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More than 100 killed in fighting: Tigers

Dec 23 (AFP) Tamil Tiger rebels claimed killing at least 100 government soldiers on Monday while beating back a fresh offensive against their besieged political capital in the island's north. The LTTE repulsed a two-pronged assault against the town of Kilinochchi after seven hours of fighting, a senior Tiger official, S. Puleedevan said. He told the pro-rebel Tamilnet website that they also wounded more than 250 government troops, but did not give details of rebel casualties. more..

Rajapaksa serves ultimatum on LTTE

Dec 23 (Hindu) President Mahinda Rajapaksa served an ultimatum on the LTTE on Monday to either “free” the citizens stranded in the war zone in the north by January 1 or face a formal ban by the government. Addressing a gathering at the presidential palace here, Mr. Rajapaksa accused the Tigers of using innocent citizens as “human shields” and said that if the LTTE did not allow civilians to cross over to the “safe areas’ it would face proscription. more..

Traditional fare a must for Lankans

Dec 23 (TP) As residents move into the festive spirit, Sri Lankans here are also preparing to celebrate Christmas with their own traditional food. The festive season is like a magic blanket that wraps itself about us, it is a glorious time for feasting on Sri Lankan goodies, said residents here. “Along with all traditions, we will definitely have our ethnic food. This will make us feel at home,” said Shirani Daniel. more..

Tamil Nadu’s political leadership barking up the wrong tree

Dec 23 (TS) “The Indian Government would never influence Sri Lanka to restore the ceasefire and it would not listen to the political “jokers” of Tamil Nadu.” So goes the free-wheeling interview to Colombo’s Sunday Observer by Sri Lanka’s foot-in-the-mouth Army Commander Lt. General Sarath Fonseka. This has left the Tamil Nadu political leadership red in the face and they are demanding the expulsion of the Sri Lankan High Commissioner from New Delhi if the General does not tender an unconditional apology. more..

15 unions in Water Board in trade union action against slashing of bonus

Dec 23 (LT) Employees of Water Supply and Drainage Board belonging to 15 trade unions of the Board will withdraw from their duties and engage in trade union action today (22nd) protesting against nonpayment of bonus for the employees. The majority of employees have opposed the move to change the existing system of paying an equal bonus for all employees and all trade unions of the Board have demanded that bonus paid should be equal to all employees. more..

Sri Lanka spends a billion dollars on interventions

Dec 23 (LBO) Sri Lanka has spent 266 million US dollars intervening in foreign exchange markets in November, taking the total over the past three months to over a billion dollars, the latest official data has revealed. November interventions of 266.48 million US dollars were much smaller than the 587.7 million spent in October by the central bank to defend a 'soft' peg with the US dollar, first at 108.00 and then at 110.00 rupees. more..

Will EPC succeed to gain its due devolved powers?

Dec 23 (MG) The Eastern Provincial Council has reached an important milestone in its journey towards acquiring maximum powers under the 13th amendment of the Constitution within a short period of its political formation. The Eastern Provincial Council has enacted its first statute recently and by this provincial statute the Council will be levying stamp duties and other revenues that could be levied by the Council from 01/01/2009. more..

Govt and Supreme Court clash over fuel pricing

Dec 23 (wsws) A ruling by the Supreme Court on December 17 to order a reduction in petrol prices is turning into a confrontation with the government. The cabinet has failed to cut the price of fuel sold by the state-owned Ceylon Petroleum Corporation (CPC), even though the court's deadline expired days ago. The result is growing chaos. Last Friday, the Lanka Indian Oil Corporation (LIOC), CPC's only competitor, agreed to lower the price of petrol to 100 rupees a litre as required by the Supreme Court. more..

How Sunanda ate fire

Dec 23 (LeN) Media organizations and NGOs are panicked after leading media and NGO figure Sunanda Deshapriya had to leave the Center for Policy Alternatives (CPA) after paying back the money he was charged of defrauding. We go beyond the media policy of being tight lipped when a media organization chief was caught in a fraud and begin a discussion regarding the incidents preceding and following this revelation. more..

An Indian Deligation Meets Minister Devananda

Dec 23 (LG) An Indian delegation comprising of Mr. Balwant Singh Khera, Chairman Malta Boat Tragedy Probe Mission, two other office bearers Mr. Gurvinda Singh and Mr. Kuldeep Singh met Mr. Douglas Devananda, Minister of Social Services and Social Welfare at his office on yesterday, Mr. M.K.P. Chandralal, Chairman, Malta Boat Tragedy Probe Mission (Sri Lanka Chapter) also participated at this meeting. more..

