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Unanimous acquittal of all accused in Raviraj murder trial

Jan 1 (ST) The five people on trial for the murder of former TNA MP Nadarajah Raviraj were acquitted of all charges in the early hours of yesterday (24) by a Special Jury at the Colombo High Court, after an extraordinary final day. The 7-member jury’s unanimous verdict was conveyed shortly after midnight on Friday. Accordingly, three former SL Navy intelligence personnel and two members of the Karuna faction were acquitted of all charges. more..

MPs corrupt but call for closing down parliament unjustifiable: civil society

Jan 1 (Island) Parliamentary system couldn't be abolished though the vast majority of elected and appointed members were in politics for their personal benefit, media was told at a press conference called by civil society grouping at the Centre for Society and Religion (CSR), Maradana. Chameera Perera of Left Centre highlighted the mega duty free car vehicle permit scam perpetrated by members of political parties in parliament. more..

Why did PCs reject the Development Bill?

Jan 1 (DM) The controversial Development (Special Provisions) Bill has been rejected by all nine provincial councils where it had so far been presented, thus reflecting that they would veto the Bill which, according to the opposition parties, would give rise to two all-powerful Super Ministers.  Bill, seemingly a programme by UNP-led govt to overhaul the national economy, aims at centralising all economic activities in every area including more..

High-level concern over H’tota project

Jan 1 (ST) President Sirisena has included his own nominee in a committee negotiating the concession agreement for the Hambantota port privatisation. While the Govt proposes to sign the final deal with China Merchants Port Holdings Company (CMPort) in Hambantota on January 7, no finality has been reached on its terms and conditions. By inducting one of his advisors into the committee of ministry secretaries more..

Gin-Nilwala diversion project: Rs. 4.1 billion paid to Chinese firm but no work

Jan 1 (ST) Payments amounting to more than Rs. 4.1 billion have been made to a Chinese contractor for the Gin-Nilwala Diversion Project, but no work has been carried out, Minister Ravi Karunanayake has told ministerial colleagues. In a note explaining the current situation over the project, he has said that a Committee of three senior officials had conveyed the copy of a report to Department of National Budget in July last year. more..

Development Bill: UNP to meet President, confident of getting him on board

Jan 1 (Island) UNP expressed confidence in getting President Sirisena on board, despite some SLFP MPs trying to pressurise him into opposing the Development Special Provisions Bill, largely aimed at improving the rural economy. UNP MP Nalin Bandara said that a parliamentary delegation from his party would meet President  shortly to ensure that members of his govt spoke with one voice on policy matters. more..

Controversy erupts over plans to build monument for dead LTTE cadres

Jan 1 (Island) A simmering dispute has surfaced amongst the Tamil community in the UK over controversial moves to build a monument in memory of dead LTTE cadres. An organisation called the World Tamil Historical Society acquired a 24-acre land from Oxfordshire spending over 1.4 million Sterling Pounds to make this project a reality. However, some Tamils are vehemently opposing this initiative saying more..

Rs. 3.9 billion loss on coal tender, but ministry goes ahead with controversial deal

Jan 1 (ST) The Auditor General’s Department will state in its report on a controversial coal tender that the deal had cost the Govt billions of rupees in losses, authoritative sources said. The report is expected to be presented to Parliament and will reveal that the losses were in excess of Rs 3.9 billion. In June 2016, Supreme Court held that the same coal contract awarded to Swiss Singapore Overseas Enterprises was flawed more..

Reflections on governance, politics of the bourgeoisie & role of progressives in 2007

Jan 2 (CT) Kumar David’s recent article reflecting on events in 2016 points to some of the global challenges facing us in 2017 and the need for the left to unite if we are to avoid returning to the ghosts of the past. This is a message – though not unfamiliar in the annals of SL’s political history – which we need to take seriously in 2017. Constitutional discussions and any moves made by the govt to devolve further powers to the provinces (justifying claims of nationalist political forces) more..

Part III: Was Ceylon the dream island of Thomas More’s utopia?  

Jan 2 (CT) We have just commenced the five hundredth anniversary (quincentennial) of Thomas More’s ‘Utopia’ as it was first published in Latin in December 1516. The publisher was Thierry Marten in Louvain, (now in) Belgium. As we have already said, born in 1478 to an aristocratic and intellectual family, More was an enigmatic character. He served the King Henry VIII, but became beheaded for his persistent convictions in 1535. When he wrote ‘Utopia’ he was 38. more..

