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Editorial: Listen to the ocean

Dec 19 (ST) If much of our attention is on terra firma - or dry land, we quite often forget that we are a maritime nation. Last week, the Sri Lanka Navy celebrated its Diamond Jubilee amidst pomp, pageantry and serious discussion though for centuries, our peoples have been seafarers venturing to faraway lands. Kings sent their armies and their ambassadors, waging war and peace. Our maritime provinces have welcomed traders and fishermen and tried to repel foreign conquerors. more..

Animal lovers ask: Is the ‘No Kill’ policy on stray dogs about to be overturned?

Dec 19 (Island) Local animal lovers and animal welfare organizations called a joint press conference recently where they briefed the media on recent happenings that have given rise to great concern amongst the animal loving public of Sri Lanka. "Is the President’s decree of ‘No Kill’ for local stray as well as community animals about to be overturned" asked an impassioned Ira De Silva, Chairperson of the Animal Welfare Trust more..

Narahenpita Economic Centre to be revamped

Dec 19 (SO) The special Economic Centre at Narahenpita, Colombo will be fully refurbished and transformed into a full-fledged business centre before the end of this year under an action plan implemented by the Co-operatives and Internal Trade Ministry. Minister Jonhston Fernando made a surprise visit to the Narahenpita Economic Centre on Thursday and spent nearly five hours there to get first hand information on the current situation. more..

'Budget ensures a level playing field'

Dec 19 (Island) Sri Lanka’s printing industry has welcomed the imposition of fairer import tariffs for security printed products in the recent Budget. Previously, the local printing industry was greatly hampered due to the duty on raw materials for such products being substantially higher than the tariff on the finished product, thus making it extremely difficult and sometimes impossible for local printers to compete on an even ground, more..

Unions hit out at pension ‘farce’

Dec 19 (NS) The government is committed to implementing the pension scheme for the private sector by May 1, 2011 although the issue is still at discussion stage, officials said as the private sector trade unions once again described the move as a ‘farce’ unless authorities were willing to make a considerable contribution and set up a pension fund. ICEU general Secretary Wasantha Samarasinghe said that they pointed out to the Labour Minister that more..

Strict action against Sri Pada polluters

Dec 19 (SO) The Agrarian Services and Wildlife Ministry yesterday warned the public to refrain from carrying plastic, paper, plastic cans and liquor bottles on their visits to the sacred Sri Pada. The annual Sri Pada season begins tomorrow (Full Moon Poya Day). Agrarian Services and Wildlife Minister S.M. Chandrasena told the Sunday Observer yesterday that a special team will be deployed to supervise persons carrying banned items when climbing the sacred mountain. more..

CPC rejects 13,000 mt. oil cargo over octane content

Dec 19 (Island) The Ceylon Petroleum Corporation (CPC) last week rejected a 13,000 mt. cargo of 90 octane petrol on quality grounds but yesterday assured there will be no shortage in the market. "We have adequate stocks in our storage terminal to meet demand until new stocks arrive," authoritative sources said. It is understood that the octane content was below the 90 level specified. Samples were drawn from the tanker carrying the stock which was not off-loaded. more..

'Oxford speech cancellation fiasco has not caused embarassment to country'

Dec 19 (TC) Galle district MP Sajin Vaas Gunawardena who is also a coordinating secretary to President Mahinda Rajapaksa was appointed as “Monitoring MP” to the Ministry of External Affairs last week. In an interview with the Sunday Times at his new office at the Ministry, he spoke of the duties entrusted to him in the sphere of foreign affairs as well as about the Oxford Union fiasco to which his name has been linked. more..

Shortfalls in foreign investment and aid for reconstruction

Dec 19 (ST) Foreign investments and aid to reconstruct the North and East and resettle displaced persons are important for the country’s economic development. The expectations of large inflows of foreign investment after the ending of the war do not appear to have materialized to the extent that was expected. There has also been a disappointing flow of foreign assistance for resettlement. Both these factors are slowing down the economic development of the country. more..

Four circuit bungalows reopen in Wilpattu

Dec 19 (SO) Four circuit bungalows in the Wilpattu National park were reopened yesterday by Minister S.M. Chandrasena. The Park was reopened to the public on August 15 and the Wildlife Department's circuit bungalows were under renovation for the past several months. The bungalows in Kokmotai, Manawila, Panikkawila and Thalawila were opened yesterday. With the increased number of visitors to the park the Wildlife Department is taking measures to upgrade the more..

