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China showing big-power attitude

July 17 (ST) China has been dealt a major setback this week at the UN-backed Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague, a tribunal established as way back as 1899 and to which 121 member states are signatories. The tribunal this week ruled in favour of the Philippines over the sovereignty of small but strategically significant and resource rich islands in the South China Sea. The tribunal held that China had no legal basis to its claim for indisputable sovereignty over these islands more..

A sitting Cabinet

July 17 (ST) My dear Shadow Cabinet Ministers, I thought I should write to you to congratulate you on your new appointments. After all, it is a great honour to be bestowed with ministerial responsibility, even if it is of the shadow type. I am sure it will lead to greater things later although I do have a few questions regarding your new positions. Many people in Yahapaalanaya have ridiculed your appointments saying it is a joke and that you are trying to live a fantasy because more..

Boston Lanka: With Swarna Gunarathne

Namal preps for jail while govt copes with VAT

July 17 (SO) A few weeks before the release from prison of former Army Commander Sarath Fonseka, in 2012, MP Namal Rajapaksa, one of the most influential members of the previous govt, made a very interesting statement in an brief interview. The MP, who did not hold any official ministerial or deputy ministerial portfolio under the previous administration, said the former Army Commander would be pardoned if he wrote a letter to the former President. more..

Political decision making process in gridlock

July 17 (Island) That this govt has tied itself up in knots not only locally but internationally as well became apparent last week, when the former head of state Mahinda Rajapaksa - now the central personality of the opposition - was the only important to politician to send a proper letter congratulating the newly appointed PM of Great Britain Theresa May. President Sirisena has sent only a twitter message. It is certainly true that Sirisena ran a jazzed up presidential election campaign more..

New national audit bill: Boon or bane?

July 17 (SL) The proposed National Audit Bill has become a widely-discussed topic in both state and private sectors. The crucial point in this new legislation is the authority it grants the Auditor General to audit the accounts of all institutions in the country, be it state or private. Last week The Sunday Leader made a comprehensive review of the impacts and the effects of such an Audit Bill. more..

Aussie series an opportunity to come out of crisis

July 17 (Island) This year, SL cricket hit new lows. From being number one in rankings in T-20 cricket, we have slumped to number seven. This year we have played 14 T-20s and lost 11 of them. Of those three victories, one was against Afghanistan while another was against UAE. That pretty much sums up the story. In Test cricket we are ranked number seven while in ODIs we are number six. Bangladesh are breathing down our neck at number seven with a small number of 4 rating points separating us. more..

Paying for your sins Not! I’ll not, carrion comfort…

July 17 (SO) These lines of Gerald Manley Hopkins, my favourite poet, came sharply to mind when I read that the previous First Son, so much in the limelight then, has had a light focused on him, this time an investigative one, not the limelight. And his Father, His Previous Excellency comments: The govt must be happy now. Both those statements need clarification and this cat goes ahead, sanely, not with cattish glee. Yes, she means that she will not take comfort from dirt-connoting more..

Is USA planning to loosen its grip on SL?

July 17 (CT) Last week, fans of the Nuga Sevana programme in Rupavahini witnessed US Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs Nisha Biswal, who is on an official visit to Sri Lanka, preparing a polos embula –local spicy with guidance and tips from none other than Sri Lanka's celebrity Master Chef Dr. Pubilis Silva of Mount Lavinia Hotel. Biswal, who arrived in Sri Lanka after visiting Bangladesh, went to more..

Mithun leads Lankan charge

July 17 (ST) It’s pro-golf time and the Asian tour will be teed off on Monday at the Ridgeways. On show will be Rashid Khan, the tour 13th ranked player — a Multiple Winner of the Asian. He leads a strong contingent of Professionals during the Open Golf Championship, organised by the Sri Lanka Golf Union (SLGU). As for the Sri Lankans our local hero Mithun Perera, will lead the challenge. For Mithun the challenge is two pronged. Besides the stake in the Asian Tour he is looking to take more..

Post-Geneva: Sri Lanka plotting its path

July 17 (NS) The post-Geneva period has been quite a happening one as far as the Northern political front is concerned. The conclusion of the 32nd sessions of the UNHRC commenced fresh discussions on the judicial mechanism that is needed to be adopted to probe allegations of war crimes that were said to have been committed during the terminal phase of the war. In addition, the post-Geneva period also saw a few high profile visits from countries such as China and the US, more..

