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Mangala assures security; Urges smooth transition

Jan 4 (DM) Opposition, while assuring that the security of the incumbent President and his family would be ensured in the event of his defeat at Thursday’s Presidential Election, urged him to allow immediate transition of power. UNP MP Mangala Samaraweera said that dissolving Parliament on the day of the election or before would be suicidal as the govt would lose its power in Parliament as well, in the event it was defeated at the Presidential Election losing the executive power. more..

Archbishop’s House declines comment on alleged appointments of Cardinal’s relatives

Jan 4 (Island) A spokesman from Archbishop’s House declined comment on allegations on the Internet that Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith had been obligated to President Rajapaksa by an alleged diplomatic appointment to his niece and an appointment in the presidential secretariat of another close relative. Rev. Fr. Cyril Gamini Fernando, Director, National Catholic Center for Social Communications and Media more..

Govt to protect farmers affected by inclement weather

Jan 4 (AM) The Agriculture Ministry has decided to pay compensation for damaged crops and to provide funds for farmers to overcome difficulties and meet the requirements of farmers affected by inclement weather, Minister Mahinda Yapa Abeywardene said at the media briefing held at the Govijana Mandhiraya. He said many agricultural lands have been damaged due to rainy weather in the island during the last few weeks. The ministry has decided to pay compensation for damaged crops more..

Catholic Bishops’ Conference statement on forthcoming Presidential election

Jan 4 (Island) It has been officially announced that there will be a Presidential election on Jan 8, 2015. As the election approaches, what seems to be needed is to focus on the major issues facing the nation as a whole, which require urgent solutions to be sought with genuine political will and determination. Therefore, at every level, violence must be eschewed both before and after the elections. A mature debate to educate the people on each one’s policies should be carried out more..

Survey reveals that people eat less both quality & quantity-wise

Jan 4 (Island) An Aug 2014 survey reveals that around 15% of Sri Lankans say that they have cut back on the number of meals they have per day, with the upcountry Tamil community again being the most affected with 44.3% saying that they have cut back as has 36.6% of the larger Tamil community who said the same. Survey conducted for the third time by CPA sought to record public perspectives on democracy in Sri Lanka. more..

'Plea to join NDF from Kelaniya rejected'

Jan 4 (CT) The govt did not have any idea about who the common candidate will be, because the UNP used an ancient communicating method to prevent intelligence officers getting in the know, UNP MP Ranjan Ramanayake said during a press briefing. However, the method of communicating through letters was used before Maithripala Sirisena was announced as the common candidate, he added. By now 28 letters have arrived, to join the NDF, including one from Achala Jagoda. more..

UK envoy discusses polls

Jan 4 (SL) British High Commissioner, John Rankin, visited Jaffna on Friday six days ahead of the presidential elections. The High Commission said that meetings were scheduled with the Jaffna Security Forces Commander, Jaffna Deputy Inspector General of Police, the Government Agent and the Northern Province Chief Minister regarding the upcoming presidential elections. Meanwhile the team of nine Commonwealth election observers arrived in Sri Lanka on Friday as well. more..

Video: Survey: Same side goal

Jan 4 (DM) A survey conducted by the opposition had revealed a victory for President Rajapaksa, Minister Dullas Alahapperuma said. He said a separate poll conducted by the Kelaniya University also predicted a clear victory for Rajapaksa. He also referred to another survey conducted by two academics of the Colombo University giving an easy victory for Mr. Maithripala had disowned by one lecturer. more..

Friday Forum’s final appeal to fellow voters

Jan 4 (Island) The Friday Forum last week made what it called its "final appeal" to voters, whatever their political affiliations, to exercise their franchise after carefully considering the issues before the country. The following is the text of their appeal. "In less than one week, the Sri Lankan electorate will go to the polls to elect a President who will hold office for the next six years. This is probably the most decisive election in SL’s post-independence period, and one which will define the destiny more..

Sajith slams crossover claims

Jan 4 (AM) UNP Deputy Leader and MP Sajith Premadasa slammed the crossover rumors that are circulating about him. Speaking at a public meeting, Premadasa asked if he, the son of the former president R Premadasa who lay down his life for the party, will leave the UNP. He added that such rumors have now become the biggest joke of the presidential election campaign. He said that these rumors are mainly circulating across social media such as Facebook, Twitter and mobile SMS. more..

