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Six Lankan ferry operators arrested

Feb 4 (CO) Navy today arrested six Sri Lankan nationals off Rameswaram coast for ferrying refugees without proper documents. According to police officials here, three operators were nabbed while returning after dropping 36 refugees at the Dhanushkodi coast and the other three were arrested along with 17 refugees off Rameswaram coast. more..

Sri Lanka and UAE to sign workforce accord

Feb 4 (GN) The Sri Lankan Government will sign a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the UAE to streamline exports of manpower to the UAE. Mohammad Nabavi Junaid, Sri Lankan Ambassador, said UAE Labour Minister Dr Ali Bin Abdullah Al Ka'abi will sign the MoU this month during an official visit to Colombo. The ambassador said the agreement aims to eliminate exploitation of workers by unauthorised job agents and unscrupulous recruitment agencies. more..

Of Cabinets and Kings

Feb 4 (AT) President Rajapakse deserves ample congratulations for the ingenuity, creativity and commitment he displayed in his first cabinet reshuffle. It is not just anyone who can come up with ways and means of creating 108 ministers and deputy ministers (and counting). True, it is possible to discern in the titling of the ministries more than a modicum of repetition (for instance, there are no less than five non-cabinet ministers of nation building, all Sinhalese); more..

Colonial hangovers 59 years after independence

Feb 4 (AT) How many of us are really enthusiastic about our National Day as we are, say about Sinhala-Hindu New Year, Vesak, Christmas or Ramazan? Perhaps the reason is that since 1848 we waged neither a violent nor non-violent (civil disobedience) struggle to win freedom from the British. It came to us largely as a result of India's independence movement and World War II. more..

Douglas Devananda tears down to pieces the duplicity perpetuated by the LTTE in the peace process

Feb 4 (AT) Time has come for India to play a more active role in arriving a political solution to the ethnic problem in Sri Lanka, while the LTTE is still taking an anti-Indian stand. Douglas Devananda, Leader of the EPDP urged that India while showing its deep concern for the people of the North-East and its support for their legitimate aspirations should also offer its assistance for implementing any solution to the ethnic problem, acceptable to all sections of the Sri Lankan society. more..

TBC Radio will come on air from Monday

Feb 4 (AT) Thamil Broadcasting Corporation a London based Tamil language radio broadcasting station is all set to come back on air from Monday 05 February. Sivajini Ramaraj spokesperson for TBC radio told the media that the High Court of London has granted interim injunction to Thamil Broadcasting Corporation UK Ltd to continue with their radio broadcasting. more..

Patriots and hypocrites

Feb 4 (TW) Sunday, January 28, will be written in Sri Lanka’s history books as one of the most dramatic days in the political arena and ‘it was all because of Ranil.’ Ranil may be the excuse being used to defect by the UNP rebel MPs,but the reality is that these jumbos cum federalists, couldn’t resist the plum portfolios and perks that Mahinda the genie was ready to offer. more..

Fifty nine years of independence: some reflections

Feb 4 (TW) At fifty nine Sri Lanka is both old and young. It has a much longer history than its years of independence would suggest. Indeed, the island has too much history for too little geography, and therefore too many unnecessary problems. It is also a young country, much younger in terms of demographics than the working of the human biological clock that at fifty nine would already be winding down. more..

Jaffna at standstill on SL Independence Day

Feb 4 (TN) Sri Lanka Army troopers fired mortar and artillery shells from Muhamalai Forward Defence Line (FDL) Sunday from 7:30 a.m. towards Iyakkachchi, Palai, Pooneryn and Vadamaradchi East villages in Liberation Tigers controlled areas as Jaffna stood at standstill and the people remained indoors. Roads were empty and silence prevailed in Jaffna. more..

The Cost of Freedom for the poor and the marginalized

Feb 4 (AT) Again Colombo was paralyzed for several days when most of the roads were closed to rehearse the 59th Independence Day commemoration Celebrations on the Gall Face Green on today the February 4th. On 3rd February people on the road leading to Cinnamon Garden police station and the round-about leading to Independent Square were suddenly taken aback around 12 noon when a pose of armed soldiers prevented them crossing the round-about more..