Freedom of journalism betrayed

Dec 23 (LG) Journalist Deshapriya who acted as the chief of the media section of the CPA as well as the spokesman of the Free Media Movement, is also alleged to have been found guilty for swindling Rs. 200,000 and probes are underway regarding frauds amounting millions of rupees. Deshapriya, an ex-JVPer, drifted from jail into the NGO world and was joined by the late Mr. Charles' Abeysekera (a former officer of the Sri Lanka Administrative Service, and more..

Intense fighting on five different fronts in Kilinochchi: 160 killed, 350 injured on both sides

Dec 23 (TC) Intense fighting that began in the Kilinochchi sector around dawn on Monday December 22nd 2008 continues to rage even after nightfall, informed sources said. Nearly 160 have been killed and more than 350 injured from both thew Sri Lankan armed forces as well as the LTTE the sources said. The fighting on Monday morning commenced following a massive operation being launched by the 57 and 58 divisions of the Army on fife different fronts. more..

'Aborigines in Dambana will be treasured'

Dec 23 (LP) Minister of Housing Geethanjana Gunawardena said that special attention of the government is focused on the conservation of the Aborigines and Rs 50 million has been allocated with this in mind. The Minister also said that through the conservation programme the natural environment, the normal life style and the livelihood of the aborigines will be preserved. The Minister made these obsevations as he made a visit to the village of the aborigines to inquire on their problems. more..

Compost plants for several areas

Dec 23 (LP) In keeping with “Pilisaru” National Solid Waste Management programme, the Central Environment Authority (CEA) is scheduled to build compost plants in Kolonnawa, Kandy ,Kalutara, and Negombo. Chairman of Central Environment Authority (CEA) Udaya Gammanpila said that an Agreement on the construction of the Kolonnawa compostion plant is due to be signed between the Kolonnawa Urban Council and CEA shortly. more..

Golden Key Fraud in Sri Lanka

Dec 23 (LNP) In the wake of the latest developments regarding the Golden Key Credit Card Company Ltd, the Founder Chairman of Ceylinco Consolidated, Dr. Lalith Kotelawala assured its customers payments and protection for its card holders. The Chairman stated that on Friday that he sought the advice of legal counsel and consulted the authorities including the CID because the Chief Executive Director of the Golden Key Credit Card Co. Ltd, S. Khavan M. Perera, admitted to more..

'3 arms of Govt. should work together'

Dec 23 (SAMN) President Mahinda Rajapaksa stressed that an understanding among the Legislature, the Executive and the Judiciary was a prerequisite for good governance. The Executive should not try to grab the powers of the Legislature, and likewise the other arms of government should also not seek to grab the powers of any other. more..

Deep sea fishing developed under BOI agreement

Dec 23 (BOI) The Board of Investment of Sri Lanka granted investment approval to Deshan International Imports and Exports to set up a project to undertake deep sea fishing and allied products for export. Mr. Dhammika Perera, Chairman signed the agreement on behalf of the BOI and formally presented the BOI Certificate of Registrations to the investor. Mr. Dhammika Perera stated that the BOI encourages more local investors to invest in the local fishing industry. more..

Luxury housing scheme will be built in Puttalam

Dec 23 (BOI) The Board of Investment of Sri Lanka granted investment approval for three new projects. Mr. Dhammika Perera signed the agreements on behalf of the BOI and formally presented the BOI Certificate of Registrations to the investors. Kings Estate (Private) Limited signed the agreement to construct a luxury housing scheme in the Puttalam District. The housing scheme is an initial investment of US $ 650,000 and will be comprised of 35 luxury houses. more..

Battle in TMVP over tiger tailpiece

Dec 23 (SAMN) The crisis in the TMVP camp deepened further Monday with TMVP spokesman Azath Maulana saying the change of name of the party as proposed by its former leader and parliamentarian Karuna Amman will not be accepted. Maulana said the final decision on any issue regarding the party could be taken only by its 11-member politburo and not by Karuna or Eastern Province Chief Minister Sivanesathurain Chandrakanthan alias Pillayan. more..

