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'GMOA was too scared to oppose KDU Medical Faculty'

Jan 4 (Island) When the Medical Faculty of Sir John Kotelawala Defence University was formed during the previous regime, the GMOA hadn’t protested because it was afraid of the former Defence Secretary. Today, it was opposing the training of Malabe Private Medical College students at state hospitals, Leader of the House and Minister of Higher Education and Highways, Minister Lakshman Kiriella said. The Minister was addressing a meeting held at the UGC on Jan. 1. more..

36 Sri Lankans gone to Syria; some to join ISIS: Def. Secy.

Jan 4 (DM) At least 36 Sri Lankans are reported to have gone to Syria with some of them having joined the ISIS terrorist group, Defence Secretary Karunasena Hettiarachchi said today. He said according to reports, several Sri Lankans with their families including several women and children have been among those who had gone to Syria. “They had said they were going on pilgrimage but I believe that some of them had joined ISIS” more..

Blair & Sampanthan discuss UN resolution

Jan 4 (CG) Former British PM Tony Blair met TNA and opposition leader R Sampanthan today and discussed the UN resolution on Sri Lanka. The TNA media office said that the discussion also included resettlement, accountability, a political solution, the return of Tamil people’s land, and disappeared persons. Blair is in Sri Lanka to attend an economic forum at the invitation of the Sri Lankan Govt. There is speculation Blair is keen to play the role of peace-maker on the Sri Lankan issue. more..

Anandasangaree ready to support TPC

Jan 4 (CG) TULF Secretary General V Anandasangaree says he is ready to give his full support to TPC if it converts into a political party. He says If the intended alliance led by CM C.V. Wigneswaran had turned out to be a new political party he would have welcomed it as an ideal achievement. “But even today a satisfactory situation did not develop. An opportunity is given to various people to say that new organisation will work in coordination with TNA. more..

Human Rights Commission wants death penalty abolished

Jan 4 (CG) Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka (HRCSL) has urged President Maithripala Sirisena to abolish the death penalty in Sri Lanka in keeping with SL’s commitment to a more humane society consonant with human rights principles and values. In a letter to the President, HRCSL says the death penalty is imperative for Sri Lanka in recognition of the growing global recognition that the death penalty more..

Sri Lanka to revive port business as debt pressures cash flows

Jan 4 (EN) Sri Lanka Ports Authority said it will resume ship fuel sales and expand vehicle transshipment at the southern Hambantota port to help repay loans taken to build the harbor which are putting pressure on its cash flows this year. “The main financial challenge SLPA has to face in the new year is to pay back the loans obtained to construct the Port of Hambantota,” it said. Loan installment and interest for the completed first stage of the port project and interest and more..

CSBA calls for a fair and active market in 2016

Jan 4 (FT) With the dawn of the New Year, Colombo Stock Brokers Association (CSBA) is calling for a fair and an active capital market for both local and foreign investors to enjoy decent returns in 2016. The CSBA is also looking forward to promised reforms being implemented in the immediate future for the market to gain its trust and confidence. “I think everyone is eagerly waiting for the new SEC Act and other proposed instruments to be implemented soon to further expand market,” more..

Video: PM vows to continue development projects

Jan 4 (AD) The new govt has taken every possible effort to resolve issues with respect to allegations of human rights violations, the PM says. PM Ranil Wickremesinghe made the observation while making a special statement at the Temple Trees today. Full statement: “A new year has dawned. In January last year, people of SL elected President Sirisena as their President. With his election, we embarked on a new journey more..

Blame Govt and Muslim politicos: Salley

Jan 4 (CT) Leader of the NUF Azath Salley says the govet and Muslim politicians should accept total responsible for any Muslim being radicalized and enticed to leave the country secretly to join Islamic State (ISIS) forces. He warned of an uprising along the lines of the LTTE Eelam war if the Muslims are not treated equally and suppressed instead. Salley said he was deeply concerned about the ISIS and feared the creation of an uprising if the Muslims are given step-motherly treatment. more..

Lankan Tamil refugee sets herself afire

Jan 4 (Hindu) A 31-year-old Sri Lankan Tamil refugee set herself afire in the Refugee Camp at Kottapattu here in the late hours on Saturday. The woman J. Rohini is undergoing treatment at the Mahatma Gandhi Government Hospital here. Police sources said domestic tiff between the woman and her husband was said to have driven her to resort to the extreme step. The woman poured kerosene on her body and set herself afire in the refugee camp in the late night hours. more..

