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The RTI act no.12 of 2016: A rare bright spot in our flawed democracy

Mar 30 (CT) Elected to restore democracy, the interminable postponement of elections on petty excuses is a big blot. Non-progress on reconciliation is best captured by its partner, the TNA, saying Tamils have reached the end of their tether. The independent Commissions have no funds to include all members in the work (Election Commission) or funds but no work or TOR (Delimitation Commission). Minister Champika Ranawaka says Commissions are toothless white elephants, more..

‘I went to Geneva to fulfill my responsibility’

Mar 30 (NS) Rear Admiral Sarath Weerasekara is a high level naval officer who played a major role during the civil war. The former Deputy Minister and former MP recently became a much talked about figure because he went to the UNHRC in Geneva, Switzerland to counter war crimes allegations levelled against the SL military by the UNHRC. He spoke to Rivira from Geneva. Below are excerpts from the discussion. more..

The evolution of Sri Lanka’s #Instameet

Mar 30 (GV) On March 26, a group of 13 or so created some confusion among the vendors at the old market on Sea Street in Negombo. Where are you from? was an often-repeated question. Armed with cameras and smartphones, perhaps the group did look like tourists. In fact, the group was participating in Instameet – part of a global event where users of Instagram in  particular country or locality connect. There are usually two Instameets held a year, and across the world, more..

Weak fasts will not have any impact

Mar 30 (CT) Former Leader of Hong Kong Donald Tsang was found guilty of accusations of corruption against him by the Court of that country. He was sentenced to seven years in prison. The accusation of corruption against the Hong Kong leader was that he could not explain how he managed to obtain on rent a luxury storeyed house from an investor who owned an advertising business for which Donald Tsang who was 72 years old, had granted a licence during the time he was the leader. more..

'India should leave Sri Lanka alone'

Mar 30 (CT) India should not interfere in SL's internal affairs, said Minister Sudarshini Fernandopulle. She made this remark in relation to recent cancellation of Indian celebrity Rajinikanth's visit to SL's North. Latter was compelled to cancel his visit due to opposition from certain Indian political parties. Commenting on this development, she noted that certain individuals with vested interests do not want the popular actor to be in SL. more..

Editorial: When cops play games

Mar 30 (Island) Many an eyebrow has been raised by Chairman of the presidential commission of inquiry probing bond scams, Justice K.T. Chithrasiri’s statement that his request for more police personnel had gone unheeded. He revealed that IGP Pujith Jayasundara had not even acknowledged receipt of his letter. This is a very sad state of affairs. Even if an ordinary ruling party MP attends a culvert opening ceremony police personnel in sufficient numbers are deployed more..

Sriyani Amarasena: The Fragile Female

Mar 30 (DN) Unlike the early Swarna Mallawarachchi and Veena Jayakody and the later Irangani Serasinghe, there’s little (if at all) which distinguishes the first few phases of Sriyani Amarasena’s career from her subsequent ones. I can’t come up with a proper description of the characters that she played, but I believe Lester James Peries came closest to it: that most of the characters she depicted reflected her doll-like, fragile, empathetic figure and voice. more..

Champika Ranawaka

Sad BIG Match Heroes of the best cricket playing nation

Mar 30 (Island) Sri Lanka is full of heroes. These days we hear about different kind of heroes They are known as big match heroes First of all, I don’t understand why these matches are known as BIG matches. I do not see anything big about these cricket matches. It is just that two school play a cricket match, they call themselves traditional rivals or whatever and create a hype. Everyone seems to look forward to that match which becomes a big match even the quality of cricket more..

All set for a galloping April

Mar 30 (DN) ‘Track conditions are going to be firm and if there are heavy showers the track would be good going. The track conditions will suit 99% of horses which are based in Nuwara Eliya as per their breeding and their past record in Indian racing’. This good news comes from veteran horseman, Acting CEO, Clerk of the Course, Stipendiary Steward and Jockey Trainer of the RTC, Sinclair Marshal. He further stated that the days leading up to April 2 race date would see some light showers, more..

Malik tears down Joint Opposition

Mar 30 (FT) Under constant watch by the JO and the country at large, Malik Samarawickrama is one of the most powerful ministers of the unity Govt and a close confidante of PM. Apart from being Chairman of the UNP, he holds the crucial portfolio of Development Strategies and International Trade, on which rests the responsibility of shaping proper policies and championing projects of strategic and national importance. more..

