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Krishantha speaks his heart out on national politics and media

Jan 23 (FT) The Daily FT spoke with UNP Working Committee Member, Media Director and Political Strategist for the Opposition, Krishantha Cooray about what led to the fall of a seemingly-invincible President Mahinda Rajapaksa and what the new political regime in the country under President Sirisena and PM Ranil Wickremesinghe could herald for Sri Lanka’s beleaguered & suppressed media fraternity. more..

Sri Lanka: fantasy island

Jan 23 (National) There are some places that seem familiar even though you haven’t actually visited them. Paris is like that for Europeans and Sri Lanka is like that for me. Thanks to myths, movies, politics, geographical proximity and a shared language, Sri Lanka was part of my mindset while growing up in Chennai in the 1980s. Lanka-puri was the golden land described in the Hindu epic Ramayana, where the demon Ravana spirited away Princess Sita. An army of monkeys built a stone bridge, more..

Sri Lanka’s surprising election victor

Jan 23 (FP) In what came as a surprise to many, challenger Maithripala Sirisena recently defeated two-term president Mahinda Rajapaksa. Until late November last year, Sirisena was health minister and general secretary of Rajapaksa’s SLFP, the main political party in the UPFA. Sirisena was sworn into office on Jan 9, 2015. That same day, UNP leader Ranil Wickremasinghe was sworn in as PM. Seeking an unprecedented third term, Rajapaksa had called a snap election two years early more..

'Right to Information Bill is priority'

Jan 23 (CT) Former diplomat and incumbent Secretary to the Ministry of Mass Media and Information, Karunaratne Paranavithana, emphasized the importance of introducing a Right to Information (RTI) Bill in Parliament soon and said the initial work for the introduction of the Bill is currently underway. Q: What are the immediate changes or programmes the ministry is planning on introducing? A: The first and most important more..

Editorial: New brooms

Jan 23 (Island) For the first time in the history of this country a govt has taken its election manifesto seriously and is going at full tilt to implement it! True, the new administration’s survival hinges on its ability to make good its promises in a hurry because a general election is staring it in the face and its commitment to implementing its election pledges is the reason why other parties have chosen to cooperate with it. But, on-going efforts to implement its 100-day programme are to be more..

'CPC in Rs 200 billion losses for three years due to corruption'

Jan 23 (CT) The govt will reintroduce the fuel pricing formula again with the prospect of reducing the prices further, following Wednesday's reduction of prices of petrol, diesel and kerosene. Former Deputy Secretary to the Treasury who is now the Secretary to the Ministry of Power and Energy Dr. Suren Batagoda confirmed to the Ceylon FT that the pricing formula would be implemented soon, but said that a deadline for the implementation could not be announced soon. more..

'JVP disgusted by greed and fight to grab best ministries'

Jan 23 (FT) The JVP has certain concerns about the newly-appointed Cabinet of Ministers, stated JVP Leader Anura Kumara Dissanayake. Despite the Cabinet only being an interim one formed for just 100 days, the fight to grab the best ministries has disgusted the party, he asserted. “Minister of Education barely has one school term to carry out his work. Minister of Agriculture doesn’t have one farming season. more..

Exchange Rate passes Rs 133 mark

Jan 23 (CT) The exchange rate (ER) had the dubious honour of passing the Rs 133 barrier at yesterday's trading to close at Rs 133.10 to the US dollar in interbank 'spot next' transactions on thin volumes. On Wednesday it closed at Rs 132.90 in 'spot next' trades. Year on year the ER has weakened by between 1.76%-1.80% (Rs 2.30-Rs 2.35), having closed at Rs 130.80/85 in two way quotes on spot trades as at 22 Jan, 2014, records maintained by Ceylon FT showed. more..

Mixed reaction on fuel price slash

Jan 23 (CT) The reduction of fuel prices, petrol, diesel and kerosene, announced by the govt, has evoked mixed reactions from a frontline industrial chamber personality. "The benefits of the reduction are large with the cost of goods, cost of manufacturing and transport expected to decline; but the disadvantages would be that there will be more vehicular traffic on the roads creating congestion, chairman of the Industrial Association of Sri Lanka," Nilam Jayasinghe told Ceylon FT. more..

Video: Not as promised: Wimal

Jan 23 (DM) Govt had not exactly done what it promised, NFF said commenting on the fuel price reduction, NFF Leader Wimal Weerawansa said that that those who were running the govt had not kept its pledge to take away taxes on fuel though the prices were reduced. “This regime promised to slash taxes during the elections but had failed to do so,” he said while recalling that the taxes on fuel were under heavy criticism more..