Pasupathy rejects Wigneswaran’s invitation to join radical Tamil outfit

Jan 4 (ENS) Former Attorney General and constitutional expert, Shiva Pasupathy, has rejected outright Northern Province Chief Minister C.V. Wigneswaran’s invitation to join the Tamil Makkal Peravai (TMP) as his personal representative on the sub-committee on constitutional reform, sources close to Pasupathy said. Australia-based Pasupathy, who had gone to Jaffna on a private visit last week, more..

Gammanpila's Black Flag Week creates divisions in joint opposition

Jan 4 (AM) The Black Flag Week, launched by PHU General Secretary Udaya Gammanpila in protest against the govt, has caused differences in the ranks of the Joint Opposition, political sources said. Several representatives of Joint Opposition representing the SLFP, which backs former President Mahinda Rajapaksa, have opposed to Gammanpila's black flag protest. They have argued that it was too early to lead masses against govt. Accordingly, initial step of Joint Opposition more..

Sri Lanka sees greater tourist arrivals, largely due to strong growth from China

Jan 4 (Xinhua) Sri Lanka received almost 1.8 million tourists in 2015, up 17.8% from the previous year, largely due to a strong growth from China. December arrivals grew 15.4% to 206,114 from 178,672 in 2014, totaling to an overall tourist arrival of 1,798,380 in the year compared to the 1,527,153 in the previous year. China was the second highest country with the most number of tourist arrivals following India, and it recorded the highest growth by any country of 67.6% compared to more..

Sports Ministry compromises autonomy of registered national sports bodies

Jan 4 (DM) Fresh regulations under SL’s decades-old Sports Law may have attempted to deal with several intrusive and restrictive regulations introduced in 2013 but, by introducing a set of mandatory requirements, Sports Ministry has seriously compromised the autonomy of those registered national sports bodies in the country. SL introduced a set of regulations cited as National Associations of Sports Regulations No. 1 of 2013. more..

Maithripala Sirisena is no stranger to politics

Jan 4 (TD) A recent article by two people working with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) in Sri Lanka is cause for concern. The piece, “Could Sri Lanka’s 2015 Elections Signal a New Era of Democracy?”, was published on USAID’s blog. Let’s look at the beginning of the piece: Sri Lanka held two elections this year that were markedly different from those in the past. Why? Nobody could predict the outcome. It was a true victory for democracy. more..

Sri Lanka to ban Tobacco cultivation by 2020

Jan 4 (AM) President Maithripala Sirisena said today that he expects to ban tobacco cultivation by 2020. He made this observation during a ceremony of handing over letters of appointment to Ministry of Mahaweli Development and Environment field assistants. Sirisena stated that the purpose of taking this decision is to prevent the damage and health issues caused by smoking cigarettes. He also said that the government is working on increasing the forest area from 29% to 32%. more..

JVP Press Conference 2016-01-04

Sri Lanka to relax withdrawals from RFC, NRFC forex bank accounts

Jan 4 (EN) Sri Lanka will relax controls on withdrawing money from foreign exchange accounts, Central Bank Governor Arjuna Mahendran said. The current restrictions on withdrawing money from Non-Resident Foreign Currency Accounts, and Resident Foreign Currency Accounts will be relaxed as part of measures to make Sri Lanka a financial hub, he said. "We now encourage people to deposit foreign currency but ask many questions when customers try to get money," he said. more..

PHU holds black news conference

Jan 4 (DM) PHU General Secretary Udaya Gammanpila, who earlier requested the people to display black flags to oppose the actions of the govt, today organised a black news conference and said Sri Lanka was experiencing one of the darkest eras of its history under the reign of the present govt. The MP, along with other party officials, wore black clothes and held the weekly news briefing of the PHU in front of a black coloured banner at the party head office in Kotte. more..

Pakistan PM arrives in Sri Lanka

Jan 4 (AAP) Pakistan PM Muhammad Nawaz Sharif on Monday arrived in Sri Lanka to hold meetings with SL leadership on issues of mutual interest. PM Ranil Wickremesinghe received PM Sharif on his arrival at BIA. A red carpet was rolled out for PM Sharif and a contingent of SL forces presented static guard of honour to him. Two children clad in traditional dresses presented bouquets to PM Sharif and Begum Nawaz. more..