Confusion over VAT: Is it 11% or 15%?

July 17 (ST) A flurry of statements from govt leaders as a result of a SC interim ruling on VAT has caused confusion and uncertainty about the enforcement of this tax. While consumers and traders are in the dark on how the tax should be implemented, Inland Revenue Department (IRD) on July 12 posted a notice on its website saying the VAT of 15% effective from May 2 has been suspended owing to the court order on July 11. more..

'EU does not insist on foreign judges'

July 17 (SO) European Union (EU) does not insist on foreign judges on the judicial mechanism to probe alleged war crimes to assure an element of credibility, instead they would wait and see what the govt comes up on their own, Acting EU Head of mission in Colombo Paul Godfrey said. The EU will push for international judges to the proposed special court in Sri Lanka's transitional justice mechanism only if the indigenous system lacks credibility and independence, Godfrey said. more..

Electricity generation grows double digits

July 17 (EN) Sri Lanka's power generation rose 10.4% to 2,438 GigaWatt hours in the first quarter of 2016 from a year earlier, amid a heatwave accelerating from mid-single-digit expansion seen in recent years. The growth came despite some power outages, as a coal plant failed. February saw the biggest surge with generation growing by 13.1% or 125 GWh, to 1,082GWh from a year earlier. Generation grew 103 GWh or 9.9% in January and 8.6% or 96GWh from a year earlier in March. more..

Injuries pose new challenges to selectors

July 17 (SO) In normal circumstances the national cricket selectors would name a squad for the entire Test series from which the final eleven would be picked. But given the current situation they have been left with no option but to pick a squad Test by Test for the upcoming three-Test series against Australia which commences at Pallekele Stadium on July 26. When chief selector Sanath Jayasuriya sits down with his more..

Sri Lankans urged to use plastic money

July 17 (ST) The Central Bank (CB) has launched a public relations exercise to encourage Sri Lankans to use plastic money – debit and credit cards – instead of coins and currency notes as the main form of financial transactions, officials said. In advertisements in local newspapers, the CB urged the use of payment cards for financial transactions as it avoids the inconvenience of carrying cash fear of cash being stolen and hassle of using currency notes. more..

Banks directed to double capital to Rs.20 bln

July 17 (ST) Commercial banks are to be directed to double their capital to Rs. 20 billion to manage possible financial crises and act as a buffer against financial problems. Central Bank is to issue a directive to commercial banks shortly with capital increase guidelines with the rule in place by Dec 31, 2017. This decision was taken at a recent meeting of the Cabinet Committee on Economic Management (CCEM) chaired by PM Ranil Wickremesinghe, to ensure the overall goal of more..

Foreign role where needed: without judges

July 17 (ST) The govt is contemplating alternative ways to ensure credibility of the truth seeking and accountability mechanisms in the backdrop of constitutional stumbling blocks and President Sirisena’s opposition to invite international judges to sit in judgment in the special trial court. Minister Mangala Samaraweera said govt will not permit the foreign judges issue to get in the way of finding a trustworthy more..

Opposition to SAITM: violation of fundamental right to free enterprise

July 17 (Island) Liberal democracy where fundamental rights are recognized and protected depend on the existence of a private enterprise economy. We saw how fundamental rights to freedom of speech and association could not exist in the Communist States where the right to own private property and engage in free economic enterprise was deprived to the individual. There are no democratic states where there is no freedom for the individual to own private property and more..

New insights into China-SL business relations emerge at Shanghai symposium

July 17 (Island) Several important insights into Sino – Lanka business relations emerged at a Shanghai seminar jointly organized by the Shanghai Institutes for International Relations and the Pathfinder Foundation in Shanghai from July 11-13. The two segment event included an academic conference and a business roundtable when "a general message was communicated to the Chinese businesses was that the era of unsolicited offers to govt to be financed by foreign borrowings more..

