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Bail sought for Fonseka’s assistant

Dec 14 (DM) A Colombo Court yesterday fixed for January 12 the inquiry into the bail application filed by Senaka Haripriya De Silva who together with former Army Commander Sarath Fonseka was facing charges of having harboured army deserters and conspiring against the government. Senior Counsel Saliya Pieris appearing with Rukshan Nanayakkara informed High Court Judge Deepali Wijesundera the offences alleged to have been committed by the suspects were bail-able and more..

Businessman stabbed by robber gang

Dec 14 (Island) A millionaire hardware merchant was stabbed to death at his hardware shop in Dalugama on Sunday evening when he refused to part with money to a three-member robber gang. The gang had entered the shop when it was about to close and brandished a pistol at Sellawaduge Piyasena (54) of Pannipitiya, threatened him and demanded the day’s collection. The deceased on realizing that the weapon was a toy dealt a heavy blow to the man who brandished the pistol. more..

Gov’t, UNICEF want more investment in early childhood

Dec 14 (DM) The National Early Childhood Care and Development (ECCD) Week was launched by the Ministry of Child Development & Women’s Affairs and UNICEF. The importance of ‘investing in early childhood’ was the main focus of this year’s event. In a special message to mark the event, President Mahinda Rajapaksa said: “My government has committed itself to give special attention to early childhood development through establishing a separate ministry for this work. more..

Sri Lankan test cricketer shows up to thrill the crowd

Dec 14 (TS) Former Sri Lankan test cricketer Muttiah Muralidaran was the surprise guest-of-honour at the Kuala Lumpur Cricket Association (KLCA) annual prize giving ceremony in Kuala Lumpur recently. Muralitharan made the evening memorable for the KLCA junior cricketers, sharing jokes and offering advise to improve their game. KLCA secretary R. Devindran said Muralitharan’s participation in the ceremony was not a planned one. “He was in Kuala Lumpur and called me. more..

Ex-LTTE Combatants sit for G.C.E. (O/L) exam

Dec 14 (MoD) 170 ex-LTTE combatants who were rehabilitated by the Bureau of the Commissioner General of Rehabilitation (BCGR) sat for the G.C.E. (O/L) exam which commenced this morning, (13) in Vavuniya. Those ex-combatants who had been forcibly abducted by the terrorists while they were studying in schools in Wanni, Mannar, Mullaittivu and Kilinochchi areas and who later surrendered themselves for the security forces during the final stage of the battle, more..

Sri Lanka budget, reforms on track, inflation rising: IMF

Dec 14 (LBO) Sri Lanka's 2010 state spending is on track with a planned 8.0 percent of gross domestic product deficit, and a new budget for next year has reformed taxes, but inflation is rising, the International Monetary Fund said. An IMF mission was in Sri Lanka last week to review September 2010 targets under its 2.5 billion US dollar program. "Performance under the program is good, with all end-September performance criteria met", more..

Tharunyata Hetak to help preserve Sri Pada

Dec 14 (DN) A unified and concentrated effort to give prominence to Sri Pada is under way. This is part of MP Namal Rajapaksa’s vision and concept. Sri Pada is part of our valuable cultural heritage. Preserving Sri Pada is a project of Tharunyata Hetak. “Sri Pada may be the most important cultural centre in Sri Lanka and we must preserve it for future generations. Giving it environmental protection is crucial,” said Environment Director Uditha Thenuwara more..

Royal and Visakha most popular

Dec 14 (DN) Royal College (179) and Visakha Vidyalaya (179) of Colombo are the boys and girls schools with the highest cut-off marks, according to popular school admission cut-off marks of the Grade 5 scholarship (Sinhala medium) examination held in August 2010. According to cut-off marks released. Dharmaraja College, Kandy (175), Ananda College, Colombo (174), and Maliyadeva College, Kurunegala (174) are the other boys Schools on the top of the list. more..

IMF to help seize terrorist funds

Dec 14 (DM) Against the backdrop of government attempts to seize LTTE assets overseas, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) will assist Sri Lanka to implement legal provisions under UN Resolutions and Conventions to freeze terrorist funds and criminalize terrorist financing. The IMF will assist Sri Lanka to overcome any shortcomings of United Nations Security Council Resolutions 1267 and 1373, and the UN Convention on the Suppression of Terrorist Financing. more..