Sri Lanka private credit soars to Rs158bn amid money printing

Jan 5 (EN) Credit from commercial banks to private borrowers hit a never-before-seen high of 158.3 billion rupees doubling from previous high of 87.5 billion rupees hit in Sept, amid money printing and dollar inflows. Credit to private borrowers rose 26.3% to 3,146 billion rupees in October from a year earlier. Credit to the central govt rose 32.2 billion rupees to 1,810 billion rupees, up 29.2% from a year earlier. State enterprises borrowed another 5.5 billion rupees during October. more..

Meeting expectations necessary to maintain support for reconciliation

Jan 5 (CT) The govt has been responsive to public pressure in multifold ways. It amended the budget in 16 different areas due to protests by trade unions and affected groups even though the budget deficit grew by more billions. It is investigating a case of abduction by one of its members. It has been responsive to concerns expressed by civil society about the absence of participation in both the constitutional reform and transitional justice processes. more..

New Year in Kataragama

Jan 5 (SO) It was a bright, sunny day in Kataragama and pilgrims, in a rather elated state, were everywhere - in and around the Maha Devalaya, in smaller temples of other deities in the vicinity, including the temples of Lord Skanda’s divine consorts Valliamma and Theivanai Amma; at the Muslim Dharga at flower and fruit stalls, at the Kirivehera and at the Menik Ganga, the sacred river that flows by the side of this city. more..

Budget: Why prune income tax collection?

Jan 5 (Island) 2016 budget of the new govt was eventually passed by Parliament after being amended. There had also been many protests staged by various sections of the society demanding that the concessions that were withdrawn be reinstated. Under pressure from both inside and outside Parliament, Finance Minister was left with no alternative but to restore most of what he had withdrawn. A budget tells the people how the govt plans to collect revenue to meet its more..

Arrival of Nawaz Sharif

Jan 5 (CT) Pakistani PM, Nawaz Sharif, arrived in the island yesterday on his first two-day official visit since President Maithripala Sirisena took office last year. During his stay in the Island, PM Nawaz Sharif is expected to sign 10 MoUs with the Sri Lankan Govt. An agreement not officially on the agenda, however, is that of the sale of Pakistani made JF-17s which has been a topic of discussion ever since the Prime Minister's visit to the island was announced. more..

How Wijeweera lived with her family for 2 yrs

Jan 5 (CT) Q: What is your name? A: Susila Pathmini Jayathilaka. Q: You are a special person. That is why I interview you. Do you remember the special guest who visited your house some time ago? A: It was 30 years back. I don't remember when exactly. It was the end of 1983. Q: How did he come to your house? With whom did he come? A: I had a cousin named Premasiri Hanwella. One day when I returned home from office around 6 more..

Forces arraigning against Sirisena

Jan 5 (CT) Mahinda Rajapaksa has been circumspect and said nothing about the formation of the SLFP. But it could be worrying for President Sirisena if only because it contains within itself the potential to make SLFP pro-Sirisena hardliners guessing at medium and long-term developments. Sirisena's strengths were essentially ensconced in the UNP and Tamil and Muslim Parties which were obviously, from the very inception, part of cumulative strategy hatched abroad to oust Rajapaksa. more..

Railway electrification and modernisation

Jan 5 (Island) No, no, it is not another supplier driven project, the more decent phrase to identify projects offered by companies from countries with friendly govts, offering loans for the project at double the market interest rates, repaid in ten years. Only if Sri Lanka awards the contract to their chosen contractor, on a platter! No competitive bidding. If the count is right, going by the headlines in state-run newspaper over the past 10 years, we must have already built two express train services more..

Talk with Shavini: Come walk with me

2016: The year of the bitter pill–hard times and no great expectations

Jan 5 (ST) The New Year that has just dawned should have been a time of hope and expectations for the country. Unfortunately there are little expectations of economic prosperity. The economy is in crisis and hard times are inevitable as corrective measures are needed to stabilise the economy and place it on an even keel. In the words of Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, realistic assessment of the economic situation, we need to take the bitter pill. more..