Govt. dragging feet on Select Committee

Dec 19 (Island) UNP MP Dr. Jayalath Jayawardena says he is still awaiting the appointment of a Parliamentary Select Committee (PSC) to inquire into his alleged links with the LTTE. He alleges the government is dragging its feet, though a section of the ruling coalition had accused him of being involved in an LTTE plot to disrupt President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s visit to the UK and the cancellation of a speech at the Oxford Union on Dec. 2 more..

Govt. rethinks changes to LG polls laws

Dec 19 (ST) Government is to re-consider bringing amendments to the Local Government (LG) election laws before the next LG election to be held by April next year, due to divisions among members of the ruling UPFA on when to introduce the new laws. Even though party leaders had decided to take up the two relevant Bills, namely the Local Authorities (Special Provisions) Bill and the Local Authorities Elections (Amendment) Bill, when Parliament meets again on January 4, more..

Known criminals incarcerated for festive season

Dec 19 (ST) Notorious criminals will be forced to spend the next few weeks in custody, as police attempt to help the public enjoy the upcoming festive season without becoming victims of robbery and theft, a senior police officer said. Already more than 60 identified criminals involved in house breaking, stealing of vehicles, stereo setups, motorcycles, and those involved in chain snatching are among those rounded-up by the Colombo Crime Division (CCD), more..

Basil stops donor-funded new buildings in north, east

Dec 19 (ST) Construction of all new buildings in the North and East under donor-funded loan or grant projects coming under the Ministry of Economic Development has been stopped from December 9. Minister Basil Rajapaksa, who oversees the larger volume of development projects in the once war-torn provinces, has directed that priority should be given to renovation and reconstruction of existing buildings. more..

Using local products in development vital for country’s prosperity

Dec 19 (Island) Using local products for the country’s development process will lead to an enhanced local raw material market while generating job opportunities. It will also pave the way for new creations, attitudes and enhancement of living standards, says Prof. Ashu Marasinghe, Chairman, State Engineering Corporation (SEC). He said that under the government’s procurement guidelines, the Cabinet has decided to give priority to local products on purchases made by state institutions. more..

Senior ministers move from homes to new office

Dec 19 (NS) The 10 senior ministers, who have been operating from their homes since accepting their new appointments, are likely to move into their new office on Tuesday (21). According to senior minister D E W Gunesekara, there have been indications from the government that the new office will be ready only from December 21. He said proper work could not be undertaken or accomplished due to the lack of proper office. more..

UNP show is over, now the showdown

Dec 19 (ST) President Mahinda Rajapaksa interrupted his speech to samurdhi animators and agricultural production officers on the lawn of 'Temple Trees' last Monday to show them a video. In the large screen, visuals bared men and women, some young and the others old, gyrating aimlessly. The music for this vulgar display was Sri Lanka's national anthem. The occasion was the annual sessions of the UNP at Siri Kotha more..

Injured medical student claims Rs. 50 m. from BMICH

Dec 19 (ST) The medical student who sustained severe injuries in an accident on February 15, 2008 at the BMICH when she was organising the setting up of stalls for the medical exhibition MEDEX, appeared in the Colombo District Court claiming Rs. 50 million as compensation from the BMICH. According to medical reports, the student, Samitha Samanmali would not be able to carry out the tasks as a doctor or lead a normal married life, but would be confined to a wheel chair more..

New project for Borella

Dec 19 (LB) The Colombo District Development Committee meeting held yesterday at the Chief Minister’s Office decided to take action to reduce traffic congestion in Borella, and prevent flooding in the low laying residential areas around the Marine Drive. A proposal by Colombo District MP Thilanga Sumathipala MP, to build several underground pedestrian crossings in Borella city, to reduce traffic congestion was agreed at, at the Development Committee meeting. more..

Squabbling while higher education burns

Dec 19 (UWN) Sri Lanka's university system is overburdened, outdated, and badly in need of reform. But politicians, academics and students just can't agree on how to do it. So they fight. The recent wave of student protests has focused on one element of a wider package of proposed reforms: inviting private universities into a country where publicly-funded universities currently dominate. more..

