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Govt. Official still at large; Cops helpless?

Dec 21 (DM) The top Government official who had assaulted the employees of a Night Club in Bambalapitiya Police Area and reported to have crashed into two Police mobile cars before escaping is still at large. The official involved is said to be attached to a highly important government secretariat and upon seeing his former sweetheart in the company of another man, had assaulted her and when the staff members came to settle the problem, the high official had beaten them too. more..

School van license issued

Dec 21 (Island) The NCPA together with the motor traffic department has begun issuing licenses in the Western Province to operate school vans from January. NCPA Chairman Anoma Dissanayake said that school van operators in the Western Province, who do not have the license, will be taken off the streets when the new school term begins next month. The decision to issue a special license to operate school vans was taken last month following incidents of abuse of school children by more..

UN extends Sri Lanka panel entry deadline to end of 2010, Trip before Jan 15?

Dec 21 (ICP) The UN has quietly extended the deadline for submission to its Sri Lanka war crimes Panel of Experts until the end of this month, acting Deputy Spokesman Farhan Haq told Inner City Press on December 20. In the run up to the initial December 15 deadline, Inner City Press asked Haq and his office about bounced e-mails and Federal Express overnight packages of evidence which the Panel refused or could not receive. more..

‘Window to China’ launched

Dec 21 (GDI) The Ministry of Education in coordination with the National Library and Documentation Services Board launched a dedicated China Corner at the National Library and Documentation Services Board in Colombo on 16 December 2010. The National Library and Documentation Services Board the umbrella to 10,000 other libraries throughout the country. The special unit is established under the theme ‘Window to China’ as the local component of more..

What's on the UN panels Sri Lanka visit agenda?

Dec 21 (HT) Maybe it was the spirit of the upcoming yuletide. Nobody is still sure about the reason behind the change of heart. But everyone was sure taken by surprise when the government said it would welcome the UN panel on Sri Lanka with open arms and a prized appointment with the government-appointed LLRC. All arrangements will be made, the foreign ministry said, adding that the three-member panel could make a representation to the eight LLRC members. more..

Sub-standard drugs and devices: Ministry recovers Rs 160m

Dec 21 (DN) Health authorities have recovered Rs 160 million from pharmaceutical and medical devices supplying firms as a rebate for 138 items that failed quality requirements during the last four years. The Medical Supply’s Division (MSD) in a report to the Health Ministry Secretary has stated that they have recovered the cost from suppliers with regards to all quality failure medicinal drugs and devices, a Ministry spokesman said. more..

Housing allowance for Ministers halved

Dec 21 (DM) In an apparent cost-cutting exercise, the government has decided to slash the housing allowance paid to Ministers and Deputy Ministers by 50 per cent. They said Ministers and Deputy Ministers who did not get official residences were paid a monthly allowance of Rs.100, 000 to find suitable accommodation in Colombo. According to the new scheme, a Minister or Deputy Minister would get a maximum of Rs.50, 000 only. more..

Female migrant suspected of Tamil Tiger links, refugee board told

Dec 21 (G&M) A woman who sailed to Canada on the MV Sun Sea worked for the Tamil Tigers and had a necklace that is given only to members of the terrorist group on their wedding day, a government representative alleges. The woman, who can't be identified because of a publication ban, had a detention review on Monday before the Immigration and Refugee Board. She and her children have been in custody since the MV Sun Sea arrived in August carrying 492 Tamils. more..

Mumbai gangster probed for LTTE links

Dec 21 (MD) Mumbai's Anti Terrorism Squad is questioning a key member of Dawood Ibrahim gang for alleged links with the banned outfit LTTE to supply arms for terror activities in India. ATS has sought a fresh remand for D-Company top lieutenant Mirza Mohiddin Baig, currently under Crime Branch's custody, to question him in connection with terror links in the country. DIG has confirmed that Baig is being interrogated for terror links in India. more..

Sri Lanka air force gets into model aircraft business

Dec 21 (LBO) Warrant Officer N P S Pathirana carefully fixes the rotors of a model MI24 helicopter gunship. During the height of the war with the now defeated separatist Tamil Tigers, the Sri Lanka Air Force extensively used Russian built MI24 attack helicopters for combat air support. Back then, Pathirana was attached to the 9th squadron of the Air Force as a maintenance technician. His duty was to make sure that the engines of more..