Raviraj murder case verdict elicits concern

Jan 2 (SO) The verdict of the murder case of former MP Nadaraja Raviraj produced many firsts. The Jury consisted, for the first time, senior members of the public service and graduates. It was also the first time in Sri Lanka where a judgment was given after midnight. On 24 Dec, court initiated the trial which went on till about 10.45 p.m. after which the jury went into consideration before deciding on the verdict. more..

Wishful thinking for a Happy New Year

Jan 2 (SL) This is the season of wishful thinking. We can be optimistic somewhat in wishing those near and dear, friends and relations and the like a happy and prosperous New Year, etc. but those who confidently express their heartfelt wishes for a Happy and Prosperous 2017 for the country, its people, etc. loud and clear are conmen trying to bamboozle the gullible public to make a comeback or sincere fools living in cuckoo land. We have said very bad things about Comrade Vasu more..

Looking across The Palk Strait

Jan 2 (SL) With the none-too-unexpected death of Jayalalithaa Jayaram, Chief Minister of TN, a section of the SL politico-strategic community may have once again returned their gaze across the Palk Strait. It’s as if to see whether they are looking for solutions for the nation’s domestic problems, or for justification(s) for not being able to do so. Neither is the case, however. Of course, there are bilateral concerns involving the Indian neighbour in which TN has a stake. more..

'There will be unexpected changes in 2017'

Jan 2 (SL) The joint opposition feels Sri Lanka is facing serious political and economic instability. Joint opposition MP Dullas Alahapperuma says the time has come for SLFP MPs to discard their desire for positions and privileges in favour of the country. Alahapperuma invited the SLFPers to join hands with the joint opposition to strengthen the opposition camp. The following are excerpts of an interview: more..

Saturn promises 2017 to be Sri Lanka’s make or break year

Jan 2 (ST) As Lanka wakes this Sunday morn to a New Year dawn of Good Hope, it must be the fervent wish of all that it will not turn out to be yet another false dawn. It was indeed significant that the Govt chose to declare yesterday, the last day of the last year 2016, as a day of national mourning to mark the death of the former PM Ratnasiri Wickremanayake who died on Tuesday, only to rescind the order the day after. But the initial announcement was symbolic. more..

Not allowing the option of jury trials in politically excitable cases

Jan 2 (ST) Consternation accompanied by fervent chest beating on the part of the TNA in regard to the acquittal of suspects (including three Navy intelligence officers) charged with the murder of TNA MP N. Raviraj in Colombo in 2006, is an instructive lesson in regard to the evils of political game-playing. Notably this vehemence had been absent regarding the unconscionably delayed legal inquiries into the killings of 5 Tamil students in Trinco and 17 aid workers in Mutur during that same year. more..

Green pitch set to test wounded Sri Lanka

Jan 2 (CI) Table Mountain looms over the Newlands ground, grand and forbidding, with sheer crags in its higher reaches, and rugged pine forests on its lower spines. It imposes itself upon the city. It leaves you daunted. You wonder how on earth it was ever climbed. Sri Lanka will know the feeling as they prepare to play in Cape Town, just two days after the 206-run loss at Port Elizabeth. They only have one day to practice, more..

Editorial: Putin avoids put-in

Jan 2 (Island) Outgoing US President Barack Obama’s efforts to challenge his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, to a diplomatic duel of sorts have come a cropper. US expelled 35 Russian diplomats the other day for their alleged involvement in ‘cyber attacks on Democratic National Committee, Hillary Clinton’s campaign and other political organisations in an attempt to influence the last US presidential election in favour of Republican candidate Donald Trump’. more..

The patina of politics

Jan 2 (Island) Another year ends. Two years ago, around the same time, the violent uncertainty of what January 8 would bring led to muted celebrations around Christmas and New Year. Anxiety and fear that overwhelmingly coloured this time is already largely forgotten. Much hand-wringing will ensue around 2016, from the cultural icons who died over the course of the year to racists and murderers elected to political office. This too shall pass, when 2017 proves to be a more..

Ford hints at promotion for de Silva

Jan 2 (CI) Dhananjaya de Silva may eventually assume a top-order position, but selectors and team management are undecided on when the move should happen, head coach Graham Ford has said. De Silva has only played six Tests, but has made 615 runs at an average of 55.90 so far. He is among those now being considered for the No. 3 position ahead of the Newlands Test. "I think selectors were quite keen for him to spend more..

