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Ex-leader's brother shifts blame for killings

Mar 21 (AFP) The brother of Sri Lanka's former president Mahinda Rajapakse denied Tuesday involvement in war-era death squads, blaming the then army chief for an alleged secretive campaign of extrajudicial murders. Gotabhaya Rajapakse has been accused of giving orders to a shadowy military outfit allegedly involved in murdering journalists and political dissidents during Sri Lanka's long-running civil war. more..

Island nation in Indian Ocean now a big draw for US, China

Mar 21 (S&S) The answer to why a state-of-the-art port exists in a remote part of one of Asia’s smallest nations lies a short distance out in the Indian Ocean. A critical sea lane is the reason China built the little-used Hambantota port in the first place, and why — besides a long-­standing regional humanitarian mission — the U.S. military was keen to visit for nearly two weeks this month. More than half of world’s container more..

Asst. Governor reveals how Mahendran went against Monetary Board decision

Mar 21 (ST) Assistant Governor of the Central Bank and Secretary to its Monetary Board H. A. Karunarate, testifying before Special Presidential Commission, said that the former Governor of CB Arjuna Mahendran had overridden the decision made by the Monetary Board to keep the interest of its daily deposits at 5% and arbitrarily increased it to 6.5 %. Karuratne said Mahendran gave instructions to do so on Feb 27, 2015. more..

UNICEF appeals for 1 million dollar funding for Sri Lanka's drought

Mar 21 (Xinhua) The UNICEF on Tuesday appealed for 1 million US dollars in funding to support Sri Lanka during its ongoing drought. Sri Lanka was currently in the midst of its worst drought in 40 years, with over 1.2 million people, including 365,232 children directly affected and in need of humanitarian assistance. A report released by UNICEF on World Water Day said that 36 countries across the globe were currently facing more..

Gazette minimum standards of medical education: GMOA

Mar 21 (DN) A letter had been sent to Health Minister Rajitha Senaratne requesting him to gazette the existing minimum standards of the medical education within two weeks. The duration ends on March 30, GMOA Assistant Secretary Dr. Haritha Aluthge said. He said the minimum standard of the medical education in Sri Lanka existed for decades but according to the Court of Appeal ruling, it is not a law. more..

SriLankan Airlines partner may be in place by year end

Mar 21 (EN) A partner to turn around loss-making state carrier may be in place by the end of the year, with private equity firm TPG Capital being selected through an international bidding process now being the sole contender. Deputy Minister Eran Wickramaratne said the selected PE firm has been given the nod to begin a due diligence examination of SriLankan Airlines, a process that may take up to three months from March. more..

Offering goodwill, US cultivates partnership in South Asia

Mar 21 (S&S) The line began forming hours before sunrise at Kirinda Peripheral Hospital, in a rural, south coast town known mostly by the nation’s big-city folk for its nearby elephant sanctuary. The Sri Lankan, U.S. and Australian military teams expected about 400 patients to show up. By afternoon, there were well over 1,000. Army medics, Navy nurses and dentists, Australian midwives and doctors of more..

President to undertake official visit to Russia

Mar 21 (GDI) President Maithripala Sirisena will undertake an official visit to the Russian Federation on 22-24 March 2017 at the invitation of President Vladimir Putin. The upcoming visit will be the first official visit to Russia by a Sri Lankan leader since 1974, when PM Sirimavo Bandaranaike visited Moscow. The visit takes place as both countries celebrate the 60th anniversary of the establishment diplomatic relations this year.   more..

CEA to ban PET bottles under one litre

Mar 21 (ST) The Central Environment Authority (CEA) is to ban the sale of carbonated drinks and fruit juices in PET (PolyEthylene Tetraphthalate) bottles below 1 litre, to control the plastic menace in the country. CEA Waste Management Director, J.M.U. Indraratne said that, instead, the Beverage industry will be encouraged to sell drinks in glass bottles. However, industry could use PET bottles of 1 litre or more, for their beverages. more..