Susantha de Alwis passes away

Dec 23 (SAMN) Former Sri Lankan Ambassador to the US Susantha de Alwis passed away last Saturday at his residence in Bambalapitiya, after a brief illness. He was 76. A career diplomat in the Sri Lanka Foreign Service, De Alwis has served as Assistant High Commissioner for Sri Lanka in Madras (1962-66); Charge d'Affaires of the Sri Lanka Embassy, Indonesia; First Secretary of Sri Lanka Embassy in Washington, USA (1970-74); Ambassador to the United Nations, Geneva (1974-78); more..

New house for family living in cave

Dec 23 (SAMN) The story of a destitute family living in a cave at Higurana in Damana Divisional Secretariat area in Ampara District has been revealed by the media recently. No sooner the Minister of Housing and Common Amenities, Mrs. Ferial Ashraff, got to know about this matter, she immediately instructed National Housing Development Authority to build a new house for the family of Mrs. U. G. Karunawathie and her five children, utilizing funds of the Janasevana Grant Housing Programme. more..

2009, year of 'victory for heroic soldiers'

Dec 23 (LD) "The year 2009 will be the year when our motherland would be finally liberated from the LTTE," President Mahinda Rajapaksa said. The President was speaking on victories achieved this year and goals for the new year to a gathering of religious dignitaries, intellectuals, professionals, politicians, artistes and others at the Presidential Secretariat in Colombo yesterday (Dec. 22nd). more..

Another 100 killed in Kilinochchi but differing claims

Dec 23 (LD) Military sources officially said the LTTE had lost heavily in their defence of Kilinochchi on Sunday to Monday attacks by the SL army backed by SLAF air raids on target, but LTTE sources disclaimed such damage and claimed the army lost 100 soldiers in battle. The defence website reported the 582 Brigade extended their defenses destroying LTTE strong points observed in general area 'Nivil' on Sunday. more..

Cabinet meets to discuss petrol price

Dec 23 (LD) The Cabinet will take a final decision on the Supreme Court ruling on the petrol price at a meeting to be chaired by President Mahinda Rajapaksa at Temple Trees this evening. A senior official of the Presidential Secretariat predicted the meeting could be a heated one as the ministers themselves have two opinions on the issue. The previous cabinet meeting held last week ended without a final decision being taken, as the written copy of the SC ruling was not handed over to the cabinet. more..

Sri Lanka port lures Emirates Shipping Line

Dec 23 (LBO) The Sri Lanka Ports Authority (SLPA) said it has struck a deal with Emirates Shipping Line to call at Colombo port. "The line is using Colombo as their hub port to serve the region," an SLPA statement said. Emirates Shipping Line will call at the state-owned Jaya Container Terminal with which it has entered into a long-term, exclusive Terminal Service Agreement. more..

Bombed bus on display

Dec 23 (DN) The CTB bus belonging to Kesbewa depot which was destroyed by an LTTE bomb explosion at the Piliyandala bus stand will be exhibited in Piliyandala and several other places today under the program initiated by the Government to educate the public on various killings of the innocent civilians and damage to property caused by the LTTE terrorists, media release issued by the Media Centre for National Security said yesterday. more..

Hakeem says he is being harassed on his assets

Dec 23 (DM) SLMC leader Rauff Hakeem charged that he is being harassed by the Inland Revenue officers as the government has got them to make an inquiry on his assets. The SLMC leader said this has been done because of the actions he took to unveil corruption in a state organization when he was the Chairman of the Parliamentary Select Committee on Public Accounts. more..

Five PS members cross over to SLFP

Dec 23 (DN) Five UNP members of the Patha Hewaheta Pradesheeya Sabha including its Vice Chairman have crossed over to the SLFP. They met Nation Building and Estate Infrastructure Development Minister S.M. Chandrasena at the annual convention of the Patha Hewaheta SLFP Central Organisation held at Hewaheta recently and promised to support the UPFA and ensure its victory at the forthcoming Central Provincial Council Election. more..

No reason for a petrol shortage - CPC Chairman

Dec 23 (Island) Action will be taken against petrol filling station owners who do not requisition sufficient stocks of petrol and create problems for motorists who come to purchase petrol Chairman Ceylon Petroleum Corporation, Asoka Thoradeniya said yesterday (22). The CPC was supplying sufficient stocks of petrol to the filling stations to meet the demand of the motorists at Rs. 122 per litre but more..

It's the ban stupid!

Dec 23 (Island) President Mahinda Rajapaksa has given the LTTE an ultimatum. Unless it releases the hapless civilians in its clutches before the end of this month, the government will ban it. There are hundreds of thousands of people languishing in the conflict zone, as the LTTE is using them as a human shield. The President's concern about the plight of the Vanni civilians is understandable and the LTTE deserves to be banned together with its criminal fronts. more..

