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Gunaratne to be grillled for fraud

July 19 (CT) The special presidential commission investigating large scale fraud and corruption has summoned former Deputy Minister Sarath Kumara Gunaratne to question him about spending a sum of Rs 13.2 million belonging to the Fisheries Corporation on the presidential election campaign of former President Rajapaksa. Gunaratne is the Chief Organizer of the UPFA for Negombo. Secretary of the Commission, Lascille de Silva said that Gunaratne was summoned to Commission more..

First Sri Lankan ISIS militant killed in Syria

July 19 (CT) A karate master from Galewela, Kandy who has been reportedly killed in Syria in an air strike last week is said to be the first Sri Lankan member of the ISIS, international and social media reports said. Several condolence messages from his karate students are now pouring into the Facebook. Known in the Islamic State as Abu Shuraih Sailani (local name withheld for obvious reasons) the message on Facebook states more..

Karuna willing to work with President, PM

July 19 (CT) Former National List MP and Vice President of SLFP V Muralidharan, a known Mahinda Rajapaksa confidante, aka Karuna, says he is willing to work with President Maithripala Sirisena because the President is still his Leader. Karuna feels he was duped by UPFA General Secretary Susil Premajayantha who dropped his name from the National list adding that it was "mere cheating." Karuna says he wants to work for the Tamils as he did in the past and he has more..

TNA confident of winning 20 seats

July 19 (CT) TNA Leader R. Sampanthan says TNA would be able to settle all political and humanitarian issues by 2016 if the Tamils in North and East ensure a massive victory for the TNA in the coming general election. His assurance came in an address to party members and supporters at an event in Trincomalee. Sampanthan said: "The TNA is willing to wind up its political aspirations with a massive victory at the Parliamentary poll and to achieve a solution to the Tamil question by 2016. more..

Rajapaksa’s sky jack of Sri Lankan flights : Rs 785M for three years

July 19 (ST) Former President, Mahinda Rajapaksa, spent more than Rs. 785 million within three years to charter SriLankan Airlines aircraft for his visits abroad. Airbuses would often remain idle in various airports until Mr Rajapaksa finished his tours. SriLankan has billed his office a total of Rs 785,079,185 for 90 aircraft movements in 2012, 2013 and 2014. This figure does not reflect other multiple costs such as crew accommodation. more..

Deputy CMO reinstated; withdraws case against Colombo Mayor, officials

July 19 (ST) The Court of Appeal (CoA) ordered to restore Colombo’s Deputy Chief Medical Officer (CMO) Dr Anna Kariyawasam to her former status, after she agreed to withdraw her case against the Mayor and senior officials of the Colombo Municipal Council (CMC). The CoA also granted permission for Dr. Kariyawasam to continue her work under the provisions of the Establishment Code and Food Hygiene Regulations. Dr Kariyawasam filed a writ application with the CoA challenging her more..

Police use video evidence to prosecute election law offenders

July 19 (ST) Police are to file 37 cases, some of them backed by video evidence, against those who allegedly violated election laws after handing over nominations, a senior police officer said. Deputy Inspector General Roshan Dias said the cases would include charges of conducting processions soon after the nominations, pasting posters, putting up cutouts and election-related violence. This is the first time the police are making use of video and photographic evidence to support their cases. more..

President battles with his own party amid suspense and turmoil

July 19 (ST) It was an epochal, rare and historic moment in Sri Lanka’s three decade old executive presidency. A President heaped both agony and ecstasy to his fellow countrymen on the eve of a parliamentary election. Just one sentence in a 62 minute address to the nation said it all. President Sirisena declared that he would urge the people to select those who are suitable to march forward with the Jan 8 mandate. more..

Presidential body blow, A'pura counterblow, & bond scandal that won’t go away

July 19 (Island) The scores seem to have become even at the end of a tumultuous first week after nominations. To go back to the week before –the UPFA scored first by hijacking and announcing the Rajapaksa candidacy supposedly premised on a historic unity between Maithripala Sirisena and Mahinda Rajapaksa candidacy. The real threat of a Mahinda return galvanized the yahapalanaya forces to come together after months of infighting into a United National Front for Good Governance. more..

President Sirisena or Alice in Wonderlad?

