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Sri Lanka hit by record drought from Indian Ocean Dipole event

Jan 14 (EN) SL's record drought in 2016, perhaps the worst in over 40 years was due to a stronger than usual sea temperature fall in the Western Indian Ocean, officials said. SL's main South East monsoon from May to August effectively failed with most of the rain confined to a few days, and the North East monsoon was delayed until mid-December and brought about half the rainfall compared to an average year up to now, more..

Lester’s and Sumitra’s abode of 47 years sold without their knowledge

Jan 14 (ST) Nonagenarian and internationally acclaimed film director Lester James Peries’ and his wife Sumitra Peries’ days at the residence they have occupied for more than 47 years may be numbered after its owner sold it to a property developer without their knowledge. The couple had been living in the house on Lester James Peries Mawatha (formerly Dickman’s Road) since 1969 as tenants. “Last October we received more..

SL's first Smart Class Room opened at Sri J'pura Vidyalaya in Pitakotte

Jan 14 (DN) The previous regime failed to introduce any constructive changes to the education sector. Hence, the dark shadows of that regime still haunt the education sector, Minister Akila Viraj Kariyawasam said. He added that certain people used to get undue commissions from various projects and there was a great reluctance to go for change. He made this observation at the opening ceremony of SL’s first Smart Class Room more..

Man accused in human-smuggling trial was owner of Tamil ship: Crown

Jan 14 (G&M) The Crown began its closing submission at the MV Sun Sea human-smuggling trial Friday, alleging one of the accused not only arranged supplies, accommodation and transport for SL Tamil migrants, but was also the owner of the ship. Kunarobinson Christhurajah, Lesly Emmanuel, Nadarajah Mahendran and Thampeernayagam Rajaratnam have each been charged under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act more..

Sri Lanka ratifies the ILO Maritime Labour Convention

Jan 14 (NR) The Govt this week has deposited with the International Labour Office (ILO) the instrument of ratification of the Maritime Labour Convention, 2006 (MLC, 2006). Sri Lanka is the 81st ILO Member State and the 16th Asian State to have ratified the Convention. In depositing the instrument of ratification, the Permanent Representative of Sri Lanka to the United Nations in Geneva, Ambassador Ravinatha Aryasinha, has stated that more..

Civil society tears into govt over corrupt deals

Jan 14 (Island) A group of civil society activists accused the UNP-led ruling coalition of pursuing an agenda extremely inimical to the national economy. The grouping said that, having campaigned for restoration of democracy and accountability, the govt was causing unbearable losses to the economy. Dr. Nirmal Ranjith Dewasiri, Rajith Keerthi Tennakoon, Dr. Lalithasiri Gunaruwan and Chameera Perera alleged that more..

World Affairs Council of Washington features Sri Lanka

Jan 14 (SLE) The World Affairs Council – Washington D.C. (WAC-DC) commenced the New Year with a programme on Sri Lanka at a reception hosted by Ambassador Prasad Kariyawasam for members and guests of the WAC-DC at the SL Residence on Jan 12. This event coincided with the National Integration and Reconciliation Week observed in SL and 2nd anniversary of inauguration of Prez Sirisena. more..

Sirisena’s presidency travails amidst dilemmas of a double-headed Govt

Jan 14 (ST) Two years ago today, Maithripala Sirisena contested Mahinda Rajapaksa for the Presidency.  Few expected him to win. Sirisena won, defying opinion polls, political pundits and astrological predictions. President Maithripala Sirisena was sworn in the very next day in a chaotic public ceremony at Independence Square, only hours after the final results were announced. Immediately afterwards, more..

Wilpattu Deforestation Takes Religious Twist

Jan 14 (SL) The deforestation of the Wilpattu reserve has taken a religious twist with Muslim MPs accusing the govt of failing to look into the welfare of the Muslims. President last week gave instructions to the relevant authorities to issue a gazette notification declaring a larger Wildlife reserve, including the surrounding forest area which is not under the purview of the Department of Wildlife, further expanding the forest area more..