Thilan’s contribution to Bangladesh cricket

Mar 30 (DN) The contest for Observer-Mobitel Most Popular Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year is turning out to be a keen tussle for supremacy. With the month of March, better known as the big match month among schoolboys, coming to an end, last few weeks of voting for the Observer-Mobitel Most Popular Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year titles, will attract greater attention. Winning a major title at Observer-Mobitel Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year contest would undoubtedly change more..

Tourism Vision 2025 to be out in April

Mar 30 (FT) Tourism Development Ministry has submitted the much-awaited Tourism Vision 2017-2025 to the Cabinet Committee on Economic Management (CCEM), setting out the long-term objectives of the industry towards making it the top foreign exchange earner in the country, a top official confirmed. “Right now we are looking forward to making tourism industry the number one foreign exchange earner for the country. In that context, we have submitted the long-term Tourism Vision more..

Sri Lanka’s small Tea farmers turn sustainable land managers

Mar 30 (IPS) As the mercury rises higher, Kamakandalagi Leelavathi delves deeper into the lush green mass of the tea bushes. The past few afternoons there have been thunderstorms. So the 55-year-old tea picker in Uda Houpe tea garden of Sri Lanka’s Hatton region is rushing to complete her day’s task before the rain comes: harvesting 22 kgs of tea leaves. “The rain is very unpredictible. Now there are downpours more..

SAITM and middle class medical professional: Net loss to Sri Lanka!

Mar 30 (Island) In an article by me on class domination in Sri Lanka in a web publication I identified two segments of the Sri Lankan Middle Class, i.e. English speaking vs. Sinhala speaking (we could easily add Tamil speaking also to the latter). I argue there that the SAITM controversy not only reflects this division, competing interests and discourses (language forms used for expression) but also the aspiration of the Sinhala speaking (or Tamil speaking) parents to educate their children more..

SL's first Taxi meter with printer introduced

Mar 30 (CT) Smart Travel International introduces Sri Lanka's first taxi app which works with a taxi meter namely Vow Cabs. All other taxi apps in Sri Lanka measure travel distances using software on mobile phones which uses AGPS technology and internet connectivity. Due to this, customers who use these taxi apps face many problems such as internet breakdowns, having to pay different amounts for the same distance travelled and taxi services not being able to operate in rural areas. more..

Dangerous waters: SL and pirate encounters

Mar 30 (Roar) Eight Sri Lankan sailors recently had a close shave with several Somali pirates who captured an oil tanker they were onboard. After being held for ransom for nearly a week, the pirates released the vessel along with the crew, who arrived at their destination safely. There was a time, however, when pirate encounters rarely ended well. Piracy is often defined as the act of robbery or criminal violence by ship, more..

Counsel seeks CA to direct CID to discover absconding accused

Mar 30 (FT) Counsel Sumathiran on Tuesday pleaded the Court of Appeal to issue directive to the CID to trace out the whereabouts of three accused including a Navy Officer Sambath and report to Court. He brought to the notice of the Court that the main accused the 2nd accused Navy Officer is wanted in another case of abduction and killing of 11 persons in Colombo and he is absconding while the Magistrate’s Court has issued warrant for his arrest. Counsel Sumanthiran made the pleading to more..

Sri Lankan expatriates in Canada hope to invest here in a big way

Mar 30 (ST) A high powered Canadian -Sri Lanka Friendship Group consisting of several Canadian MPs and business leaders were in the country last week to promote investment and trade in Sri Lanka. It was learnt that several MOU’s were signed between Sri Lankan businessmen and the Canadian expatriates for investment in Sri Lanka. It was also revealed that there is tremendous business potential for cold storage plants to be set up in the North and the East for the fisher folk to preserve more..

Thousands of patients inconvenienced by PSM sick note campaign

Mar 30 (Island) Thousands of patients were inconvenienced by a sick note campaign launched by the Professions Supplementary to Medicine (PSM) yesterday. Deputy Director, National Hospital, Dr Cyril de Silva said the hospital had been affected by the trade union action though the PSM personnel maintained emergency services and conducted dengue tests. Most of the tests were conducted at private laboratories. more..