Foreign monitors note concerns

Jan 4 (CG) Foreign election monitors in SL for Presidential elections, said that concerns had been raised by those they met so far with regards to several issues, including the use of State resources and the potential use of the military on or before Election Day. Commonwealth election observers said that they will assess the information they have received and determine if the conditions are suitable for a credible & free election. more..

DEW Gunasekera says crossovers likely

Jan 4 (AM) Senior Minister DEW Gunasekera stated that politicians of both sides are preparing to crossover tonight, tomorrow and even on the 6th. He made this revelation at a Communist Party meeting in Hatton earlier today. He also said that this presidential election has seen an unprecedented number of crossovers including Cabinet Ministers, MPs, Provincial Councilors and even PS Members. Gunasekera also stated that he was not sure as to where all this will end up but more..

Bradman-12, Sangakkara-11

Jan 4 (CI) 11: Number of 200-plus scores Kumar Sangakkara has in Tests now - only one behind Don Bradman's record of 12. Five of these scores have come in away Tests, which equals the most by any batsman. Bradman, Wally Hammond and Brian Lara also had five 200-plus scores in away Tests. 38: Centuries hit by Sangakkara in Tests. Only Tendulkar (51), Kallis (45) and Ponting (41) are ahead of him. Sangakkara has scored 12198 runs in Tests at an average of 58.92, more..

Wigi defends TNA on Maithri

Jan 4 (CG) Northern Province Chief Minister C V Wigneswaran has defended the decision taken by the TNA to back common opposition Presidential candidate Maithripala Sirisena at the Presidential election. He said that while it is not important whether the decision is right or wrong even those who say it was a wrong decision have not come out openly and asked others to vote for President Rajapaksa. more..

Police deny CID raiding Sirikotha

Jan 4 (NS) Police have vehemently denied that a raid was carried out by the CID at the UNP head office, Sirikotha in the search for ‘defamatory publications’ yesterday. SSP Ajith Rohana said a warrant was not obtained by the CID to conduct a raid and no such incident took place. “I can say with confidence this report is false as the CID did not raid Sirikotha and neither has the CID sought a warrant from the courts to conduct a raid” he said while addressing the media. more..

UNP to push for international audit

Jan 4 (SL) UNP MP Lakshman Kiriella says his party is considering an international audit on government development projects done to date. It is alleged that govt politicians have obtained from 40% to 50% commission from each of these development projects. Many high interest rate foreign loans have been obtained for these development projects and they have been given to political affiliates or stooges without proper tender procedures, he alleged. It is reported that over USD 700 billion loans more..

'Hard to predict my thoughts on retirement'

Jan 4 (CI) Kumar Sangakkara said his Test future remained undecided, following the 203 at the Basin Reserve that brought him to within one-double hundred of equaling Donald Bradman's 65-year record. Sangakkara had originally planned to quit all formats following the World Cup, which would have made the ongoing match his final Test. However, he has reconsidered that decision after receiving requests to stay, more..

AIBA’s new rule makes road to Olympics longer

Jan 5 (SL) ASK any sport to spell out its mission and what you get is that old mantra: to win an Olympic medal. The months approaching to the next Olympic is when the mantra gets more airplay than any ditty on the Pop Charts. If the recitation of that mantra had held some degree of honesty, then, the country might’ve by now garnered a basket-full of medals, not the mere two pieces of silver it has, won 52 years of each other, since the birth of the Modern Olympics back in distant 1896. more..

Dayan Jayatilleka’s arguments for supporting Mahinda: False premises and faulty logic

Jan 5 (CT) This article is not about Dayan Jayatilleka – it’s about the arguments he uses to defend the Rajapaksa regime. These arguments are currently the most sophisticated apologies that exist for the Rajapaksa regime. If they are flawed, then the entire foundation underlying the case for supporting Mahinda Rajapaksa crumbles. Arguments can be flawed for two distinct reasons. First, if an argument’s premises are false. The second cause of flawed arguments is invalid more..

'CWC will vote President Rajapaksa to power'

Jan 5 (SO) Leader of the Ceylon Workers’ Congress (CWC) and Minister Arumugan Thondaman said that as a constituent of President Rajapaksa's UPFA govt they have been able to achieve much more for the socio-economic betterment of the plantation community, than what was done under previous govts. President Rajapaksa is sincerely committed to the welfare of the community and he knows what they need, Thondaman said. more..

The economics of SL’s mid-term elections

Jan 5 (EAF) Sri Lanka’s president, Mahinda Rajapaksa, has called a snap mid-term election on 8 Jan, two years ahead of schedule, in a bid to win a third term in office. What was largely expected to be a one-horse race has quickly become a close run proposition, with the surprise entry of Maithripala Sirisena —the General Secretary of the president’s own SLFP, no less — as the common opposition candidate. The entry of a ‘common candidate’ representing all opposition parties is not new. more..