Why is Police silent?: Chamal

Jan 14 (NS) Former Speaker Chamal Rajapaksa speaks on the recent clash in the Hambantota port premises and the current political status quo. Q: An unexpected clash occurred at the Hambantota port. Why didn’t you all think to resolve this by way of discussion? A: It is with that precise intention that I intervened and along with the monks took the Prime Minister the previous day to the Walawa temple and discussed about this. more..

Is there a tie, or a snake?

Jan 14 (DM) President Maithripala Sirisena has a penchant for getting worked up over things most of us take for granted. This time, it was a tie. Having spotted a Divisional Secretary wearing a tie at a Pirith ceremony in Polonnaruwa, he was moved to ask if a tie was necessary for the occasion (mama ehuwa Pirith nisa tie eka oneda kiyala).   He was told that a circular issued by a former president required public servants to be in Western attire at official functions. more..

Let’s all celebrate festival of Mother Nature

Jan 14 (DM) The first ever national reconciliation and integration week comes to a significant climax today with the celebration of Thaipongal, the most important festival for the Hindu community.    This festival is celebrated on the first day in the month of Thai of the Tamil calendar. Thai is the first month of the Tamil Almanac and Pongal is a dish of sweetmeats including moong dal, jaggery and milk. Essentially, it is a thanksgiving ceremony in which the farmers celebrate event to thank nature, more..

Wijeyadasa vows to oppose Ravi’s resident visa scheme for foreign investors

Jan 14 (Island) Justice Minister Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe said that he was opposed to the proposal by Finance Minister Ravi Karunanayake to grant foreigners resident visas for a minimum investment of US$ 300,000. Asked if the required legislation was in place, Rajapakshe replied that Karunanayake’s proposal had not been presented to the Cabinet of Ministers. "I will oppose it if and when submitted to Cabinet. more..

India owes its cultural vibrancy to communal harmony: Niriella

Jan 14 (DH) Sri Lankan theatre personality Parakrama Niriella has said that irrespective of the number of languages spoken by Indians, the country maintains communal harmony as people here are known as Indians and not according to the languages they speak. He inaugurated the international multi-lingual theatre festival Bahuroopi organised by Rangayana and department of Kannada and Culture at Vanaranga. “In India conflict between languages does not exist more..

SLFP favours proposals not requiring referendum: Dilan

Jan 14 (DM) SLFP is in favour of constitutional proposals which do not require the people's approval at a referendum, Party spokesman and Minister Dilan Perera said. He said President Sirisena's mandate was to carry out changes which did not need a referendum because holding a referendum could be risky given the trend in some other countries where govts had been defeated. “See what happened in Italy, Colombia and Britain where the people did not vote on the question asked more..

Brampton mayor continues to feel heat over Sri Lankan sister-city proposal

Jan 14 (BG) Linda Jeffrey continues to feel the fall out over the confusion her office caused after announcing the mayor would formalize ties with a SL municipality — an act that would bypass council's approval. “This is not the kind of behaviour council or taxpayers expect from a mayor who claims to bring transparency to city hall,” said Regional Coun. Elaine Moore, adding fuel to concerns that she tried to bypass councillors more..

Bond Scam: Over 200 TUs to storm CB

Jan 14 (CT) Over 200 private sector Trade Unions are planning to storm the Central Bank (CB) over the alleged loss of a sum of Rs. 15 billion to the EPF through the CB bond scam. Informed sources said, that representatives of some 200 private sector trade unions, who had convened in Colombo last Sunday, had agreed to undertake this course of action. These trade union representatives had stated that they had sent several reminders to the current CB Governor to take corrective action on more..

'Steps taken to eradicate Thalassemia'

Jan 14 (NR) Minister of Finance Ravi Karunanayake says the govt has taken the necessary measures to eradicate Thalassemia in the island. Speaking at an event held in Colombo, the Finance Minister said a hospital dedicated to treating Thalassemia, the first of its kind in the world, is due to be constructed in Sri Lanka. Minister also said 500 million rupees has been allocated from the budget, in order to supply Thalassemia patients with necessary health facilities. more..

