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Media chairmen fishing around

Dec 21 (LB) Rumours were doing the rounds last week that Lake House Chairman Bandula Padmakumara and Sri Lanka Broadcasting Corporation Chairman Hudson Samarasinghe are seeking new posts besides their existing responsibilities. The rumours say that Lake House Chairman Bandula Padmakumara is expected to undertake a consultancy post in a rival newspaper while continuing as head of Lake House. more..

Hemin hemin Mihin — a new Boss’s tenuous grasp

Dec 21 (LB) The controversial budget airline Mihin Lanka commenced its operations in the early part of this year with the objective of providing reasonable air-fares for people who are budget conscious. The airline was terminated due to it being a burden on the citizens of the country. However, ironically the airline was restarted with a cash injection of Rs.6 billion from the 2009 budget, with a promise to show profit shortly. more..

TMVP splits -- Karuna forms new party

Dec 21 (LB) The Tamil Makkal Viduthalai Pulikal (TMVP) yesterday split as Karuna Amman formed a new political party called the Thamil Makkal Viduthalai Kooddani (TMVK). When contacted, the Secretary of the TMVP Thaileshwara Raja said “we are aware that Karuna Amman had formed a new political party, but the TMVP will remain unchanged and Pilleyan will take over the leadership in the party”. more..

Mihin: Planes one, passengers none

Dec 21 (SL) Chamal Rajapakse may be fantasising about an administrative office for the Ports Authority at a five star hotel but his other responsibility, Mihin Lanka, is set to lose millions as it runs into another spot of bother over the recent wet lease of an aircraft. Despite the enchantment that obviously surrounds the name - at least for Rajapakse loyalists, Mihin Lanka is doomed to stay grounded, at least for the rest of this year. more..

Bogollagama busts Rs. 76 mn in one year on air travel

Dec 21 (SL) The suave, elegant Minister of Foreign Affairs, Rohitha Bogollagama has been flying high during the year 2007, and the financial cost of his official flying together with his entourages amounts to a mammoth Rs. 76 million. The actual cost for flying to 26 destinations during the past year is Rs.76,178,113 to be exact. But here is the brow raising fact; for all that travel, there is a budgetary process. more..

Taking the DLB to the cleaners

Dec 21 (SL) The alleged wastage and poor financial management that caused a sharp decline in profit and revenue, controversial acquisition of vehicles and sewing machines by the Development Lotteries Board (DLB) under the chairmanship of Sarana Gunawardena, presently a Gampaha District parliamentarian has now come before the Committee on Public Enterprise (COPE) for a full probe. more..

Govt.'s double standards

Dec 21 (SL) In this country it is a given right - uncontested - for the ruling party to plunder and rob public property and funds. Such people belong to a minimum of five categories. The inner circle of the party leader; businessmen who maintain top politicos financially; front line supporters close to the party leadership; businessmen who support the group who are close to the party leadership; and businessmen who extend their nominal support to the party. more..

Sri Lanka refuses to sign UN declaration de-criminalising homosexuality

Dec 21 (TC) Sri Lanka has refused to sign a historic UN declaration that urges member-states to decriminalize homosexuality. Sixty six countries were signatories to this UN declaration which condemns all forms of violence against homosexual persons and urges UN member states to take necessary measures to put an end to all criminal penalties against them. Homosexuality is an offence under the Penal Code in Sri Lanka and carries a punishment of upto two years in prison. more..

People and the War

Dec 21 (AT) In wars those who tell the unvarnished truth usually end up being castigated by both sides. In the Lankan conflict that has been the fate of organisations such as the University Teachers for Human Rights, the Amnesty International and the Human Rights Watch. All three has a record of exposing abuses against the civilian population in the conflict zone, irrespective of the identity of the perpetrators. more..

Senior Tiger commander from East "Col" Ramesh injured in Kilinochchi

Dec 21 (TC) Latest reports from the Kilinocchi battlefront stated that one of the senior tiger commanders “Colonel” Ramesh sustained injuries in fighting on Saturday December 20th. The incident occurred in the Murigandy – Iranaimadhu area of Kilinochchi district when the LTTE launched a “commando” type raid on military positions. The attack which amounted to an effective counterstrike succeeded in pushing military positions two km back claimed pro–tiger websites. more..

