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'Significant challenges to press freedom still remain in Sri Lanka'

Mar 2 (FT) Although there was no violence and there is an apparent reduction of threats against journalists in Sri Lanka after the 8 January election, significant challenges to press freedom are still remaining in Sri Lanka, an international media organisation said. An international media mission to Sri Lanka representing international journalists organizations said Surveillance, monitoring and following of journalists are more..

Sri Lanka motor dept against launch of Bajaj's quadricycle

Mar 2 (PTI) India's first quadricycle, made by Bajaj Auto, faces opposition on the proposed launch of its RE60 in Sri Lanka, with the local traffic head raising safety concerns. Sri Lanka is the biggest passenger three-wheeler market for Bajaj Auto outside India. The RE60 is their proposed replacement for such three-wheelers, promising the comfort and safety of a fourth wheel, in addition to seat belts and a hard top. more..

'I have no dreams of becoming PM'

Mar 1 (DM) Our party will split into two if all of us dream of the premiership at this juncture, Opposition Leader Nimal Siripala De Silva said. I have never set my sights on becoming the prime minister but always worked for the victory of the party and I have no objection to the abolishment of the executive powers of the president, he said replying to a question asked by a journalist at the media conference at Opposition Leader’s office. more..

Public funds wasted on presidential advisers

Mar 2 (SL) When thousands of peasants struggle to find a proper meal to their children due to the high cost of living, millions of rupees of public money had allegedly been ‘wasted’ monthly by the former regime on 38 Presidential Advisers. Sunday Leader learns that out of the 38 Presidential Advisers, 20 were not assigned for any specific task although each were paid a salary of Rs.75, 000 and an allowance of one third of their salary. more..

'Next version will win Sinhala voice for Tamils'

Mar 2 (ENS) Callum Macrae, the reputed British journalist and filmmaker whose documentary, No Fire Zone - In The Killing Fields of Sri Lanka, helped galvanise the international community into seeking answers through the UNHRC, is back with an expanded version. This time, there will be a Sinhalese version as well. “Enough Sinhala people saw through the corruption and nepotism of the Rajapaksa regime to bring it to end. more..

Rural lad with a childhood passion for animals turns researcher on jumbos

Mar 2 (ST) Two researchers in a jeep in the dead of night in the jungles of Uda Walawe – one is fast asleep and snoring loudly, but the other is awake, peering into the darkness. Suddenly there looms a darker-than-the-night shape, very close to their vehicle. Closer it comes, 50m away but drawing still closer. Bleary-eyed Ashoka Ranjeewa, 34, may be, but he realises the danger. He is in a quandary — should he wake up his friend more..

Widows’ endless wait

Mar 2 (ENS) Mary, a 31-year-old single mother from Talaimannar, goes to bed on a nearly empty stomach and is hungry most of the time. Living on a single meal on most days, she ensures that her three children have enough to eat and attend school without fail everyday. Since her husband, according to the Sri Lankan police records, ‘went missing’ during the civil war in 2009, Mary has been slogging for nearly 12 hours a day as more..

Liberalism, Nationalism and Barbarism

Mar 2 (DM) Sri Lankans, until recently lived under a regime that had scant regard for liberal values. Every effort was made by the regime to mobilize popular support by whipping up nationalist sentiments pointing to alleged threats to national security and national sovereignty. Almost all state institutions were handed over to ardent political loyalists so that they would do almost anything to safeguard the interests of the regime and its leaders. We, within the university system more..

Last minute bid to sabotage medicinal bill

Mar 2 (DM) This week may be a historic one for Sri Lanka, with the new National Unity Govt expected to table vital legislation such as the Constitutional Amendment, the Right to Information bill and the bill to implement the National Medicinal Drugs and Devices Policy to provide quality drugs to the people at affordable prices. These and other bills along with the setting up of the police anti Corruption Unit and the Financial Crimes Investigation Department to probe corruption in mega deals more..