Sri Lanka port handles record four million containers

Dec 21 (LBO) Colombo port volumes hit a new record of four million containers Tuesday supported by strong growth in both transshipment and import-export cargo, the Sri Lanka Ports Authority (SLPA) said in a statement. The number of twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs) of containers handled by the port is up 20 percent so far this year from a year ago. It is also up 11 percent compared with the total of 3.68 million TEUs done in 2008, more..

UN Panel must meet Fonseka: UNP

Dec 21 (DM) The UNP said yesterday the visiting United Nations Experts Panel should be allowed to meet former Army Commander Sarath Fonseka as he had expressed willingness to face any international probe without harming the country or the security forces. UNP MP Lakshman Kiriella told a news conference the objective of the visiting panel would be to carry out such a probe despite the government saying their visit was to testify before the LLRC. more..

Lanka intends to counter US allegations against its political, military leaders

Dec 21 (Island) Sri Lanka intends to take up with the US contentious issues raised by Colombo-based US diplomats, during the Eelam War, IV in a bid to clear misconceptions amongst the US diplomats. A senior External Affairs Ministry official on Monday (Dec. 20) said that the issues would be discussed through diplomatic channels without delay. more..

Smoke, drink, pay

Dec 21 (DM) A new policy will be implemented by the Health Ministry from January 2011, which makes it compulsory for alcohol and cigarette users to pay for any government medical services they receive. The Ministry official said that non-communicable diseases (NCD) such as diabetes, strokes, heart attacks, kidney failure, cancer and high blood pressure are often due to the excessive consumption of alcohol and cigarettes. more..

LLRC undecided on experts panel

Dec 21 (DM) LLRC Secretary S.B. Atugoda said yesterday the Commission would decide whether it was necessary to meet the United Nations Experts Panel probing alleged human rights violations in Sri Lanka. Mr. Atugoda said neither the government nor the UN had approached the LLRC about a meeting between the commissioners and the Experts Panel though he was aware of such an interest shown by the Panel. “We are an independent body. more..

More MPs sell duty free vehicle permits

Dec 21 (Island) Close on the heels of our expose that the majority of 60 newly elected Parliamentarians have sold their duty free vehicle permits (CIF value of US$ 50,000) for as much as Rs. 12 to Rs. 17 million, it is revealed that five more MPs have sold their permits. They include two cabinet ministers. One of the ministers had sold his duty free vehicle permit for Rs. 15 million and the other’s permit had gone for Rs. 12.5 million. more..

Mini World Cup events held in Sri Lanka

Dec 22 (YC) Yatiyana and Mathugama Cricket Clubs fought off competition from 121 teams to be crowned winners and runners up respectively, of the Colombo leg of The Mini Cricket World Cup and in doing so have taken a step closer to a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity of facing a team of World Cup winning stars. Given the large number of teams that participated, it was also decided that third and fourth place victors, Borella SC and Rathanapitiya XR would also qualify more..

Confusion over Indian housing project

Dec 22 (EB) There is confusion in the minds of Tamils here about the Indian project to construct 50,000 houses for the war refugees in the Northern and Eastern provinces. Since the announcement of the ambitious US$ 300 million project, seen as being a boon to lakhs of roofless people in the former war zone, the Tamils have been under the impression that all the 50,000 houses will be brand new. But confusion arose on Sunday, when Prof. Sunanda Madduma Bandara, more..

G.L summons Butenis

Dec 22 (NN) External Affairs Minister G.L. Peiris summoned US Ambassador Patricia Butenis today and raised concerns over the Wikileaks cables on Sri Lanka and also discussed the letter sent by members of Congress to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Prof. Peiris reiterated the stated position of his Ministry that Sri Lanka does not condone the act of putting in the public domain in an illegal manner, privileged and confidential information. more..

Sri Lanka onion prices to rise after Indian export ban

Dec 22 (LBO) Prices of onions and leeks in Sri Lanka could rise after India's decision to suspend exports of onions, a trade official said. Pettah Wholesale Traders' Association vice chairman Nihal Seneviratne said 90 percent of Sri Lanka's onion requirement is imported from India and imports from other origins would be more costly. India on Monday suspended exports of onions, a key food staple, after prices of the vegetable soared, adding to the government's inflation woes. more..

