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Let there be responsibility in reporting, Foreign Ministry urges

Dec 19 (GDI) Foreign Minister Rohitha Bogollagama has emphasized the need for the media to report news and information with responsibility, at the inauguration of the orientation programme for media personnel attached to the Parliament, at the Bandaranaike International Diplomatic Training Institute. Minister Bogollagama stated that this was the first time in the history of the Foreign Ministry that such an orientation programme was being held, specifically designed for the media. more..

Sunanda Deshapriya resigns from CPA over ‘transaction lacking clarity’

Dec 19 (GDI) Sunanda Deshapriya, a long time activist in the sphere of media rights and former convenor of the 'Free Media Movement' (FMM) has resigned from his post at the Centre for Policy Alternatives (CPA) whose media section he headed, following an investigation into a transaction that ‘lacked clarity’, Dr. Paikiasothy Saravanamuttu, Executive Director, CPA told today (19). more..

Government to sell cement at Rs. 75 less per bag

Dec 19 (GDI) The Government is selling cement at a price 75 rupees than that set by the private sector from yesterday (18), Minister of Trade, Marketing Development, Cooperatives and Consumer Affairs Bandula Gunawardena said at the news briefing held at the Government Information Department today (19). He stated that the reduction will be Rs. 75 for purchases of 100 or both bags of cement. more..

'Nothing can bring down government'

Dec 19 (GDI) "No force, local or foreign, can overthrow the Government, headed by the President, which is shouldering the task of building a new Sri Lanka with the strength and blessings of the entire nation," the Minister of Media Lakshman Yapa Abeywardena said. He sated that the Government was developing the country granting equal rights to all communities while defeating terrorism. He had full confidence that not a single community will permit the downfall of the Government at this decisive juncture. more..

If you love the motherland, you can't sabotage operations now -- PM

Dec 19 (GDI) Prime Minister Ratnasiri Wickramanayake observed that no one who loves the motherland would do anything to sabotage operations in this final stage of the mission to rid the country of terrorism. The Primier was speaking at the ceremony to award "Viru Sisu Pradeepa" scholarship at the Defence Ministry auditorium. He stated that it is improper to send an incorrect message or signal to the battlefront. more..

1.5 million to benefit from mega water treatment plant

Dec 19 (GDI) A mega water treatment plant will be constructed close to the Kelani River to benefit residents North of Colombo at a cost of Rs. 6,500 million , Water Resources Board sources said. The Danish Government will provide Rs. 5200 million as a loan while the balance would be borne by the Sri Lankan Government. Once the project is completed nearly 1.5 million people in Kelaniya, Kadawatha, Wattala and the adjacent areas would benefit. more..

Summary of Cabinet decisions

Dec 19 (GDI) Cabinet approved a memorandum submitted by the Minister of Higher Education, Prof. W.A. Wiswa Warnapala to draft an amendment to the Universities Act No. 16 of 1978 (last amended by Act No. 01 of 1995) based on proposals submitted by him in a Cabinet Memorandum dated April 27, 2007. Cabinet approved a memorandum submitted by the Minister of Local Government and Provincial Councils, Janaka Bandara Tennekoon, to more..

Suspicious bags found in car near Sri Lankan embassy

Dec 19 (Gulf) Police cordoned off a road leading to the Sri Lankan embassy yesterday after an owner of a vehicle reported he had found bags in his car which did not belong to him. The vehicle was parked outside the embassy in Madinat Zayed in the downtown area and was checked by police dogs and explosive experts, police sources said. The road was blocked for about two hours. more..

46 civilians escape from uncleared areas

Dec 19 (GDI) Forty-six civilians who escaped from uncleared areas reached the security force seeking safety yesterday. The escapees comprising sixteen females and thirty males, were residents of east of Kilinochchi and made contact with security forces in the north of Palampasi, Welioya. The escapees have later been directed to the welfare centers established after providing them with food, medical treatment and other necessities.

Sri Lanka goes without petrol

Dec 19 (LNP) There were long queues at the few filling stations in the city yesterday where petrol was available. They had to wait hours to get their tanks filled. Some motorists were disgusted and drove off. The Supreme Court on Wednesday directed the Government to reduce the retail price of a litre of petrol from Rs. 122.00 to Rs. 100.00 with effect from midnight on Wednesday on petition filed before the Court challenging the price structure. more..