Aerial attacks on civilians on the increase - LTTE

Dec 21 (LG) "Two aerial attacks on 17 December in Kilinochchi in the Hudson Road area and another two aerial attacks in Mullaithivu in Mullivaikal on 19 December, all targeting heavily populated areas killed a baby and two more civilians and injured seven children and 17 more civilians, THE Political Wing of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam said in a statement. more..

Heavy fighting continues

Dec 21 (DW) The casualties to both sides has drastically increased in what is termed the "last fight". Scores of Tigers and close to 200 soldiers have been killed in about 10 days of fighting. 53 SLA bodies fell into the LTTE at fighting in Paranthan, Nilvil etc along the L-shaped bund breached by the Army in this time period. The bund, sometimes 20 feet tall, is heavily manned by tigers armed with MPMGs and HMGs. more..

Mere words will not get votes Mr. President

Dec 21 (LG) Our President seems to have taken for granted that the Sri Lankan voters are buffalos, cows, goats, and asses. I can remember during my school days when we wanted to bring the calf back to the garden what we did was to take a bundle of grass, show it to the calf and dropped a little of it on the ground to entice the calf. When it came close we repeated the process until the calf came into the garden and then closed the gate. more..

Sri Lanka Air Force throws its might behind largest ever anti-LTTE operation

Dec 21 (LNP) The SLAF has thrown almost all its assets in support of the largest ever operation launched against the LTTE. The action spearheaded by the Katunayake-based jet squadrons and Mi-24 helicopter gunships operating from bases situated near the area of operations had caused immense damage to the enemy, a senior SLAF official said. He said that operations had been primarily directed at LTTE fortifications, gun positions, communication facilities and more..

Cable breaks cut Internet in Mideast, South Asia including Sri Lanka

Dec 21 (LNP) Breaks in submarine cables which link Europe and the Middle East disrupted Internet and international telephone services in parts of the Middle East and South Asia, officials said. The disruption reduced Egypt`s Internet capacity by about 80 percent and technicians were restoring some capacity by diverting communications traffic through the Red Sea, said a Communications Ministry official who asked not to be named. more..

Knickers in a twist

Dec 21 (LNP) The government has well and truly got its knickers in a twist over the petrol price issue. The decision of Lanka Indian Oil Corporation to sell at Rs. 100 a liter from midnight Friday/Saturday, reportedly after consultation with its lawyers, has placed the government and the fully state-owned Ceylon Petroleum Corporation, which acts on government directives, in a king-sized fix. What is CPC going to do now? more..

2009 – The year of English and ICT

Dec 21 (LP) 2009 year has been declared as the year of English and Information and Communication Technology (ICT) education in order to improve and enhance the skills in Sri Lanka. In order to achieve these objectives government has initiated various programmes around the country to offer access to even those in the rural areas to gain the maximum advantages. The Presidential Task Force committee sent 41 senior English teachers to the Language University in Hyderabad for a 3 month English training programme. more..

Lanka’s petrol price crisis blazes

Dec 21 (SAMN) The government’s dilemma over enforcing a Supreme Court order to lower the price of petrol worsened Saturday as the Lanka-India Oil Company (LIOC) recorded unprecedented sales after it complied with the order and reduced the price to Rs. 100 a litre. In marked contrast to the actions of the Indian-owned company, the state-owned Ceylon Petroleum Corporation (CPC) is yet to comply with the ruling and is selling petrol at Rs. 122 a litre. more..

EU-Lanka talks next month on GSP +

Dec 21 (SAMN) The European Commission and Sri Lanka will meet next month when Colombo will be able to press its case further for a continuation of the GSP Plus trade concession. The new European Trade Commissioner, Catherine Ashton, who succeeded Peter Mandelson after he joined the Gordon Brown cabinet, has agreed to meet a Sri Lanka delegation in late January to discuss the GSP Plus issue, EU sources said. more..

Lanka to make massive seabed claim

Dec 21 (SAMN) Sri Lanka is now busy preparing its case to demand 23 times its current size from the continental shelf of the Southern Bengal Fan, with an eye on exploiting the vast seabed resources in the newly claimed area in the future, authoritative sources said Saturday. The enhanced area to be claimed extends eastward to the north-south undersea ridge lying at the 90th parallel and in the south it would extend some 700 miles from the southern coast. more..