Remembering those who perished

Dec 23 (DM) Acting Minister of Disaster Management and Human Rights, Rohana Dissanayake urged the people to observe a two-minute silence on December 26 of this month, by respecting those who have perished in natural disasters in Sri Lanka over the years. He made this appeal at an event held at the Disaster Management Centre yesterday to brief the media on the National Safety Day 2008. more..

Plea for aid to Sri Lanka displaced

Dec 23 (BBC) A rights group has urged Sri Lanka's government to allow aid agencies back into the country's rebel-held north where fighting has displaced thousands. Human Rights Watch has also urged the government to stop detaining Tamil civilians who have fled areas controlled by rebels. Aid workers were ordered out of the area in September for their "safety". The fate of civilians in the area has become a key issue as soldiers continue an offensive to crush the rebels. more..

Lanka IOC stations go dry after petrol price cut

Dec 23 (PTI) The petrol filling stations of Lanka IOC, a subsidiary of Indian Oil Corporation (IOC), are going dry following huge offtake after it decided to comply with the Supreme Court order to reduced petrol prices by around 18 per cent even as the gover nment debated the surprise order. “It is natural for some of our petrol filling stations to go dry after the decision as we supply only 5 lakh litres of petrol daily which meets only 20 per cent of the demand in Sri Lanka," more..

Minister dissolves interim Cricket board

Dec 23 (CI) Sri Lanka's sports minister Gamini Lokuge has dissolved the interim administration of Sri Lanka Cricket under the chairmanship of Arjuna Ranatunga. The minister said the decision was taken as the situation at SLC demanded an immediate change. Last week Ranatunga had sacked 16 SLC employees. They sought help from the minister who ordered that no decision should be taken without first consulting him. more..

When power is all that matters in TN

Dec 23 (EB) The recent fracas involving the Congress and the Viduthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi cadre on the Sri Lankan issue has again brought to the fore the divisions among the constituents of the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) and All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) fronts in Tamil Nadu. This state, more than any, has witnessed a proliferation of political parties, a majority of them caste-based. more..

'Sri Lanka hampers aid to displaced'

Dec 23 (AP) Sri Lankan civilians living in rebel-held areas are facing severe shortages of food, shelter and clean water due to government restrictions on aid workers in the region, an international rights group said Tuesday. The report from New York-based Human Rights Watch came amid a major government offensive against the Tamil Tiger rebels that has sparked bloody battles across the north and displaced more than 200,000 civilians, according to aid groups. more..

Tigers say no surrender despite setbacks

Dec 23 (Reuters) Sri Lanka's separatist Tamil Tigers on Tuesday vowed to fight on even if they lose more territory inside the area they want to establish as a separate nation for Sri Lanka's Tamil minority. In an e-mail interview from an undisclosed location in northern Sri Lanka, Balasingham Nadesan, political head of LTTE, said the group's "freedom struggle does not centre on a town or a city." more..

Humanitarian Tragedy In Sri Lanka

Dec 24 (CC) President Rajapaksha has said that the Government has created a humanitarian corridor for some 280,000 Tamils sandwiched between the two conflicting sides. The un-told suffering of the Tamil civilians is sadly some thing that hardly ever grabs the headline of the world news. The question is how many more need to die? Every one wants to talk about terrorism of the one side but if the President is so interested in the welfare of the Tamil citizens he more..

Wanni Tamil civilians denied relief and freedom of movement - HRW

Dec 24 (TC) The Sri Lankan government should stop arbitrarily detaining civilians fleeing fighting in the northern Wanni region and urgently allow humanitarian agencies to return to provide desperately needed aid, Human Rights Watch said in a new report released today. The 49-page report, “Besieged, Displaced, and Detained: The Plight of Civilians in Sri Lanka’s Wanni Region,” documents the Sri Lankan government’s responsibility for the plight of more..

No intellect born in universities - Vishwa Warnapala

Dec 24 (LD) Universities in the country may produce learned persons, but the prevailing culture within the system does not allow the creation of the intellect, Minister of Higher Education Prof. Vishwa Warnapala said. "Sri Lanka may have a 94 per cent literacy rate and the education system may be improving to international standards. However, the value of ethics is increasingly declining in the university system," he added. more..