Govt. to help unemployed grads start self employment projects

Dec 14 (Island) The Government has decided to assist 10,000 unemployed graduates, who have the ability and are willing to start self employment projects. Director General of the Mahaweli Authority D.M.C Dissanayake said that 27,000 acres of land in the dry zone belonging to the Mahaweli Authority had been earmarked for the purpose and the government would be calling for applications from the unemployed graduates. more..

MR’s reacts to Oxford fiasco: Sajin directed to liaise with External Affairs Ministry

Dec 14 (Island) In the wake of criticism levelled at a section of the bureaucracy for circumstances, under which the Oxford Union unilaterally cancelled President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s speech at the Oxford Union on Dec. 2, the President has appointed MP Sajin de Vass Gunawardene to liaise with the External Affairs Ministry. Sources said that on the instructions of the President, Lalith Weeratunga, Secretary to the President had informed Minister Prof. G.L. Peiris of the post-UK fiasco move. more..

'Over 95 percent of IDPs resettled'

Dec 14 (DN) Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa yesterday said over 95 percent of the IDPs have been resettled. He said the Security Forces have been instrumental in the process of reconciliation and resettlement process after the war. He also said most of the land mines have been removed in areas in the North. Seventy per cent of the demining was done by the Army. Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa was speaking at more..

Only 55% of development projects on schedule

Dec 14 (Island) The Treasury says there are 681 ongoing development projects of which 300 are behind schedule, four have been halted altogether. It said impediments to implementation continued to result in significant cost overruns. The 681 projects, all above Rs. 50 million, have been allocated a total of Rs. 276.69 billion for the year 2010, but up to the third quarter of the year, only 53.59 percent of the allocation has been disbursed amounting to Rs. 148.29 billion. more..

New leaders in 120 days, Sajith

Dec 14 (DM) UNP reformists led by MP Sajith Premadasa yesterday said the appointment of new leaders of the party would be made under the new constitution of the party within 120 days as was decided by the working committee of the party earlier. Mr. Premadasa who addressed a press conference together with a group of MPs said they were happy about passing the new constitution of the party at Sunday’s convention. more..

I did my duty, says Ranil

Dec 14 (DM) UNP leader Ranil Wickremesinghe said that he had performed his duty towards the party and it was now up to the party rank and file to get together and consolidate the party’s position He told media that the UNP would harness people from all walks of life to reorganize the party. “We will make use of the strengths and talents of young leaders like Sajith Premadasa, Ravi Karunanayake, Vijeyakala Maheshwaran, more..

'TU heads on foreign payroll'

Dec 14 (DN) President Mahinda Rajapaksa yesterday said that those who forgot their duties and responsibilities to their fellow beings and the country have resorted to a ploy to earn a fast buck by betraying their Motherland. He added that certain Trade Unions have ignored what is expected of them by their fellow members and the country at large. He said these Trade Unions are paid to make false charges against their Motherland. more..

UNP to stage mammoth protest against govt on Jan. 26

Dec 14 (Island) The first anniversary of the last Presidential Election, which falls on January 26, 2011 would be greeted by a massive protest comprising one million people,the UNP leader Ranil Wickremesinghe said yesterday. He said that the Mahinda Rajapaksa government had failed to fulfil its election pledges which included a reduction in the high cost of living and implementing the rule of law despite having been in power for nearly six years. more..

'Killing of Rajiv a big blunder'

Dec 14 (DM) Vinayagamoorthi Muralitharan, ex-militant turned Deputy Minister told the LLRC that killing of Indian Premier Rajiv Gandhi was a major blunder by the LTTE. Deputy Minister Muralitharan alias Karuna, also told the Commission that Norway gave LTTE large amounts of money for arm procurement during the Ceasefire Agreement in 2002. Muralitharan said that Norway had a hidden agenda during the ceasefire agreement. more..

'No future for UNP, even with change in leadership'

Dec 15 (AD) Even though the leadership and the persons in the party change still the UNP has no future, says Vasudeva Nanayakkara. He expressed that until the UNP renounce their rightist policies they will not be able to make a significant attitude change within the party. The Language and Social Integration Minister made these comments during a function held in Kandy commemorating the 50th anniversary of the National Civil Services Organization. more..