'Implementing constitutional, electoral reforms: President must act decisively'

Mar 2 (Island) Having lambasted the govt yesterday for what he called its lethargic attitude towards implementing key promises in President Maithripala Sirisena’s election manifesto, Ven. Maduluwawe Sobitha thera stressed that the onus was on the President to ensure the implementation of his own pledges. Leader of the NMSJ Ven. Sobitha was addressing a gathering at Sri Lanka Foundation Institute (SLFI). more..

To halt floating armoury probe Minister offered Rs 300M Bribe

Mar 2 (CT) A private maritime security firm has offered Rs. 300 million, to a prominent minister, to halt the investigation into the floating armoury, minister Dr. Rajitha Senaratne said. He said the minster has refused the bribe and if the investigations into the floating armoury fail to make satisfactory progress, he would reveal all the details to the public in two weeks. Minister, to whom the bribe was offered, holds a prominent role in the govt and was in the first batch of MPs who left more..

Docs will launch continuous strike on March 6: GMOA

Mar 2 (Island) GMOA General Committee decided unanimously to launch a countrywide strike commencing March 6. It would be an indefinite one with around 20,000 doctors attached to Sri Lanka’s govt hospitals keeping away from work from 8 am next Friday until further notice. GMOA Assistant Secretary Dr. Nalinda Herath said that GMOA General Committee which held an emergency meeting yesterday had decided to go ahead with the strike next Friday as the response from govt more..

Tamil Kings cut out, history rewritten, claim Lankan Tamil students

Mar 2 (ENS) Five years after the end of the ethnic war in Sri Lanka, Tamil minority students are still unable to acquire knowledge about the legacy of Tamil kings of yore through their History textbooks in schools. Instead, they get to learn only about the glory of the Sinhala kings and their contribution to the growth of Buddhism in the island nation. “Our History textbooks up to Class X emphasise that the Sinhala kings alone more..

Roti should be roasted when iron plate is hot: Sobhitha Thera

Mar 2 (DM) In his insistence upon the implementation of constitutional reforms, Ven. Maduluwave Sobhitha Thera said that roti had to be made when the griddle was heated to the right temperature. He said the griddle had been heated for President Maitripala Sirisena to make roti and not for him to bask in its warmth. Thera said that, at the time of the presidential election, he had proposed that Mr. Sirisena implement the constitutional and electoral reforms within six months of his more..

Avant Garde employees protest opposite JVP party headquarters

Mar 2 (DN) A group who identified themselves as employees of Avant Garde private security firm yesterday staged a protest opposite the JVP headquarters in Battaramulla saying the party was trying to deprive them of their livelihood. The protestors who gathered in front of the JVP headquarters said the Avant Garde was running its operations legally, with approval from the Ministry of Defence. They asserted that the JVP had leveled false allegations against the company and more..

Five minutes with SL's former president

Mar 2 (Dawn) It is 8am on Saturday and I am outside Carlton House, the forest-green-coloured residence of Mahinda Rajapaksa, former president of Sri Lanka. It is a modest structure and on a low roof perches a medium-sized board carrying a picture of him beaming. He has been residing in his hometown Tangalle after his shocking defeat in the presidential elections nearly 50 days ago. According to news reports, more..

I do not believe in astrology now: MR

Mar 2 (DN) Responding to a question raised by a journalist from the Dawn newspaper, whether he still believes in astrology, former President Mahinda Rajapaksa said, "Now, I don't" and laughed out loud. "I have to ask you this, do you still believe in astrology?" "Now, I don't," he says and laughs out loud. The former President went on to say that Pakistan helped Sri Lanka in quelling the Tamil insurgency. "See, the US, Europe, the West, they are not our friends,". more..

JVP declines invitation for debate

Mar 2 (FT) JVP declined the open invitation made to the party to enter into a debate with Minister Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe and owner of Avant-Garde Security Nissanka Senadhipathi on the controversy relating to the latter’s passport. JVP General Secretary Tilvin Silva said that it had nothing to discuss with either Minister Rajapakshe or Senadhipathi and that if they haven’t done anything illegal, then either of those two individuals didn’t have any reason to fear the investigations. more..