How NGOs threaten sovereignty of State

Dec 21 (SO) The Chairman of the Committee and JVP MP Vijitha Herath, who made startling observations about activities of some of the leading INGOs and NGOs, said that some of them are supporting the LTTE directly and indirectly, but the prevailing laws do not have enough teeth to bring them to book. He told the 'Sunday Observer' that some of these NGOs are threat to the sovereignty of the country and more..

Drunk driving high among women

Dec 21 (SAMN) Sri Lanka in recent years has seen an increase in the number of women drivers – but the bad news now is that a growing number of these women are driving under the influence of alcohol. Therefore, the police are to deploy women constables along with their male counterparts to have a check on female motorists driving under the influence of alcohol, the police spokesman said Saturday. more..

TRO collects Rs. 60 m in August

Dec 21 (SO) Despite stringent measures to freeze funds of the Tamil Rehabilitation Organisation (TRO) a LTTE front organisation, it has raised over Rs. 60 million in August this year. Chairman of the Parliamentary Committee appointed to probe the activities of the INGOs and NGOs, JVP MP Vijitha Herath said that out of over Rs. 4 billion raised by the TRO for post tsunami activities, only Rs. 55,000,000 are in its Accounts. more..

No more rubber imports

Dec 21 (SO) Import of rubber will be stopped, said Minister of Plantation Industries D.M. Jayaratna. He said the ban on the import of rubber was a decision taken by the Plantation Ministry to solve the crisis in the rubber and tea industries. "Sri Lanka produces ten times, the country's requirement of rubber and there is no need to import rubber as a raw material. About 3,000 mt of rubber were imported from Malaysia, Indonesia and India", he said. more..

Sunday Crime: Nisansala never returned home

Dec 21 (SO) D. Piyum Nisansala (15) was a cheerful teenage school girl who took part in extra curricular activities in her school. She was a grade 6 student at the Prajapathi Gothami Girls' School at Ambalangoda and a keen netball player who attended regular practice sessions at her school. She lived with her mother Pushpa Wasanthi, her brother and sister at Thewatte- Thalgasgoda in the Ambalangoda area. She was the eldest in her family. more..

UNP rebels disappointed with ‘recent reforms’

Dec 21 (NS) While expressing their disappointment over the ‘recent reforms’ of the party, a leading figure of the UNP rebels group said that the main intention of Leader Ranil Wickremesinghe to appoint Karu Jayasuriya as Deputy Leader and Rukman Senanayake as Assistance Leader was to control the party ‘as he wishes.’ He told The Nation that although they could not change the leadership of the party yet, it was they who paved the way for Karu Jayasuriya to return to the party as deputy leader. more..

'Even the judiciary which interprets the law isn’t above the law'

Dec 21 (NS) The Nation spoke with senior Attorney-at-Law Gomin Dayasri for a legal perspective on the current stalemate between the judiciary and the cabinet over the Supreme Court order to reduce the price of petrol to Rs. 100, which the government has so far refused to do. Following are excerpts: Q: The current impasse the country is facing with regard to the non implementation by the cabinet of the Supreme Court judgment on fuel prices, more..

'Uproar over new O/L Math paper politically motivated'

Dec 21 (NS) Consequent to the uproar made over the GCE O/L Math paper, the Education Ministry has once again come under the public’s microscope. The matter has now incited public forums and debates, where the quandary faced by the students is gradually pushed aside to make room for political banter. In this context, The Nation met with Education Minister Susil Premajayantha to more..

Christmas in a war zone

Dec 21 (NS) Amidst the cheer, the bright lights and shopping festivals that are now part and parcel of the season of Christmas, those of living in the comfort of Colombo and other urban areas find it easy to forget the tragedies unfolding in another part of this conflicted land. The last three Christmases in Sri Lanka have been tainted with the shades of violence and displacement, as government troops fight a last ditch battle against the LTTE. more..

"Guard your tongue," Mahanayake advices SB

Dec 21 (Island) "You have the opportunity for success. But guard your tongue", Most Venerable Mahanayake of Asgiriya, Udugama Sri Buddharakkitha Thera advised S. B. Dissanayake, UNP National Organiser and Chief Ministerial Candidate at the forthcoming Central Provincial Council Poll. Mr. Dissanayake told the prelates that his salvation is the Mahanayake Theros and that he was ready to follow their advice. more..