Lankan contingent to Haiti briefed on humanitarian law by ICRC

Dec 19 (Island) Over 2,400 army, navy and air force personnel deploying to Chad, Haiti and Lebanon on peace-support operations have taken part in eight international humanitarian law briefing programmes conducted this year by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC). "As part of its universal mandate, the ICRC works with States worldwide to support their efforts to promote awareness of and more..

TNA rules out leadership change

Dec 19 (NS) A fresh move by the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) to work with other Tamil parties with a view to finding a durable solution to the ethnic conflict has united all the parties under one umbrella. The TNA agreed to hold talks with members of the Tamil Parties Forum (TPF) on finding a suitable solution to the ethnic problem, following a meeting held on December 12. more..

Sajith adamant

Dec 19 (NS) The now apparent incoming leader of the UNP, Sajith Premadasa, says he is not interested in playing musical chairs with party positions thereby clearly stating that since they fought and won the battle to have elections to pick the party’s key leaders it should be so within the next 12 days. On the devolution front, he says empowering all citizens of this country is more important than doling out powers and perks to more..

Jaffna academics’ confab hauled out

Dec 19 (ST) A conference organized by a group of non-governmental organisations and intellectuals in Jaffna to discuss development in the north and east over the weekend was called off yesterday, after Jaffna Mayor Yogeshwari Patkunaraja cancelled the booking for the hall at the last minute. The participants were already in Jaffna for the conference to be held at the Library Auditorium which comes under the purview of more..

Army deserters pose serious security risk

Dec 19 (ST) A string of crimes believed to be the work Army deserters has prompted the Sri Lanka Army to launch an islandwide search for some 50,000 Army deserters. One of the latest incidents involving Army deserters occurred in Warakapola last week. Two ex-Army Commando unit soldiers posing as bank officers, and accompanied by an armed police deserter in uniform, robbed a pawning centre in broad daylight. more..

Ranil in bid to stall Sajith

Dec 19 (LB) The crisis ridden UNP is plunged into deeper crisis being unable to solve the leadership issue between Ranil Wickremesinghe and Sajith Premadasa. A real tug-o-war has just begun as Sajith has turned down all the overtures made to him and has refused to accept the post of Deputy Leader. Ranil Wickremesinghe has offered the post and opted to remove Karu Jayasuriya from that position. more..

Devananda, Karuna deny WikiLeaks revelations

Dec 19 (ST) Both EPDP Leader Minister Douglas Devananda and Deputy Minister Vinayagamoorthy Muralitharan yesterday strongly denied the allegations that paramilitary groups linked to them were allowed by the Government of Sri Lanka (GOSL) to recruit child soldiers from IDP camps, carry out extra judicial killings and run brothels within Army camps, as revealed by WikiLeaks on Friday. more..

No birthday cake for Fonseka

Dec 19 (ST) Prison authorities yesterday turned down a request from the UNP to take a cake for the 60th birthday of former Army Commander Sarath Fonseka in prison, a UNP MP said. The permission had been sought to send the cake when Opposition Leader Ranil Wickremesinghe visited Mr. Fonseka yesterday. “Though permission was sought to take a cake to the prison to celebrate the former Army Commander’s birthday, we were not allowed to do so,” more..

Lanka-UK ties plunge to sub-zero level

Dec 19 (ST) The Government is refusing to release a letter sent by British Prime Minister David Cameron to President Mahinda Rajapaksa following the President’s second-term inauguration a month ago. This comes amidst reports that a private visit by British Defence Secretary Liam Fox this week was shot down at the eleventh hour due to pressure from the Tamil Diaspora in Britain and Dr. Fox’s Cabinet colleagues. more..

GL meets LLRC after newsbreak that Ban’s panel will be here

Dec 19 (Island) External Affairs Minister G.L. Peiris yesterday met the chairman and members of the LLRC following the newsbreak in New York that UN Secretary General Ban ki-Moon had announced at his year-end press conference on Friday that his expert panel on Sri Lanka will be here. He said following "long consultations between myself and President Rajapaksa of Sri Lanka, I am pleased that the panel of experts is now able to more..