President calls on the TNA MPs to join in an all party efforts to end conflict

Feb 4 (AT) President Mahindha Rajapaksha invited the Tamil National Alliance parliamentarians, said to be the proxies of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam to join an ongoing all party effort to end the ongoing conflict. He pointed out that his government will pay attention to the proposals of Tamil leaders such as V. Anandasangari and Douglas Devananda. more..

Govt determined to ensure dignity of Tamils - Rambukwella

Feb 4 (PISL) On the eve of celebrating the 59th Independence Day celebrations Minister and Defence spokesperson Keheliya Rambukwella said that the Government was determined to liberate the Tamils from the clutches of the LTTE and to ensure their dignity which has been denied to them for the past two decades by the LTTE. more..

Sri Lanka board confident Moody will stay

Feb 4 (CI) Tom Moody's future as coach with Sri Lanka seems fairly secure following his withdrawal from the race to become Australia's next coach and the statement from David Morgan, the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) chairman, to BBC Radio that Duncan Fletcher would remain as England coach. Moody was mentioned as a potential replacement for Fletcher in the event of his resigning, more..

'We feel very confident going into this World Cup' - Moody

Feb 4 (CI) Tom Moody, Sri Lanka's coach, said that his team was pretty sure of the brand of cricket they want to play at the 2007 World Cup in the Caribbean next month and added the Indian tour would be used to boost their confidence ahead of the major event. The Sri Lankan team left for India on Friday to take part in a series of four one-day internationals, the first of which starts on Thursday at Kolkata. more..

Lanka ‘taking steps’ to cut LTTE’s funding lines

Feb 4 (GT) SRI Lanka is taking bold and determined steps to cut the funding lines of the LTTE, South Asian country’s Foreign Minister Rohita Bogollegama told the Gulf Times yesterday. Bogollegma, who took over as foreign affairs minister a week ago, was transiting through the Doha International Airport while returning to Colombo after a four-day tour of India and Germany. more..

US tried to save MoU, but failed

Feb 4 (LNP) The United States Government made a last ditch attempt last week to ensure the Memorandum of Understanding between the ruling SLFP majority Government and the main opposition UNP remained intact but its efforts failed. The attempt came on Saturday (January 27), hours before President Mahinda Rajapaksa, was to swear in a new Cabinet that included dissidents of the UNP. more..

Virtusa going public in US

Feb 4 (LNP) Virtusa Incorporation, the leading US IT firm, will go down in history as the first Lankan run US firm to list on the NASDAQ Stock Market in the United States, according to company officials. `Virtusa is planning on a possible listing in the NASDAQ,` a senior company official told The Sunday Times FT, adding that this move is being discussed by the top management and it is highly likely that Virtusa will go for an initial public offering (IPO) this year. more..

Sri Lanka signs cultural pact with Egypt

Feb 4 (LNP) The governments of Sri Lanka and Egypt signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on Cultural Cooperation during an official visit to Egypt by Sri Lanka`s Minister for Culture Mahinda Yapa Abeywardana. The agreement was signed by Minister Abeywardena on behalf of Sri Lanka and Farouk Hosni, Minister of Culture, on behalf of the government of Egypt, at the Cultural Ministry in Cairo. more..

The bloated obscenity

Feb 4 (LNP) A reader`s letter we carry in today`s issue of this newspaper reflects public opinion, certainly urban middle class public opinion, on the size of the jumbo cabinet that President Mahinda Rajapakse has loaded on the backs of this country`s taxpayers to ensure the stability of his government. more..

Speaker silent on MPs assets statements

Feb 4 (SAMN) The Speaker of Parliament, Mr. W.J.M. Lokubandara, has maintained a deafening silence for a period of over two years of which of Sri Lanka's 225 Members of Parliament have not tendered their declaration of assets and liabilities required by law, it was revealed at a Colombo seminar last week. more..

