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Rajitha thinks he is fit to rule country

Dec 20 (Island) Minister Rajitha Senaratne says that he could lead the country someday as he does not bow down to the might of tobacco companies. He said "We came under severe pressure when we decided to increase tobacco prices by 90%. Pressure also came from within the yahapalana govt itself. But, I did not back off. Then a scholar pointed out to me that I was qualified to accept responsibility of leading the country more..

Prez wins int'l award for extraordinary contribution to fight against kidney disease

Dec 20 (ENS) The International Society of Nephrologists (ISN) has conferred on President Maithripala Sirisena an award for his extraordinary contribution to the fight against Chronic Kidney Disease of Unknown Etiology (CKDu).  The award was given by the ISN President, Prof. Adeera Levin, at a function held here on Monday, to launch the ISN-Gardiner Fund (ISN-GF) meant to fight CKDu in Sri Lanka, more..

Sri Lanka to Introduce Coding Curriculum into Schools in 2017

Dec 20 (CSO) The Information and Communication Technology Agency of Sri Lanka (ICTA) announced today a range of programs that have been introduced to enhance Sri Lanka appeal as a sourcing destination for small to medium Australian businesses, start-ups and incubator hubs. These programs include investment and taxation incentives, strategies to close the gender gap in the local ICT workforce, and the introduction of more..

1,200cc Ducati bike seized

Dec 20 (DM) A high-end, high powered motorcycle worth over Rs.4 million, which had been smuggled into the country under the patronage of the son of a former VVIP during the previous regime, was seized by the police from a place where it was hidden in Keselwatta, yesterday. The Colombo Central Divisional Law Enforcement Unit had raided a room on Silversmith Lane off Abdul Hameed Street, which was more..

Times of utter shame!

Dec 20 (CT) Last week it was reported that the govt is taking drastic measures to address a drought that is expected to threaten the country in the near future. Minister Ravi Karunanayake meeting with the media noted that President has received an expert report on the predicted drought that will affect the country's agriculture sector for an undisclosed period of time. For reasons unknown, the govt without informing the people, who depend so much on our country's agriculture sector, more..

New constitution: You will lose a referendum only because of corruption

Dec 20 (CT) I am told that when we talk about the new Constitution, various persons are getting worried about a referendum. Now, we have very clearly said and I want to repeat what my Leader has said in this House and in the Constitutional Assembly. He said, “We want a new Constitution that all the people of this country approve of, that definitely must include or should include the majority people of this country. A Constitution will not stay as a Constitution of the country if more..

Country going from Bad to Worse

People’s Bank unveils its new corporate logo

Dec 20 (Island) People’s Bank has recently launched its new logo to reflect the Bank’s evolution to keep pace with new global banking trends and to cater to fast-changing aspirations of customers. Reflecting trust, sophistication and efficiency, the symbolic hands in the new logo represent good governance and the peoples’ co-operation and unity. This initiative reflects People’s Bank’s dynamic digitalization drive in addition to its impactful sustainability agenda that more..

Airport SOE takes Rs3.5bn hit from rupee fall

Dec 20 (EN) State-run Airport and Aviation Services has been hit a 3.5 billion rupee exchange loss due to a falling rupee, official data showed. AASL operates Sri Lanka's main Karunanayake International Airport and the second airport in Mattala. The airport agency has still posted a profit of 2.8 billion rupees in the first eight months of the year, and an after tax profit of 2.02 billion rupees, a finance ministry report showed. Up to July AASL had handled 5.4 million passengers. more..

President decides to hold LG election early next year

Dec 20 (DM) President Maithripala Sirisena informed the leaders of his UPFA yesterday that the local govt elections would be conducted early next year. UPFA secretary, Minister Mahinda Amaraweera, said that the leaders of the constituent parties of the UPFA had met and discussed the current economic situation and matters pertaining to the local govt elections. He said the UPFA had decided to hold the elections early next year. more..

Leaked tapes by Mahinda begs more questions than answers

Dec 20 (CT) The leaked tape of a conversation between former President Mahinda Rajapaksa and Lasantha Wickrematunge was received by Colombo Telegraph four days ago. Whilst Colombo Telegraph was in the process of analysing the contents of the leak, many web sites carried the now infamous tape yesterday. Colombo Telegraph received this mail sent via a guerrilla email address to Capture the footage for publishing. There is no gainsaying that the voices belong to Mahinda and Lasantha, more..

