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Sri Lanka: Geography from heaven and history from hell

Nov 22 (Telegraph) All evening in London, Sri Lanka was close by. In the wine bar in Temple, where John Gimlette works as a lawyer on clinical-negligence cases when he’s not writing award-winning travel books, our drinks arrived with a ramekin of nibbles. Ah, said Gimlette, the Jaffna mix is here. At the end, on the bus we took from Fleet Street to Waterloo station, he spotted an Asian woman with hair parted in more..

On the nerve-tingling Trinco troture chamber

Nov 22 (CT) The secret detention centre at the Naval Base in Trincomalee which was highlighted by the Northerners, NGOs, the Tamil Diaspora and human rights activists way back in 2010, was visited by the UN Working Group last week. Speaking from the US, after returning from the Sri Lanka mission, Prof. Ariel Dulitzky, said "We were not on a mission to investigate but to monitor the policies the govt undertook to implement." more..

Samantha Power highlights accountability

Nov 22 (AT) Following her bilateral discussions with Sri Lanka's Minister of Foreign Affairs Mangala Samaraweera in Colombo soon after she arrived on Saturday for a three-day official talks and a tour to predominantly Tamil Jaffna, Samantha Power in her remarks gave a subtle but serious message that the United States is serious about the accountability process, a semantic infiltration for war crimes investigation. more..

Fate of EPF, ETF hangs in the balance

Nov 22 (SL) Despite the Blue-Green govt’s strong sentiments on economic development through empowerment, the fate of the private sector retirement funds, the EPF, and ETF anomalies still hangs in the balance even amidst much discussions and negotiations. Several trade union organisations including representatives from private sector employee unions have entered a tug- o-war situation with the govt over their proposal. more..

MR’s retirement benefits more than CBK’s

Nov 22 (ST) Allocations from Budget 2016 for former President Rajapaksa’s retirement benefits will be more than that allocated to former President Kumaratunga. President Rajapaksa has been allocated Rs 4.17 million as retirement benefits in 2016, while President Kumaratunga has been allocated Rs 3.3 million for 2016. In addition to this, both former presidents have been allocated Rs 500,000 each for capital expenditure. more..

11,000 more wait in hope for dual citizenship

Nov 22 (ST) More than 11,000 dual citizenship applications are still being processed out of a total of 14,525 applications received since March by the Department of Immigration and Emigration. Approved applicants will have to pay Rs. 50,000 more for citizenship unless, an application is approved by the Minister of Internal Affairs before January 1. The 2016 budget proposal tabled in parliament increases the fee to Rs. 300,000. more..

President Vs Presidency

Nov 22 (CT) At a special pre-budget Cabinet Meeting held in a committee room of Parliament last Friday, an 11-member Cabinet Sub-Committee was appointed to draft the constitutional amendment needed to abolish the Executive Presidency, to vest executive powers in Parliament and change the electoral system. Cabinet Sub-Committee chaired by PM represents the recognized political parties in Parliament and also all ethnic groups. more..

Sri Lanka slashes list of terrorists in reconciliation bid

Nov 22 (AFP) Sri Lanka Saturday announced it had significantly scaled back a list of foreign-based terrorists as part of reconciliation efforts with its largest ethnic minority, the Tamils. Eight Tamil advocacy groups were de-listed according to a govt order published in an official gazette, but the separatist LTTE whose military leadership was crushed in 2009 remained on the banned list. more..

Stanley’s operation reveals Kataragama beauty queen’s murder

Nov 22 (CT) Murder of Premawathie Manamperi (1949–1971), a Kataragama beauty queen in 1971, during the height of the JVP insurrection, is a famous story that everyone knows. But, there are very few who knew how the story came to light at a time when IT (Information Technology) was not developed. It was a time that mass communication was monopolized by some newspapers and radio. How could the beauty queen's murder have been revealed to the nation? more..

Sri Lanka tile monopoly hit by loss of import tariff protection

Nov 22 (EN) Sri Lanka has removed import tariff protection for highly profitable domestic ceramic tile manufacturers, an effective monopoly controlled by the Royal Ceramics group, according to the govt’s 2016 budget and analysts. Minister Ravi Karunanayake said import-related duties will be revised downwards on building materials such as steel, tiles and sanitaryware. “To address the short supply and high prices of building materials such as steel, tiles and sanitary ware, more..