Cabinet discussed national anthem

Dec 15 (BBC) A senior minister in the Sri Lankan cabinet has denied reports that the Tamil version of the national anthem has been abolished. Minister AHM Fowzie told that the issue was discussed in a cabinet meeting. “But no agreement could be reached on the issue so President Mahinda Rajapaksa had decided to keep both versions” he added. Chief government whip Dinesh Gunewardena said that the cabinet of ministers in Sri Lanka is discussing a proposal on more..

'No division amongst members of the UNP'

Dec 15 (AD) Despite differences in opinion amongst members of the UNP, there is no division within the party claims UNP MP Gayantha Karunathilaka. This comment came in reply to questions raised about party unity after Opposition Leader Ranil Wickremasinghe and Sajith Premadasa held seperate press conferences following the Party’s special convention. He stated that it was after such a convention that the UNP were able to gain such political power in 1975. more..

Sri Lanka steps up drive to arrest 50,000 army deserters

Dec 15 (AFP) Sri Lanka's security forces have stepped up a campaign to arrest some 50,000 military deserters, an official said Tuesday after reports that absent soldiers were increasingly involved in crime. Military spokesman Ubaya Medawala said there the amnesty period for deserters to surrender had run out and they would be tracked down, arrested and prosecuted. "Approximately there are 50,000 deserters and we are now taking steps to arrest them," more..

Sri Lanka allows state officials to import cars at reduced duty

Dec 15 (LBO) Sri Lanka has approved tax cuts up to 50 percent of car import prices to senior state sector workers after nearly halving tariffs on motor vehicles a few months ago, a finance ministry circular showed. The proposed tax cuts to be effective from December 15, 2010 are for state sector officials who have served in a senior position for over six years. Military officers above the ranks of lieutenant colonel, commander and wing commander are entitled to the tax concession. more..

Sri Lanka animal lovers raise alarm over missing dogs

Dec 15 (LBO) Sri Lankan animal lovers and welfare organizations have raised concern over the rounding up of dogs near a popular promenade in Colombo, saying it might violate the president's 'no kill' policy on strays. Visakha Tillekeratne of the Animal Welfare Trust said the recent removal of dogs from the Galle Face green promenade outside the defence ministry has given rise to doubts whether local authorities had resumed killing of strays. more..

Sri Lanka set for record 60 IPOs in 2011

Dec 15 (AFP) Sri Lanka's thriving stock market expects at least 60 new firms to be listed next year as companies scramble to cash in on the island's post-war economic boom, an official said Tuesday. All Share Price Index has climbed over 90 percent this year and is one of the best performing indices in the world, according to official figures. "We have between 60 and 75 IPOs lined up for next year that include five state entities and 35 finance companies," more..

Tourist arrivals increase in November

Dec 15 (MoD) The number of tourist arrivals to Sri Lanka went up 63.1% to 72,251 in the month of November 2010, compared to November 2009 which was only 44,311, according to the latest figures released by the Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority. Figures showed an increase in the number of arrivals from Western Europe, South Asia, East Asia, Middle East and North America. Tourists from Western Europe, the traditional tourist generating market, rose 61.7percent to 24,594 in November 2010. more..

Sri Lanka News Debrief - 14.12.2010

Political Solution

Dec 15 (LG) We hear calls for a Political Solution for Sri Lanka. As a commoner I ask myself ‘what is a political solution?’. In common terminology, to me decisions are based on belief and merit basis. Belief is identification with Truth within. Truth connects us naturally to each other and often without us being conscious of it. Once we pass the borders of belief, we need to consciously apply merit basis. To my mind, most anti-discrimination laws are based on this. more..

Sri Lanka’s external affairs minister’s pathetic defence of the freedom of only Rajapakse’s speech

Dec 15 (LG) In the recent debacle of President Rajapakse’s ignominious forced withdrawal of his address to the prestigious Oxford Union, his foreign minister, an academic known to be one of the most servile of sycophants not only of Rajapakse but also the members of his dynasty, chooses on this occasion to be the devil citing scripture on democracy, for the sake of his master and for his own parochial purpose. more..