July 19 (Island) The initial title of this piece was "Requiem for a President" but Tuesday’s developments have left me flummoxed for a title; it is a most unusual constitutional wrangle when a President declares that he will not appoint someone as PM even if he secures a majority in parliament. Additionally, the leader (MS) of a party (SLFP), showers imprecations on the head of the person (MR) leading that party’s electoral campaign. Alice in Wonderland stuff! more..

Talk at the Cafe Spectator

July 19 (ST) UPFA, we thought learnt a bitter lesson at the last election. Transporting crowds for meetings does not necessarily translate into votes. But there was no stopping it from swelling the Salgado Stadium in Anuradhapura with party workers brought in from other towns by party organisers. On the other hand, a half full; half empty ground was not good for the morale and was bad for the aerial video photography that was relayed more..

'Britain amongst top ten investors in SL'

July 19 (Island) The promotion of trade between and the UK is on a firm footing, British High Commissioner in Colombo, James Dauris, said last week. Addressing the Annual General Meeting (AGM) of the Council for Business with Britain (CBB), convened at the British High Commission, he said that at present 150 British companies are operative in Sri Lanka. The quantum of trade, in financial terms, was at 850 million Pounds Sterling, more..

Varsity don predicts UNF victory

July 19 (CT) Head of the Political Studies Division of Sri Jayewardenepura University, Dr. Terrence Purasinghe said the political comeback of former President Mahinda Rajapaksa happened due to a loophole in the Constitution of Sri Lanka. He also said the comeback has created a hazardous environment for President Maithripala Sirisena. He emphasized the fact that someone who has been President twice and defeated for third time more..

'Cross-overs to face a by-election'

July 19 (CT) I would like to mention first and foremost that I would not like to be appointed as President, ever. I do not like that power. I like parliamentary power. If I am appointed leader of that and get to rule the country, I will sit with my brother parliamentarians and ministers as a head and carry out a lot of work. I will give priority among those things to the following. If I become the Leader of the Parliament what I would do first is, more..

Retired cops to probe missing

July 19 (SL) The Presidential Commission Investigating Cases of Missing Persons has appointed a team of retired police officers to look into the cases of missing people which need further investigation. An internal source revealed that a team of five retired police officers, who are well experienced in conducting investigations, has been appointed by the Commission and they have already started their operations. more..

Social media gives savvy candidates an edge

July 19 (ST) Social media-savvy candidates are off to a running start in the election, overcoming the handicap imposed by strict observance of restrictions on posters and cutouts, and digital agents are making good money from candidates. Technically, campaigning for the August 17 elections started at noon on Monday (13) but the younger politicians, well-versed with the social media machine that grips the world today, more..

FCID probes to continue; EC Chief says be more flexible

July 19 (ST) Sri Lanka’s Elections Commission said on Friday that while it didn’t have the power to stop ongoing investigations and probes by the Financial Crimes Investigation Department (FCID), it has requested the state agency to be more flexible during election campaigning. Elections Commissioner Mahinda Deshapriya said that, “what I cordially requested (the FICD) is not to stop any investigation but to ensure that candidates more..

UNP accuses former Chief Justice of duplicity

July 19 (CG) The UNP today accused former Chief Justice Sarath N. Silva of duplicity after he extended support to former President Mahinda Rajapaksa, just months after he had campaigned for his defeat. Former UNP MP Wijeydasa Rajapaksa said that people like Sarath N. Silva are a disgrace to the judiciary. He recalled that Sarath N. Silva had earlier backed President Maithripala Sirisena at Presidential election more..

Polls campaign: Code of conduct to be gazetted

July 19 (ST) Candidates contesting the upcoming parliamentary elections will be required to refrain from inviting voters or public officials as groups to their residence to entertain them and not make false allegations about rival parties and their activities according to a code of conduct to be gazetted next week. Additional Elections Commissioner R.M.A.L. Ratnayake said the code had been endorsed by all political parties more..

New York property: CBSL violating monetary laws

July 19 (ST) The Central Bank (CBSL) has been violating the Monetary Law Act by renting out a property in New York to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for a monthly payment of US$ 68,000 or Rs. 9 million since 2012. The Monetary Board granted approval on January 10, 2011, for the CBSL to buy a building in New York. The 12,000 square foot property was bought in August that year for US$ 5,807,116 or Rs. 777,456,690. more..