Sri Lanka welcomes new UN Chief’s commitment to achieve peace

Jan 2 (FT) The Unity Govt, welcoming the pledge delivered by the new Secretary-General of the UN António Guterres on his first day at the helm for global peace in 2017, has expressed its own commitment to achieve peace and reconciliation in SL. UN Secretary-General António Guterres, who officially began his five-year term today, after being sworn in on 12 Dec, pledged to make 2017 a year for peace. “On this New Year’s Day, I ask all of you to join me in making one shared New Year’s more..

Two big detections of Lankan smuggled gold in TN

Jan 2 (Island) Indian media have reported the seizure if 8.7 kg of gold worth Rs 2.44 crore smuggled from SL over the weekend. One person has been arrested after the Chennai Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI) made the recovery at Mandapam, near Rameswaram. Acting on a tip off, a 3-member team of senior DRI officials from Madurai and Tuticorin, had intercepted a car and searched it on Madurai-Rameswaram highway at Nagatchi, about 40 km from Rameswaram. more..

Rs 84.5B printed on Friday

Jan 2 (CT) Central Bank on Friday (30), released to the market Rs 84.52 billion in newly printed notes, CBSL data indicated. This may be mainly due to Govt's foreign debt servicing commitments (also some market commitments) which were estimated to be US$ 589.04 million (Rs 88,238.1 mil) last month (Dec) alone. This doesn't take into account maturing swaps of $ 762.38 million also envisaged last month which GoSL more..

Lots of focus on green Newlands pitch

Jan 2 (CI) There might be another 47 all out or something like that here. Someone in the know, and we can't really say which someone in the know, said these words at Newlands on New Year's Day. They weren't said quite as robustly as a resolution, nor with as much whimsy as a wish, but with just the right mix of nerves and certainty to be taken seriously. South Africa have asked the ground-staff to leave much more grass on the pitch than usual, as they did in Port Elizabeth. more..

A masterpiece on Sri Lanka’s road to attaining Test status

Jan 2 (DN) Sri Lanka’s road to attaining Test status has been documented on several occasions in books and by way of articles written expansively in the newspapers. But for the first time a Sri Lankan domiciled in Australia has decided to present it on DVD format. The 120 minute DVD titled Legends Who Helped Sri Lanka To Gain Test Status is a comprehensive documentary, which includes interviews of most of the living legends who made a significant contribution to Sri Lankan cricket. more..

Sanath-Sumathipala dispute: Sports Minister to play peacemaker role

Jan 2 (ST) Minister Dayasiri Jayasekera says that he is confident that he will be able to bridge the widening gap between the SLC administration and the chairman of cricket selectors Sanath Jayasuriya. Sports Minister said “Yes, I met Sanath with regard to his concerns and we had a lengthy chat regarding them. I do not think there is any matter that could not be solved. At the moment there is a family bereavement at SLC President more..

Overseas Realty invests Rs. 3.9 b to buy up subsidiary Mireka

Jan 2 (FT) Overseas Realty (Ceylon) Plc last week completed the acquisition of a minority 40% stake in its subsidiary Mireka Capital Land Ltd. for Rs. 3.88 billion. With the move Mireka becomes a fully-owned subsidiary and the new arrangement will help Overseas Realty Group forge ahead with its new expansion plans. The price for the 40% (75 million shares) was determined by an independent valuer. ORCL used internal funds for the acquisition. Investment of 60% was stated at Rs. 1.5 b more..

Govt failed stock market investors in 2016 says CBSA Head

Jan 2 (Island) The year 2016, could be branded as a year wherein the govt failed to live up to the expectations of stock market investors. president, Colombo Stock Brokers Association Ravi Abeysuriya said, "Limited progress had been made in implementing policy reforms last year  and in crafting and practising a sound economic policy package for the stock market, which did not perform to the expected level, Abeysuriya said. He said that stock exchange needs inspiration to ensure more..

Biz community hopes for clear policy directions

Jan 2 (SO) The business community is optimistic that 2017 will be a year with clear policy directions and stability to steer the country towards higher economic growth. Attracting Foreign Direct Investments (FDIs), creating a vibrant export sector, improving the ease of doing business ranking and creating a people and business friendly tax policy are some of the key concerns of the business community who expressed their views. more..

Munchee awarded Gold for Excellence in Social Dialogue and Workplace Cooperation

Jan 2 (Island) Munchee recently won the gold award for the large scale manufacturing category at the Island-wide award ceremony for Excellence in Social Dialogue and Workplace Cooperation 2016, organized by the Department of Labour. Munchee – a much sought after brand both locally and globally, is manufactured by the Ceylon Biscuits Limited. It is imperative for a country steering towards economic prosperity to nurture sound employer – employee relationship in organizations more..