Sri Lanka strongly condemns assassination of Russia's ambassador to Turkey

Dec 20 (Xinhua) (Xinhua) -- Sri Lanka on Tuesday condemned in the strongest terms the assassination of the Russian Ambassador to Turkey, Andrey Karlov, who was shot in the back while giving a speech at an art gallery in Ankara, the capital of Turkey, on Monday evening. Sri Lanka's Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera said that Sri Lanka considered the attack a violation of the right of all diplomats to represent their nations peacefully around the world. more..

We should win the construction sector by protecting environment: President

Dec 20 (PSL) “Everybody should pay the attention on how far we can use our natural resources for the construction sector, with the challenges of the increase of population, geographical positions and the environmental resources”, says President Sirisena. “Therefore, we should be ready to win the challenges of construction sector by protecting the environment”, he emphasized. more..

Police check Hummer in Matara

Dec 20 (DM) Matara Police today stopped an American-made Hummer Jeep said to have been driven by the son of a billionaire businessman because it had no registration number and when questioned the driver, he is reported to have produced the insurance certificate and a letter from the Department of Motor Traffic permitting the use of the vehicle. He told the police he would ship it back to the US within three months. Although it is a vehicle with a left-hand-drive, more..

Sex transformation leaves youth in quandary

Dec 20 (CT) A young man in Thalawa, Elpitiya, who had gone through sexual transformation, is said to be in hiding as he unable to prove his identity and is in a desperate situation. He had been born as a female and based on a medical report obtained at the age of 13, in order to participate in a competition, it had been confirmed that he was in fact a male. He studied as a girl upto Grade 9 at a school in Kurundugahahethepma, Elpitiya and at that time had been a talented sportswoman, more..

Media Secretary refuses to sign lease on 58 vehicles

Dec 20 (DN) Parliamentary Reforms and Mass Media Ministry Secretary Nimal Bopage reiterated his firm refusal to sign the document pertaining to the leasing of 58 vehicles to be given to MPs. The Secretary was adamant that he could not give his assent to the move unless all the issues concerning it were resolved. Cabinet has approved to provide 58 vehicles on lease to MPs to monitor development projects of the govt. more..

Thailand will support to strengthen tax system

Dec 20 (GDI) Thailand Ambassador Nopporn Adchariyavanich assured that his country would support Sri Lanka to strengthen the tax structure. He said that it is necessary to identify the tax evaders and guide them. For this strengthening of the activities of Inland Revenue Department and Excise Department is very timely, said the Ambassador. He made these comments when he met finance minister Ravi Karunanayake before he left the island after completing his term in Sri Lanka. more..

We did not talk to China about regime change: JO

Dec 20 (DM) Joint opposition today denied rumours that it had held talks with China on a regime change in Sri Lanka, but reiterated that it was opposed to the sale of the country’s national resources. JO member G.L. Peiris said they welcomed investments coming into the country but that however there was a difference between the sale of national assets and investments. “Former president Rajapsksa's govt was consistent in its policy towards China, but the move to hand over 15,000 acres of land to more..

Postal Strike: Unions to meet Ministry Officials today

Dec 20 (NR) Joint Postal Trade Unions Front says as a result of the island wide two-day token strike launched this morning services at 90% of Post Offices have been hampered. Convener of Front Chinthaka Bandara said over 21,000 postal employees have withdrawn from services. Meanwhile, PM has called for a meeting between Subject Minister AHM Haleem, Ministry officials and trade unions. more..

No decision on fuel price hike yet: Chandima

Dec 20 (NR) Minister Chandima Weerakkody says the govt has not arrived at a decision pertaining to increasing fuel prices in line with the increase in the world market. He said unproductive projects initiated under the UPFA led govt led to Ceylon Petroleum Cooperation incurring heavy losses. Minister said when he took over as Minister of Petroleum the Ceylon Petroleum Cooperation had incurred a debt of Rs.365 billion. Minister said govt has successfully brought the figure down to Rs.270 million. more..