ICRC worker gunned down in Jaffna

Dec 24 (LD) An employee of the Jaffna office of the International Committee of the Red Cross was shot dead by unidentified gunmen in Jaffna around 7.10 am today (Dec. 23rd), ICRC spokesperson Sarasi Wijeratna told 'Lanka Dissent'. The victim, identified as Suntharalingam Gengatharan (45) was a father of two and a resident of Karaveddi. He has been shot in his head in front of his office 100 metres from Nallur temple, while he was on his way there, reports say. more..

'Changing party in govt. over policies useless'

Dec 24 (LD) The country cannot be developed by forming 'a green government' in place of 'a blue government' or vice versa, leader of the United Socialist Party, Sirithunga Jayasuriya said. He was speaking as a guest speaker at the district convention of SLFP Mahajana Wing in Matara on Dec. 21st. Noting that this will not curb corruption, fraud and wastage in the country, Mr. Jayasuriya said that national policies should triumph over party politics. more..

'No decision' over fuel prices

Dec 24 (BBC) The Cabinet of Ministers have agred to postpone deciding whether to reduce fuel prices as per the Supreme Court order. Media minister Laxman Yapa Abeywardene told BBC Sandeshaya that the ministers will decide on further action as they meet next week. “The ministers will take a decision after considering the overall impact of the court decision on tax revenue,” he told more..

'Largest food convoy' sent to Vanni

Dec 24 (BBC) The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) said it has dispatched the largest food convoy since October to the displaced in Vanni. “The convoy delivered 870 tons of food, enough to feed over 230,000 people for a week, to Puthukkudiyiruppu,” a statement issued by WFP on Tuesday said. It was the eighth WFP food convoy to be sent, and the WFP said the next convoy of 829 tons of food items is being prepared to be sent to Vanni. more..

'Gaalu Samaya' begins today

Dec 24 (GDI) The "Gaalu Samaya" carnival will be held in Galle under the patronage of the President Mahinda Rajapaksa from today until December 26. An exhibition depicting the history and the heritage of Galle will be held at the Galle Town Hall auditorium while seminars and workshops will also be held simultaneously. This event has been organized on the initiative of Agriculture Minister Hemakumara Nanayakkara. more..

Sri Lanka to become Middle Income country by 2016

Dec 24 (GDI) The Government expects to bring Sri Lanka to middle income level by raising the annual per capita income to Rs. 485,000 by 2016 by increasing the Gross National Product with a minimum annual growth rate of eight per cent under the 10-year development program, the Minister of Labour Relations and Manpower Athauda Seneviratne said. The Minister noted that it is necessary to increase productivity as well as investment to ensure a higher rate of development. more..

Dilshan and Prasanna shine in drawn game

Dec 24 (CI) After the fog, which had blighted their preparation on the tour so far, relented, the Sri Lankans got themselves some useful batting practice on the final day against a Bangladesh Cricket Board XI in Savar. It was a satisfactory day for the Sri Lankans after they resumed on 36 for 2, with most of their remaining recognised batsmen spending at least an hour at the crease. They were in some trouble early on, slipping to 94 for 5, more..

Golden Key customers seek information

Dec 24 (LBO) Thousands of anxious customers of Sri Lanka's Golden Key Credit Card Company flocked to a conference hall in Colombo to meet Ceylinco group chairman Lalith Kotelawala, and get information on the status of their funds. Golden Key asked customers to come to the BMICH conference hall in Sri Lanka's capital Colombo Tuesday, to meet group chairman Lalith Kotelawala, after he said the firm had been mis-managed and the its chief executive, Khavan Perera, had resigned. more..

Loss to CPC Rs. 210 million so far due to ignoring court order

Dec 24 (LeN) Ceylon Petroleum Corporation is losing Rs. 34,920,000 a day due to disregarding the Supreme Court order to reduce petrol price to Rs. 100. The court ordered to sell petrol at Rs. 100 since December 17. By December 23 the loss to CPC due to overlooking the court order is Rs. 209,580,000. The average sale of CPC petrol has gone down to 500 metric tons per day from 700 metric tons earlier. more..

Wimal’s NFF to join UPFA govt.

Dec 24 (LD) The National Freedom Front of Wimal Weerawansa has decided to join the government, in response to an open invitation extended by President Mahinda Rajapaksa. A NFF spokesman told ‘Lanka Dissent’ that the relevant MoU with the UPFA would be signed on December 28th. At a function at the Presidential Secretariat yesterday, the President invited all patriotic political parties to join him in order to defeat the conspiracies against the ‘year of victory for heroic soldiers.’ more..