University reform and the Universities Act

Jan 23 (Island) Item 56 of the new government’s 100-day, 100-point programme augurs well for universities: ‘Powers with regard to universities which are now exercised by the Minister will be restored to the universities through the UGC, and the politicizaton of the universities will be halted.’ The need, rightly, is to restore to universities those powers unlawfully usurped by the Minister. Few thinking people would disagree with this goal. Accordingly Prof. Rajiva Wijesignhe has more..

Ranil blames Swarnavahini administration for sacking Bandula

Jan 23 (CT) PM Ranil Wickremesinghe has revealed the truth behind the speculations of a top politician in the new govt being involved in the sacking of Bandula Padmakumara from the popular program Mul Pituwa. Revealing the truth behind the removal of the former Lakehouse Chairman from the program, the PM had said the decision has not been influenced by any political pressure whatsoever from the new govt and that it is the Swarnavahini Chairman’s independent choice. more..

CSE, the Most Sustainable Growth Exchange in Asia for 2014

Jan 23 (Island) The Colombo Stock Exchange (CSE) has been named the "Most Sustainable Growth Exchange" in Asia for 2014 by Capital Finance International (CFI), a print journal and online resource reporting on business, economics and finance, based in UK. The CSE was nominated and shortlisted for the Award based on voting by CFI readers, subscribers and contributors; who include the World Bank, IMF, PIMCO and Fidelity more..

Soil erosion prevention in Anuradhapura

Jan 23 (DN) A soil erosion prevention program is being implemented in the Anuradhapura district at a cost of Rs. 600 million to curb the increasing level of erosion. Soil conservation experts have said that soil erosion rate has been on the increase resulting from the large scale maize cultivation in the region. Anuradhapura District Agriculture Director Gamini Erabadupitiya said that the maize cultivation in the district has expanded to nearly 35,000 hectares from 2,000 hectares in 2005. more..

JAAF welcomes Sirisena-Ranil govt

Jan 23 (FT) The Chairman and Executive Committee of the Joint Apparel Association Forum (JAAF) and its members in a statement extend their sincere warm wishes to President Maithripala Sirisena and PM Ranil Wickremesinghe on their appointments. The forum pledged its fullest support and cooperation in order to improve export centric business environment in the country in partnership with the Govt as had been done since the inception of the organisation in 2002. more..

Bus fares plummet by 7%

Jan 23 (DN) The Lanka Private Bus Owners’ Association (LPBOA) has expressed its willingness to reduce bus fares by 7% following the slashing of diesel prices by the govt, said LPBOA President Gemunu Wijeratne said yesterday. He said that the minimum fare too would be reduced by Rs.1. Accordingly, the present minimum fare of Rs.9 will be reduced to Rs.8. The bus fare reductions will be based on a formula, he said. more..

'Road by Maligawa must not be reopened'

Jan 23 (Island) Most Venerable Mahanayake of Asgiriya Udugama Sri Buddharakkitha Thera said yesterday that he was strongly opposed to the re-opening of the highway beside Sri Dalada Maligawa, for vehicular traffic. The road by the shrine has remained closed and guarded by police for more than a decade. The prelate of Asgiriya responding to an inquiry by Plantation Industries Minister and Leader of the House Lakshman Kiriella. The road should remain closed, the prelate said. more..

World’s oldest barber Truefitt and Hill keen to set up shop in Sri Lanka

Jan 23 (FT) Oscar Wilde, Charles Dickens, Lord Byron and Frank Sinatra’s favourite barbershop now wants to groom Sri Lankan men. The world’s oldest barbershop (as certified by Guinness Book), the over 200-year-old Truefitt and Hill, that has been frequented by Winston Churchill, Alfred Hitchcockand Laurence Olivier, now wants to enter the Sri Lanka market and set up shops across the country. Truefitt operates outlets in Beijing, Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, Bangkok, Mumbai more..

Seychelles is ‘open to assist’ Sri Lanka with Rajapaksa money-laundering investigation

Jan 23 (SNA) The govt of Seychelles has said it will assist with all formal requests for an investigation into the assets of Sri Lanka’s former president. Seychelles Ministry of Foreign Affairs said this after reports surfaced recently in the media that the country’s newly-inaugurated govt would be pursuing an investigation against former President Rajapaksa, in connection with allegations of stolen assets hidden in Seychelles. more..