Bus topples injuring 38 Somawathie pilgrims

Dec 20 (Island) Thirty eight persons were injured when the bus they were travelling in veered off the road topple over at Sungavila in Polonnaruwa-Somawathiya main road yesterday. The bus transporting a group of devotees who were from Aranayake to Somawathi Seya had met with the accident around 11 a.m., police said. The injured had been sent to the Polonnaruwa General Hospital. The condition of the four of the injured was serious, hospital sources said. more..

Travel-service counters at BIA: Successful bidders get nod to operate

Dec 20 (DM) Transport and Civil Aviation Ministry Secretary said today he had instructed Airport and Aviation Services (SL) Ltd Chairman to act in line with the court ruling and provide contracts to companies which have successfully tendered to operate travel-service counters at the BIA. “I received the court ruling on Monday and I instructed the Chairman to award the contracts to selected companies with immediate effect” more..

Lanka Phosphate Security Manager remanded

Dec 20 (DN) The Security Manager attached to Lanka Phosphate Ltd, Ranjith Priyantha Kiriella arrested on suspicion by Eppawela Police in connection with the fire which destroyed the company office building on June 21 was remanded till December 26 when he was produced before the Thambuththegama Magistrate Bandara Illangakoon. The company's supply division, Audit division, Record room and employees rest room were completely gutted in the fire destroying more..

Govt wants fear of CID 4th floor to change

Dec 20 (CG) The Govt today said that the public fear over the 4th floor of the CID must be changed. Minister of Law and Order and Southern Development Sagala Ratnayaka said that the 4th floor of the CID is a place no one wishes to be hauled into. “The fear of coming to the 4th floor must not be about the techniques used but an issue of ethics. Whether you are right or wrong of why you have been brought here,” Minister said addressing a gathering on the 4th floor of the CID today. more..

Close down SAITM: JVP

Dec 20 (DM) In fresh disclosures on the SAITM, the JVP today alleged that the private medical college had bribed some of the members of the sub-committee appointed by the oversight committee which recommended that it should be converted into a public-private partnership. The committee report was submitted to Parliament earlier this month. JVP MP Bimal Ratnayake said that some of the sub-committee members more..

Shashi Welgama remanded

Dec 20 (NR) Former Chairman of the Sri Lanka Transport Board Shashi Welgama arrested on charges of misusing state funds has been remanded till the 22nd of December. Shashi Welgama was arrested by the Criminal Investigations Department today over the misuse of around 126 million rupees. The case was taken up for hearing before the Colombo Magistrate’s Court. Charges were filed against Shashi Welgama over the misuse of funds during his tenure as Chairman of the SLTB. more..

Five civil activists noticed to appear in Court

Dec 20 (DN) Five civil activists, including Ravana Balakaya General Secretary Ven. Ittekande Saddhatissa Thera, PNM President Dr. Gunadasa Amarasekara, War Heroes Rights Protection Association Chairman Corporal U.D. Wasantha and Ven. Bengamuwe Nalaka Thera, were noticed to appear before Court on Jan 27 by the Colombo Fort Magistrate’s Court for allegedly organising a protest in Colombo Fort causing disturbance to public peace and obstructing regular traffic flow on Nov 7. more..

Sri Lankans rush to build towering Christmas tree on time

Dec 20 (AP) The goal has been to erect the world's tallest artificial Christmas tree, but organizers now say they'll be lucky to get the tree up in time for the holiday. Hundreds of port workers and volunteers were scrambling Tuesday to build the enormous tree on a popular beachside promenade in Colombo. Once assembled, the steel-and-wire frame should stand 98 metres (320 ft) high — more than 40 metres (131 ff) taller more..

Sri Lanka to sign MoU with India on rainwater harvesting

Dec 20 (Xinhua) Sri Lanka will sign a MoU with India to line up funds to construct rainwater harvesting units in the northern part of the country. Secretary to the Ministry of National Integration and Reconciliation, V. Sivagnanasothy said that there was a widespread drinking water quality problem in Jaffna, a city in northern Sri Lanka due to pollution of ground water. It has been caused by the excessive use of fertilizer, agro chemicals and increasing salinity due to over extraction and pollution. more..

Sri Lanka arrests 7 Indian fishermen for illegal poaching

Dec 20 (Xinhua) SL Navy assisted the SL Coast Guard to arrest seven Indian fishermen poaching illegally in the northern seas of the island country. The fishermen were arrested in waters northwest of Delft Island on Monday and were handed over to Assistant Director of Fisheries, Jaffna for onward action, and two Indian fishing trawlers were also taken into custody, said the navy. Fisheries Minister Mahinda Amaraweera said that there had been a 50% drop in poaching by Indian trawlers more..