SLMC asks dissidents to show cause

Dec 19 (SAMN) General Secretary of the SLMC M. T. Hassen Ali has called for explanations from three Parliamentarians Rischard Badhuiden, Ameer Ali and Najeeb A. Majeed to show cause as to why they should not be expelled from the party. On December 15, the General Secretary of the SLMC wrote to the Parlimentarians who now hold Ministerial Portfolios in the UPFA Government to show cause within a week as more..

Impact of devaluation unpredictable

Dec 19 (SAMN) Senior Economist Dr. Ranjith Bandara said there is no empirical evidence to show that Sri Lanka will benefit by depreciating the rupee, let alone leaving it as it is, in light of the challenges the country is faced with due to the world financial crisis. "Whether or not to depreciate the rupee needs to be explored because the theories arguing both ways have not been tested," more..

No govt. funds even for arms - JVP

Dec 19 (LD) The country has plunged into a severe economic crisis due to the ineffective financial planning of the Rajapaksa regime, parliamentary group leader of the JVP, Anura Kumara Dissanayake said. In turn, this has led to a shortage of foreign reserves and alack of funds to obtain firearms, much to the fury of the President, he added. more..

Cabinet spokesman declines comment

Dec 19 (LD) Cabinet spokesman Anura Priyadarshana Yapa has declined to comment on the Supreme Court ruling on a petrol price reduction. Mr. Yapa asked that he be spared questions over the issue. The only official government response so far is the press release issued by the Director of Government Information yesterday. Mr. Yapa said he was unaware whether the relevant institutions were in receipt of a copy of the SC ruling. more..

UNP petition on PC polls rejected

Dec 19 (LD) The Supreme Court today rejected a plea seeking the postponement of polls for north western and central provincial councils until the establishment of the Constitutional Council. This fundamental rights petition has been filed by UNP chairman Gamini Jayawickrema Perera. The petitioner wanted an order of deferral of the elections to the elections commissioner pending the ruling on another FR case that calls for the setting up of CC as per 17th Amendment. more..

Humanitarian workers angry over Gotabhaya bullying WFP Director about Somalia comparison

Dec 19 (TC) Resentment is spreading among Sri Lanka based Humanitarian aid workers from NGO, INGO and international humanitarian agencies and organizations over what is being referred to as the Gotabhaya – Campbell affair. Many humanitarian workers including several expatriates are deeply perturbed over the way in which the Defence ministry and its secretary handled the issue of an aid worker from the UN Word Food Program (WFP) comparing northern Sri Lanka to Somaia in a BBC interview. more..

Saving Prabha, a betrayal of Prince of Peace - JHU

Dec 19 (LD) Moving to save Prabhakaran the Satan is a betrayal of Prince of Peace, the JHU says, asking the Bishops whether the failure to comprehend that the best Christmas present for the unarmed innocent people is to let the Army save them from this Satan is because of their fear for the demonic apparition of Satan. "As we understand it, the sole objective of the bishops' request is to save Prabhakaran the Satan who is scared of our heroic troops who have entered Kilinochchi town. more..

SC's petrol price ruling already sent to Finance Ministry

Dec 19 (LD) Copies of the Supreme Court ruling on the petrol price reduction has been sent to all parties concerned, including the Ceylon Petroleum Corporation and the Ministry of Finance, the Registrar of the SC says. At a meeting chaired by President Mahinda Rajapaksa last evening (Dec. 18th), the cabinet decided not to revise petrol prices, saying they did not receive any official notice on the SC decision. more..

Container hits rail bridge

Dec 19 (DN) Train services on the main line were interrupted for over five hours last morning when a container truck hit the rail bridge at Biyagama Road, closer to Peliyagoda. The incident caused heavy traffic congestion in the vicinity with commuters running for alternate transport to reach offices and other destinations. The train service on the main line was affected and a number of office trains, the Kandy-Colombo Intercity train, Vavuniya and Nanu-Oya trains were cancelled as a result of this incident. more..