Question of a National Carrier or a Liberal Aviation Policy

July 19 (Island) The writer previously wrote three articles on the National Carrier (UL) in which different aspects were discussed. The first of the three discussed the manner in which aviation in Sri Lanka has evolved between 1982 when UL operated 60% of a total of 25 flights between Colombo and Amsterdam, Frankfurt, London, Paris, Rome and Zurich with balance 40% operated by British Airways, KLM, Swiss Air and UTA compared with today’s status quo of UL operating 4.4% of more..

Election propaganda masquerading as Ramadan events: CaFFE

July 19 (CT) The Campaign for a Free and Fair Elections (CaFFE) said that election propaganda activities were being masqueraded as events relating to the Muslim Festival of Ramadan in an effort to exploit propaganda mileage out of them. The Executive Director of CaFFE, Keerthi Tennakoon, said there had been several incidents in which such election propaganda efforts were being made under the guise of Ramadan celebrations. He specifically noted that more..

Rs 85bn from vehicle taxes up to May

July 19 (EN) Sri Lanka has earned 85.3 billion rupees as only excise taxes from imported motor vehicles in the five months to May 2015, up from 32.7 billion rupees a year earlier, which was lower than capital spending on roads and bridges during the same period. Vehicles also pay an annual road tax, a luxury tax, a vehicle registration fee, and taxes are also charged on the fuel used by vehicles, especially petrol. more..

Presidential follies

July 19 (Island) The whole nation owes a debt of gratitude to President Maithripala Sirisena (PMS) for coming forward as the Common Candidate to contest and defeat former President Mahinda Rajapaksa (PMR) thus salvaging this nation and its people from the despotic rule of PMR and his acolytes. After providing political leadership to defeat the LTTE menace which no other President had succeeded since 1980, PMR treated this nation as his private property with absolutely no regard more..

Vagrant breeding in our waters

July 19 (Island) How would you react when you are told that a bird classified as a vagrant- i.e. a migrant that is seen perhaps once in 10 years or so is discovered breeding in a tank in Sri Lanka? Hitherto, sightings of solitary specimens have been so sporadic that it was categorized as a vagrant to Sri Lanka. Well, on Wednesday July 8, 2015 at 8.15 a.m. Ceylon Bird Club Committee Member Tara Wikramanayake saw seven Large Whistling Teal/Fulvous Whistling duck Dendrocygna more..

On Staten Island, savoring flavors of SL

July 19 (NYT) Staten Island has historically been known for its Italian and Irish heritage, and more recently Russians and Liberians. However, in the last decade, the Sri Lankan population growth in the borough has created a Little Sri Lanka in the Tompkinsville and St. George neighborhoods. Staten Island is home to the city’s largest Sri Lankan population. Though a decades-long civil war in Sri Lanka escalated tensions between Sinhalese more..

SLFP claims it is united

July 19 (CG) SLFP today claimed that it stands united as a political party contesting the Parliament election. SLFP General Secretary Anura Priyadharshana Yapa said that the main goal of the SLFP at the polls next month is to defeat the Govt and make former President Mahinda Rajapakasa the PM. “We want to install a people’s Govt after August 17,” he said. Yapa accused the Govt led PM Ranil Wickremesinghe of limiting most of its commitments to words and not action. more..

Man who's disrupting politics as usual in SL

July 19 (OZY) For much of the past decade, Sri Lanka was more or less a family business — one that happened to be run on an island just 22 miles off the coast of the second-largest country in the world and astride a key shipping lane to the largest. By one estimate, former President Mahinda Rajapaksa and his two high-ranking brothers controlled up to 70 percent of the nation’s budget, while 29 members of their extended family held senior positions in the govt, more..

Pumped-up field of heavyweights and tyros Notable contests by district

July 19 (ST) The stage is set for a hotly contested election next month with some 500 parties and groups vying for 196 seats through an interesting mix of seasoned politicians and novices. In the Colombo District, which will return 19 MPs, the competition is stiff, with political heavyweights from all sides listed on the ballot paper. Those contesting in Colombo include the leader of the UNP and outgoing PM Ranil Wickremesinghe, more..

Police quiz Kiriella and Kongahage

July 19 (DM) The CaFFE said that election propaganda activities were being masqueraded as events relating to the Muslim Festival of Ramadan in an effort to exploit propaganda mileage out of them. The Executive Director of CaFFE, Keerthi Tennakoon, said there had been several incidents in which such election propaganda efforts were being made under the guise of Ramadan celebrations. He specifically noted that "Several supporters of two main parties have been involved in events at more..