Rs 2,000 M vehicle duty fraud: A story full of half-truths

Jan 5 (CT) Today, one English newspaper Ceylon Today reported that over 2 billion rupees of revenue has been lost by Customs on undervalued vehicles. Relying on the information given by some Customs Officers, newspaper accused Director General of Customs, Chulananda Perera for connivance in this colossal fraud. The objective of this piece of writing is to respect the readers of their right to know the truth behind this whole episode and not to discredit or award credit to any. more..

Govt’s price control could trigger dhal and sugar shortage

Jan 5 (ST) Sri Lanka could face a shortage of imported essential commodities including dhal and sugar as a result of price control imposed by govt on retail traders amidst fluctuations in world market prices and the depreciation of the rupee against the US dollar, wholesale traders warn. Importers of dhal and white sugar have to pay high prices for their imports of essential commodities as they have to place orders in advance to more..

National Sports Festival for disabled conducted successfully

Jan 5 (DN) National Sports Festival for the disabled was held at Diyagama Stadium Homagama on Dec 22, under the patronage of Minister S.B.Dissanayake. The participants included the deaf and dumb, amputees and mentally retarded and they took part in 63 events. The winners received gold medals and Rs 10,000 each while the runners-up were given silver medals and Rs 7,500 each. The third placed competitors received bronze medals and Rs 5,000 each. more..

Rs. 9b loan repayment biggest challenge to SLPA in 2016

Jan 5 (FT) Sri Lanka Ports Authority (SLPA) is facing significant pressure in the new year as it has to meet loan payments of Rs.9 billion for the Hambantota port but hopes to counter it through new revenue measures and increased efficiency. Main financial challenge SLPA has to face in the new year is to pay back the loans obtained to construct the Port of Hambantota. Loan instalment, interest for completed stage I and interest charges and commitment charges for stage II, more..

One killed in graveyard beggar party

Jan 5 (Island) A beggar was hacked to death following a clash among fellow mendicants over a missing mobile phone following a New Year party at the General Cemetery near Mapitigama Bridge in Nawagamuwa on Jan. 1 night, police said. The deceased has been identified as Hettiarachchige Kapila (48) from Diddeniya, Hanwella. According to eye witnesses’ accounts the beggars who practise their trade near more..

Why not a cultural police for our megapolis

Jan 5 (ST) As children many long years ago we were regaled with national folk tales that featured such loveable characters as Andare, Gamarala, Mahadenamuththa and King Kekille. Sinhala folklore has its origins in traditional peasant life and reflects our rural, agricultural society of a bygone era. Just the other day President Maithripala Sirisena castigated the organizers of the recent concert by well- known Spanish vocalist Enrique Iglesias, son of the more appealing Julio Iglesias, more..

New SLC officials meet President

Jan 5 (DN) Newly elected SLC chairman Thilanga Sumathipala and new SLC officials visited the President's office yesterday evening to meet President Mithripala Sirisena. President conveyed his wishes to Sumathipala and had a friendly discussion with the officials. Sumathipala and SLC officials explained their future plans to the President and assured to work in their full capacity to uplift the sport. President advised SLC officials to take necessary steps to strengthen more..

SL faces uncertain economic outlook: IMF

Jan 5 (CT) Towards the end of 2015, the IMF raised concerns about Sri Lanka's economic outlook noting that it remains uncertain, and the island's performance will depend to a large extent on the course set for economic policies in the coming months, IMF said in a statement released yesterday. While noting that the private sector credit growth has picked up sharply in 2015, IMF stated deterioration in overall balance of payments, more..

Rivers to the sea

Jan 5 (TT) Some images endure. The picture of a ship tossed by the December 2004 tsunami into the cricket stadium at Galle in southern Sri Lanka is so indelibly imprinted on our minds that we made the beach town our destination. Driving 223km from Kandy along the fabulous Colombo-Kandy Highway/A1 and Southern Expressway/E01, we stopped for lunch at the sprawling old governor's residence, to find a flautist in a tree house serenading the visitors. more..

A most beautiful story

Jan 5 (HP) Two monks were walking slowly across the hills of Sri Lanka, trying to reach their monastery before the beginning of the rainy season. They've been walking for weeks and spent the nights in the homes of strangers along the way. One evening, they knocked on the door of a rich and powerful man but most feared in that village and asked if they could spend the night in his house. The man was angry to hear their request but having to obey the ancient tradition of offering strangers more..