Fire at Lucky Plaza : Electrical short circuit the cause

Dec 19 (DN) The Colombo Fire Brigade and the Colombo Air Force fire Brigade doused a major fire that broke out in a shop in the first floor of Lucky Plaza shopping complex in Kolluptiya last afternoon. An electrical short circuit was reported to be the cause of the fire that was brought under control before it spread to adjacent buildings. Five fire engines were engaged to extinguish the fire while three cranes were used to evacuate those inside the building. more..

Unhappy New Year

Dec 19 (SP) Weeks of fighting around the LTTE capital of Kilinochchi has led to several thousand casualties. Troops are attacking LTTE bunkers five kilometers outside the town. As expected, the LTTE have some of their best remaining fighters operating here. But the LTTE is fighting under many disadvantages. The air force controls the air, and the pilots are now experienced at hitting ground targets. The army has far more artillery than the LTTE, and much more ammunition. more..

'Govt. allocates state resources equally among all provinces'

Dec 19 (Island) The policy of the government was to work out a system to allocate state resources equally to all parts of the country and prevent the repetition of the allegation "Kolambata Kiri, Apata Kekiri" said Export Development and International Trade Minister Professor G. L. Peiris opening the Kandy Centre of the Chamber of Commerce for the Exporters of the Central Province. more..

Four school heads in bribery net

Dec 19 (Island) Bribery sleuths yesterday afternoon arrested a school Principal on a charge of bribery. SSP Neville Guruge, Director Investigations, Commission to Investigate Allegations Against Bribery or Corruption said the suspect Mrs J. P. Mihindukulasuriya, Principal of Visaka Balika Maha Vidyalaya, Bandarawela had solicited Rs 20,000 to admit a child to the Grade 1 class of the school for the year 2009. more..

NFF set to tie-up with govt.

Dec 19 (SAMN) The National Freedom Front (NFF) will start negotiations with the UPFA shortly to team up with the latter as a coalition partner, party secretary MP Nandana Gunatilake said Thursday. Gunatilake told a news conference yesterday that there is a conspiracy being hatched in certain corners to halt military operations in the north. “This is a historic occasion for us to neutralize such attempts,” he said. more..

No Christmas ceasefire says Govt.

Dec 19 (SAMN) The government Thursday said it will not go in for a ceasefire during the Christmas and New Year season despite an appeal made by the Catholic and Anglican Bishops. Lakshman Hulugalla, Director, Media Centre for National Security (MCNS), rejecting the appeal said the government had reiterated its stance that it would declare a ceasefire only if the LTTE laid down its arms to go in for a political discussion. more..

SLC terminate 16 employees at year end

Dec 19 (DM) Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) interim committee headed by Arjuna Ranatunga has taken the unprecedented move of terminating the contracts of 16 employees at the end of this year and the helpless employees have appealed to the President and Sports Minister for help. SLC’s Human Resources head Chanaka Senanayake confirmed that SLC Interim Committee which met on Thursday had decided not to renew the contracts of the 16 employees as more..

Cabinet still undecided on fuel prices

Dec 19 (DM) Cabinet did not take any decision on the fuel price revision yesterday, pending an official document apprising it of the Supreme Court judgment. As a result, a government minister who spoke on condition of anonymity said, fuel prices would remain unchanged. Cabinet, which held its weekly meeting on Wednesday, decided not to reduce the fuel prices, on the grounds that it had not yet received a copy of the Supreme Court ruling. more..

British Government recognises Sri Lankan Govt’s democratic right to fight terrorism

Dec 19 (AT) "British Government recognises the Government of Sri Lanka’s democratic right to fight terrorism" The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office Hon Bill Rammell said at the adjournment debate on 'Sri Lanka' initiated by Andrew Pelling MP (Ind) for Croydon Central on 18th December at the House Of Commons, British Parliamnet, London. Minister Bill Rammell further said "The LTTE has no democratic mandate to represent the Tamil population. more..

Tamil film director Seeman held for 'inflammatory speeches'

Dec 19 (IANS) For the second time in two months, Tamil movie director Seeman was arrested at a shooting locale here on Friday for allegedly making inflammatory, secessionist speeches, police said. "The arrest was made after repeated complaints from Congress leaders alleging denigration by Seeman of former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi's sacrifice and his continued inflammatory, secessionist speeches," a police official said. more..

