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Political prisoner issue threatens to get ugly

Nov 8 (SL) Opposition leader and TNA MP R. Sampanthan said last week that some Political prisoners will be released in stages beginning tomorrow but not all are happy. Tamil political prisoners says they were given an assurance a majority of them, who have not been charged for serious crimes, will be set free and not just a few of them. On Friday Tamil political prisoners said that they will resume a fast unto death in protest over the failure by Govt and TNA to keep its word. more..

'No criminal elements to initiate action'

Nov 8 (SO) Minister of Justice Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe, dismissing accusations levelled at the government and some of its ministers by JVP Leader Anura Kumara Dissanayake over the Avant Garde case in Parliament on Wednesday, said there was no case under the PTA, Explosives Act or the Firearm Ordinance and he did not want to be branded as a Justice Minister who has no knowledge of Sri Lanka's laws. more..

Is Yahapalanaya turning Wasapalanaya?

Nov 8 (CT) Minister of Law and Order and Prison Reforms, Tilak Marapana, is also the instructing Counsel for Nissanaka Senadhipathi in the Avant Garde case as claimed by Marapana. He made a rather controversial statement in Parliament last week which appeared in defence of Avant Garde Security Services. The minister blamed the Police for making a mountain out of a mole hill like the Millenium City controversy. Justice and Buddha Sasana Minister Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe, more..

Avant Garde controversy becomes nuttier & fruitier

Nov 8 (Island) The Avant Garde controversy becomes nuttier and fruitier by the day and the public is now treated to various faction of the govt blasting each other in public notwithstanding pious professions of collective cabinet responsibility. Purists will insist that who lawyer ministers tendered legal advice to, and presumably charged fat fees from, before assuming office is nobody’s business but that of counsel and client. But even the politically faithful cannot reasonably condone more..

'Clear proof of Ministers, MPs trying to defend Avant Garde'

Nov 8 (SO) JVP Leader Anura Kumara Dissanayake came out strongly against what he viewed as inaction on the controversial Avant Garde issue charging that it was the govt's prime responsibility to investigate and determine whether the private security company had violated the law of the land or not. He said there was clear proof of many ministers and parliamentarians trying to defend Avant Garde, and alleged that instead of more..

Corruption; the same difference

Nov 8 (ST) Hardly had the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs waxed eloquent at the United Nations Convention on Corruption in faraway St. Petersburg on the new Govt’s crusade against corruption, did Sri J'pura, Kotte reverberate with a thundering speech in Parliament by the leader of the JVP. His, the only party still not tainted by the highly corrupt political system in Sri Lanka, pulled no punches in accusing this Govt of encouraging bribery and corruption and protecting crooks. more..

Yahapalanaya: Who’s babbling what

Nov 8 (ST) My dear Green Man, I am writing to you because I am a bit confused these days about where the yahapaalanaya govt led by Maithri and you is heading. After seeing and hearing what is being said in the house near the Diyawanna Oya and outside it, I am none the wiser, so I thought I would ask you. Pardon me, Green Man, I am beginning to wonder whether you have forgotten why you are holding high office today. Less than a year ago, in January to be precise, more..

'We do not want America interfering in our internal matters'

Nov 8 (SL) Recently, Speaker Karu Jayasuriya announced the names of the new members to the COPE whereas the new chairman of the committee is yet to be appointed. The interim report prepared by former Chairman of the COPE D.E.W Gunasekara came under a lot of controversies and the report was never submitted to Parliament. Gunasekera said that if the new committee does not agree with his report, they should investigate more..

Rs. 60 billion coal tender disputed

Nov 8 (Island) The tender for the supply of coal to the Norochcholai power plant is probably the biggest tender awarded by the govt. The power plant requires 2.25 million tonnes of coal per annum and when a tender is awarded for a full three year’s supply, the amount involved at the current exchange rate would be in excess of Rs. 60 billion even if a part of it is purchased on the basis of spot contracts instead of a long term contract. This is equivalent to the total income that the govt hopes more..

Marapana’s statement sends shockwaves across the country

Nov 8 (SO) Minister Thilak Marapana’s statement over the private security firm Avant Garde in Parliament on Wednesday sent shockwaves across the country’s political circles. Minister in his statement, said the whole controversy surrounding the Avant Garde issue was a result of a lack of understanding regarding legislative measures on the floating armoury and police officers eager to be in the good books of the govt. Marapana’s statement puzzled not only the members of Opposition, more..