Travelling To Sri Lanka

SLPJA protests against intruders in Parliamentary Press Gallery

Nov 22 (Island) Members of the Sri Lanka Parliamentary Journalists’ Association (SLPJA) have raised concerns over how some unidentified persons who described themselves as Presidential Media Unit officials entered the press gallery and used laptops and mobile phones violating parliamentary rules, when Minister Ravi Karunanayake delivered budget speech on Friday. Thereafter, many more unknown persons had occupied the press gallery and used laptop computers and tabs there. more..

2016 Budget conveys clear message to private sector

Nov 22 (Island) Minister Ravi Karunanayake said the 2016 Budget, which was designed for investment, conveyed a clear message to the private sector — wake up, we are ready for business. Minister was speaking at the post-budget seminar convened by the Department of Inland Revenue at the Nelum Pokuna Theatre on Friday evening, shortly after presenting the 2016 Budget in Parliament. The private and public sectors would no longer work in compartmentalized segregation, more..

Board seat for those with 15% of a company

Nov 22 (Island) Govt will ensure that shareholders with a 15% holding of companies will be entitled to a board seat in those companies but did not say whether this applied to all companies or only those quoted on the CSE, Minister Ravi Karunanayake said at a Budget 2016 Highlights event hosted by KPMG. The annual event, the biggest client event hosted by KPMG, at Cinnamon Grand Hotel attracted many of the country’s more..

JVPer who played double-games with CID

Nov 22 (CT) Mahinda Jayawardena with bullet wounds was admitted to Colombo National Hospital while other suspects including Premapala had been taken to the 4th Floor of the CID. Premapala Hewabatage wore the blood-stained Sarong that bullet Mahinda earlier wore. During his stay at the 4th Floor, Premapala wore it and considered it as a sign of bravery. Because of the plaster which covered his entire leg from little above his knee, he could not easily get down from the bed. more..

ITN in Dire Straits

Nov 22 (SL) Independent Television Network (ITN), The Sunday Leader reliably learns, is facing dire financial difficulties. It has been revealed that ITN is in arrears for the payment of taxes amounting to Rs. 80 million. Due to their inability to pay these taxes that are due, the Inland Revenue Department has put a hold on all the accounts of ITN. According to Inland Revenue Department, ITN can release this hold order on their accounts by paying up a sum of Rs. 20 million. more..

Sri Lanka to electrify three-wheeler taxis

Nov 22 (EN) Minister Ravi Karunanayake plans to electrify the ubiquitous three-wheel taxis operating in the country by offering owners LKR 150,000 to convert. The nuts and bolts of the scheme was not disclosed, but the minister during his extraordinarily lengthy speech in parliament said he was keen to reduce pollution caused by three wheelers, a contentious issue with Bajaj for several years. more..

Luxury Passenger Cruiser calls in Colombo

Nov 22 (Island) MV Mein Schiff 1, a Century class cruise ship, owned and operated by TUI Cruises, arrived in Colombo last week. Having sailed from Mumbai on Nov 15, she berthed at the Unity Container Terminal of SL Ports Authority (SLPA) on Thursday. Built in Papenburg, Germany, the vessel has a LOA of 265 m and a passenger capacity of 1,950. Vessel arrived with 1,872 passengers on board and around 1,500 of them embarked on shore excursions that included Kandy. more..

Duty free shop employee detained at BIA

Nov 22 (CG) A duty free shop employee was detained on arrival at the BIA by Air Force officers and produced to customs officers with a large amount of foreign currency. The 58 year old resident of Naththandiya had foreign currency valued at Rs. 11, 527,397.00 concealed in his pocket and shoes. The authorities found USD 1,500, AU$11,000, S$ 15,000, Euro 28,500 and US$ 29,350. Investigations are being carried out by the Deputy Director of Customs Mihira Piyarathne, more..

SL thanks India for funding several projects

Nov 22 (CG) Govt thanked India for funding several projects, including the Mahatma Gandhi International Centre in Matale. President Maithripala Sirisena and High Commissioner of India, Y.K. Sinha inaugurated the Mahatma Gandhi International Centre in Matale today. In his remarks, President Sirisena, while thanking the Govt of India for funding the Mahatma Gandhi International Centre in Matale, and for various projects in more..

