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Rifts within both alliances as campaigning hots up

Dec 21 (ST) At the end of a hectic schedule addressing election rallies in the South, President Rajapaksa returned to Temple Trees last Monday. There he sat down to a discussion with Deputy Minister Muthu Sivalingam and Central Provincial Councillor Senthil Thondaman. CWC duo was meeting Rajapaksa to urge that an interview be granted to TN’s Thanthi television network ahead of the presidential election. more..

Police OIC to be charged for act of cowardice?

Dec 21 (ST) Police said they are contemplating action under the provisions of the Police Ordinance against the Wanduramba Police Station OIC for an act of cowardice in failing to prevent Deputy Minister Nishantha Muthuhettigama from forcibly freeing three suspects who were in Police custody. The three men were taken in on suspicion that they had set fire to the stage that had been erected for Presidential candidate Maithripala Sirisena to address a rally at Wanduramba in Galle area more..

Senior citizens upset over delay on 12% interest benefit

Dec 21 (ST) Several senior citizens, who have deposits in state banks, have expressed anger and frustration over the delay in implementing the 2015 budget proposal to offer 12 per cent on their deposits. T. Rusiripala, President of the Peoples Bank Pensioners Association, said he was the first to welcome the proposal but today “we are in a quandary as the state banks have failed to implement the scheme to give effect to this proposal”. more..

ACMC to announce its stand on Presidential poll on Monday

Dec 21 (Island) As a key player in the political firmament, the ACMC led by Minister Rishard Bathiudeen is expected to announce on Monday its stand on the Presidential poll. Dismissing speculation that ACMC will lend its support to President Rajapaksa, a senior official said the party’s politburo will determine whether to back the incumbent’s candidature or Maithripala Sirisena, the opposition presidential aspirant. more..

MPs who crossed to file case

Dec 21 (SL) The Govt MPs, who crossed over to the opposition, are to file a case in the Supreme Court against the SLFP. The legal action will be taken against the statement made by the present General Secretary of the SLFP Anura Priyadarsana Yapa that SLFP party membership of those who crossed over to the common opposition would be cancelled. A legal team has been appointed by SLFP members who joined the opposition to deal with the move to cancel their SLFP membership. more..

Commonwealth election monitors arrive

Dec 21 (SO) The preliminary team of Commonwealth election monitors are now in the country to observe the pre-election phase, a spokesperson for the Election Secretariat said. In addition to the Commonwealth team a small group of Asian election monitors are also in the country since December to observe the run-up to the polls. The Forum of Election Management Bodies of South Asia (FEMBoSA) and Association of Asian Election Authorities (AAEA) will send a 35-member more..

Move to impersonate 100,000 foreign workers suspected

Dec 21 (ST) In a bid to prevent the alleged impersonation of more than 100,000 Sri Lankans living in Kuwait, independent monitors demanded that the passport of those who have come from abroad be produced as proof before they are allowed to vote. CaFFE spokesperson Keerthi Tennakoon said they had informed EC Mahinda Deshapriya about covert moves to impersonate Sri Lankans working overseas. more..

Sri Lanka opposition presidential candidate to probe spin doctors

Dec 21 (EN) Common opposition candidate Maithripala Sirisena has pledged to investigate contracts given to foreign lobbying firms and public relations companies to defend Sri Lanka's human rights record. In his manifesto, Sirisena referred to more than half-a-dozen contracts the Central Bank of Sri Lanka had awarded to US-based companies on behalf of the Sri Lankan govt at millions of dollars. "I will take steps to investigate and take legal action over contracts, advisory services and more..

'Fuel price will drop by about Rs 50'

Dec 21 (NS) The joint-media spokesperson of the common opposition Rajitha Senaratne clarified different remarks made by opposition leaders on the fuel prices, adding that the policy statement has clearly said that Rs 40 billion of the tax imposed on fuel will be reduced. It will transform into the reduction of the price of a petrol liter by about 50 rupees, he added. Senaratne stated that anyone can see that the policy statement of Maithripala Sirisena is not a new edition of Ranil more..