Sri Lanka clamps down on tuk-tuks as death toll mounts

JJan 14 (AFP) SL tightened the rules governing the around one million tuk-tuks - rickety three-wheel taxis - on its streets after road traffic accidents claimed a record 3,000 lives last year. The transport ministry said all tuk-tuks must now have head and tail lights, and made it an offence for drivers to smoke while carrying passengers. All three-wheelers will also have to be fitted with fare meters and issue receipts to passengers, it said more..

Bribery case: MR’s ex-security officer given time to respond

Jan 14 (NR) The evidence hearing of five cases against a former Chief Security Officer of former President MP Mahinda Rajapaksa Neville Wanniarachchi has been postponed till the 8th of February. The order was issued by Colombo Additional Magistrate Aruni Atigala. Five cases were filed against Neville Wanniarachchi by the CIABOC for failing to declare his assets. He was charged for failing to declare his assets from 2010 to 2014 while holding the post of Major of the Army. more..

NCPA studying child rights abuses

Jan 14 (NS) National Child Protection Authority is closely monitoring the tourism sector with regard to reports of commercial sexual exploitation of children and would submit a report to the Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC). The CRC monitors the implementation of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. Child rights activists had earlier raised concerns over frequent reports of the commercial sexual exploitation of children especially by foreign nationals. more..

Grade one fraud

Jan 14 (NS) In the wake of irregularities reported in grade one school admissions at Royal College, the Ministry of Education has decided to introduce an island-wide school board system by the end of this year. According to the proposed system, there is to be one board per each main school and one board per several small schools in educational zones island-wide. Also, the Ministry while acknowledging the lack of more..

BOC to divest Grand Oriental Hotel

Jan 14 (ST) Bank of Ceylon (BOC) is gearing to divest the Grand Oriental Hotel (GOH) in a move to augment its capital base. Sources said that BOC has completed an appraisal of the GOH building, which also comes under a heritage conservation project. “The next step is to take permission from the Ministry of Public Enterprises and then find a buyer,” a source said. These developments come on the back of BOC selling its stake in Mireka Capital Land Ltd which owns Havelock City more..

Suhuru City Project to provide housing

Jan 14 (NR) Minister Champika Ranawaka says a Suhuru City Project will be launched to provide housing facilities to government employees and professionals. He said the project will be launched in the near future. The Minister said a programme is being carried out by the National Housing Development Authority to provide housing facilities to the poor. He said the govt hopes to introduce Suhuru Cities for professionals and employees attached to the govt. more..

TNA, GTF endorse CTFRM recommendations

Jan 14 (Island) TNA and Global Tamil Forum (GTF) have called for full implementation of Consultation Task Force on Reconciliation Mechanisms (CTFRM) proposals made in accordance with Geneva Resolution 30/1, unanimously accepted in Oct 2015. Next Geneva sessions are scheduled for March, 2017. Both TNA andGTF pointed out that the 11-member CTFRM had been appointed by govt in Jan 2016 more..

Canned fish imports down by 16.2% in 2016

Jan 14 (CT) The import of canned fish to Sri Lanka has decreased by 16.2% in 2016. Import of canned fish to Sri Lanka in 2015 was 49,016 metric tons and in 2016 it was only 29,994 metric tons. Largest proportion of canned fish (84.2%) has been imported from China and the rest is from Thailand, Taiwan, Japan, Yemen, Seychelles, India and Maldives. In 2015, 1kg of the imported canned fish was priced at Rs 102 and the Special Commodity Levy was reduced by Rs 50 in January, more..

Football drifts into uncertain times again

Jan 14 (ST) Local football once again has entered tentative times with a plethora of ideas streaming in as the panacea for the present ills for this popular sport. Some veterans of the game has urged the Minister of Sports to replace the present administration of the Football Federation of Sri Lanka (FFSL) and appoint an Interim Committee (IC) to take football out of its misery. FFSL’s Ranjith Rodrigo claimed that it’s not easy to walk the talk as some may claim. more..