SLC indirectly ignores court ruling

Mar 21 (SL) Sri Lanka Cricket is alleged to have indirectly disregarded a court ruling delivered against them. Cricket Board has come under criticism for not heeding a court ruling given against them preventing from holding inter-club limited cricket tournament. Although the inter-club tournament had been suspended following the court ruling, same clubs representing the same players are now playing at hurriedly more..

Dispossession and Landlessness in North

Mar 21 (DM) Land struggles that were little fires during the repressive years after the war, have now lit up the political landscape of the North. If the democratic wind with regime change provided oxygen for these struggles, the rural economic crisis affecting the war-torn people drives their desperation to recover land as a resource for agriculture and landing sites for fisheries. Indeed, land for these people is not only the ground on which to build dwellings, but also a resource to reproduce more..

Be aware: War over fresh water imminent

Mar 21 (DM) Tomorrow (22) is World Water Day and the main aim is to focus attention on the importance of freshwater and advocate the sustainable management of freshwater resources. This day is important and significant for Sri Lanka because we have been blessed with many major rivers, canals and streams and we need to ensure that no one is allowed to pollute these vast resources or to plunder them through subtle means. The theme this year is, Why Waste Water and we call upon more..

SL ex-leader's brother led death squad: court

Mar 21 (AFP) Former president Mahinda Rajapakse's brother Gotabhaya directed a top-secret death squad which targeted journalists and dissidents, a court was told Monday. CID told the Mount Lavinia magistrate's court that Gotabhaya Rajapakse, who was Sri Lanka's defence secretary during his brother's rule, directed a secret unit which is accused of assassinating a newspaper editor in January 2009. more..

Sampanthan’s ancestral home under siege

Mar 21 (CT) A group of family members of the disappeared persons had stood outside the ancestral home of Leader of TNA, R Sampanthan at 4:45 p.m. on Sunday. The protestors pointed out that the TNA was ignorant of their plight and to express their dismay, they had staged the protest outside Sampanthan's residence. The people who participated in the protest had been sitting outside the office of the Eastern Province Governor Austin Fernando for the past fifteen days in rotation. more..

Elephant bone ornaments found in Basnayake Nilame’s home in Kandy

Mar 21 (DN) Wildlife officers yesterday seized several ornaments carved out of elephant tusks from the home of the Basnayake Nilame of the Kataragama Devalaya in Kandy. The officers had inspected the Basnayake Nilame’s house following a complaint that he owned ornaments made out of elephant tusks without a valid permit. The wildlife officer had found a couple of two and half feet tall ornaments made to look like elephant tusks. They had been made out of elephant bone. more..

'Pacts with China will not harm independence and security of Sri Lanka'

~Mar 21 (ENS) President Maithripala Sirisena told the visiting Chinese Defense Minister and State Councilor, Gen.Chang Wanquan, that the pacts which Sri Lanka is to sign with China “will not do any harm to the pride, independence and national security of Sri Lanka.” Sirisena’s assertive remark assumes significance in the context of the raging controversy over the 80 % stake to be given to a Chinese state-owned more..

SLMC Asst. Registrar’s vehicle attacked

Mar 21 (Island) The vehicle belonging to the Assistant Registrar and Council member of the Sri Lanka Medical Council (SLMC), Dr C. Atapattu was attacked on Sunday. An unidentified person riding a motorcycle had pelted stones at Dr Atapattu’s vehicle near his house in Mulleriyawa during the wee hours of Sunday, damaging it. CCTV footage in a neighbour’s house has revealed that the culprit hurled stones at the doctor’s vehicle. A complaint had been lodged with the Muleriyawa Police. more..

Tourism yet to settle US$ 3 mn media bill

Mar 21 (DN) Sri Lankan Tourism is yet to settle over US$ 3 million to several global advertising companies and media houses. These have to be paid to Bloomberg, Sky News, Aljazeera and to CNN. These payments are now long overdue by more than two years. Minister John Amaratunge accepted that they are yet to pay several international media houses. “But I must tell you that these advertising deals were sealed during the previous regime and former administrators more..