Six cases of Chinese submarine deployment in Indian Ocean in four years

Mar 30 (ENS) Six incidents of Chinese deployment of submarines in the Indian Ocean have been detected since 2013, said Chief of Naval Staff Admiral Sunil Lanba, who was in Arakkonam for the silver jubilee celebrations of INS Rajali Air Station. Lanba said whenever Chinese forces entered the Indian Ocean, they were tracked and monitored. The Indian Navy has made no compromises when it came to the safety and security of the coasts. “A chain of radars & auto identification systems more..

Lankan business delegation visits Moscow

Mar 30 (Island) A 25 member Sri Lankan business delegation led by Sri Lanka – Russia Business Council of the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce together with the Sri Lankan embassy in the Russian Federation visited Moscow last week. The business delegation, which was led by President of the Sri Lanka - Russia Business Council, Isuru Samarasinghe, Managing Director of Unitrades Private Limited was organized in conjunction with the official visit of President Sirisena to more..

SL’s IMF loan 2nd tranche in a spot of bother

Mar 30 (Island) Finance Minister Ravi Karunanayake said that the IMF has a few small difficulties with the second tranche of its loan to Sri Lanka. In June 2016, the IMF approved a three-year, $1.5 billion loan for Sri Lanka under the Extended Fund Facility (EFF) to support the country's economic reform agenda. "The IMF has some concerns with a few monetary policy facts which they would like us to fine tune. more..

Massive heroin smuggling case: 17 suspects further remanded

Mar 30 (DN) 17 suspects, including 14 foreigners allegedly involved in the largest heroin smuggling operation in the country, were further remanded till April 9 by Colombo Fort Magistrate. Police Narcotics Bureau (PNB) with the assistance of the SL Navy seized 110 kilos of heroin on March 30, 2016 when the stocks of drugs were brought to Sri Lanka through the Southern seas. PNB officials launched a special operation in the Southern seas with the assistance of the Navy Intelligence Unit. more..

Tissa Attanayake seeks Court’s permission to go abroad

Mar 30 (DN) Former UNP General Secretary Tissa Attanayake sought Court’s permission to travel abroad and his request will be considered on April 3 by Colombo High Court. Filing a motion before High Court Judge, Tissa Attanayake requested that he be allowed to travel to Australia to see his daughter. Tissa Attanayake’s passport has been impounded by Court for allegedly displaying a fraudulent document to the media during the last Presidential Election for the purpose of affecting more..

'War crimes probe: No foreign judges'

Mar 30 (Island) Newly elected President of the Bar Association of Sri Lanka (BASL) U.R. de Silva opposed efforts being made to bring in foreign judges to probe war crimes allegations against the security forces. de Silva said he had been against the proposal to involve foreign judges et al in a war crimes probe since it was first proposed by the UNHRC. He said there was no constitutional provision for bringing in foreign judges here. more..

'Govt working against the people’s mandate'

Mar 30 (NR) Chairman of the Podujana Peramuna, GL Peiris says govt is working against the public mandate. He said the government is delaying the conduct of the LG elections for political advantage. He said the present govt is afraid of elections. He noted in the history of the country however there has never been a govt, due to being so afraid of the peoples mandate which has continued to delay elections with excuses. Chairman of the PJP said the govt is aware that if an election is held more..

Parliament to reveal MPs playing truant

Mar 30 (CT) For the first time in history, all information related to the attendance of all MPs is to be released to the public, through Parliament's official website. As a result, the names of all MPs, who attend the various Committee meetings and other meetings in the House, will also be included as part of this information that will be available to the public for the first time. Speaker Karu Jayasuriya has informed all MPs in writing that this task will be undertaken from May this year. more..

Bill to boost SOEs ready

Mar 30 (FT) The Bill to boost state-owned enterprises (SOEs) that are loss-making and burdening the public is being studied by the legal draftsman. Minister Kabir Hashim said that a Public Enterprises Board will be set up, the Bill for which is now being studied by the Legal Draftsman. Proposed Board would endeavour to depoliticise core public enterprises, staff them with professionals, make entities financially viable more..

Cardinal calls for new laws to ban  forcible conversion

Mar 30 (Island) Bishop of Colombo Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith said he wanted the govt to legislate for forcible conversions to be banned. He said it was his personal view and the Catholic Bishops’ Conference might hold a different opinion. Buddhists and Catholics had coexisted for centuries in this country and fundamentalists should not be allowed to ruin religious amity through forcible conversions, the prelate said. Cardinal said those fundamentalists were not real Christians. more..