SA make inroads after posting 426

Jan 14 (CI) At least one Sri Lankan enjoyed himself at the Wanderers. The third Test followed a largely predictable path as South Africa went about trying to secure a 3-0 series whitewash by following up a first-innings score of 426 with four top-order wickets before the close of the second day but Nuwan Pradeep's ferocious 4-wicket burst at least gave Sri Lanka something for their tour diary as the Wanderers lived up to its billing as more..

Beyond the beach

Jan 14 (G&M) The sun had not set so much as been swallowed by grey storm clouds one November evening in Galle Fort, along the southern coast of Sri Lanka. The packs of teens with selfie sticks, giddy newlyweds walking with intertwined fingers and dads with gigantic DSLR cameras had all been promised a spectacular sunset, and so they’d stationed themselves along the 16th-century wall, hoping the cloud cover would pass and they’d see the sky turn the colour of cotton candy and more..

Time to blow whistles and cheer referees!

Jan 14 (NS) Referees in SL have received the proper recognition with the Society for Rugby Football Referees (SRFR) deciding to felicitate its members at a gala ceremony in Colombo. The rugby referees would have enjoyed coming under the spotlight at their first ever Colours Night by the time this article is read. Weekend Nation thought it would be appropriate to have a chit chat with SRFR President Nizam Jamaldeen about how this sports body has functioned during a 64-year period. more..

Pradeep turns from subdued substitute to stern headmaster

Jan 14 (CI) If Nuwan Pradeep has ever had a word with a batsman, it is possible his voice did not carry to the other end of the pitch. Chances are, it has never happened anyway. Not only is Pradeep perhaps the most withdrawn man in int'l cricket (he has played 23 Tests, but how many times have you heard him speak?), he is also a sporadic presence in this XI, and so, rarely capable of building himself up to some professional confidence. more..

Sri Lanka’s policy decisions must seek to balance competing actors and interests

Jan 14 (LSE) Sri Lanka, though a small island state, lies at the tip of South Asian subcontinent and at the center of the Indian Ocean. In a vastly interconnected world, the sweeping effects of globalisation; China’s economic downturn; growing discontent and destabilisation in the West; and India’s enhanced involvement in the region as an emerging power, have all been major thrusts of global politics in 2016. SL remains at the centre of it all, enjoying great geostrategic importance, more..

Coconut: Past controversies health fears and future prospects

Jan 14 (Island) Having read the two interesting pieces on coconut by two medical specialists, one by Dr Asoka Dissanayake (Dr AD) a former Professor of Physiology and the other by Dr Upul Wijayawardana (Dr UW), a renowned cardiologist in The Island of 18th and 24th Dec 2016 respectively, I could not help but get into the fray! Like Dr AD I have been meddling in coconuts both as a farmer and as Chairman of the Coconut Research Board, in the latter post for some 10 years from 1994. more..

Thai Pongal celebrated as the foretoken of Good Luck and Prosperity

Jan 14 (DM) Thai Pongal is a thanksgiving ceremony celebrated by farmers in particular to thank the nature spirit, the sun and farm animals for bringing prosperity in agriculture with plentiful harvests. They venerate and thank the sun god and offer the first part of the produce in the form of cooked rice. The recipients of this thanksgiving are farm animals, including the cow, ox and the buffalo. Meanwhile, rice eaters are more..

Bavuma, the mouse who needs to roar

Jan 14 (CI) Never mind the elephant in the room, there is a mouse in this one. Let's call him Temba Bavuma. SA's smallest player has managed to accumulate the least number of runs among the specialist batsmen and the lower-order allrounders in this series and so we have to have this discussion. Will he be the one to make way when AB de Villiers returns to fitness after elbow surgery? Let's look at the numbers side of it. You won't be surprised to hear they don't support Bavuma. more..

Editorial: Lucky crooks!

Jan 14 (Island) Some prominent members of Rajapaksa Cabinet, blamed for the theft of public funds and various crooked deals, are currently ministers of yahapalana govt. Their corruption and ill-gotten wealth have not been probed. They have got the best of both worlds. Lucky crooks! CID, FCID and the anti-graft commission are pursuing only those who have banded themselves as the Joint Opposition (JO). Yahapalana ministers also hear cases against JO members at media more..