijing embrace, Sri Lanka reviews China projects

Jan 18 (Reuters) Sri Lanka's new govt will review Chinese infrastructure projects awarded under the previous administration, a junior minister said, a move bound to please Indian and Western powers concerned about Beijing's access in the island state. On Friday, the govt said it would review a $1.5 billion port deal with China Communication Construction Co Ltd over concerns about the Chinese company getting land on a freehold basis in a high-security zone. more..

SLFP high-command supports Govt’s 100-day program

Jan 18 (SO) Health and Indigenous Medicine Minister Dr. Rajitha Senaratne said that ninety nine percent of the SLFP is with President Maithripala Sirisena and they endorsed the Govt’s 100-day program. When the SLFP high-command met President Sirisena, they said that they would wholeheartedly support our 100-day program. Their only wish was not to break away from the SLFP. The President assured them that no such move would be taken, the Minister said. more..

Police spokesman spills the beans

Jan 17 (SO) Police Spokesman SSP Ajith Rohana said that the political hierarchy of the previous regime tried to distort the truth on many occasions by using him to gain mileage over Opposition politicians. He said certain top officials of the former govt tried to influence him to provide false information to the public to distort some ongoing crucial police investigations involving State and Opposition MPs. He said that some cases more..

Sri Lanka upbeat on ties with China

Jan 18 (CG) Sri Lanka’s newly elected President Maithripala Sirisena is upbeat of continued relations with China that have reached new heights since the end of a three-decade war, the Chinese embassy said in a statement. Sirisena had met with Chinese Ambassador to Sri Lanka Wu Jianghao and assured him of continued cooperation between the two countries. Sirisena had thanked the ambassador for Chinese President Xi Jinping’s congratulatory message on assuming leadership and more..

Environmental issues relegated to back-burner for now: Activists

Jan 17 (NS) Environmentalists who supported the candidacy of Maithripala Sirisena during the presidential election said they acknowledge environmental issues would take a backseat during the 100-Day program of the Sirisena presidency. Sajeewa Chamikara from the Environment Conservation Trust (ECT) said it was quite possible that a Minister of Environment or Wildlife Conservation would not be appointed by the Govt of President Maithripala Sirisena. more..

Police say floating armory belongs to Avant Garde company

Jan 18 (AM) Police Department said the ship detained with 12 container loads of weapons was charted by Avant Garde – a private security agency in Sri Lanka - to maintain the floating armory. The ship carrying weapons was detained by Police at the Galle Harbour on Sunday afternoon to conduct further investigations. Avant Garde private security firm – which is owned by Nissanka Senadhipathi, a retired Military officer - is more..

Rajitha to reimpose 80% pictorial warning

Jan 18 (NS) Minister Rajitha Senaratne vowed that the govt would bring back the 80% pictorial health warning on the cigarette packets as promised, despite concerns it would be a direct challenge to an earlier decision handed down by the Appeals Court. “Parliament is the supreme body so we will take it to the Parliament and make sure to have mandatory pictorial health warnings to be displayed on packets of cigarettes covering 80% of the total area of a pack.” he said. more..

19th Amendment expected to sail smooth

Jan 18 (NS) With Parliament set to meet on Tuesday for the first time since the conclusion of the presidential election, the process of abolishing the ‘authoritarian’ executive presidential system, one of the main campaign pledges of President Maithripala Sirisena, is set to commence this week. “All the commissions which existed under the former govt acted according to the whims and fancies of the former President. He exploited the powers given to him under the executive Presidency. more..

Video: India, SL pledge to build better ties

Jan 18 (IANS) Nine days after President Maithripala Sirisena took office, Sri Lanka and India Sunday pledged to deepen their relations, with New Delhi agreeing to work "closely and extensively" with Colombo. External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj conveyed India's views to her new Sri Lankan counterpart Mangala Samaraweera, who arrived here overnight on his first foreign trip after Sirisena came to power Jan 9. more..