ICT exports projected to hit $1b mark in 2015

Nov 22 (SO) Sri Lanka is emerging as a top outsourcing destination for Information Communication Technology (ICT) related businesses and also a knowledge centre. Last year Lankan exports from IT related products hit the $790 million mark and the latest projections are that the country will achieve $1 billion this year itself - a year ahead of what was previously predicted, a top official of the Sri Lanka Association of Software and Service Companies (SLASSCOM) said. more..

'Avant Garde was no revenue spinner for SL'

Nov 22 (SO) Unless closely monitored, ongoing malpractices within the private maritime security providing companies can pose a serious threat to the very existence of the country, Minister Champika Ranawaka said. "We will not allow these malpractices to continue and promise to ensure that culprits are brought to book and dealt with according to the country's law. Otherwise, this problem will create serious threats to the very existence of the country," he said. more..

Sri Lankan cricket team made a box-office hit

Nov 22 (SO) One of India's superstars of the backstage Bollywood movie industry has grabbed the Sri Lanka cricket team for an undisclosed sum of money and wants the islanders to successfully pocket the next blockbuster T20 World Cup after turning away from a losing West Indies team which he backed for two years until they were hounded out in 2015. Whether his plans for serious on-field action to go more..

NPC member claims he was abducted

Nov 22 (SL) SLFP NPC Sivakkolunthu Agilathas has lodged a complaint that he had been abducted and forced to sign his letter of resignation from the NPC by a group of thugs allegedly sent by Sathasivam Ramanathan. Agilathas said that three persons had come to his house on the 16th and informed him that Ramanathan had wanted to meet him. When he arrived at Ramanathan’s house, he was taken to a room filled with thugs, attacked and forced to sign his letter of resignation to the NPC. more..

New Zealand Women whitewash Sri Lanka

Nov 22 (CI) Seam bowler Thamsyn Newton took her first wickets in T20Is and in doing so ushered New Zealand Women to a 3-0 series sweep over Sri Lanka Women in Nelson. She claimed 3 for 9 in four overs and was instrumental in the visitors succumbing to 86 for 9 after they were put in. Hasini Perera was run out off the fourth ball of the match, captain Chamari Atapattu was dismissed for 4 off 11 in the fourth over and by the end of the six overs of Powerplay, Sri Lanka were 25 for 3. more..

Ranatunga throws in the dice unleashing the first punch

Nov 22 (SO) Probe reports, investigations and accusations are not likely to stand in the way of former Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) secretary Nishantha Ranatunga as he steps out to assure voters that he is the best for the top job of President in the sport's administration that will elect a new set of custodians on Jan 4. Having initially entered the highly politicized SLC boardroom as a non-elected secretary in an Interim Committee in 2009, more..

Sri Lanka proposes common firm to take-over telecom backbone

Nov 22 (EN) Sri Lanka is to create a common user backbone firm under a state agency to take-over fibre networks, towers and spectrum, while each telecom tower will also be taxed at 50,000 rupees a year, a budget speech for 2016 said. "I propose to form a special purpose company under the Information and Communication Technology Authority (ICTA) to bring about sharing of telecommunication resources efficiently and to protect air waves and the environment," more..

TN fisherman injured in attack by SL Navy

Nov 22 (PTI) A fisherman from Rameswaram, Tamil Nadu was injured in an alleged mid-sea attack on a group of Indian boats by Sri Lankan naval personnel near Katchatheevu early this morning. Lankan naval men allegedly attacked a boat carrying four Indian fishermen by pelting stones and bottles. One fisherman identified as Muthu was injured in the forehead while the other managed to escape unhurt, they said. The fishermen retracted to the shores here and the injured has been admitted to more..

Power in Jaffna, holds talks with CM

Nov 22 (CG) US Ambassador to the UN Samantha Power visited Jaffna today and had talks with Northern Province CM C V Wigneswaran and several others. She discussed the current human rights situation in the North and other related matters. She also met Northern Province Governor and discussed development plans for the North. She also to met with members of the local press corps, including by visiting headquarters of Uthayan more..

Mass protest against govt

Nov 22 (SL) Political parties, university lecturers, artistes civil society activists, teachers, lawyers and many others will take to the streets tomorrow to protest against the govt for delaying investigations into allegations of fraud and corruption that had taken place during the previous regime and attempts to cover up these charges. Protest is being organized by the Voice Against Corruption and the JVP under the theme No more deals against the national govt. more..