Will quit if I can’t take firm decisions: AG

July 17 (CT) Auditor General (AG) Gamini Wijesinghe insisted that the govt must permit him to function without interference or pressures in the spirit of good governance. AG emphasized that the last moment the misuse of public funds by the govt is eventually exposed by the AG's report and the govt must be aware of that momentum. The duty of the Ministry of Finance is to thriftily and lawfully spend each cent of public money. more..

PM expresses support for Turkish govt

July 17 (Xinhua) PM Ranil Wickremesinghe expressed his support for Turkey's elected govt on Saturday as a coup attempt had been squashed by authorities earlier in the day. He said that foiling an attempt to overturn a democratically-elected govt through a military coup would please all people who valued democracy. He said he was happy to note that the president and prime minister of Turkey had been able to preserve democratic rule and assured the support of Sri Lanka and its people. more..

Dubai-based Lokuwithana eyes Holcim cement stake

July 17 (ST) LafargeHolcim, which is selling its local arm Holcim Lanka, declined on Friday to provide details of negotiations with potential buyers amidst speculation that controversial SL businessman Nandana Lokuwithana was eying the stake. “You will understand that at this stage we are not in a position to give you any further details on the divestment process, neither in terms of expected valuations nor with regard to the specific assets,” said spokesperson from LafargeHolcim, more..

Karu’s airport ordeal over hospital discharge certificate

July 17 (Island) Speaker Karu Jayasuriya, now in Singapore for medical treatment, was held up in Negombo for 10 hours after Emirates Airlines declined to fly him on a confirmed ticket after he boarded the aircraft over the lack of a discharge certificate from the hospital where he was warded prior to the decision to fly him to Singapore. Jayasuriya eventually took the next flight to Singapore about 10 hours later. more..

Business bigwigs in bid to shut Zoo

July 17 (SL) A group of highly influential businessmen are attempting to have the Dehiwala Zoo shut down in order to acquire the prime property. The Movement for the Protection of the National Zoo (MPNZ) claimed that the businessmen have launched a petition campaign claiming animal cruelty at the zoo using doctored or false images. “This has nothing to do with the Dehiwela zoo,” MPNZ, Spokesman Shantha Jayaweera told The Sunday Leader. more..

Students clash at Jaffna Uni

July 17 (SO) Six undergraduates were injured when two student factions clashed over welcoming freshers to the Jaffna University. Science Faculty of Jaffna Uni was closed yesterday for a week, after undergraduates were injured following a clash between two student factions over a dispute regarding the conducting of a ceremony to welcome freshers to the Faculty. Undergraduates from two ethnic groups had organised two cultural troupes to welcome and usher in freshers to auditorium. more..

Fly by night at BIA from January to April

July 17 (ST) For 3 months next year, SL’s int'l airport — BIA – will permit flights mostly at night due to the revamping of its 30-year old runway. CAA informed the airline and travel industry last week that flights would not be permitted between 8.30 a.m. and 4.30 p.m. from Jan 6 to April 6 next year. These times had been decided in consultation with airline operators as the most practical period and time to close the airport for renovations. more..

Mattress and Security for Namal

July 17 (SL) MP Namal Rajapaksa, who was arrested last week over the alleged misappropriation of funds, has been given a mattress for his cell and special security at the Welikada remand prison. Under normal circumstances an inmate at the Welikada remand prison can have only three visitors a day but Rajapaksa has been allowed to see much more. Namal Rajapaksa has been allowed to use a mobile phone from inside his cell, which is banned for others in local prisons. more..

Heavy downpours in the offing after winds wreck homes

July 17 (ST) Strong winds wrecked more than 100 houses in various parts of the country, especially in the coastal areas of the Western, Southern, Central and North-western regions this week. But prepare for more rain and wind, weather watchers predict. Strong winds gusted through Gampaha, Galle, Badulla, Puttalam and Kurunegala districts disrupting the lives of 140 people. In the Badulla district, about 95 families were affected by winds blowing across the Badulla, Passara and Kandekeitya areas. more..

Questions over whether govt is going in different directions

July 17 (ST) Storm clouds are building over Govt’s main partners on the impact of the VAT which has dealt a blow to a large segment of Sri Lankans. The pro-Maithripala Sirisena SLFP, or the UPFA, segment is unhappy over the political fallout from this exercise. The issue has been the main subject of conversation during informal meetings. At a dinner this week at the Colombo residence of a Galle District MP, their UNP counterparts came in for bitter criticism. more..