OUSL Sathyagraha continues

Jan 17 (NS) The Satyagraha Campaign which has been continued for last 32 days at the Open University of Sri Lanka (OUSL) seems no end as the discussions between the students and the administration as well as the politicians has failed. Inter-University Students’ Federation Convener, Najith Indika explained that they were still going to continue the protests. According to him, the officials have failed to give a solution to the main demand of reducing the university course fee. more..

Possible suspect of military coup probe Mahinda Balasuriya sneaks out of country

Jan 18 (AM) Former Secretary of the Ministry of Law and Order and Former IGP Former IGP and Law and Order Ministry Secretary Mahinda Balasuriya has left for Abu Dhabi this morning, airport sources confirmed. Balasuriya is likely to be a possible suspect in the investigations with regard to the attempted coup on the election night. It has come to the limelight that Balasuriya had attended a suspicious meeting on Jan 7, with several senior Army officials and two senior-most Police more..

Indian spy's role alleged in Sri Lankan president's election defeat

Jan 18 (Reuters) Sri Lanka expelled the Colombo station chief of India's spy agency in the run-up to this month's presidential election, political and intelligence sources said, accusing him of helping the opposition oust President Rajapaksa. An Indian foreign ministry spokesman denied any expulsion and said that transfers were routine decisions. Rajapaksa, voted out of office in the Jan 8 election, said he did not know all the facts more..

Deshabandu Dr Reggie Seimon

Jan 19 (SL) It is with profound sadness that I write this appreciation of my life-long friend, classmate in school, batch mate and roommate in the university, accomplished eye surgeon, leader in the field and acknowledged teacher of ophthalmology in Sri Lanka, benefactor of patients, man of vision, and great gentleman Dr Reggie Seimon. We hailed from the same village Kuda Paiygala . We were in the same class seated next to each other at Holy Family Convent, Kalutara, Holy Cross College, more..

Now, What becomes of Navy rugby?

Jan 19 (SL) AND now it’s on to the second-round of the League competition. A series of stunning upsets that illuminated the 36-match first-round, during which the leadership changed hands more than once and no team went undefeated, has inspired hopes of a fascinating second-round – whilst at the same time, holds out fears of being a damper too, should the intensity of the defending champions Navy’s title ambition becomes enfeebled, for reasons which we’ll take up in awhile. more..

'Democracy and media freedom prevail today'

Jan 19 (SO) Minister Dr. Rajitha Senaratne said that the resounding victory achieved by President Maithripala Sirisena on Jan 8 Presidential election has paved the way to change the entire political scenario in the country. It is like the Middle East Spring. What they did by bullet, we did by ballot. That is the difference. The Minister said that this will change the picture, culture and the entire civilisation of the country. more..

Securing the freedom of expression in the new Sri Lanka

Jan 19 (GV) Chapter 11 of the common opposition candidate’s presidential election manifesto is devoted to media freedom. Among other things, it includes simple commitments such as lifting the bans on news websites run from abroad. Such infantile measures were typical of the tin-pot – and ultimately self-defeating – despotism that emanated from the erstwhile Ministry of Defence. The emphasis on media freedom in a separate chapter of the manifesto was quite rightly placed, more..

Lessons from the previous regime

Jan 19 (NS) Former President Rajapaksa’s defeat at the presidential election was not a surprise as the contest was always too close to call since the advent of President Maithripala Sirisena as the opposing candidate. Yet, it has left many asking the question ‘what went wrong?’ A simplistic explanation has been offered: Rajapaksa lost the election due to the vote against him in the North and East. The former President himself emerged from his Tangalle residence and told crowds that more..

'I don't want to risk my life for astrology'

Jan 19 (CT) There were many who pledged bets during the campaign period of the recently concluded presidential election. Some in the government were so confident of the former President's victory that a former minister bet the ancestral home her father had built for her and a Provincial Minister bet a luxury vehicle. However, none would be regretting their bet more than astrologer Chandrasiri Bandara, who pledged more..

Anti-corruption commission for Sri Lanka

Jan 19 (GV) There is renewed interest and concern among various quarters of Sri Lankan society about the need for a more effective system of preventing, investigating and curbing corrupt activities by govt officials, politicians and those who are close to them. There is also a wide spread view among people that the existing mechanisms for these purposes are not effective or sufficient. This article is to provide some ideas in this regard particularly in the light of the workings of New South Wales Independent more..