'Our political culture is corrupt and deteriorated'

Nov 8 (SL) Lately, many intellectuals and academia who backed the Jan 8 change, have expressed disappointment of the very govt they worked to get elected. They claim that the govt lacks commitment to keep the promises made to the people during the last presidential and the general elections. Executive Committee Member of the FUTA, Dr. Nirmal Ranjith Dewasiri also observed that Sri Lankan constitution is not necessarily more..

Political Guard for Avant Grade

Nov 8 (CT) Avant Garde Armoury case has caused cracks in the Maithri–Ranil Yahapalanaya Govt in a serious manner forcing President Maithripala Sirisena to summon a special meeting of the Cabinet next Wednesday. Situation worsened by last Thursday as storm erupted at the Cabinet Meeting with Ministers Champika Ranawaka and Rajitha Senaratne taking umbrage over Minister Tilak Marapana's statement in Parliament that cleared Avant Garde of all charges. more..

A tantrum and a missed chance

Nov 8 (CI) Jonathan Carter dropped a catch at backward point off Carlos Brathwaite's bowling in the sixth over, but Brathwaite's reaction to the drop perhaps cost a wicket. Brathwaite turned back to his bowling mark, livid, but failed to notice that non-striker Kusal Perera had ventured most of the way down the pitch, and a run-out opportunity had materialised at the non-striker's end. Carter picked the ball up from the ground and attempted to throw down the stumps, but more..

SL win via D/L to sweep series 3-0

Nov 8 (CI) Jonathan Carter dropped a catch at backward point off Carlos Brathwaite's bowling in the 6th over, but Brathwaite's reaction to the drop perhaps cost a wicket. Brathwaite turned back to his bowling mark, livid, but failed to notice that non-striker Kusal Perera had ventured most of the way down the pitch, and a run-out opportunity had materialised at the non-striker's end. Carter picked the ball up from the ground and attempted to more..

Jerome asked to continue till April next year

Nov 8 (ST) Present Interim cricket coach of Sri Lanka, Jerome Jayaratne is likely to be seconded for his services till the end of the World T-20 Tournament which will be held in India April next year according to cricket’s Interim cricket head, Sidath Wettimuny. SLC’s cricket’s Interim head said “At the moment the side is pretty much settled and we do not want to rock the boat in any way. So we are hoping to keep him in charge of the national team will the end of World T-20 tournament more..

Sidath leaves with cricket in healthier state

Nov 8 (Island) The tenure of the Cricket Interim Committee appointed early this year is coming to an end as Sri Lanka Cricket is set to go for an election early next year. Sidath Wettimuny and his men have finished off a tremendous task in putting the game back on track and leave with the finances, administration and the team in a stable condition. When Sidath took over, SLC had an overdraft of 207 million and they owed the ICC and Bank of Ceylon huge sums of money to the effect of more..

Economic policy receives mixed reviews

Nov 8 (SO) PM Ranil Wickramasinghe's speech in Parliament on economic policy on Thursday makes some of right noises that will go down well with international lenders and the business community. Business leaders, Chambers, economists and bankers too echoed this sentiment. Chairman of NSB, Ashwin de Silva and Chairman of People’s Bank, Hemasiri Fernando said that it was a good move to merge EPF & ETF. more..

Crucial decision on Marapana

Nov 8 (CT) President Sirisena and PM Wickremesinghe will have a one-on-one meeting today to take a crucial decision on Minister of Law and Order and Prison Reforms Tilak Marapana. President and PM are expected to have a meeting on Minister Tilak Marapana on issues related to the highly controversial Avante Garde floating armoury, authoritative political sources said. These sources also pointed out that Minister Dr. Rajitha Senaratne and other prominent Ministers have severely more..

Tuskers go down fighting

Nov 8 (CT) Sri Lanka Sevens side went down fighting against Hong Kong when they were defeated 25 (5-tries) -12 (2-tries, 1-conversion) in the last match of the first day of the Asia Olympic Qualifiers for Rio Olympic kicked off here in Hong Kong Stadium yesterday. Having taken a 12-0 lead very early in the match the Tuskers kept a packed house in Causeway Bay silent, until a gallant comeback from the home team in the second half saw them dominate Sri Lanka with four tries, more..

Progressive tax on vehicles and luxury goods in 2016 Budget

Nov 8 (ST) Sri Lanka plans to unveil a progressive tax on vehicles, luxury and semi luxury goods, and imported food items in a bid to increase revenue and bridge the 2016 budget deficit. The new tax rate on these luxury goods and vehicles is yet to be finalised, official sources said adding that it is likely to be around 5%. The 2016 Budget to be presented on Nov 20 is aimed at increasing tax to GDP ratio to a 14 to 15% from 10.5% at present. more..