Women pray for sons, husbands caught in civil war

Dec 19 (IPS) As the Sri Lankan army pushes deeper into Tamil rebel-held territory hundreds women can only pray that their sons and husbands, believed held captive by the LTTE, are spared. "We cannot tell the army to stop the march forward. They have to do their duty. But we suffer much mental agony," said a young woman whose soldier-husband went missing 10 years ago. She believes that he is still being held in captivity by the rebels. more..

Tigers don’t speak for Tamils: Rajapaksa

Dec 19 (EB) President Mahinda Rajapaksa met The New Indian Express at the President’s House at the old Colombo Fort over breakfast on Thursday. The interaction was briefly interrupted when the President went for the swearingin of Mohan Peiris as attorney- general, but continued in his ground floor office. Excerpts from the interview: more..

Restoring hope in Sri Lanka

Dec 20 (IFRC) When schoolteacher M. Shihama was put in charge of a class of children described as unruly and slow learners, her heart sank. “At first, I was reluctant to take them on,” says the social science teacher at Al-Falah high school in Negombo in the western Gampaha District, adding that she feared that her new charges were just troublemakers. “But then I found that the children were actually miserable because they had been told they weren’t as good as the others,” more..

Sri Lanka have confirmed tour - Pakistan board

Dec 20 (CI) A senior Pakistan board official has said Sri Lanka have confirmed they will tour Pakistan next month in place of India, who called off their scheduled tour to the country on Thursday. Saleem Altaf, the PCB's chief operating officer, said Sri Lanka are expected to play three Tests, three ODIs and a Twenty20 game against Pakistan following their tour of Bangladesh, which ends on January 14. more..

Government takes care of escapees

Dec 20 (PISL) As the Security Forces progress in their efforts to regain control of the Northern Province, an increasing number of civilians are seeking refuge with the Government. The figure is rather lower than was hoped for, because people who want to move out from the conflict areas must defy the LTTE, but their restrictions are expected to be harder to enforce as time goes on. more..

Police officers jailed for contempt of court

Dec 20 (LT) Three senior police officers and a Grama Seva Niladari have been sentenced for contempt of court for not carrying out orders of the court. When Court had issued warrants to apprehend two suspects they had produced false reports stating that suspects had left the area while the suspects were actually hiding in residences of politicians. The police officers sentenced for five year jail terms by Puttalam High Court Judge more..

'Domestic games helped us warm up for tour'

Dec 20 (CI) Mahela Jayawardene says Sri Lanka are prepared for the series in Bangladesh and ready for the challenge they expect from Bangladesh. Sri Lanka have not played Test cricket for over three months but the players were involved in the domestic season back home. "Most of the guys had four to five games under their belt before they came here. So the preparation has been really good", more..

War against the Sri Lankan judiciary

Dec 20 (UPI) The Supreme Court of Sri Lanka in a judgment on December 17, considered controversial, ordered a reduction in petrol prices and said that it should be implemented on the same day. The government, on the other hand, declared that it would not implement the court’s ruling and referred it as contrary to its war effort against the LTTE. Furthermore, as per reports of a Cabinet meeting, the president also called on the government to oppose the court. more..

Sri Lanka says looking at alternative external financing

Dec 20 (Reuters) Sri Lanka on Friday said it is looking at "alternate sources" of external financing after a sovereign rating cut this week that analysts expected would cause borrowing costs to surge even higher. The $32 billion economy has been struggling with a series of economic woes that have been masked by recent military progress in a 25-year war with separatist rebels, including a balance of payment crisis, a fall in foreign currency reserves and slowing economic growth. more..

New Rs. 100 million Hotel Project in Batticaloa

Dec 20 (BOI) The Board of Investment of Sri Lanka granted investment approval to establish a Hotel in Kallady, Batticaloa under the Eastern Development Project. Dr Sarath Amunugama, Minister of Enterprise Development and Investment Promotion formally presented the BOI Certificate of Registrations to Mr. K. Luxshman. Mr. Dhammika Perera, Chairman signed the agreement on behalf of the BOI. more..