Land allocated for foreigners to be given to youth

Jan 23 (DN) Fifty thousand acres of land from Mahakalugolla up to Gonagalara in the Moneragala district been allocated to be sold to foreigners by the former govt, would be distributed among the youth in the area for agricultural purposes. Internal Transport Minister Ranjith Madduma Bandara said these lands had been used for cultivation by the residents. "crooks and supporters of the former govt had taken these lands by force from residents to be sold to foreigners," he said. more..

India won, China nil as Sri Lanka turfs out Rajapaksa

Jan 23 (SMH) When Sri Lanka unexpectedly turfed out President Rajapaksa in an election this month, it was the biggest setback in decades for China's expansion into South Asia - and a remarkable diplomatic victory for India. Despite Delhi's protestations, diplomats and politicians in the region say India played a role in organising the opposition against pro-China Rajapaksa. His successor, President Maithripala Sirisena, has said India is the "first, main concern" of his foreign policy more..

'To step down, CJ wants diplomatic posting'

Jan 23 (FT) CJ Mohan Peiris was making a diplomatic posting the condition of his resignation, Bar Association President Upul Jayasuriya said. Jayasuriya said Peiris was refusing to step down from office unless he was given a diplomatic posting to London, Brazil or Rome. “The Bar does not want a Chief Justice who begs for diplomatic postings,” Jayasuriya said. “He is refusing to step down unless he is given a posting,” more..

Fiji strengthens relations with Sri Lanka

Jan 23 (FT) Fiji finance Minister Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum has extended an invitation to Minister Mangala Samaraweera to visit the country and further strengthen relations. He met with Mr Samaraweera to discuss issues that will lead to improved bilateral relations between the two countries. "We had very good discussions on strengthening Fiji-SL bilateral relations not just between the two countries, but also between Govt and business and the business to business more..

Rajitha promises to get National Drug Policy approved next month

Jan 23 (Island) Minister Rajitha Senaratne, has pledged to get parliamentary approval for the National Drug Policy before the end of next month. The new Health Minister had met Ministry officials to brief them on the govt’s 100-day programme and instructed them to take all necessary steps to have the National Drug Policy ready by then. The Ministry would also introduce amendments to the present regulations regarding pictorial warnings on cigarette packs. more..

Repatriation issue to figure during Modi’s Sri Lanka visit

Jan 23 (ENS) Indian PM Narendra Modi will be discussing the repatriation of Sri Lankan Tamil refugees to their homeland in his talks with the Lankan leaders when he visits the island nation soon, minister Rajitha Senaratne said. More than 100,000 Lankan Tamil refugees are living in camps across Tamil Nadu which are being maintained with funds from the Tamil Nadu and Central governments. more..

Two convicts extradited from Malaysia

Jan 23 (Island) Interpol has arrested in Malaysia Mohamed Hussain a former (UPFA) MC of Negombo, who had been hiding in Malaysia for the past nine years to escape capital punishment. CID officers who went to Malaysia took him into custody. He has been flown back and remanded. He has been charged for causing the death of a person by shooting in Kochchikade in 2001. When the case was taken up for hearing he fled the country with his brother. Open warrants were issued for more..

JVP wants senior most SC Judge as CJ

Jan 23 (CT) The JVP said that the senior most Judge of the Supreme Court should be appointed as the Chief Justice. JVP Leader Anura Kumara Dissanayake added that the manner in which the 44th Chief Justice, Mohan Peiris, had been appointed after the wrongful impeachment of the 43rd CJ Dr. Shirani Bandaranayake, was also unconstitutional. In reference to the allegation of a coup and an attempt by the previous govt to subvert the process of democracy, by conspiring to more..

SL softens its stance on China port city

Jan 23 (Reuters) Sri Lanka's new govt said on Thursday it might renegotiate a $1.5 billion "port city" deal with China Communications Construction Co, softening its pre-election threat to scrap the project. New PM Ranil Wickremesinghe, before last month's presidential vote, said he would cancel the port deal if his party came to power. Maithripala Sirisena, backed by Wickremesinghe's party, unseated ex-president Rajapaksa more..

Roads in Colombo HSZs reopened

Jan 23 (CT) All the roads, leading to President's House (formerly known as Queen's House), in Janadipathi Mawatha, which had been barricaded, were opened yesterday giving unrestricted access to light vehicles. This was done on the instruction of Minister John Amaratunga. Minister Amaratunga said the ministry will, with the blessings of President Sirisena and PM Ranil Wickremesinghe, take steps to eliminate the high security zones in and around the Colombo City. more..