UNP ridicules claim that petrol taxes funds the war

Dec 21 (Island) The UNP yesterday ridiculed the much publicized claim that there was a conspiracy to deny tax revenue to State coffers and it would directly affect the war on LTTE terror. Dr. Jayalath Jayawardene, MP, said that this was far from the truth. The government was trying to deceive the people by claiming that reduction of taxes on petrol would deny the State the funds required to prosecute the war against the LTTE. more..

Look what’s happening at that ‘place in Battaramulla’: Rienzie

Dec 21 (Island) HNB Chairman Rienzie Wijetillake, the country’s most senior banker, Friday said he did not agree with the oft stated dictum that "people are the greatest asset in an organization." This, he said, was a "misnomer." "If so how can organizations like the CTB and the Petroleum Corporation with thousands of people fail?" he asked. "And what about that other place in Battaramulla with 225 people? What do they do?" (laughter) more..

'Birds, a major indicator to environment'

Dec 21 (Island) ‘Changing housing habits of humans and their changing lifestyles are adversely impacting some of Sri Lanka’s bird species, for example, the common House Sparrow and are proving adequately the close link between human activity and tendencies in the bird kingdom’, Professor of Environment Science, University of Colombo, Dr. Sarath Kotagama said. Our present tendency to build roofs with concealed rafters, for example, is driving away this popular sparrow species. more..

Supreme Court goes to the people

Dec 21 (ST) The judiciary and the executive appear to be heading for a standoff over further lowering of fuel prices as shortages countrywide created chaos this week. Following Monday's order by a three-judge Supreme Court bench headed by Chief Justice Sarath N. Silva, the public, already burdened by the skyrocketing cost of living, awaited a further price drop. The Court had asked the Treasury to compute a formula where the tax and levies should not exceed 100% on the basis of a barrel of crude oil being US $ 56.5. more..

Mortar monsoon, fiercest battles knee-deep in mud

Dec 21 (ST) Last Tuesday, some 7000 troops fought the Tiger guerrillas in what was their fiercest battle ever in the ongoing Eelam War IV. Their major thrust, with enormous firepower, was directed at regaining control of Kilinochchi, until months ago the political power centre of the LTTE. Troops fought pitched battles in five different fronts. The guerrillas, who have now begun to throw their hardcore cadres into battle, offered stiff resistance to prevent the fall of Kilinochchi. more..

Hotels see stars as gloom hits New Year’s eve

Dec 21 (ST) There will be less to celebrate for Sri Lankans in the coming weeks over Christmas and the passing away of 2008 and the birth of 2009. If the main cause is the snowballing effect of the global economic meltdown, many domestic issues have only compounded the situation even further. One of the immediate effects of the global downturn is the drastic drop in tourist arrivals. more..

Deadline extended for tsunami housing projects

Dec 21 (ST) The target date for completion of post-tsunami housing projects and resolving of issues relating to housing has been further extended, Nation Building and Estate Infrastructure Development Ministry Additional Secretary R. Tharmakulasingham, told The Sunday Times. He said that following a meeting at the Presidential Secretariat on Thursday it has been decided to declare March, 2009 as the target date to complete most of the unfinished projects. more..

Report: 60 Sri Lankan soldiers killed in fighting

Dec 21 (AP) Tamil Tiger rebels killed 60 Sri Lankan troops advancing toward their de facto capital, a pro-rebel report said. The government said 12 soldiers died. Meanwhile, the government said its troops captured the strategic village of Nedunkerni in the northeast on Sunday. Clashes have intensified in recent weeks as the military continues a major push to capture the rebel headquarters and fulfill a promise to end the 25-year civil war. more..

President lauds Lankan security forces

Dec 21 (ZN) Lauding the Sri Lankan military as a "shining example" of courage, President Mahinda Rajapaksa has said that it had come a long way from confronting the LTTE suicide bombers to capturing key rebel-held areas even as he cautioned against "unscrupulous" elements trying to destroy the nation in the "garb" of rights activists. "They (Sri Lankan forces) have overcome many arduous tasks and more..

Lanka's decision to shun UN gay rights resolution flayed

Dec 21 (IANS) A gay rights activist has flayed the Sri Lankan government for refusing to sign a 'historic UN declaration' that urges member-states to decriminalize homosexuality. Sherman de Rose, director and founder of 'Companion on a Journey', has reportedly said they strongly oppose the move by the government on the UN homosexual declaration, which was approved by 60 member states who had urged UN member states to take necessary measures to end all criminal penalties against homosexual people. more..