Steering Committee inspects BOI International Buddhist Centre at Piliyandala

Dec 20 (BOI) The 10th meeting of the Steering Committee was held at the International Buddhist Centre located at Piliyandala to conduct an on site inspection to ascertain the progress undertaken on the project. The Steering Committee of this important project is chaired by Mr. H.M.B. Ratnasiri, Secretary, Ministry of Enterprise Development and Investment Promotion, A.D.S Gunawardhane, Secretary Ministry of Irrigation and Water Management, more..

The work on Sri Lanka’s first ever Safari Park commences today

Dec 20 (LP) The work of Sri Lanka’s first Safari Park will commence today with the participation of Minister of Sports and Public Recreation Gamini Lokuge. The Safari park is due to be built in an area of 500 acres in Ambalanthota Ridiyagama in the Hambantota district by the Department of Zoological Gardens under the Ministry of Sports and Public Recreation. The Safari Park will be an ideal place for animal lovers, students in the Zoological field and more..

Hard life for Sri Lankan refugees in India

Sri Lanka unit of Indian oil cuts petrol price on court order

Dec 20 (LBO) Lanka IOC, a unit of Indian Oil Corporation is cutting the retail price of petrol to 100 rupees a litre on an order by Sri Lanka's Supreme Court, an official said Friday. "Our lawyers have advised us to cut the price," Lanka IOC chief executive Suresh Kumar said. "We have started informing the outlets from around 8.00 p.m." Lanka IOC usually piggy backs on the price of state-run Ceylon Petroleum Corporation (CPC). more..

Sri Lanka govt says enough fuel stocks available

Dec 20 (LBO) Sri Lanka's state-owned Ceylon Petroleum Corporation has enough stocks and it is continuing to supply fuel stations, a minister said, while a court directive to cut prices remains to be implemented. Information minister Anura Yapa said the CPC is sending 160 fuel bowsers to fuel stations island-wide. This should help eliminate the current fuel shortage, he told a news conference. more..

UNP to take people to streets over petrol price

Dec 20 (LD) UNP MP Ravi Karunanayake has warned of street protests if the government failed to abide by a court ruling for bringing down the petrol price. "The Supreme Court ruling for reducing the petrol price to Rs. 100 is yet to be enforced. The government is playing the role of a black-marketer. The government has completely tarnished the respect of the judiciary," he said. He also said, "The government should immediately correct that mistake and reduce the petrol price. Or else, more..

We stand above party politics – CJ

Dec 20 (LD) The Chief Justice Sarath N. Silva speaking at a human rights function at the BMICH said the judiciary stands firmly above partisan politics, though a determination of the Supreme Court had been dragged into a political tussle. "Today I saw rows of people standing in queues at petrol sheds. I felt sorry for that situation and thought I am also responsible in a way for that situation. But I must say, we have made all those determinations outside partisan politics." the CJ said. more..

Tea industry 'in danger'

Dec 20 (BBC) Small tea holders in Sri Lanka have called on the authorities to take immediate measures to prevent industry collapsing. Nearly 4000 protesters marched in Ratnapura town on Friday with posters and plucked tea and tea bushes. They accused the government of neglecting the plight of the hundreds of thousands of workers in tea industry, whose future is in stake. The protest was organised by Small Tea Holders Association. more..

Kingsley T Wickramaratne - A true son of Sri Lanka remembered in Sweden

Dec 20 (AT) With much grievance in our hearts, we have learned our friend Kingsley T Wickramaratne who was a true Sri Lankan has passed away. A person of social and cultural knowledge with its unique dimensions, a human resource with international network contacts and bound with intelligence. It has been a privilege to have him as a friend throughout one’s life. more..

Criminal Destruction of Education

Dec 20 (AT) The injustices meted out to the entire generation of students in our country have been in the news for the last several years and the entire nation has been helpless to do anything about it. Let me confine myself to the mathematics paper only, even though all science subjects at school need upgrading unlike Arts subjects that remain static. It is clear that if a subject needs upgrading the syllabus has to be changed gradually at school to meet more..

Catholic Bishops appeal for ceasefire during Christmas-what a farce?

Dec 20 (AT) Terrorism has taken its toll of damages both to civilians, religious places of worship of Hindus, Buddhists and Muslims as well as government property through a period of near 30 years. Even though we saw JVP brutality in the early 1970s when they took the law into their hands "once upon a time", Prabhakaran’s LTTE brutality has far outshone that of the JVP. more..