Staff stop work at hospital in Colombo

Feb 4 (SAMN) The Eye Hospital staff who had been on work to rule against the Hospital Director agreed to call off their campaign following a meeting with Health Services Deputy Director General Dr. P.G. Maheepala yesterday. Dr. Maheepala, currently overseeing the Eye Hospital met the staff in a bid to settle the worker dispute which had disrupted the hospital services for the past two weeks. more..

Chirac highlights civilian suffering on Sri Lanka's Independence Day

Feb 4 (TN) France's President Jacques Chirac, in a message to President Mahinda Rajapakse on the occasion of the Sri Lanka's Independence Day on February 04, said he wished that a dialogue would start again and that a political solution to the conflict that is tearing Sri Lanka apart would be found. more..

Freedom was won for all - President

Feb 4 (SO) President Mahinda Rajapaksa in his Independence Day message told the nation that independence was meant for the entire Sri Lankan nation and was not confined to a single community. He said the nation celebrates its 59th anniversary of independence at a time it could take pride of its ability to come together, irrespective of pollical differences. more..

Facelift for Galle Face Green

Feb 4 (SO) The Galle Face Green is to be further modernised, sources told the Sunday Observer. The Sri Lanka Ports Authority (SLPA) is actively engaged in the modernisation of the Green. The sources said the cost of the project is estimated at Rs. 110 million. An underground restaurant with seven stores is designed under this modernisation project, the sources said. more..

Galle not a pledging meeting, says WB Vice President

Feb 4 (NS) A number of donor countries have indicated that there would not be any new financial commitments made to Sri Lanka until the security situation improves. They had even come closer to withdrawing the commitments made earlier, diplomatic sources told The Nation. The source said that the donor meeting in Galle was mainly to push the government to go into a negotiated settlement for the current ethnic crisis. more..

Reformists must abide by Mahinda Chintana, JVP

Feb 4 (NS) The JVP has thrown a challenge at President Mahinda Rajapaksa asking him to get a written assurance from the UNP MPs that joined the government that they agreed with the Mahinda Chinthana manifesto. JVP Leader Somawansa Amarasinghe said that their further support to the government would depend on whether the government assures the protection of human rights, democracy and takes measures to defeat terrorism. more..

UNP can’t be swayed by defections - Ranil

Feb 4 (NS) Opposition Leader Ranil Wickremesinghe addressing UNP supporters assured that nothing can bring down the party irrelevant of how many leave. He made these comments speaking at the party headquarters ‘Sirikotha’ yesterday. “This party has survived for 60 years and we have enough experience to face a crisis like this. This is our party, we depend on the party but the party doesn’t depend on us. Even if I leave today, the party will remain, but that does not mean I will leave,” he assured. more..

UNPers joined govt. after reform attempt failed - SB

Feb 4 (NS) UNP strongman S.B. Dissanayake said yesterday it was really sad that the cream of the UNP reformist group joined the government and took up portfolios. He said that this disgruntled group of MPs joined the government after their attempt to reform the party failed. “This is very unfortunate. They did not crossover due to personal reasons; they were all genuine in their attempt to reform the party. However, they got frustrated when their voices went unheard within the party,” he lamented. more..

Parliament: Old faces in new places

Feb 4 (ST) At least four of the new UNP dissidenta who joined the Mahinda Rajapaksa administration will get front row seats on the government side in Parliament when the House meets on Tuesday. As seats are allocated strictly based on seniority, the front row seats will be occupied by the new Parliamentary Affairs Minister, M.H. Mohamed, Supplementary Crops development Minister R.M. Dharmadasa Banda, Plan Implementation Minister P. Dayaratna and Sports and Public Recreation Minister Gamini Lokuge. more..

Be good, be happy -Ven. Ajahn Brahmavamso

Feb 4 (ST) "Our world is a smaller place today. We travel around a lot. We do meet each other, we do marry each other, and we make friends with each other. That's a wonderful time for our world where, as the world gets smaller, we get to know each other better. Maybe with that friendship, knowledge and everything, we can overcome many of the difficulties which separate our nations, religions and peoples." more..