Sri Lanka takes on nationwide coconut crisis

Dec 22 (BBC) The Sri Lankan government has stepped in to try to stem a severe shortage of a national staple - coconuts. The felling of palm trees has been banned without the special permission of the Coconut Cultivation Board. The government has also begun importing coconuts from India and Malaysia, and attempted to impose price controls. The coconut development minister said the shortage was a "burning issue". more..

'Battle against LTTE elements abroad will continue'

Dec 22 (GDI) Defeated terrorist elements have encamped in several foreign nations and their latest weapon is to defame our country and throw allegations at our war heroes accusing them of war crimes, stated President Mahinda Rajapaksa. 'We have already commenced the battle against them in the international sphere and are committed to continue it'. President Rajapaksa said so at the ceremonial passing out parade of Cadet officers at more..

Excess of beggars

Dec 22 (NN) The number of beggars or homeless people at the Ridigama Rehabilitation Centre has exceeded 600, forcing the authorities to suspend intakes temporarily. Superintendent of the Rehabilitation Centre Mahinda Wijesinghe said that the limit on the number of beggars or homeless people who can be taken into the center is also 600 so more people cannot be taken. He also said that of the over 600 people at the center a majority are mentally unstable and more..

Wouldn’t want the President to become a liar - Ranil

Dec 22 (AD) Ranil Wickramasinghe says that the UNPill be organizing an immense protest on January 26 to urge the government to provide the Rs.2, 500 pay hike to the public sector employees as promised through the ‘Mahinda Chinthnaya’. peaking at a public rally yesterday at Mahara the Opposition Leader said that he wouldn’t want to see the President become a liar and therefore would act accordingly to make sure the promises are met. one of the expected promises given to more..

Fishermen bring home two floating Buddha statues

Dec 22 (DM) A group of fishermen have found Two ‘Buddha Statues’ floating some 620 nautical miles off the Matara seas on Sunday. The fishermen who left the shores from Kottegoda in a multi-day fishing craft last Saturday had spotted these two statues placed in a special pavilion fitted to protect the statues, on a floating raft. On a suggestion by the boat’s chief W.P.Sandun Rangana the two statues had been brought to the land and more..

'Opposition Leader's powers and authority will not be reduced'

Dec 22 (AD) No reductions in the power and authority of Opposition Leader Ranil Wickramasinghe have occurred through the new party constitution, says Chairman of the UNP Reforms Committee Joseph Michael Perera. Therefore the media should not make a big issue out of it, the MP said. He stated that immediate steps will be taken to in order to appoint party members for senior posts in the UNP through an election according to the new constitution. more..

Maharagama MC budget defeated

Dec 22 (LT) The budget presented for the Maharagama Municipality for 2011 has been defeated by 3 votes. 21 Members voted against the budget and 9 voted for it. The Deputy Mayor and two other Members of the ruling UPFA voted against the budget. 2 Members of the UNP voted for the budget while all Members of the JVP voted against it. The UPFA Members Senaka Kalubowila (Deputy Mayor), Nishanthe Wimalachandra and Chandrika Soysa voted against the budget while more..

Sri Lanka News Debrief - 21.12.2010

Feelers &Thinkers

Dec 22 (LG) I read with interest, your letter to the Government Agent-Jaffna. I noted with interest that you are brother of Dr. Rajasingham Narendran for whom I have high regard. On 09 December 2010, your brother did share with us his response to the 'Waterloo' article on Mahinda's visit to London (’. This is appended to your open letter to the Government Agent-Jaffna. I myself responded as follows to your brother’s response: more..

Suddha is a silence destroyer of the Knuckles Mountain range

Dec 22 (LG) This plant has not come to an attention in the past in Sri Lanka but thanks to recent investigations conducted by the researchers from the Faculty of Science at University of Peradeniya. They found that the species is very invasive in knuckles mountain ranges in the central part of Sri Lanka and have been continuing some invaestigations on this species. Knuckles mountain range declared as a world heritage site by UNESCO at more..

Corrupt politicians and officials cannot control cost of living

Dec 22 (TC) "Four hundred rupees” said he. I was shocked. I could remember the days he charged twenty five rupees decades ago and later hundred rupees for a long time. So I wondered whether the money has lost value or the cost of living has gone so high for this native doctor who attends to bone fracture and other related ailments at Darley Road, Maradana. I am a sort of a princely type of guy who does not look at the price or more..