UNP members turn hostile towards anti-SAITM officials

Mar 21 (Island) The COPE yesterday took up the SAITM issue and its sitting looked like a repetition of what had happened when it investigated the controversial Treasury bond issue; some UNP members of the committee had turned hostile towards the professionals opposed to the private medical college, a senior COPE member said. Committee sitting, which commenced at 9 am in parliamentary complex, lasted till 12.30 pm more..

‘Sri Lanka needs to implement 27 conventions for GSP+’

Mar 21 (DN) Sri Lanka needs to ensure that there is no serious failure on its part to implement the 27 international conventions at the desired level to be qualified for the GSP+ concession, Commerce Director General Sonali Wijeratne said. “Looking at the regulations which are applicable to the European Parliament and Council, the facts of the case and the experience of others countries that have also thought of applying under various conditions, Sri Lanka has an excellent case.” more..

Shortlist announcement of Gratiaen Prize

Mar 21 (CT) The shortlist for the Gratiaen Prize 2016 will be announced on Monday, 3 April, at 6 p.m. at the British Council Library, Colombo. All are invited to attend the announcement and listen to the reading of excerpts from the shortlisted entries. Gratiaen Prize was founded in 1993 by the Sri Lankan-born writer Michael Ondaatje, after he won the Booker Prize for The English Patient. The Gratiaen Prize 2016 is the second to be presented under the Gratiaen Trust's more..

National Honours – 2017 held

Mar 21 (PMD) The Investiture Ceremony of conferring National Honours on distinguished personalities, who rendered a noble service to the country and its advancement, held today (20) at the Nelum Pokuna Theater, under the patronage of President Maithripala Sirisena. These awards were bestowed on the most distinguished persons who have made outstanding contributions to the country and its advancement. more..

'Some State officials discourage investors'

Mar 21 (CT) At a time when Sri Lanka was attempting to improve foreign direct investments to the country, a senior official said that some State officials were discouraging potential investors who show keen interest in the country. Board of Investment (BOI) Chairman Upul Jayauriya revealed that the BOI received an investment proposal for a sugar refinery and farming project in Vavuniya, which was discouraged by some State officials. He said that these State officials opined that more..

South supports Tamil demands

Mar 21 (CT) Several progressive organizations and individuals in the South have extended their support to the demands of the people in the North and East, such as to release their lands from the possession of the security forces, providing information on the missing people and the abrogation of the Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA). The protest which commenced outside Fort Railway Station last week included several progressive organizations and university students. more..

'Needs holistic approach to piracy'

Mar 21 (ENS) A former SL navy chief who is now an academic, Admiral Jayanath Colombage, has said that the seizure of an oil tanker by Somali pirates in the Horn of Africa on March 13 after a gap of five years, shows that there is an urgent need for a holistic approach to piracy which should include political, economic, military, administrative, legal and financial components. The pirates had seized the bunkering tanker more..

Vasu wants Mangala removed

Mar 21 (Island) DLF leader Vasudeva Nanayakkara demanded the resignation of Minister Managala Samaraweera citing reasons that the latter was subservient to western powers. He said Samaraweera acted in a manner which was inimical to the national interest. Nanayakka said foreign minister should have been removed much earlier. He also criticised PM for misleading the masses claiming that there would be no foreign judges to investigate alleged war crimes. more..

New UNFPA representative takes up office

Mar 21 (FT) Foreign Affairs Minister Mangala Samaraweera yesterday accepted the credentials of Ritsu Nacken, the new representative of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) in Sri Lanka. Presenting her credentials, Nacken said: “Building on the nearly 50-year partnership between Sri Lanka and UNFPA, we are committed to continue supporting the Govt in ensuring reproductive rights of women and young people in line with the Sustainable Development Goals framework.” more..