SL probes man who tried to assassinate Rajiv Gandhi for plot against Sirisena

Dec 20 (AFP) On Tuesday, Sri Lanka said it was investigating a former navy sailor convicted of attempting to assassinate India's Rajiv Gandhi 25 years ago, on suspicion of involvement in an alleged plot to kill its president. Vijithamuni Rohana de Silva served two and a half years in prison for trying to murder the former Indian leader as he inspected a naval guard of honour in Colombo in 1987. He has since turned to astrology. more..

The UNP: A simple majority Vs A 2/3 majority

Dec 21 (CT) Last Week was a turning point in the Yahapalanaya govt rule. This is because the budget was passed in Parliament with 165 votes and more than a two-thirds majority. However, I do not wish to speak about the government’s victory, but rather, about the day preceding the budget vote, where several MPs of the UNP including Thushara Indunil and Mujibur Rahman held a press conference where strong criticisms were leveled at the previous SLFP regime and its Ministers. more..

Adaptation – Part IV

Dec 21 (CT) There is a need to reforest our mountains to ensure a robust watershed. This seems evident. However, when embarking on such action the questions that arise are: What kind of tree cover are we attempting to establish? What soils will be restored? What landscapes are we looking to create? As discussed before, all traditional development was on a watershed basis. The slowing of the downstream flow through a cascade of tanks is a prime example. more..

Port strike: Who will foot the bill?

Dec 21 (SO) Tense situation at the Magampura Harbour, Hambantota saw an end with the employees who were involved in the Sathyagraha calling it off last Thursday after a discussion with Minister Arjuna Ranatunga. Trade union action came after an agreement was reached by the Govts of Sri Lanka and China relating to the new administration of the Port. Magampura Port Workers’ Union demanded that the jobs of more..

Navalar myths aborting reconciliation

Dec 21 (SL) These are terrible times for ethnic and religious reconciliation. The Siva Senai was launched 09.10.2016 with TNA footprints. Its leader Maravanpulavu Sachithananthan is on the Federal Party Central Committee. His Co-Coordinator, Seeniththamby Yoheswaran, is a TNA parliamentarian. Siva Senai’s pogroms have focused on Muslims and Tamils too in Bombay. According to Sachithananthan, the Siva Senai was started because Hindus here face problems from more..

Christmas tree O Christmas tree your leaves

Dec 21 (SL) That early morning nip in the air and fresh breezes made us realise that the season of good cheer is round the corner. And our serendipitous thoughts went out to that Christmas Tree coming up in the centre of Galle Face Green which was felled by an administrative fiat probably on the instigations of those advocating austerity. Miraculously there was the Second Coming and after Resurrection, tree is sprouting towards heaven to be the Tallest Christmas Tree in the World. more..

13A to Constitution ensures minority rights

Dec 21 (CT) Former MP and currently member of the Central Provincial Council Suppiah Sathasivam, the General Secretary of Ceylon Workers Alliance said, a political solution for minority communities can only be obtained through maximum power devolution which has already been tabled in the 13th Amendment to the current Constitution. He mentioned with emphasis and said, "In the current scenario if more..

The Left: The god that (we) failed

Dec 21 (CT) In his essay The Ex-Communist's Conscience, Isaac Deutscher lambasted those he felt to have abandoned their youthful inclinations for extreme Marxism in favour of a rightwing economic and social philosophy that was as bad, if not worse. He argued, cogently I believe, that with the betrayal of the stateless society (for which the Russians had fought in 1917) by Joseph Stalin, the ex-Communist, or the Communist who became a renegade, sought solace in a variant of rightwing politics more..

Editorial: Lies, damned lies and govt claims

Dec 21 (Island) The problem with lies is that they have a very short lifespan. It was only the other day that the Finance Ministry sought to justify its unconscionable traffic fine increases by claiming that the mere announcement thereof had led to a drastic drop in road accidents. It used police and hospital statistics in support of its argument. We pointed out in this space the absurdity of its claim. The last couple of weeks have seen several tragic accidents in various places such as more..

JVP Press Conference