Military 'to prevent' elephant attacks

Dec 20 (BBC) Sri Lanka’s government says the problem of clashes between elephants and people is so severe that it is going to deploy thousands of civil defence force personnel to protect farmers. Each year about 200 elephants and 60 people perish in the conflict between man and beast. The number of elephants nationwide has dwindled to about 4,000. Most parts of Sri Lanka suffer from human-elephant conflict. Wildlife experts say it happens as people encroach ever more into the animals’ natural habitat. more..

No blocking new constructions in former war zone, says Lanka

Dec 20 (PTI) Sri Lanka on Sunday clarified that it had no intention to halt foreign-funded construction work in the former war zones where the Indian government is building 5,000 new houses, after a media report said that new building activities are being put on hold. A private newspaper reported today that the Economic Development ministry had stopped any new construction that could affect the Indian gift of 5,000 new houses. more..

EU House: Platform for LTTE apologists

Dec 20 (DM) Sri Lanka said that European Parliament is allowing itself to be used as a platform for LTTE apologists to discredit Sri Lanka, an official said. Sri Lanka’s Ambassador to Belgium, Luxembourg and the EU Ravinatha Aryasinha while strongly protesting the denial of Sri Lanka’s ‘right of reply’ at an “exchange of views on Sri Lanka” held last week at the European Parliament, said that, more..

EDITORIAL: Crimes against humanity

Dec 20 (LG) ‘Crimes against humanity’ is another much hyped phrase that has been given life by the Tamil Diaspora in the absence of intelligent and effective anti propaganda activities of the state of Sri Lanka. The rumblings of the opportunists like Wimal Weerawansa normally fall on deaf ears as far as the international community is concerned. His insistence that the national anthem should be sung only in Sinhala and more..

Sinhala-only national anthem: Backward, march!

Dec 20 (LG) The disturbingly inane proposal for a Sinhala-Only National Anthem has suffered (an ephemeral) setback, due to internal dissent. Still, it may return, as the proposal for presidential term-limit removal did. A resurrection is likely because the idea of a Sinhala-Only National Anthem is integral to the Ruling Family’s nation-building project aimed at moulding a Sinhala- supremacist and a Rajapaksa-supremacist Sri Lanka. more..

Victory to Sri Lankans, and The National Anthem

Dec 20 (LG) Mr. Lenin Benedict is a noted anti-LTTE activist and Sri Lankan Patriot living in Toronto. In an article entitled "Greatest victory to Sri Lankans" published in the Sri Lanka Guardian ( Read Dec. 17th guardian) and elsewhere, he has expressed his chagrin and amertume at the alleged attempt to scrap "the National Anthem sung in Tamil in the North and East by Tamils living in the area for decades". more..

'I see congruency and complementarity between the Premadasa and Rajapaksa projects'

Dec 20 (TC) As the year and the first decade of the 21st century winds down, politics in Sri Lanka displayed new and portentous developments. One was the convention of the UNP, the ratification of its new constitution and the transformation of Ranil Wickremesinghe into a lame duck ‘leader’. The other was the tentative drawing together of the two wings of Tamil political representation in Sri Lanka (as distinct from the Diaspora). more..

Govt needs to understand that a country’s domestic and foreign policies are inextricably intertwined

Dec 20 (TC) It is time this government gave serious thought to building a positive image of Sri Lanka. First, it needs to worry about how Sri Lankans in Sri Lanka view Sri Lanka’s image as citizens of the country, before worrying about how Sri Lankans overseas or other States would perceive Sri Lanka. If those within Sri Lanka are not satisfied with the image of their country, no amount of monitors would help boost Sri Lanka’s image. more..

What should the UNP do next?

Dec 20 (LG) Aparty that was conferred three consecutive terms of presidential power and enjoyed a 5/6th majority in parliament legitimately for six years and illegitimately for another six years (without holding a general election) during that period, finds itself denied a victory at four consecutive presidential elections and unable to field a candidate, at the last. It is guaranteed to be out of office for 23 years. more..

Imported coconuts, camel milk and ostrich eggs

Dec 20 (LG) If we are to believe the politicians, then Sri Lanka’s new paradigm of development in that ‘isle of paradise’ is -- sipping imported king coconut, drinking camel milk, and eating imported chicken and ostrich eggs! Are we going bonkers? Don’t we have enough sun, rain and land to produce our own food? Are we going to fail the generations to come? According to reports, Sri Lanka is to import camels and ostrich (an African bird) next year for milk and egg consumption needs. more..