Two vocational training institutes open in East with assistance from Switzerland

July 19 (Island) The Vocational Training Authority (VTA) announced the inauguration of two vocational training institutes in Trincomalee on July 8. The ‘Vocational Training in the North and East of Sri Lanka’ (VTN) project is a bilateral cooperation between Sri Lanka and Germany. The project is implemented by Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH and the Kreditanstalt für Wiederaufbau (German Development Bank - KfW) on behalf of more..

Saudi urges more control on pregnant Lankan maids coming for employment

July 19 (ST) The Saudi authorities have urged the Sri Lanka Govt to stop sending pregnant women as domestics to the Kingdom since it had created a social issue while at the same time the local sponsors are forced to bear heavy financial losses as a resullt. The matter was raised in a face-off meeting between the Saudi Labour Minister Mufrej Al-Haqabani and Hussein Mohamed, SL’s High Commissioner in Riyadh more..

Rajapaksa’s big poll gamble

July 19 (TS) Will former president Mahinda Rajapaksa’s ambitious comeback bid succeed? He has not waited long after he lost the presidential elections in January 2015 and he is contesting from Kurunagala parliamentary seat for the August 17 Parliamentary elections as a candidate of the UPFA, the coalition that he headed when he was president from 2005 to 2015. The current president Maithripala Sirisena had no choice but to allow his predecessor’s nomination more..

Construct 2015 Exhibition in August

July 19 (Island) Electro Metal Pressings (EMP), a leading company in the engineering construction industry, has stepped up as the principal sponsor for the upcoming, most sought after exhibition Construct 2015 in its 15th consecutive year, under the theme Build Your Dreams. Organized by the National Construction Association of SL (NCASL) and endorsed by the Ministry of Housing and Samurdhi, the construction exhibition will be held from Aug 28-30 at the BMICH. more..

Unmasking smuggling via shipping containers arriving at Lankan Ports

July 19 (ST) Approximately 8.4 billion tons of seaborne trade travelled the globe in 2010, according to the Institute of Shipping Economics and Logistics, proving that the world’s economy moves largely by sea, states a technical expert at the Decision Sciences International Corporation that provides security solutions. Its COO Jay M. Cohen, U.S. Navy Rear Admiral (Retired), is a proven leader and more..

Sri Lanka’s import trade warns against ad hoc tax changes

July 19 (EN) Sri Lanka’s import trade has urged the govt to maintain consistent policy on taxes and duties, saying ad hoc changes affect business confidence and encourage grey markets. “Importers in the trade expect government policies to be more long term and consistent,” said Dinesh de Silva,, chairman of the Import Section of the CCC. “The trade needs stability and confidence to make decisions investments and implement business expansion strategies. more..

Tiran’s case on July 22

July 19 (SO) The case filed in the Supreme Court by the police Special Investigations Unit (SIU) against former parliamentarian and RADA Chairman Tiran Alles and others will be taken up on July 22. In this case, the SIU sleuths are investigating the Rs. 169 million missing Treasury allocations for tsunami reconstruction in LTTE controlled areas in 2006. The SIU sleuths said the funds may have ended up in LTTE coffers with the connivance of a middleman. Four suspects including the then more..

Homelessness haunts Panama

July 19 (NS) In 2010, while the country still basked in the glory of a war won, one night an area hard hit by the long-drawn conflict faced yet another unknown terror. It was one that residents of Panama in Ampara who had suffered much worse perhaps never expected. A few days after being asked by govt officials including local politicians, Lahugala Divisional Secretary and the Pottuvil Police to leave the land that had belonged to more..

Police Officers briefed by HRCSL

July 19 (SL) Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka (HRCSL) has launched a programme ahead of the election to prepare the police officers as to how they should conduct themselves during the elections. HRCSL Legal Secretary, Nimal Punchihewa told The Sunday Leader that last Friday they conducted a session covering all the police stations in the Sabaragamuwa Province and the Elections Commissioner participated in the session upon their invitation. more..

TNA to push for permanent political solution

July 19 (CG) TNA says it will continue to push for a permanent political solution for the Tamils. TNA member Suresh Premachandran said that the TNA will be seeking support for two main issues during its election campaign. He said that a resolution for the Tamil issue is what the Tamils have been calling for, over a long period of time and that will be one of the key issues raised at the polls campaign. Resettling the war displaced, releasing Tamil political prisoners and providing answers over the more..