Fraudulent dual citizenship to be cancelled

Mar 2 (DN) Dual Citizenship granted without fulfilling qualifications will be cancelled, Minister John Amaratunga said. He said even though the award of dual citizenship was suspended by the Immigration and Emigration Department in 2011, over 2,000 dual citizenships had been given behind the screen by the previous regime. "We have now commenced investigations on these dual citizenships. We will inquire whether these more..

EO1 strike against 99 route permits issued by UPFA

Mar 2 (Island) Lanka Private Bus Owners’ Association (LPBOA) yesterday warned that the ongoing bus strike between Colombo-Tangalle and Colombo-Kataragama would continue unless the govt took immediate action to stop the route permits given to 99 private buses illegally on the Southern Expressway. LPBOA President Gemunu Wijeratne said that the former officials attached to the National Transport Commission (NTC) and the Private Transport Services Ministry had issued more..

Feltman pledges fullest support for govt's 100 day programme

Mar 2 (DN) UN Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs, Jeffrey Feltman, who met with President Maithripala Sirisena on Saturday, pledged his fullest support for the completion of the govt's 100 day programme. President Sirisena said that the new govt is committed to their new standing in national and international affairs. The President's Media Unit said on Sunday that the meeting was congenial and developed a good understanding between the two parties. more..

Kachchatheevu feast ends peacefully

Mar 2 (CT) The annual feast of St Anthony, celebrated over two days in the isolated island of Kachchatheevu and attended by devotees from Sri Lanka and TN, concluded yesterday. Kachchatheevu lies in the Palk Strait dividing the two nations. The feast was organised and managed by the Sri Lanka Army. This year 7,600 pilgrims participated. The religious services were conducted by nearly 100 priests from South India with more..

SL's first-ever UX conference on Mar 19

Mar 2 (Island) The Colombo Camps Community, a community renowned for facilitating landmark IT events in the country, such as the Software Product Engineering Conference and the Colombo Agile Conference, now brings about another first within Sri Lanka's fast-growing ICT sector - the Colombo UX Conference 2015. Slated to be held on 19 March at the BMICH, a dynamic experience awaits software professionals at Sri Lanka's first-ever conference dedicated to UX (User Experience), more..

CBSL subsidizes foreigners at taxpayers' expense

Mar 2 (CT) Rs 1,608 million worth of excess liquidity was drawn down from the money market at Thursday's trading for the defence of the rupee in the foreign exchange (FX) market and/or Govt's foreign debt servicing commitments, data showed. With the exchange rate being defended at Rs 132.90 to the US Dollar in interbank, administered spot trading, this amounts to a measly sum of US$ 12.1 million being drawn down from Central Bank reserves in order to protect the rupee. more..

Dr. Wickramaratne frowns on SLFP condition for backing reforms

Mar 2 (Island) The govt efforts to bring in constitutional reforms during President Maithripala Sirisena’s 100-day project could suffer a severe setback due to SLFP’s stand on proposed constitutional and electoral reforms, top constitutional expert Dr. Jayampathy Wickramaratne, PC, warned. Dr. Wickramaratne said that he was concerned about the SLFP’s move. Addressing a group of civil society activists at more..

Tourism hierarchy at ITB after 10 year lapse!

Mar 2 (CT) The world's leading travel trade show- ITB, which is staged annually in Berlin where the leading 180 countries in the business of tourism meet to discuss key trends whilst contracting the top deals for a country will be represented by Minister of Tourism and Sports, Navin Dissanayake, Chairman Sri Lanka Tourism Promotions Bureau, Dr. Rohantha Athukorala and the Chairman of the Tourism Development Authority, Paddy Witarana after a lapse of almost 10 years. more..

Some stockbrokers seen jittery at CSE event

Mar 2 (ST) Some stockbrokers resembled cats-on-hot-bricks at a high profile event at the Colombo Stock Exchange (CSE) on Thursday. Dato’ Seri Vellu, Special Envoy to India and South Asia, Govt of Malaysia rang the ceremonial opening bell at the start of trading, while at the same time Deputy Minister Harsha De Silva and Chairman of the SEC Thilak Karunaratne made their first visits to the CSE following their appointments. Many CEOs of broking houses were also present at this more..