20 more prisoners to be released next week

Nov 22 (SO) Another 20 Tamil prisoners will be released next week, Minister D.M.Swaminathan said. He said he had finalised arrangements with AG Yuvanjana Wijayatilake to send them for one year rehabilitation before integrating them with society. 39 Tamil prisoners were released last week. Minister had also made arrangements with Commissioner General of Rehabilitation Maj. Gen. Janaka Ratnayake to send them direct to the Rehabilitation Bureau from the prisons on being released. more..

German Foreign Ministry funds 3D mapping of the Temple of the Tooth

Nov 22 (Island) The German Foreign Ministry is funding a joint project of German and Sri Lankan researchers in the 3D-digitalisation of the Temple of the Tooth (Dalada Maligawa) in Kandy. Members of the team from Otto-Friedrich University Bamberg, Germany arrived on Nov 15 and started work in collaboration with conservationists of the University of Kelaniya. Team leader scientists from Germany will arrive in Sri Lanka on 2nd Dec. more..

Drastic steps to ease traffic snarls in Colombo

Nov 22 (ST) To reduce traffic congestion in Colombo, Govt has decided that vehicles entering the city should carry at least four passengers or pay up a special fine. The proposal was included in Friday’s budget and is due to be implemented before September next year. However, the proposal does not say whether it would apply to three-wheelers. Simultaneously the Govt will promote the concept of Park and Ride where facilities at railway stations and bus terminals will be improved, more..

UK hails de-listing of proscribed organisations

Nov 22 (CG) British Govt today welcomed the move by Sri Lanka to de-list several proscribed organisations and individuals. British High Commissioner to Sri Lanka James Dauris said that the review is a commendable step to facilitate dialogue and engagement. “Welcome SL govt’s review of proscribed organisations and individuals – a commendable step to facilitate dialogue and engagement,” he said in a tweet. Govt lifted the ban on several former LTTE front groups through more..

Sri Lanka calls on remaining banned entities to renounce violence, separatism

Nov 22 (DM) Explaining the move to lift the ban on several earlier proscribed organisations and individuals, foreign ministry today urged the remaining banned entities to make public commitments condemning violence and renouncing separatism in order for de-proscription of those entities. By a gazette extraordinary, govt lifted the ban on several outfits and individuals previously thought to have been working for LTTE. more..

The school uniform scandal

Nov 23 (CT) The late President R. Premadasa introduced the free distribution of school uniforms to ensure that poor children would not avoid schooling because of the non-availability of uniforms. Although govts changed several times, nobody stopped this vital project which has immensely contributed to keep Sri Lanka's literacy rate above the world average. UNP govt in 2002, considered the distribution of school uniform clothes as a time consuming and tedious task. more..

Will Maithri part with all his powers?

Nov 23 (CT) Minister Ravi Karunanayake unfolded the debut Budget of the Sirisena-Wickremesinghe Govt which was people-friendly and development-oriented in nature. While introducing relief to the consumers on several essential food commodities, priority was focused on health and education while taxes were imposed on several sectors and items. Overall the Budget did not place many burdens on the working class. So, the new Govt has drawn up economic plans for the coming year. more..

Asbestos war heats up

Nov 23 (SO) The Govt's decision to phase out the use of asbestos by 2018 and eventually ban it, has triggered efforts by the industry to prevent it from happening and the health authorities insisting that it should go ahead. Almost 98%, if not all, chrysotile asbestos or white asbestos used by local manufacturers to produce Asbestos Cement Corrugated Sheets (AC Sheet) or Chrysotile Roofing are imported mainly from Russia. more..

A dangerous feeling of deja vu

Nov 23 (ST) There is an uncanny sense of déjŕ vu in the air. The persistent recalling of worrisome history is pervasive, whether in regard to roguery relating to public funds, ministers appointing relatives to state offices because they are trusted or the intimidation of citizens and students. Unlike its infinitely cruder predecessor, this new Govt is more inclined to likeable optics on liberal reform. But would optics alone suffice? And in the absence of once strident critical voices, who were more..

Beyond the call of duty

Nov 23 (SL) As I write this the television newscasts are awash with the horror of the terrorist attacks in Paris. It is easy enough in such circumstances to pretty well give up on humanity as a whole. However, in stark contrast to the wanton bloodshed with which we have all been inundated recently, I have had the privilege of being witness, over several years past, to a chain of events the final outcome of which, while unfortunate to say the least, more than restored my faith in capacity of human beings more..