Sri Lanka, a land like no other… for broken promises

Nov 8 (ST) The lofty ideals on which the United National Front for Good Governance (UNFGG) was put together with the great promise to fight bribery and corruption and deal with the problems faced by the people with compassion, was shattered to a large extent by the actions of a few of its members in Parliament this week. The voices that emanated from the floor of the House from some lawmakers who dangled the yahapalanaya carrot before voters to get elected not so long ago, more..

George Soros to visit Sri Lanka, PM says

Nov 8 (ST) World famous investor George Soros will be a key participant at an economic summit to be held in Sri Lanka before January 2016, PM Ranil Wickremesinghe told Parliament on Thursday. In a lengthy economy policy statement, the PM said that while the first budget of this Govt to be presented on Nov 20th will reflect the third generation economic reforms as planned, “I would like to point out that all signs that assure us we are on the right track are here”. more..

Probe report shakes up big names

Nov 8 (Island) Controversial former Secretary of Sri Lanka Cricket Nishantha Ranatunga and former Sports Minister Mahindananda Aluthgamage are some of the individuals to come under intense scrutiny and criticism by the three member panel that conducted an inquiry into allegations of corruption at Sri Lanka Cricket from Jan 2012 to April 2015. Report goes onto highlight abuse of power, corruption, high handed acts more..

Gunaratnam must leave: Immigration Dept

Nov 8 (SO) Kumar Gunaratnam who was arrested by Police for overstaying his tourist visa must leave the country according to the law, Controller General of Immigration and Emigration Nihal Ranasinghe said. “Law applies to all, he has overstayed his tourist visa, which is a clear violation and he needs to return to his homeland and renew his documents,” he said. “We gave him ample opportunity to present himself before the Dept but he has absconded, which is why he has been remanded.” more..

Colombo Port unions rock the boat at SLPA

Nov 8 (ST) In the wake of allegations of inaction and a slide in performance at the Sri Lanka Ports Authority (SLPA), 17 of the 21 trade unions have teamed up to assist the new authorities. A section of the trade unions from the Sri Lanka Ports Authority (SLPA) urged authorities on Thursday to bring back a former shipping industry official now resident overseas as its Managing Director during a media briefing held at the Ex-Servicemen’s Association Hall at Fort. more..

SL piles more billions onto foreign debt load

Nov 8 (ST) Sri Lanka continues its borrowing spree, adding several billions to its massive debt load by issuing yet more debt — a US$ 1.5 billion 10-year international sovereign bond. Sri Lanka will pay a higher 6.85% annual interest on the additional billions borrowed. Just months earlier, Govt borrowed US$ 650 million through a 10-year sovereign bond at an annual yield of 6.125%. It emerged last week that SL is also awaiting more..

13A to be amended?

Nov 8 (SL) Minister of Local Govt and Provincial Councils Faizer Mustapha says if measures are not taken to devolve police and land powers to the provinces, another amendment should then be introduced to the Constitution declaring the removal of such powers from being devolved to the provinces. Mustapha expressed this view when questioned on the devolution of land and police powers to the provinces under the 13th Amendment to the Constitution. more..

Restructuring CPC: Trade union submits proposals

Nov 8 (SO) While the govt is considering the restructuring of the Ceylon Petroleum Corporation (CPC) to make the entity a profitable venture, CPC trade unions have submitted proposals for the new Budget to take the State entity out of its financial mess. CPC is running at a huge financial loss and up to May this year, has posted a loss of over Rs. 6.9 billion with around Rs. 240 billion in accumulated losses. Media secretary of Ceylon Petroleum Common Workers Union (CPCWU), more..

SL-Maldives spat over alleged plot to kill Yameen

Nov 8 (ST) Sri Lanka-Maldives relations took a plunge yesterday as the Govt of Maldives said last night that a Sri Lankan citizen has been arrested for conspiring to assassinate President Abdulla Yameen. The announcement came in the official twitter account of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Male. It said “A Sri Lankan citizen is under Maldives Police Custody for conspiring to assassinate Maldives President. more..

Five more Independent Commissions

Nov 8 (CT) Speaker Karu Jayasuriya said that the Constitutional Council met last Friday and appointed members to another five Independent Commissions and that the names have been submitted for the approval of President Maithripala Sirisena. The Speaker emphasized that members who are appointed to the Independent Commissions should not give into anyone or any influence and act independently to establish democracy in the country. Accordingly names of members appointed to more..