Boom-Boom over Boom-Doom

Dec 21 (NS) Central Bank Governor Ajith Nivard Cabraal dismissed claims made by JHU General Secretary Champika Ranawaka that numbers about the health of the economy are doctored. Cabraal said that there was ‘100% data integrity,’ pointing out that multilateral agencies such as the World Bank, IMF and ADB as well as investors who deal in billions of dollars have essentially endorsed this view in placing their trust on the Govt’s more..

SEP presidential candidate addresses Colombo meeting

Dec 21 (wsws) Socialist Equality Party (SEP) presidential candidate Pani Wijesiriwardena, a member of the SEP political committee and retired teacher with an almost four-decade record of fighting for the working class, outlined the party’s election program last week at a public meeting. Held on December 12 in Maharagama, about 15 kilometres from Colombo, it was the first in a series of SEP and IYSSE meetings for the January 8 presidential election. more..

Two Russian Naval Ships arrive at the port of Colombo

Dec 21 (SLN) Two Russian Naval Ships, “Moskva” and “Cola”, arrived at the port of Colombo on 19th December 2014 for replenishment and crews. The ships belonging to the Black Sea Fleet of the Russian Navy were ceremonially welcomed by the Sri Lanka Navy in accordance with naval traditions on their arrival. Moskva is a missile Cruiser, which is 187 meters in length. It has a displacement of 9,270 tons and consists of a complement of 514 naval personnel. more..

Colombo opposition takes anti-China stand

Dec 21 (Hindu) Amidst concern in India over the growing Chinese presence in Sri Lanka, joint opposition platform here has begun questioning China’s role in the island nation ahead of the presidential election. Earlier this week, leader of UNP Ranil Wickramasinghe pledged to scrap the $1.34-billion Chinese-funded Colombo Port City Project, citing threats to the environment, once the joint opposition candidate Maithripala more..

TN to release only 30 Sri Lankan fishermen

Dec 21 (Hindu) Apparently disappointed with the Sri Lankan govt’s decision to release 66 Indian fishermen sans their boats, the Tamil Nadu govt has decided to set free only 30 Sri Lankan fishermen on Monday. This was evident from a letter written by Chief Minister O. Panneerselvam to PM Narendra Modi on Saturday wherein there was no mention of the release of 19 boats of the Sri Lankan fishermen. On December 16, when Mr. Panneerselvam wrote to Mr. Modi, he stated that the State govt was more..

Two more UPFA defectors speak out for Sirisena

Dec 21 (Island) Dissident SLFPers Jeevani Kariyawasam, Member of the Chilaw MC and Sarath Sandanayake, UPFA member and Chairman of the Eheliyagoda PS yesterday appealed to the public to choose their president carefully at a press conference held at Opposition Leader’s office. UPFA defectors who arrived at the press conference accompanied by UNP stalwart Ravi Karunanayake spoke briefly of their own experiences on the ground in their respective areas. more..

Sri Lanka opposition to expand some economic freedoms, curb others

Dec 21 (EN) Sri Lanka's opposition has advocated curbs on people's freedom of exchange to artificially boost profits of producer lobbies in an election manifesto though some economic freedoms have been proposed. "Import expenses that devalue the exchange value of the rupee will be curtailed while steps will be taken to produce to the maximum what could be manufactured in the country," a manifesto of common opposition more..

Bollywood glamour for Mahinda

Dec 21 (NS) Just two and a half weeks before the election, Common Candidate Maithripala Sirisena launched his election manifesto at the Viharamahadevi Open Air Theatre. However, the launch of his election manifesto did not lack ‘drama’ – with which the political sphere of the country is characterized these days! As the event began, the electricity supply to the Viharamahadevi Park was cut-off due to undisclosed reasons and as a result, digital microphones did not work when more..