Rationalizing the political choices available to us

Jan 5 (GV) Generally, I do not use social media to present my opinions about social, political or economic matters relating to Sri Lanka. However, having seen the avid debates on both camps of the Presidential campaign during the past weeks, I think the time has come to detach myself from this attitude of apathy and pen down some of my thoughts about the current state of affairs. In the run-up to the Presidential election, as citizens, we need to reflect carefully on a number more..

'Maithri should emulate others and not himself'

Jan 5 (CT) Leader of the SLMC, Rauff Hakeem, who defected the Mahinda Rajapaksa camp to support Common Candidate, Maithripala Sirisena, said that those who accuse him of 'indulging' in 'political prostitution', having no 'political spine' and branding him the 'greatest acrobat' in the political arena, are people who are motivated by pure psycho-fancies who want to cover their own xenophobia, which has totally destroyed more..

Skulduggery: The deciding factor?

Jan 5 (CT) Sunday Leader editor, Late Lasatha Wickrematunge, predicted his death (reproduced below) in the hands of the state goons on 8 Jan 2009 and his very thought of death is to befall on the despotic regime of Rajapaksa on 8 Jan 2015, six years later. The people of Sri Lanka should give a collective homage to the very worthy sole, that will pave the way for the perpetrators of his heinous killing is brought to justice to reflect a sigh of relieve Sri Lanka needs to more..

Of rains, opinion polls & first preference vote

Jan 5 (SL) Just now, there is nothing to suggest that the unprecedented, unseasonal rains of the past week will flow into the coming week, to interfere with voting pattern in the presidential polls of January eighth. Yet, the vagaries of the upcoming polls are as much as that of Mother Nature that a re-visit coupled with regional preferences of Rain god, if any, could as much influence the results like the personalities, policies and the relative strength of the contesting coalitions. more..

'Power to be shared between President and Cabinet'

Jan 5 (NS) Maithripala Sirisena was the General Secretary of the SLFP when he accepted the invitation to be the common opposition candidate at the Presidential Election. He shared his thoughts on key elements of his campaign. Q: You were a minister in Mahinda Rajapaksa’s cabinet but now you are challenging him for the presidency. Do you think the conditions necessary to achieve this objective have materialized at this point? more..

Fertilizer subsidy: research findings for policy makers

Jan 4 (Island) As in many developing countries, fertilizer subsidies represent a major component of agricultural policy in Sri Lanka. This is particularly true of the paddy sector. With rice being the staple food in Sri Lanka, successive govts have provided significant fertilizer subsidies for paddy with the primary aim of increasing the paddy production. Since 2005, the fertilizer subsidy has accounted for 2-2.5% of total govt expenditureand the subsidy is given for all three major fertilizers more..

Will Lanka chew the same betel or change to waltz the Swan Lake

Jan 5 (ST) There’s a kind of hush that has descended upon the land. Now the hour’s come to stop passing the buck, wondering how the other fellow and the rest of the nation will be voting for a new president. This Thursday morning it will be zero hour. Time to clasp your future in your hands and decide what is best for Lanka and you. The question that awaits answer is: Whether Lanka should chew the same old betel or opt for change and dance the new Swan Lake waltz? more..

A Portrait of the Electorate, on the Cusp of an Election

Jan 5 (GV) Lankans are awaiting the island-nation’s seventh presidential election with a renewed belief in the power of their vote. According to the latest opinion survey by the Centre of Policy Analysis (CPA), 86.9% of Lankans think that their vote can make a difference in the outcome of the presidential election. In August 2014 only 59.5% of Lankans expressed similar confidence in the efficacy of their vote. more..

Editorial: Mr. Prabhakaran

Jan 5 (Island) There are only three more days to go for the presidential election and the indefatigable propagandists of the govt and the Opposition are fighting the final battle with guns blazing. Former President Chandrika Kumaratunga, who is leading the Opposition campaign from the front, has drawn a great deal of fire for calling the dead LTTE leader ‘Mr. Prabhakaran’ recently in Jaffna. Defending the use of the title at issue to refer to Prabhakaran, CBK has, at a media briefing the other day, more..