Political hypocrisy on taxation condemned

Dec 21 (LBO) The lavish perks enjoyed by politicians who get tax-free benefits, while preaching 'patriotism' to the common man, have been slammed by the island's influential Sunday weeklies in one voice, as the government dragged its feet over a court order to cut petrol taxes. Supreme Court ordered the government to cut taxes and reduce the price of petrol from 122 to 100 rupees a litre at a time when the international wholesale price of petrol is only about 25 rupees a litre. more..

Mushfiqur confident of tackling Muralitharan

Dec 22 (CI) Bangladesh wicketkeeper Mushfiqur Rahim is confident his batsmen can negate the threat of Muttiah Muralitharan in the upcoming two-Test series at home against Sri Lanka, starting on Friday in Dhaka. "The Sri Lankan bowling has a lot of variety especially in the longer-version game but without any doubt, Murali is the main threat," Mushfiqur said. "It was not so easy to read his doosra but what I feel is that now we can read it much better." more..

Ads focus on abuse of foreign servants by Saudis

Dec 22 (WP) In each ad, the servants are depicted as animals. In one, a woman in the back seat of a car tugs on reins attached to a bit in her Indian driver's mouth. In another, an Ethiopian maid kneels inside a doghouse in front of a bowl full of bones as her employer holds a leash around her neck. The public service campaign recently launched in Saudi Arabia highlights the abuse of foreign domestic workers and urges their employers to treat them more humanely. more..

Qadir confident of strong show against Sri Lanka

Dec 22 (CI) Abdul Qadir, the Pakistan chief selector and former legspinner, has said the national team will turn in a strong performance in the Sri Lanka series despite not playing any Tests in the last year. "We are aiming to raise a strong team for the series against Sri Lanka," Qadir told the News on Friday. "Our aim is to help Pakistan gain a place among the top-two Test teams and want to start taking steps towards that direction with this series." more..

Airtel launch plans in Sri Lanka delayed

Dec 22 (IANS) The launch plans of the Sri Lankan arm of leading Indian mobile operator, Bharti Airtel Lanka (Airtel), has reportedly been delayed as the Indian parent company 'has still not granted sanction to start operations'. Airtel, rated one of the best performing companies in the world, was awarded last year the licence to provide 2G and 3G mobile services in Sri Lanka. more..

On media rights post-Sunanda

Dec 22 (LG) The Centre for Policy Alternatives (CPA) issued a statement yesterday (December 19, 2008), announcing that Sunanda Deshapriya, former Director and former Head of the Media Unit, associated with CPA since 2002, has resigned with immediate effect, that he has personally returned in full, the money owed to the organisation after an investigation into financial anomalies of a project he was responsible for. more..

UNP office attacked in Galewela

Dec 22 (LG) In the first election related violence ahead of the Central Provincial poll a UNP office was attacked in the Galewela area of the Matale district during the early hours of Sunday. UNP Matale District organizer, Ranjith Aluvihare told Timesonline that persons had arrived in three vehicles, one of them without a number plate and damaged sign board of the office located in the Galewela town. more..

36 low-quality drugs in govt. hospitals

Dec 22 (LD) During the past two years, 36 drugs issued to government hospitals have been withdrawn after lab tests proved them to be of low quality, Secretary of the Prof. Senaka Bibile Commemmorative Organization, Dr. Jayantha Bandara said. Speaking at a media briefing in Colombo yesterday (Dec. 19th), he said that several drugs had already expired when they were withdrawn thus. more..

'Amend' Muslim marriage laws

Dec 22 (BBC) Child rights activists in Sri Lanka have called on the authorities to amend prevailing legal regulations that allow Muslim children as young as 12 years to marry. Prof. Harendra de Silva, a senior paediatrician and former head of Child Protection Authority (CPA) told BBC Sinhala service that politicians are reluctant to change the law due to the sensitive nature of the issue. more..

'Lesbians and gay joining to establish classless society'

Dec 22 (LG) The human rights day 10th Dec this year passed without much publicity in the media. We cannot blame the media as the pressure from the chauvinist regime is heavy on them. Human and civil rights organizations too are subjected to this pressure. They are virtually forced to go low key by the state. Many are accused of terrorism; rest is accused of corruption. more..