Rumblings over Rajapaksa reshuffle

Feb 4 (ST) Pulsating political dramas, an escalating economic crisis and the turmoil from terrorism form the major backdrops as Sri Lanka marks her 59th year of independence from foreign rule today. Freedom from colonial rule for nearly half a century enabled Sri Lankans, the sons and daughters of the soil, to manage their affairs. Some would have been for the better and others for the worse. more..

After Sampur and Vakarai, LTTE threats loom

Feb 4 (ST) It was the fall of Sampur in September last year that made the "Four Six" sector south of Trincomalee more important to the LTTE. Until then, Sampur, located strategically south of the Trincomalee Harbour was the main staging area. From there, the guerrillas directed artillery and mortar attacks at Sri Lanka Navy's largest base inside the Dockyard in Trincomalee. more..

Pope greets pilgrims from Sri Lanka, remembers post-tsunami reconstruction efforts

Feb 4 (AP) Pope Benedict XVI made a special mention of reconstruction efforts in Sri Lanka from the 2004 tsunami in remarks Sunday at the end of his traditional noon blessing in St. Peter's Square. The pontiff addressed thousands of pilgrims below his window, and greeted government officials from Sri Lanka gathered among them. more..

More UNP defections expected this week

Feb 4 (TN) Ten more United National Party dissident parliamentarians are expected to cross over to the UPFA-government in the coming days, according to informed political sources in Colombo. Four parliamentarians are expected to cross over to the government side when parliament meets on Tuesday. These parliamentarians have been identified as Ranjit Mathuma Bandara, G.Harrison, Chandrani Bandara and Champika. more..

Rajapakse vows to do justice to Tamils

Feb 4 (Xinhua) President Mahinda Rajapakse said Sunday that the ultimate goal of the present military action against Tamil Tigers was to do justice for the Tamil minority. Addressing the country's 59th anniversary of independence, the president said: 'We are not ready to give into blood-thirsty demands of LTTE. But we must undertake the urgent task of establishing democratic governance in the north and east.' more..

Celebrating independence, Sri Lanka vows to defeat rebels

Feb 4 (Reuters) Tanks and armored personnel carriers paraded through Sri Lanka's capital on Sunday as President Mahinda Rajapakse, marking the 59th anniversary of independence from Britain, vowed to defeat Tamil Tiger rebels. Navy war ships sailed past off the coast and air force fighter jets and helicopter gunships flew overhead as 3,500 servicemen marched to military bands in a show of military might amid a new chapter in the island's two-decade civil war with LTTE rebels. more..

Rajapaksa asks pro-LTTE Tamil party to join him

Feb 4 (HT) A day after he asked the LTTE to lay down arms and come for talks to solve the festering Tamil problem, Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa on Sunday appealed to the pro-LTTE TNA to "join" him and help liberate the "innocent" Tamil people of the North from LTTE's terrorism. "It is only by joining us that the innocent Tamil people of the North can be liberated from terrorist intimidation and violence, and the North could be emancipated," Rajapaksa told the TNA in his address more..

Mahinda tightens grip over defence ministry

Feb 4 (HT) Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa, who is also defence minister, has tightened his grip over the ministry by not appointing anybody as deputy defence minster in the recent cabinet reshuffle. Ratnasiri Wickramanayake was deputy defence minister in the last cabinet, but he lost this portfolio in the reshuffle. more..

Sri Lanka showcases military might at Independence Day celebrations

Feb 4 (AP) Insurgency-torn Sri Lanka celebrated 59 years of independence Sunday with displays of its military air and sea power, as the president said he would not give in to the separatist Tamil Tigers' "bloodthirsty" demands. The celebrations followed a successful military campaign to seize several strategic areas in eastern Sri Lanka from the Tigers' control. more..

Yahoo Photos

Feb 4 (AP) Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapakse, right, hoists Sri Lanka's national flag as Air force Commander Air Vice Marshal Roshan Goonatilake looks on during the 59th national Independence Day celebration in Colombo. more..