Archiving the future

July 17 (Island) Not without the greatest irony, sometime last week, the website of the Presidential Commission to Investigate into Complaints Regarding Missing Persons disappeared. Some years ago, the official website of the LLRC also disappeared without trace. The then govt said the content of the site had folded into the Presidential Secretariat site. This was untrue, since the original site’s record of public testimonies across the island, was completely lost. more..

Dr. Neville Fernando states his case

July 17 (Island) Derided as a degree shop that threatens free education and predicted to produce substandard doctors, Medical Faculty undergraduates, Sri Lanka Medical Council (SLMC) and Govt Medical Officers’ Association (GMOA) vows to agitate until SAITM discontinues as a private enterprise. Prof. Carlo Fonseka, Chairman of the SLMC, declared that even if the Supreme Courts rules in SAITM students’ favor, he will never register them as doctors. more..

Talk at the Cafe Spectator

July 17 (ST) A Govt minister wants air rifles issued to guards at the country’s nature reserves to cope with poachers. Minister Gamini Jayawickrema Perera has said in a memorandum to his colleagues that poaching has been on the rise and pointed out that the print and web media had reports on this. The rifles, he has pointed out in the memorandum headlined Weapons made out of air power would ensure the protection of wildlife. more..

The making and re-making of a constitution

July 17 (SL) Sri Lanka’s political system has been shaped by its history as a British colony dating from 1801. The British attempted to develop a representative govt on the island through an 1833 constitution that created a legislative council. This council was largely powerless, however, and resigned in 1864 when their censure of the British govt was ignored. British attempted several other Constitutions to appease more..

Number of tasks still outstanding

July 17 (CT) US Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs Nisha Desai Biswal and Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights, and Labour Tom Malinowski who met with a few Colombo based journalists said that the people of SL are not as yet totally committed to thinking ahead and moving forward on a path of common interest, therefore more dialogue amongst all communities more..

Sri Lanka an IS transit hub?

July 17 (CT) Sri Lanka is very close to becoming the unofficial transit hub for IS members, and Ceylon Today speculates at least 12 persons from Kerala have travelled through BIA within the last one month to join the Islamic State. Despite this the Police say they have no information on people routing through BIA to reach Syria or any other Middle Eastern countries to join IS. But, sources in Kerala confirmed that at least 12 persons more..

Army Intelligence man arrested over Lasantha’s killing

July 17 (CT) The CID late Friday arrested Sergeant Major Pemananda Udulawala of the Army Intelligence Unit in connection with the murder of Sunday Leader Editor Lasantha Wickrematunge in Attidiya seven years ago. Military spokesman Brigadier Jayanath Jayaweera confirmed the arrest had been made. The murder probe was shelved during the tenure of the former regime and re-opened a few months ago when the govt more..

CEB engineers say not happy with power sector policy decisions, warns of TU action

July 17 (ST) The Ceylon Electricity Board Engineers Union (CEBEU) has threatened to take trade union action in protest over what it claims are ad-hoc decisions by the Govt regarding the country’s power sector. CEBEU President Athula Wanniarachchi said their members as an initial mark of protest would not take part in Technical Evaluation Committees (TEC) meetings to assess proposed power generation projects. more..

Otara Foundation joins concerned citizens’ call for closure of Dehiwala Zoo

July 17 (Island) The demand for the closure of the Dehiwala Zoo has gained fresh impetus with more than 15,000 people so far endorsing a call to give the animals a life they deserve, ending long years of suffering in small, filthy enclosures. Giving new life to a growing demand of animal lovers and rights activists, the Otara Foundation has submitted a three-point appeal to President and PM covering the closure of the zoo, and more..

SAITM operating illegally from the start, say medical unions

July 17 (ST) From the start SAITM has been operating illegally and there is mismanagement within the university, said the GMOA Secretary, Dr. Nalinda Herath, alleging that it has obtained the sponsorship of govt officials. Pointing out that up to now neither the SLMC nor the Health Ministry has given approval to SAITM, he alleged that today groups are going before courts and giving false information. more..