On the known devil and Sri Lanka’s choices

Jan 5 (ST) President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s call to Tamil voters during a rally in the North this week to vote for the ‘known devil’ is typical of the unabashedly unapologetic tone of his election campaign. After four years of relentlessly rolling back Sri Lanka’s constitutional freedoms and the Rule of Law, much needed humility would have been well in order on the part of this Presidency. Instead, what we have are arrogant, brash and let it be clearly said, foolish boasts. more..

UNP slams CB’s politically coloured rosy data

Jan 4 (FT) Opposition economists slammed Central Bank Governor Ajith Nivaad Cabraal for releasing what he called ‘politically coloured’ economic data and vowed to conduct an independent audit upon a new Govt following Thursday’s election. “There is a saying – torture the numbers and they will confess anything. This is what the Central Bank Governor has done in 148 slides of his Road Map,” UNP MP Dr. Harsha De Silva more..

'Strengthening of Parliament critical for credible budgets'

Jan 4 (Island) Previous Insights on Sri Lanka's budgets showed considerable variation between publicly declared budget allocations and actual expenditure on line items. This gap can create a credibility problem. For examples, see our previous insights "Who bleeds for the budget" and "Agriculture and Defence Budgets reveal unstated priorities in policy". Allocations to agriculture and irrigation are a case in point. According to govt statistics, the mismatch between more..

IT use in Sri Lanka spreading far and wide

Jan 4 (Island) IT Shopping Festival 2014 followed the success of the 2013 Festival on the same lines. Although organizing committee members M. Nawshad and Viranga Mananperuma glossed over the question on its achievements last year, indicators were that its successes crowded-out most other concerns. We visited stalls/shops, and our observations were that the IT market was growing and this year the IT Festival would be planned to cater to a wide cross section of IT users more..

Mervyn turns magnanimous!

Jan 4 (FT) Appearing to distance himself from the Rajapaksa re-election campaign, Public Relations Minister Mervyn Silva yesterday urged the people to vote for “whoever” they liked. “Mahinda Rajapaksa is a noble man. His family destroyed everything. Go to the polling booth and vote for whoever you like,” Silva said at the SLFP office in Kiribathgoda. He said that after 8 January, he would be sitting with the Opposition. more..

State & Governance Reforms after Elections

Jan 5 (Island) Reforming the state as well as the practices of governance is a major political theme in Sri Lanka’s current Presidential election campaign. The arguments for state reform are framed in the language of constitutional reform. The agenda for reform in governance is presented in the discourse of ‘good governance.’ It is the opposition alliance which first introduced this twin theme of reform into the election campaign’s political debate. President Rajapaksa’s campaign also incorporated more..

Jan-Nov Tea exports up by Rs. 14.2 billion

Jan 4 (FT) Sri Lanka’s tea exports saw both volume and value growthin the first 11 months of 2014, according to Forbes and Walker Tea Brokers. It said cumulative exports for the period January-November 2014 totalled 297.5M/kgs vis-à-vis 290.6M/kgs of January-November 2013, thus showing a gain of 6.9M/kgs. Total revenue of Rs. 194.2 billion has shown a gain of Rs. 14.2 billion vis-à-vis Rs. 180 billion of 2013. Tea in packets/tea in bags have shown a growth year on year (YOY) whilst more..

Voters urge Police to be neutral: Poll

Jan 4 (ST) Most Sri Lankans, who responded to a Business Times pre-election survey held this week, say the top priority for voters is the Police acting as an independent and neutral force. Asked to list their preferences from a choice of five options that voters would like to see in force at Thursday’s Presidential poll, most respondents chose as their first preference “a firm assurance from the IGP that the Police more..

NUF condemns attacks

Jan 4 (Island) NUF led by M.M. Zuhair PC has condemned the attack at the Pelmadulla meeting of common opposition presidential candidate Maithripala Sirisena on Friday and the shooting incident on Saturday targeting Maithripala Sirisena at yet another rally in Aralaganvila. "Though in both incidents Maithripala Sirisena escaped unhurt, the incidents bring to public attention the serious security threats under which the opposition is conducting its polls campaign particularly as more..

'Banking sector assets to grow to Rs 18 Trillion by 2020'

Jan 4 (CT) Banking sector assets would grow to Rs 18 Trillion, at least three banks would have assets in excess of Rs 2 Trillion and at a minimum of five banks would have a regional or global presence by 2020, according to Central Bank Governor Ajit Nivard Cabraal. The Banking sector would be aligned with the real economy whereby at least five banks would be having an asset base in excess of Rs 1 Trillion by 2016 and large state banks would have a regional or global presence, he said. more..