CSE forum tells Sydney time to invest is now

Mar 21 (FT) Australia’s most populous city Sydney was told yesterday that it was time to invest in SL given the future upside supported by progressive policies in place or planned under a unity Govt. This message was conveyed at the Invest Sri Lanka forum organised by Colombo Stock Exchange (CSE) in partnership with several stakeholders at Shangri-La Hotel in Sydney. Over 150 Australian citizens, companies, more..

Stakeholders identify 15 tourism priorities

Mar 21 (LBO) Key public and private sector tourism stakeholders in Sri Lanka have identified 15 priority projects to boost and sustain tourism growth over the next three years. A full day workshop to identify these priorities was held at Temple Trees last week. PM Ranil Wickremesinghe, Tourism Development Minister, John Amaratunga, and Deputy Tourism Minister, Arundika Fernando participated in the workshop conducted under the Govt’s Economic Delivery Programme. more..

Wimal re-remanded

Mar 21 (Island) Colombo Magistrate Lanka Jayaratne yesterday re-remanded, till April 3, leader of the NFF and UPFA  MP  Wimal Weerawansa. The FCID has complained that Weerawansa abused state vehicles under the last government, causing a loss to the state amounting up to 90 million. During a previous hearing the Magistrate refused to grant him bail on the basis that, an ASP report had not been submitted to support the allegation against Weerawansa. more..

Cricket’s top brass meet after shock defeat

Mar 21 (Island) SL Cricket’s top brass including President Thilanga Sumathipala, Chairman of Selectors Sanath Jayasuriya, captain Rangana Herath, Coach Graham Ford and Cricket Manager Asanka Gurusinha will meet today to do a postmortem after the national cricket team’s shocking defeat in the second Test against Bangladesh. Fears of Bangladesh turning the tables on Sri Lankans have been there for sometime more..

Former players tie up for betterment

Mar 21 (CT) For the first time in the history of badminton former National players have got together and are likely to contest as a team at the forth coming badminton elections scheduled to be held on 24th March. Past national players namely Nishantha Jayasinghe contesting for the post of president and Clarence Homer will be nominated for the post of general secretary while Rohan de Silva and Duminda Jayakody are also contesting for the post of vice presidents respectively. more..

Editorial: Geneva bungling

Mar 21 (Island) A determined effort is being made in some quarters to dupe the public into believing that the 2015 UNHRC Resolution on Sri Lanka, co-sponsored by the Sirisena-Wickremesinghe regime, does not call for a hybrid war crimes tribunal. This claim, based on some perverted logic, does not stand up to scrutiny. The aforesaid UNHRC resolution welcomes the GoSL ‘proposal to establish a judicial mechanism with a special counsel to investigate allegations of violations and more..

SriLankan Airlines faces fresh turbulence

Mar 21 (FT) SriLankan Airlines is facing fresh turbulence from multiple issues, including accusations of directors abusing privileges to upgrade tickets and management coming under fire to show results ahead of a board meeting later this month. The management and the board of directors at SriLankan continue to fly divided with the former accusing the directors of voting for a move to purchase cheap economy class tickets and more..

M.A. Sumanthiran on SL politics, Tamil affairs, and Indo-Lankan ties

Mar 21 (TD) M.A. Sumanthiran is a lawyer, MP and member of the ITAK, a Tamil political party. The Diplomat‘s Taylor Dibbert spoke with Sumanthiran about SL politics, Tamil affairs, and India-Sri Lanka ties. The Diplomat: Sustained militarization and land issues pose significant challenges for civilians residing in Sri Lanka’s Northern and Eastern Provinces. How much progress has been made in these areas since Maithripala Sirisena assumed the presidency in January 2015?  more..

Shipping industry mystified over unopened Hambantota port proposals

Mar 21 (EN) Proposals to make investments at Hambantota port in southern Sri Lanka, which critics have dubbed a white elephant for not having enough business, have remained unopened despite being received last year, an industry official said. Rohaan Abeywickrama, former chairman of the Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport, said the port’s only business is vehicle transshipment, which was not enough to repay loans taken from China to build the harbor. more..