Sri Lanka marks independence day with new peace offer

Feb 4 (AFP) Sri Lanka marked its independence anniversary with President Mahinda Rajapakse inviting Tiger rebel proxies in parliament to join his effort to end decades of ethnic bloodshed. Rajapakse asked the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) to join the "All Party Conference" to prepare a political solution to the conflict, which has claimed more than 60,000 lives since 1972. more..

Sri Lanka seeks proactive role in Asian forum

Feb 5 (VN) This year, Sri Lanka celebrates 59 years of independence. Viet Nam News spoke with Aparekka L. Ratnapala, the country’s ambassador to Viet Nam, about Sri Lanka’s relations with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), agriculture development and bilateral trade issues. How will Sri Lanka’s partici pation in the ASEAN Re gional Forum (ARF) help the nation boost co-operation with the ASEAN community? more..

Talk to LTTE: TNA tells President

Feb 5 (BBC) The TNA has rejected an invitation by President to help his government to solve the national question. TNA parliamentarian MK Sivajilingam told BBC Sandeshaya that Mahinda Rajapaksa should restart talks with Tamil Tigers if he is genuine in his efforts to end the bloodshed. "We were given a mandate to regard the LTTE as sole representatives of the Tamils," he said. more..

Mahinda's remark on Sampur puts India in a fix

Feb 5 (HT) Sri Lanka President, Mahinda Rajapaksa announced on Sunday that the 500 MW power coal fired power project to be set up in collaboration with the National Thermal Power Project (NTPC) of India would be located in Sampur, an area in eastern Sri Lanka captured by the Sri Lankan forces from the LTTE in September last. Rajapaksa referred to this venture in his Independence Day speech. more..

Rookie Abdullah fells Lankan giants

Feb 5 (DNA) Iqbal Abdullah had a field day on Sunday. The 17-year-old left-arm spinner, who is part of Mumbai’s 19-member Ranji Trophy squad, got a day off from the dressing room at the Wankhede and show-cased his art at the Cricket Club of India. Playing for a MCA Colts against the visiting Sri Lankans, Abdullah got his biggest wickets — in terms of reputation — on Sunday. more..

Sri Lanka's Jumbo Cabinet, Vakarai and the President's Political Moves

Feb 5 (AT) Significant political and military moves in Sri Lanka during the last month flowing into diplomatic and international activities by the government indicate that the President of Sri Lanka and his team has made certain calculations and decided to forge new political links culminating in an expanded 'power block' to rule the country from the beginning of 2007. more..

Local academic develops a software model to use runoff water

Feb 5 (AT) Champa Nawaratne of Department of Agricultural Engineering, University of Ruhuna developed a software model to use runoff water through roofs for domestic purpose using the computer language Visual Basic. This study was carried out to address the water scarcity problem in the areas where available water resources are limited. more..

India can help speed up solution to Sri Lankan Tamil problem – Minister Douglas Devanada

Feb 5 (AT) India, with its long links with Sri Lanka and its familiarity with and better understanding of the political and ethnic complexities in the island nation, can help speed up a final settlement of the Tamil problem, says K.N. Douglas Devananda, Colombo’s minister for social service and social welfare. more..

Bread shortage looms in Jaffna

Feb 5 (TN) Shortage of wheat flour in Jaffna will soon force the bakery owners in Jaffna peninsula to cease baking bread, civil society sources in Jaffna said. The stock of wheat flour at the Jaffna Secretariat had reached dangerously low levels while shipment of flour into the peninsula has been completely suspended, officials close to flour distribution in Jaffna Secretariat said. more..

British Tamils pressured into donating money to Tigers

Feb 5 (AFP) Ethnic Tamils living in Britain are being pressured into donating money to support Tiger rebels in their native Sri Lanka, facing harassment if they refuse. According to The Times, which interviewed a number of Sri Lankan Tamils living in Britain, the problem has become so widespread that the country's High Commission here has alerted the British interior ministry and the Serious and Organised Crime Agency. more..