First Chinese, now Indians under probe!

Mar 2 (FT) First it was China’s Port City and now the new govt has zeroed in on India’s corporate giant Tata’s $ 430 million mixed development project in Slave Island. The Cabinet last week decided to do a complete review of the highly-respected corporate Tata’s project titled One Colombo Ltd, which was previously approved under the Strategic Development Act. The project, on an area of eight acres in Slave Island, more..

CBSL halts lower SDF regime

Mar 2 (CT) Central Bank of SL will do away with the lower of its two band standing deposit facility (SDF) rate in the backdrop of heavy pressure on the country's foreign reserves amidst rising import demand from today. Ceylon FT since the beginning of the year has been stressing on the need to do away with the lower band SDF rate of 5% due to rising import demand in the context of a lower interest rate regime and a consumerist regime in operation, encouraged by last two budgets, more..

SLFP calls for a national govt: An end to the curse of confrontational politics?

Mar 2 (Island) This is indeed a most refreshing decision. Yes, let us put an end to confrontational politics which has done immense harm to our country. I have written on numerous occasions calling upon the authorities to consider adopting the Executive Committee system which we had under the Donoughmore Constitution. In recent days there has been a most interesting debate about the abolishing of the Presidential form of govt. This wish has taken proportions of a demand because more..

US firms awaiting govt approval to upgrade Sapugaskanda oil refinery

Mar 2 (Island) US embassy in Colombo is awaiting approval from the govt of Sri Lanka for US companies to upgrade the much discussed Sapugaskanda oil refinery with all facilities available in modern refineries in the world, a top US embassy official said. American embassy Colombo, Counsellor Allison Areias-Vogel said that they had indicated to top officials of the govt availability of world class US companies more..

Cement industry fighting for survival

Mar 2 (FT) The cement industry is fighting for survival with paucity in new commercial construction activity leading to low demand, a top importer warned last week. “The industry is not as bullish as it was once. We are living with hope that the new Govt will come up with a drastic policy direction for the construction and cement industry which would bring momentum back to the industry, otherwise it will be very difficult to survive,” UltraTech Cement Lanka CEO Kiran Redkar said. more..

Editorial: Thinking machines

Mar 2 (Island) Boundaries of science and technology continue to be pushed back with each passing day, and man achieves feats that were thought to be beyond the realms of possibility not so long ago. Hyperloop has ceased to be a figment of the imagination. Plans are underway to construct it in California as early as next year with the ambitious goal of helping cover a distance of 645 km between Los Angeles and San Francisco in just half an hour, we are told. more..

'We have never abused our power'

Mar 2 (LG) Following his recent retirement as commander of Army, General (Retd.) Daya Ratnayake, stated, “I did not apply for an extension. That is not what happened. The decision was made by the govt and I respect the decision. I leave as a very, very happy person who has been able to give my best service to the nation when it was required most.” General Ratnayake departed last week, after a long career in army. more..

Whose democracy is it anyway?

Mar 2 (GV) While domestic and international observers have been praising the peaceful transfer of power in early January, Sri Lanka’s civil conflict continues and Tamil rights remain in question. TSA has obtained a series of highly credible reports about people who disappeared during the final days of combat from Sept 2008 – May 2009. This year, the Govt failed to publish a progress report on its Jan 2014 National Plan of Action for the Implementation of LLRC Recommendations. more..

Send in the Clowns ruse to gloss crackdown fiasco

Mar 2 (ST) All women tend to lie about their age. But not all women get landed in the slammer for it. Sashi’s – or is it Shehasa’s or is it Shirja’s's — alleged mistake was to have falsified her name and age on documents tendered to obtain a diplomatic passport, an offence which carries a sentence of one to five years in jail or a fifty thousand to two hundred thousand rupees fine or both. She allegedly used this diplomatic passport made out in the name of Randunu Mudiyanselage Shehasa more..

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