Asiri Surgical links with Indian player for cancer treatment

Jan 2 (CT) Asiri Surgical Hospital, a member of the diversified Softlogic Group has entered into an agreement with an international cancer specialist to start up a Joint Venture (JV) state-of-the-art oncological service business in Sri Lanka. The agreement was signed with Cancer Treatment Services Hyderabad, a subsidiary of Cancer Treatment Services International Inc. USA. The joint venture company will establish, own, operate and manage cancer treatment centres in SL, more..

CSE hopeful about 2017 as foreign inflow gathers pace

Jan 2 (FT) Despite the overall adverse performance of the Colombo Stock Exchange (CSE) last year due to a multitude of reasons, the country’s capital market could still be hopeful that the positive trend of foreign investor interest will continue with sizable investments lined up to take off during this year. Total foreign investor contribution to market turnover recorded 42.5% compared to 34.4% in 2015, while recording a total net foreign more..

LIOC denies taking CPC official hostage

Jan 2 (SL) Lanka IOC denied reports that Lanka IOC officials had obstructed CPC officials at the Trincomalee Oil Terminal. Lanka IOC also denied claims that a CPC official was held captive at the Trincomalee Oil Terminal. Lanka IOC said that an incident was brought to its notice on 29 Dec that a person had entered the high security premises of Oil Terminal without any authorisation letter. “Being high security and sensitive premises, the Security Guards, as per established guidelines, more..

CEB's new regulatory policies

Jan 2 (CT) Sri Lanka's private solar power manufacturers urge the Public Utilities Commission of Sri Lanka (PUCSL), the electricity sector regulator and Sustainable Energy Authority (SEA) to intervene in the new solar system approval process at the Ceylon Electricity Board (CEB). In a letter to the PUCSL, they state that the CEB now required home solar system owners to conduct a harmonic test by themselves, using their own testing equipment and validate it with CEB engineers. more..

Finance Minister announces big bonanza for school children

Jan 2 (GDI) Minister Ravi Karunanayake, assuring sustained economic development in the New Year said he was delighted to announce the introduction of a bonanza for all school children from 2017. As envisaged in Budget–2017 over 4.5 million school going children in the country from the age of 5 – 19 will be provided with free health insurance policy certificate worth Rs 200,000 per annum to each student more..

US $ 100 mn bribery allegation: Warnasinghe gets tongue tied

Jan 2 (Island) JHU Spokesman Nishantha Sri Warnasinghe on Thursday was ruffled when The Island asked when his party would complain to the FCID of the powerful Cabinet minister or ministers who, he said, had accepted a USD 100 million as a bribe to facilitate the Hambantota Port deal with a Chinese company. At an earlier press conference Warnasinghe categorically stated that the JHU would lodge a complaint with the FCID against the Minister. But, on Friday he was nonplussed more..

Killing at the dawn of the New Year

Jan 2 (DM) A brother in-Law of a Police Constable (PC) had been arrested by the Kuliyapitiya Police for allegedly clubbing a PC to death who was boiling milk at the dawn of the New Year, the Police said. The victim (53) was an officer attached to Kuliyapitiya Police. According to Police with the dawn of the New Year an argument had erupted when victim’s wife received a telephone call and later she tried to self immolate and her husband had stopped it. more..

No outside tests for Govt Hospital patients

Jan 2 (CT) Minister Rajitha Senaratne had banned doctors from directing patients for blood tests to private institutions. He warned hospital directors who fail to comply with the order that serious action will be taken against them. He had ordered to issue a special circular banning blood tests at private clinics for patients in govt hospitals. The necessary equipment had been provided to the hospital by 31 Dec 2016 to more..

Minister Amunugama to introduce legislation to reclaim defrauded assets

Jan 2 (NR) Minister of Special Assignment Dr. Sarath Amunugama says he has proposed legislation that would allow the state to absorb the assets of those who have defrauded state funds. Addressing an event in Galagedara he said there is no provision in the law to retain funds lost to frauds. He said, “I have tabled a proposal in Parliament next week to appoint a Criminal Investigative Committee and to prosecute all those who have corruption allegations against them”. more..

'TNA MPs should quit constitutional steering committee'

Jan 2 (NR) Former TNA MP Suresh Premachandran says Opposition Leader R Sampanthan and MP MA Sumanthiran should resign from the Constitutional Steering Committee and recommence negotiations with the govt. He said the Tamil people were displeased with two representatives for remaining silent when the govt has assured that the Northern and Eastern provinces will not be unified and Buddhism will be given prominence. He said he has written to both representatives to renegotiate more..