Rajapaksa’s surprise

Jan 19 (JT) There were two striking developments after voters in Sri Lanka went to the polls on Jan. 8 to select their president. First, the incumbent, Mahinda Rajapaksa, lost. To the surprise of virtually every poll watcher, he was ousted by former Health Minister Maithripala Sirisena. Second, and perhaps even more surprising, Rajapaksa handed over power when the results become clear, rather than clinging to office, democracy be damned. The fights are not over, however. more..

'Villagers now call me President'

Jan 19 (CT) Apart from the two main contenders in the presidential election fray, there was another who grabbed the attention of the public, not for his political acumen, but for his close physical resemblance to one of the main contestants. The election campaign of R.A. Sirisena angered some and amused some others. Some also claimed that he was an actor brought in by one camp to hurt the campaign of the other. more..

Rajapaksa regime: Wake-up call to the nation

Jan 19 (CT) I know it is far too early to attempt an assessment of the Mahinda Rajapaksa regime that has just ended. We are too close to the remarkable event. On the other hand, a wake-up call about a serious danger must necessarily be as early as possible if it is to be useful. I was in Sri Lanka during elections and watched the process closely. Rupavahini and ITN, both national ventures of considerable influence, are paid by the taxpayer in order to perform a public duty. more..

The SLFP in the 21st century?

Jan 19 (CT) Does the ascension of Maithripala Sirisena to the leadership of the SLFP mark the definitive end of hereditary rule in Lankan politics? Will Maithripala Sirisena and Nimal Siripala de Silva succeed in doing what Mahinda Rajapaksa should have done – transform the SLFP from a semi-feudal entity into a modern democratic party? For more than half a century, the SLFP was headed by three members of one single family – the Bandaranaikes. When Mahinda Rajapaksa took over more..

'The tea industry is not profitable'

Jan 19 (CT) The Joint Tea Small Holders Federation (JTSHF) represents the 450,000 tea small holders' families and the two to three million who account for 10% in the country whose livelihood is the tea industry. Chairman of the JTSHF and former JVP MP, Chandrasena Wijesinghe spoke about the issues faced by them. Q: What is the mandate of the JTSHF? A: The JTSHF was started with the intention of safeguarding the tea more..

Editorial: Darley Road Drama

Jan 19 (Island) The SLFP version of The Caucasian Chalk Circle, which was being enacted at Darley Road, Colombo 10, for about ten days, is over. Former President Mahinda Rajapaksa has done a Grusha and let go of the party leadership. In so doing he has, in fact, made a virtue of necessity. The SLFP in the throes of a crisis is now President Maithripala Sirisena’s baby! Former President Rajapaksa has indicated his willingness to retire from politics, we are told. more..

Message in presidential election outcome

Jan 19 (Island) Mr. Maithripala Sirisena has been elected President. He won by a margin of 449,072 votes. His vote bank of 6,217,162 (Ibid) was predominantly made up of the voters in six electoral districts of the Northern and Eastern Provinces, the Nuwara Eliya District in the Central Province, as well as a considerable proportion of a mix of voters from ethnic and religious communities from the remaining 16 electoral districts who were critical of the manner in which former President Rajapaksa more..

Maximum with minimum mantra!

Jan 19 (FT) With a new dedicated Tourism Ministry in place, the debate over the minimum room rate has resurfaced, with the Colombo City Hotels Association cautioning against any change while emphasising on the need for a proper monitoring mechanism. The City Hotels’ position comes on hot the heels of inbound tour operators making a fresh push for the abolition of minimum room rates. Letting market forces more..

People have spoken, get to work!

Jan 19 (ST) The new Maithripala Sirisena-Ranil Wickremesinghe partnership has got perhaps the shortest, possible honeymoon ever for a Government starting out after a tense and closely-fought election. Less than a week after Sirisena beat a once-unshakable Mahinda Rajapaksa for the plum post of Sri Lankan President, the screws are on the ruling coalition with new appointments being questioned and many catchers and hangers-on waiting on the sidelines for positions. more..