'We are waiting to repeal DFCC Act'

Dec 21 (CT) DFCC Bank CEO Arjun Fernando said that his bank was waiting to repeal the DFCC Act, which was the forerunner to the merger of the DFCC Bank, DFCC Vardana Bank and the National Development Bank. Now that the requisite parliamentary approvals have been given on 1 Nov, the then DFCC Bank, which was incorporated by an Act of Parliament under the name of Development Finance Corporation of Ceylon, has to be repealed and we are awaiting the gazette notification more..

Chinese- funded road projects maximise profits through local subcontracts

Dec 21 (ST) Sri Lanka’s ongoing road development projects with an excessively estimated high contract price are being carried out by Chinese firms awarding subcontracts to local contractors at a low cost, construction industry sources revealed. Central Engineering Consultancy Bureau (CECB) is monitoring, supervising and handling these public works being carried out by local sub-contractors. more..

Rs 576M worth of foreign investments exit markets

Dec 21 (CT) Rs 576 million worth of foreign exchange dissipated from the markets last week (week ended Friday) due to foreigners exiting from the same, data showed. Those included another Rs 367 million (US$ 2.79 million) exited from the government securities market in the week ended Wednesday (17), taking the value of such exits in the 16 weeks to Wednesday to Rs 47,268.74 million (US$ 359 million), thereby causing pressure on the exchange rate (ER). more..

JKH and SCB strike USD 445 for Waterfront Development Project

Dec 21 (Island) John Keells Holding has entered into a USD 445 million syndicated project development facility with Standard Chartered Bank (SCB) in connection with the ongoing mega Waterfront Development Project, the biggest investment made by the conglomerate in its history, its Secretaries, Keells Consultants (Private) Ltd., said in a Stock Exchange filing last week. The multi-billion rupee project on the banks of the Beira Lake is being done through a cash call on holders of more..

'Only law can prevent certain election law violations'

Dec 21 (SL) As the tension grows between the opposition common candidate and President Rajapaksa, many have observed grave violations of the elections laws ahead of the election and they direct allegations at the govt for misusing state property for the election campaign. Election Commissioner Mahinda Deshapriya said that if there are complaints about any election violations, complainants need to direct them more..

Tweedledum or Tweedledee?

Dec 21 (Island) Our stable-mate, The Island, did some useful memory jogging about the Friday Forum statement regarding Minister S.B. Dissanayake’s offensive remarks about stripping former President Chandrika Kumaratunga of her clothes and making her run naked on the streets. Dissanayake, once a great buddy of CBK has, as everybody knows done some great leaps from one side of the political spectrum to the other, enjoying at various times many personal advantages more..

Campaigning gains momentum

Dec 21 (SL) Whilst the signs of grass root activities for the Common Alliance was hardly making a blip on the journalistic radar screens, the candidates’ principal backers Chandrika Kumaratunga and Ranil Wickremesinghe were busy playing politics. An inspired leak revealed that a Sirisena-led administration will have a mean and lean cabinet of ministers, numbering just 18. Twelve members were already named according to leaked information; Maithripala Sirisena – President more..

'Polls Chief has no powers'

Dec 21 (CT) Ven. Maduluwawe Sobhitha Thera who played a key role in the creation of a common Opposition candidate expressed fears of a free and fair election being held on 8 Jan and labelled the upcoming poll as a robbery as all polls laws were being violated. He said the situation was likely to worsen in the coming days with violence escalating. Q: Why are you silent while the political world is so much chaotic? more..

Govt corruption & mega deals

Dec 21 (Island) Allegations of widespread govt corruption can be heard from the public stage at every election. Many allegations of govt corruption have been made in the ongoing presidential election campaign and it may be pertinent to delve into some of the issues raised. At the ceremony held to launch his book Alapalu Arthikaya Champika Ranawaka made the allegation that the cost of the first phase of the Norochchcolai power plant was estimated at 300 million USD for 300 megawatts in 2005. more..