Presidency would remain sans Executive powers

Jan 23 (CT) President Maithripala Sirisena will lose his immunity before. the law when the Executive aspect of the Presidency is removed, as promised in the 100-Day Plan, Cabinet spokesman, Minister Rajitha Senaratne said yesterday (22). The Minister of Health, who was questioned as to whether the Executive Presidency would be abolished or restricted by the 100-day programme, said the Presidency would remain but it would no longer have 'Executive powers'. more..

Sri Lanka's once-powerful ex-president faces backlash

Jan 23 (AP) Their friends have deserted them. Their houses have been raided. Their power — near-absolute on this island nation just a month ago — has melted away, replaced with talk that some family members could face charges of corruption or murder. Former President Rajapaksa and his family — brothers, nephews and cousins who have dominated SL for nearly a decade — are suddenly portraying themselves as victims. more..

The 1% scandal: Crime against humanity

Jan 23 (DM) With the new all-party National Unity Govt giving top priority to poverty alleviation through social justice, our leaders and economic advisors would need to reflect on some shocking and staggering disclosures as billionaires and politicians hold the World Economic Forum (WEF). According to the latest report by one of the world’s most respected social justice movements Oxfam, by next year, 1% of the world’s population will own more wealth than the other 99%. more..

The dilemma: balancing politics and the law

Jan 23 (DM) Former Attorney General Shibly Azeez PC, making an address at the Technical sessions of the Conference of Attorney Generals of Asia Pacific held in Colombo spoke of the role of the office of the Attorney General and the conduct expected from the office. As the only Sri Lankan speaker at the sessions which were held in commemoration of the 130th anniversary of the AG’s Department, Mr. Azeez spoke of the recent events during the concluded Presidential elections, more..

The Rs. 4 billion computer scam!

Jan 23 (SL) Former President Rajapaksa’s Mahindodaya Technological Lab concept to provide technological labs for 1,000 secondary schools in the country has become yet another money spinning machine for those who are allegedly close to the former first family. Although, the previous regime boosted to have introduced computer labs to secondary schools in the country as a concept of the then President, more..

Rs. 5000 public sector pay rise

Jan 23 (DM) The Finance Minister Ravi Karunanayake said that the govt employees’ salaries would be increased by Rs. 5,000 from the interim budget on January 29. He added that this was in addition to the increase in the cost of living allowance for government-sector workers given by the Rajapaksa regime. “Last budget’s increase was on the Cost of Living allowance. In our budget it would be a direct increase on the salary,” more..

‘I would be fully vindicated in time to come’

Jan 23 (AD) Expressing disappointment at the wide publicity generated for the “charges” against him, former Central Bank Governor Ajith Nivard Cabraal today said he is confident that attempts to “vilify and discredit” him would be unsuccessful, and he would be “fully vindicated” in time to come. He was referring to the recent complaints made to the Commission to Investigate Allegations of Bribery or Corruption pertaining to his conduct as more..

Sajith to emulate his late father

Jan 23 (Island) Newly appointed Housing and Samurdhi Minister Sajith Premadasa said that he would start the day at 4.00am like his late father, President R Premadasa. Speaking at a function after assuming duties at the ministry Sethsiripaya, he said: "I will meet people from 4 am to solve their problems through my ministry." MP said that he would not use official vehicles, official residence, fuel or salary as a minister. more..

Ronchi, Elliott shatter records and flatten SL

Jan 23 (CI) A record-shattering sixth-wicket stand between Luke Ronchi and Grant Elliott yanked New Zealand out of the mire at 93 for 5, and sent them hurtling to 360 for 5, in what began as a counterattack, then grew into a sustained assault, then a gargantuan, unstoppable thing of terror. Their unbeaten stand of 267 off 180 balls was by a distance the highest ever for the sixth wicket, and is the second for any wicket for New Zealand. more..

Lankan politician to propose govt subsidy for Haj pilgrims

Jan 23 (AN) A leading Sri Lankan Muslim politician plans to propose that the newly elected government of the island nation subsidize citizens going on Haj. Azath Salley, the former deputy mayor of Colombo and a member of the new government’s task team to implement its program over the first 100 days, told Arab News on Thursday he plans to deliver the proposal soon to Minister for Muslim Religious Affairs Mohammed Hazeem. more..

Project to halt illegal migration: Abbott seeks President Sirisena’s support

Jan 23 (Island) Australia is seeking President Sirisena’s help to continue with joint operations to curb human smuggling operations. A spokesperson for the Australian High Commission was responding to a query whether Australian govt would be reviewing its stand on Sri Lankan asylum seekers consequent to the change of govt in Colombo. Minister Mangala Samaraweera declared in New Delhi that the situation in Sri Lanka more..