SLASSCOM expects positive effects on IT, KPO-BPM industry

Jan 19 (Island) SLASSCOM, the Sri Lanka IT,KPO-BPM industry chamber has pledged its fullest support to the new govt led by President Maithripala Sirisena, PM Ranil Wickramasinghe and the new cabinet of ministers. SLASSCOM Chairman, Jayantha De Silva shared his sentiments with regard to the optimism and expectations of the IT, KPO-BPM industry stating," "With good governance at the forefront, we expect extremely positive effects to our country, economy, as well as our industry. more..

CBSL's reserves plunge due to rupee protection

Jan 19 (CT) New bipartisan govt led by President Maithripala Sirisena and PM Ranil Wickremesinghe will have to walk a tight rope in trying to prevent a drain in its foreign reserves by trying to protect depreciating pressure on the rupee, while at the same time ensuring that the economy grows in real terms, by ensuring the continuation of a low interest rate regime, market sources said. This comes in the backdrop that in a short space more..

'Good governance can spur nation's brand-value'

Jan 19 (Island) With the stunning election victory of President Maithripala Sirisena, on a platform of change for good governance, the potential for brand Sri Lanka to strengthen itself has grown exponentially. In the Brand Finance Nations Brand report published in December 2014, it was concluded that whilst Sri Lanka has made major strides in going up the rankings, that good governance is at the very heart of building the base of a nation's reputation, and unless more..

Harsha assures sound policies within social market economy

Jan 19 (FT) Policy Planning and Economic Affairs Deputy Minister Dr. Harsha de Silva on Saturday voiced the importance of a ‘social market economy,’ the benefits of which would be enjoyed by every citizen in this country. Assuming duties on Saturday at the PM’s office located at Flower Road, Dr. de Silva assured new administration would bring sound economic policies that would uplift the lives of every citizen. “We respect former President Rajapaksa for ending the war. more..

Fish prices to tumble?

Jan 19 (NS) Fish prices in the local market are expected to go down in the short term due to the ban by European Commission on imports of Sri Lankan fisheries products which came to effect on Jan 15, industry officials said. However they noted that prices are likely to stabilize in the medium tern with expected Govt intervention. The ban on exports of Sri Lankan fisheries to Europe was imposed by the European Commission as more..

‘Arjuna had Lloyd-like influence’

Jan 19 (TT) Muttiah Muralidharan feels 1996 was a watershed year for Sri Lanka cricket. In a column written for the ICC World Cup website, the iconic off-spinner wrote that the World Cup victory actually put Sri Lanka cricket on the world map. “The reason why Sri Lanka cricket is where it is today, producing world-class players, is one: our success in the World Cup of 1996… Before that, cricket was amateurish. It was popular, but not a uniting force by any means. “But when we won in Lahore all that changed. more..

Sri Lanka business delegation in Lahore to promote tech education, vocational training

Jan 19 (BR) CEO of The Ceylon Chamber of Commerce Sri Lanka Mangala Yapa while addressing a networking and experience sharing seminar held on Saturday has said that here is a lot for collaboration between Sri Lanka and Pakistan especially for the promotion of technical education and vocational training and both countries can learn from each other experiences. The delegation of employers from Sri Lanka inspired the Pakistani companies on how they can participate in more..

Misdeeds of Sri Lanka tourism officials during poll exposed

Jan 19 (ST) Sri Lanka Tourism Promotions Bureau (SLTPB) has allegedly misused state resources and public money amounting to millions of rupees to promote the former president and the UPFA during presidential and the recent Uva PC elections, trade unions alleged. A trade union official said that the SLTPB had spent over Rs.114 million on advertisements and other propaganda activities of the former president more..

Decision on EPC before Tuesday

Jan 19 (NS) SLMC media spokesperson Nizam Kariyappar stated that a decision on the Eastern Provincial Council’s future will be taken before the council reconvenes on Tuesday. He said that the SLMC was conducting discussions with the TNA regarding the future of the council. The Eastern PC was controlled by an alliance of UPFA, SLMC and the NFF before a series of defections took place to the camp of the common opposition candidate during the presidential elections. more..