'Sri Lanka should be a gem and jewellery hub'

Dec 15 (NF) A lot of benefits have been offered in the 2011 budget for the gen and jewellery industry. Precious stones in the raw form could be imported for value addition here and Sri Lanka should be a hub for gems and jewellery, says Anil Koswatte, Chairman of the National Gems and Jewellery Authority. Speaking at the Jewels Sri Lanka 2010 exhibition, he said that the show, despite being a single product event, more..

New phase in Sri Lanka foreign relations

Dec 15 (LG) There is no getting over the fact that in the Oxford Union contretemps the Sri Lankan President was humiliated and Sri Lanka as a whole was degraded. But it is the kind of thing that could cease to matter in the course of time, and it might be thought that we need not therefore attach too much importance to it. Unfortunately, there is one aspect of the contretemps that we cannot afford to ignore: it clearly inaugurates a new phase in SL’s foreign relations, more..

Have National Anthem in both Sinhala and Tamil languages

Dec 15 (TC) There are reports that the government has decided that the national anthem would be sung only in Sinhala at all official and state functions although the Constitution of Sri Lanka states that both Sinhala and Tamil are official languages. It is also reported that a government directive to use only the Sinhala version will soon be sent out which will mean that even in the Tamil majority parts of the country, where Sinhala is not commonly spoken, more..

‘Madam’ attempting to re-start trade

Dec 15 (LB) After many attempts police were finally able to raid a well-patronized brothel after obtaining a warrant last Friday, to arrest the ‘madam’ of this high end sex-worker facility which was operating at the Liberty Plaza shopping complex in Colombo. Police said, “This brothel employed sex workers from a number of countries and had also been patronized by top police officers in addition to parliamentarians and top executives. more..

BCGR rehabilitated Ex-LTTE "combatant qualifies for University entrance

Dec 15 (MoD) "I never thought I would receive this opportunity to get through the G.C.E. (A/L) exam and qualify to enter the university. The special school runs by the Bureau of the Commissioner General of Rehabilitation (BCGR) under the Catch-Up Education Scheme, enabled me to achieve these results. I am thankful to the BCGR for all what they provided to me for my studies. They provided us everything. We only had to study in the rehabilitation centre. more..

War crimes allegations and the revanchist global psywar against Sri Lanka

Dec 15 (TC) Let’s confront the issue of "war crimes" and all that jazz. In the first place, where is it an issue and among whom? Hardly among the states in our neighbourhood or on the continent to which we belong. Is that because the standards of democracy are lower in Asia than elsewhere? It is true that in Asia, democracy is not always equated with liberalism, and there is sometimes differentiated from it, but that is a legitimate and fairly old debate in more..

Capping rocketing coconut prices

Dec 15 (LB) The Ministry of Coconut Development has sought assistance from institutions under its purview (Coconut Cultivation Board Coconut Research Institute & Kurunegala Plantations Ltd) to curtail rising coconut prices. The price of coconuts has risen, making most consumers unable to afford it. At the moment, the retail price is between Rs. 50 to 60 per coconut. The Ministry is also to establish a distribution channel involving cooperative societies, to more..

BOI has lost its Relevance; or What?

Dec 15 (DM) A top government servant has gone on record saying the BOI is not fulfilling its role as the Country’s leading FDI facilitator. The BOI in its role as the statutory body charged with the responsibility of promoting and approving foreign and domestic investment in Sri Lanka however continues to offer attractive incentives to both foreign and local investors. The BOI in the past has widened its scope of activities by bringing local investment more..

Lessons from London: Discreet diplomacy is better part of political valour

Dec 15 (DM) Now that External Affairs Minister G L Peiris has indicated in Parliament that enough advice was available to President Mahinda Rajapaksa on the disaster that might await him at Oxford Union, there are reasons to conclude that it was a political, and not a professional decision that contributed, if not caused the first major disaster in his second term in office. Coming as it does even as Sri Lanka had made a minor, non-aligned diplomatic coup in more..

Poultry group denies shortage

Dec 15 (BL) The All Island Poultry Association (AIPA) has criticised the government’s recent decision to import 2,000 tonnes of chicken and 50 million eggs, a move which they opine as ‘hasty’ and one that could badly hit the local poultry industry. There is a monthly surplus of around 2,000 metric tonnes of chicken at present in the market proving that the shortage of chicken is a clear misconception although there is a marginal shortage of eggs. more..