This book from my brother

Dec 22 (LG) A quarter of a century ago, the Summer of ’85. Campinas, Sao Paulo, Brazil. I was at the Pugwash Conference, hosted by Senator Fernando Henrique Cardoso, famous ‘dependency theorist’, later to become President of Brazil. I was presenting a paper on the Nicaraguan Revolution and it lessons, on a panel with Francisco Lacayo, a Minister in the Sandinista Cabinet. Lacayo excitedly excused himself from one session of the conference to visit more..

What Development in North Sri Lanka?

Dec 22 (LG) The world is awaiting with abated breath to witness that justice is meted out to the Tamil peoples in the aftermath of the protracted 28 year war in Sri Lanka. The people in Sri Lanka too and particularly those in the North are also eagerly awaiting the outcome by the Government at reconciliation. There have been suggestions put out at reconciliation, by two processes besides the LLRC: first and equal among other options is a political settlement of more..

In Pictures: One of the oldest Hindu Women's School in Sri Lanka marks 80th Anniversary

Dec 22 (TC) 80th Jubilee Celebrations of Saiva Mangaiyar Kazhagam: Saiva Mangaiyar Kazhagam in Wellawatte~ Tamil neighbourhood celebrated its 80th anniversary and Founder’s day on 11th of December 2010 at the school auditorium. It is one of the oldest Hindu Women’s School in the Island. The celebration included songs, dance and drama by the students. more..

Tamil version of the national anthem

Dec 22 (TC) Following the recent news regarding the alleged banning of the Tamil version of the Sri Lankan National Anthem by the government, there has been a plethora of associated arguments and counter-arguments for and against such a ban. The arguments of the Sinhala hardliners expressed in support of the ban have been made purely based on their racial intolerance. They clearly demonstrate that they are ill-informed of the facts they cite as well as are not sensitive to more..

Why have the Ceylon Tamils made a significant impact in Singapore?

Dec 22 (TC) 1 It is my privilege to be here this evening. This is a momentous occasion as we celebrate 100 years of the Singapore Ceylon Tamils Association (SCTA). The Association has not only contributed to the Ceylon Tamil community, but in doing so has helped the community add visibly to Singapore’s progress as a multi-cultural society. 2 The SCTA has itself grown. It was formed by 300 Ceylon Tamils in 1909, and growing to over 1400 members today. more..

What they said at the LLRC

Dec 22 (LG) To begin with, we would like to give thanks for the opportunity given to us to put forth a submission before the Lessons Learnt Reconciliation Commission. Our radio, the Tamil Broadcasting Corporation, has been operating from the UK for the past ten years, sending its broadcast service throughout Africa, Europe and the Middle East directly through the internet. Our aims are to uphold the identities of Tamils living in foreign countries and more..

Sri Lanka in Recession

Dec 22 (LG) Sri Lanka is in a state of “democratic recession” since about the time it started annihilating the Tamils, democratically that is, to safeguard democracy in the name of the people, the Sinhala majority. In the process they, the Sinhalese, stayed silent as their precious democratic privileges, the ability to speak freely, write anything they fancied, and say what they liked, were artfully taken away in a democratic manner, by a democratic government, and more..

In search of nation in flag-waving, anthem-singing times

Dec 22 (NS) A nation need symbols. Flags and anthems for example. They are supposed to capture things that are unmistakably ‘national’. Things that make a particular polity in a particular geography unique. They must, therefore, reflect not just the surface that is ‘today’, but the depths that are contained in the ‘yesterday’ that brought this ‘today’ and hopefully point to a realistic tomorrow. The current debate about language pertaining to the national anthem, more..

'Not only army, not only us but also LTTE forcibly recruited during war'

Dec 22 (LB) Vinayagamoorthy Muralitharan alias Karuna, the Deputy Minister of Resettlement of the Rajapaksa Administration and former LTTE commander in the East, spoke to Ranga Jayasuriya of Lakbimanews on wide-ranging issues: about allegations of extortion levelled against groups loyal to him, diaspora tactics, regrouping of the LTTE and how Prabhakaran learnt his military tactics from movies. more..