Stock brokerage in sale talks with foreign firms

Dec 21 (ST) A large stock broking company which was on the market during the past six months for a part or full divestment by the owner is now in discussion with two big foreign parties to fork out a deal after the shareholder’s initial efforts to sell collapsed. They added that the owner, a high networth (HNWI) party, is in talks with BNP Paribas (which is a French bank and financial services company with headquarters in Paris) and Fairfax Financial Holdings (which owns a stake in more..

Farewell to Gen. Shavendra Silva

Double-crosser at crossroads

Dec 21 (ST) My dear Udaya, I thought I must write to you because frankly, we are all confused about what happened to you over the past few weeks, what with all this fuss about leaving the Government and then suddenly re-joining it, after suddenly realising that you had made the ‘wrong’ decision. Honestly, I am less than impressed with all these cross-overs. These days, we can’t open a newspaper or switch on the television without being told that an unheard of provincial councillor more..

Massacre of the innocents in Peshawar

Dec 21 (ST) The brutes who gunned down more than 130 children in cold-blood, together with their principal and teachers in a school in Peshawar, Pakistan shocked the world with their senseless action and brought back haunting memories of the equally inhuman massacre of young Buddhist novice monks in Aranthalawa not so long ago. The Pakistan Taliban proudly accepts the “responsibility” for this dastardly act. They say it is in retaliation for Pakistan’s military strikes against more..

'TGTE ready for conditional talks'

Dec 21 (SL) The Tamil diapora has been widely discussed by the govt during its election campaign. One of the concerns raised by the govt is an alleged attempt by the pro-LTTE diaspora to divide the country and revive the LTTE. V. Rudrakumaran, the head of the TGTE, who is among those listed in Sri Lanka for terrorism related activities, admits that the push for an Eelam state has not been abandoned. more..

Island of many Christmases

Dec 21 (NS) Christmas, in this island where Christians are a small minority tending towards an even smaller slice in the population pie, is celebrated as though it is the religion of the majority. Well, at least in the major cities. It helps when countless retail outlets use Christmas to move stuff off the shelves. Come Christmas time, in this tropical island that has never seen a snowflake ever, store windows get dotted with cotton-wool ‘snow’, draped in red and green, along with the more..

The Opposition Manifesto is a serious challenge to President

Dec 21 (Island) The second week after nominations saw stark contrasts developing in the campaigns of the incumbent President and the common opposition candidate. President Rajapaksa, the acclaimed populist of the ordinary people, took to wooing the business community in Colombo that has traditionally been the bulwark and money baggers for the UNP. Last Wednesday, in what was a show and tell Momentum Forum, a so called synchronized President addressed a captive audience of more..

'Grave danger in Maithripala coming to power'

Dec 21 (SO) Udaya Gammanpila said, just like D.B. Wijetunga and Chandrika Kumaratunga were made puppet Executive Presidents in 1994 and 2001, in the event Maithripala Sirisena is elected as president, without a comfortable majority in Parliament will have to dance to the tune of his coalition partners who represent, dictatorship, corruption and separatism. “Opposition claim that SL has the most powerful executive presidency. more..

Woes of the elections commissioner

Dec 21 (SL) Elections Commissioner Mahinda Deshapriya should be topping the list of officials and politicians on the number of times he had threatened to resign from his office – even forsaking his pension. He may be feeling like a potentate appointed to rule a vast and mighty empire without the power or resources to implement his decisions. His recent predecessors too would have had similar experiences and inclinations with electoral lists elongating by millions of voters more..

Masses can see through Opposition's wiles

Dec 21 (SO) It is still fresh in people's minds how the NDF candidate Sarath Fonseka acted during his unsuccessful Presidential election campaign. He made sweeping statements and his close supporters did not vote for him. One of the many outrageous statements was that he branded those who opposed his political ideology as his enemies. In most of his campaign rallies, Fonseka said these people would be brought to the Galle Face Green to be punished in public after his 'victory'. more..