Top minister accused of underhand dealing

Nov 8 (SL) A powerful minister in the govt has come under severe criticism for his attempt to get involved in the proposed Megapolis concept of construction of large housing projects. This Minister who is close to President Sirisena has already given assurances to building contractors to give them the contracts in this regard. Champika Ranawaka is the Minister of Megapolis and Western Development and questions have been raised as to why this minister is promising offering contracts more..

President declares he will abide by stand taken by majority of Cabinet

Nov 8 (Island) With Sirisena-Wickremesinghe govt in deepening crisis over the stinking Avant Garde affair, a last-ditch-effort is being made to reach a consensus on the issue, political sources said. President Maithripala Sirisena and PM Ranil Wickremesinghe will meet warring members of the cabinet on Monday to discuss a way out of the turmoil. With those wanting to clear Avant Garde of any wrongdoing and other demanding action more..

'UNP asked Fonseka to nurse Kelaniya in 2010'

Nov 8 (Island) Justice Minister Wijeyadasa Rajapakse, PC, Friday claimed that the then Gen. Sarath Fonseka had spurned an offer to nurse the Kelaniya electorate on behalf of the UNP at the April 2010 parliamentary polls. Alleging that the former Army Commander had conveniently forgotten the past, Rajapakse said that having lost the January 2010 presidential poll, Fonseka wanted to move into the Gampaha District ahead of the parliamentary polls. more..

TN fishermen expected to be released by Nov 3rd week

Nov 8 (PTI) The process for release of 126 Tamil Nadu fishermen lodged in Sri Lankan prisons was underway and they were expected to be released by the third week of this month, a Lankan fishermen association leader said today. The fishermen, belonging to various districts and arrested on different dates in the past more than a month, have been remanded to judicial custody by courts in Sri Lanka and the island govt had recently announced it would release them. more..

Govt under heavy fire on corruption probes, crucial introspect tomorrow

Nov 8 (ST) A fresh team now assigned by Govt to take over the task to freeze and later recover the assets of the son of a former VVIP in a Dubai bank has just returned to Colombo after extensive talks in that emirate. Team comprised senior DIG Ravi Waidyalankara, head of FCID, Dilrukshi Dias Wickremesinghe, Director General of CIABOC and Yasantha Kodagoda, Additional Solicitor General. more..

PM weighs in with pre-budget visioning

Nov 8 (Island) The onset of the budget season precipitated quite a few seminar showers and media commentaries. They were all timely and critically enlightening. The Finance Minister’s revenue and expenditure estimates and the indicators about the state of the economy are of grave concern to all economy watchers. The Second Reading of the Budget that will unveil the govt plans to deal with the budgetary gap is set for Friday, Nov 16. But on Thursday, Nov 5, Guy Fawkes Day more..

Human Rights Watch double talk

Nov 8 (Island) Interview given by Human Rights Watch (HRW) Asian Chief Brad Adams (BA), published in Sunday Times of 25 Oct gives some cause for amusement. He has made several curious statements related to events leading to the sponsorship of a resolution against Sri Lanka by USA at UNHRC in Geneva which I have quoted below. BA’s comments give the impression of having an in depth knowledge of the thinking of both the US govt and Robert Blake, one time US more..

Extradition of teenager: Maldivian mission violates diplomatic ethics

Nov 8 (ST) With much fanfare and glare of publicity the 18-year-old youth was arrested by the Police, and handed over to officials of the Department of Immigration last week. They bundled him into a Male-bound flight. On arrival, Police there arrested the youth and sent him straight to a prison island in the archipelago. His offence, it was claimed, is his involvement in a plot together with former Vice President Ahmed Adeeb to more..

JVP to protest proposed pension scheme

Nov 8 (CT) The JVP said that under cover of providing a pension for the private sector by integrating the EPF and ETF, the govt is preparing to misappropriate Rs. 1,500 billion from the EPF and ETF and the party will take to the streets in protest. JVP Provincial Councilor Wasantha Samarasinghe warned govt, "Do not engage in games similar to what the Rajapaksa Govt did by saying that you will provide pensions for Private Sector." more..

Pakistan’s Commerce Minister to arrive in SL

Nov 8 (ST) The Federal Commerce Minister of Pakistan Khurram Dastgir Khan is arriving in Sri Lanka on a three-day official visit to boost bilateral investment and trade between the two friendly countries. He would be accompanied by a high powered business delegation consisting of cement, pharmaceutical, food and beverage, sugar, shipping, construction and manufacturing sector companies. more..