Indian Naval chief hints at help to Sri Lanka in fight against LTTE, retracts later

Mar 30 (TOI) Hinting that Indian Navy aided Sri Lanka in its fight against LTTE, chief of naval staff Sunil Lanba said the TU 142 M long-range maritime patrol aircraft exhibited its supremacy in the airspace around SL when the island nation was fighting the Tamil tigers. Though Lanba later clarified to reporters that he was referring to IPKF operations in the 1980s, security experts say India did provide military assistance to SL govt in terms of reconnaissance and choking of LTTE escape more..

JO mulls quitting Sectoral Oversight Committees over H’tota port deal dispute

Mar 30 (Island) Alleging that the controversial agreement on the Hambantota port with the Chinese hadn’t been so far scrutinized by relevant Sectoral Oversight Committees, JO warned it would soon decide on its further participation in the parliamentary process. JO MP Dallas Alahapperuma said that UNP led ruling coalition hadn’t submitted the agreement to the relevant Sectorial Oversight Committee more..

Will the ancient sword go back to its rightful place?

Mar 30 (DM) The ancient sword belonging to the Kandyan era presented by the Russian President Vladimir Putin to his Sri Lankan counterpart President Maithripala Sirisena will be handed over to the National Museum. President Sirisena received the sword in an official visit to Russia where he held bilateral discussions with the Russian President in Moscow on March 23. The sword was believed to have been taken to England back in 1906 later been bought by Russia at an auction. more..

Issuance of bonds: CB removes Tender Board

Mar 30 (DN) Deputy Central Bank Governor P.Samarasiri said the Monetary Board has taken a decision to reconstitute all the members of the Tender Board of the CB until the proceedings of the Presidential Commission inquiring into the Treasury bond issue ends. It was revealed at the Presidential Commission that all the members of the Tender Board have received letters on March 24, 2017 sent by the present Governor in which the reasons for the removals were stated. more..

Political solution leading to ethnic harmony will fast track development: PM

Mar 30 (DN) PM Ranil Wickremesinghe yesterday stressed that a political solution which paves the way to ethnic harmony and reconciliation among various religious groups was needed to fast track growth and development in the country. PM observed that people of all ethnicities and religious groups had come for the unveiling, demonstrating the power of reconciliation and unity in the country. more..

If you want to do business, stay out of politics

Mar 30 (DM) Former Minister Mervyn Silva has often stirred controversy if not scandal by saying or doing something outrageous such as tying up an official to a tree. But last Sunday, in announcing he was forming a new party, he made an exhortation which every political party should follow. Mr. Silva said anyone wanting to make money would not be admitted to the party. There may be big question marks over whether it will be implemented and what progress the party will make, but more..

Wigneswaran: The judge who forgot the whole truth

Mar 30 (DM) A highly successful lawyer was once asked why he was not interested in becoming a judge. He had laughed saying, I would rather talk a load of rubbish all day than listen to a load of rubbish that Judges have to listen to. That’s their job. And one of the things they have to listen to day in and day out throughout their careers is the oath taken by witnesses to speak the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. Whatever else they may have forgotten, this they must remember. more..

'US strived to secure Prabhakaran’s surrender to American troops'

Mar 30 (DM) Q: During the final phase of the war, there was international pressure exerted on Sri Lanka, especially by Western countries like the US, to stop the military exercise. How did you face it? A: We did not start the war. In all fairness, it was the LTTE that precipitated the conflict on the legitimate govt of Sri Lanka. I was the one who went for peace talks in Geneva on two occasions; in June and October 2006. more..

Prez, PM briefed on Wimal’s fast

Mar 30 (Island) Joint Opposition (JO) Leader Dinesh Gunawardena yesterday said his outfit had taken up NFF leader MP Wimal Weerawansa’s fast with President and PM. The JO stressed that Weerawansa’s fast in remand prison was aimed at highlighting political interference in his case. He has been remanded for alleged misuse of vehicles. Weerawansa was admitted to the National Hospital yesterday. more..

Questions raised on Cabinet decision

Mar 30 (SL) Questions have been raised as to why a cabinet decision had been taken hurriedly to hand over the Hambantota Port to China Merchants Holdings, which is said to be a disadvantage to the country. Despite President Maithripala Sirisena’s claim that the concession agreement submitted by Minister Sarath Amunugama on March 17 to the cabinet in order to get the cabinet approval to hand over more..