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18th amendment- a tactical move: DEW

Dec 24 (DM) Q: Can you explain the concept of a Senior Minister; many are perplexed by what this portfolio really entails; what are the obligations and responsibilities of a Senior Minister? A: The appointment of Ministers and the allocations of funds is a prerogative of the President. In my view what I feel is that this is a new concept, it has been tried out in other countries, and I don’t know whether it has been proved successful- more..

Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon heroine in Sri Lanka

Dec 24 (N360) Michelle Yeoh Choo-Kheng who acted in the 1997 James Bond film “Tomorrow Never Dies”, and also in the multiple Academy Award-winning Chinese action film “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” is currently in Sri Lanka. The Hong Kong based Malaysian actress arrived here in the country as the Global Ambassador for “Make Roads Safe” campaign, which she promotes across the world. Today Michelle met President Mahinda Rajapaksa along with more..

Dullus snarls at officials' snail's pace

Dec 24 (DN) Youth Affairs and Skills Development Ministry has initiated measures to decentralise all vocational training programs, Minister Dullas Alahapperuma said. He said this while speaking at the monthly co-ordinating committee meeting held in Devinuwara and Dickwella Divisional secretariat offices recently. Minister Alahapperuma severely criticised the relevant officials attached to the Agrarian Services Department for their inordinate delay in more..

Year 5 Scholarship winners denied near by National schools

Dec 24 (Island) Sabaragamuwa Chief Minister Maheepala Herath will meet Education Minister Bandula Gunawardena early next year to discuss the plight of 2010 Year 5 scholarship winners from the Ratnapura and Kegalle districts due to their being denied admission to national schools of their choice for want of required marks stipulated by the Education Ministry. Although the ministry said that those who had obtained 141 marks more..

Senior official’s reshuffled at the Finance Ministry

Dec 24 (N360) Ministry of Finance has reshuffled its set of senior officials and given them new departments to handle, with effect from 15th of December. Accordingly, the Director Generals who were heading departments such as Fiscal Policy, Public Enterprises, Treasury Operations, External Resources and National Planning has been shifted or promoted. Dr. B.M.S. Batagoda, who was heading the Department of Public Enterprises, has been transferred to head the National Planning Unit. more..

Govt. refutes TU claim of it’s date expired vaccine

Dec 24 (Island) Epidemeology Unit Director Dr. Sudath Peiris speaking to The Island confirmed that the present Novel Influenza (A H1 N1) vaccination given to high risk groups would expire on December 31 and his Unit would commence the 2nd batch of new vaccination commencing January 2011. Dr. Peiris said that a certain trade union in the Healthcare Ministry was misleading the general public and had made baseless statements on the expiry date of the vaccination. more..

Kanak Mani Dixit

Tobacco production to be reduced

Dec 24 (NS) Plans are afoot to reduce the tobacco production in Sri Lanka by 5% per year starting 2011, said Chairman of the National Authority on Tobacco and Alcohol, Prof Carlo Fonseka. Addressing a media awareness workshop on reporting drug-related matters he said that this plan will be implemented from next year as per a request from the Buddhist clergy. “The tobacco production in Sri Lanka will be reduced systematically and in 20 years there will not be any tobacco production taking place in Sri Lanka,” more..

IAC, LLRC meets

Dec 24 (DN) The Inter Agency Committee (IAC) chaired by Attorney-General Mohan Pieris and established to facilitate the implementation of the Interim Recommendations of the Lessons Learnt & Reconciliation Commission (LLRC), met with Members of the Commission on December 10, 2010. The meeting took place consequent to a decision by the Committee at its initial session on November 24. As an outcome of the meeting, the following decisions have been taken. more..

Interim UNP working committee from Jan. 1

Dec 24 (DM) The UNP has decided to appoint an ‘interim working committee’ effective from January 1 to attend to the official duties of the party until office bearers are appointed under the new constitution enacted at the recent convention. Accordingly, the members of the present Working Committee will be appointed to the interim committee. UNP General Secretary Tissa Attanayake said in a statement that this decision was taken by more..

Woman killed in Pre-school horror

Dec 24 (ST) An enraged man allegedly stormed into a packed Montessori and brutally stabbed his young wife to death, before turning the same weapon on his mother-in-law, wounding her seriously and later attempted to commit suicide by swallowing poison as terrified children looked on, police said. They said the incident took place earlier today at the Montessori situated at Allahuwa in the Kurunegala District. The wounded woman and the attacker are currently more..

Former National Film Corporation director pleads guilty

Dec 24 (DM) A former National Film Corporation director who had been in remand custody for possessing explosives in collaboration with the LTTE in a bid to explode bombs in the Colombo city pleaded guilty to all charges yesterday. When the case came up before Mt. Lavinia Additional Magistrate Ruchira Weliwatta, the suspect pleaded guilty to all charges and further magisterial inquiry was fixed for January 5. Meanwhile, the suspect was ordered to be remanded till that date. more..

Govt initiates dialogue with its diplomats

Dec 24 (DN) The Government has initiated a program to improve relations with diplomatic and consular missions abroad through a comprehensive dialogue. “It is necessary to galvanize our resources especially Sri Lankan employees in foreign countries for the development and maintenance of accountability in collaboration with diplomatic missions abroad,” External Affairs Minister Prof G L Pieris said. more..

CMC seeks SEC help to replace collapsed sewerage line

Dec 24 (Island) The Colombo Municipal Council (CMC) has solicited the assistance of the State Engineering Corporation to replace the sewerage line on the Galle Road, which has, on this occasion, collapsed on the land side near Roxy Theatre in Wellawatte. Special Commissioner of the CMC Omar Kamil told The Island that President Mahinda Rajapaksa has directed the CMC to take immediate action to get the damaged sewerage line replaced. more..

Govt. will not allow FDIs to destroy local industries-Basil

Dec 24 (DM) The country’s investments would be done in a way that would not affect the local industries, Economic Development Minister Basil Rajapaksa said yesterday. “Although we want to increase investments, we are not allowing it to destroy or damage the local industries, such as self-employments,” the minister said at a special discussion on establishing one million home economic units in the country. more..

Jaffna voters list slashed by 40%

Dec 24 (DM) Election authorities have omitted the names of around 300,000 voters from the 2010 electoral list of the Jaffna district, because they have left the country during the conflict period, officials said yesterday. According to the latest enumeration, the total number of voters will now be about 500,000 in Jaffna though the Muslims who had resettled in the district recently are yet to be enumerated. more..

Boat tragedy in Welikanda: Watery grave for six

Dec 24 (DN) Six people from the same family were drowned when their boat capsized in the Mahasen tank in Welikanda, Polonnaruwa yesterday. Among the dead are four females and two males including a two and a half year old child. Of the seven in the boat one had managed to escape. The person who escaped is believed to be the one who was rowing the boat, a boatman of the area. The six family members who had died in the boat tragedy had come from Gelioya, more..

Police recover weapon, cash from mastermind

Dec 24 (DM) Police recovered a weapon and Rs.1.8 million in cash from the mastermind in the Rs.70 million ATM heist, arrested by the Mirihana police in Kaduwela. Police said the mastermind had taken a share of Rs.11.8 million from the robbed money. The suspect was an ex soldier and had bought a land worth Rs.4 million with a house from Ganemulla and had bought furniture and electronic equipment worth millions of rupees,” more..

Johnston lashes out at UNP, JVP

Dec 24 (Island) Minister of Trade and Cooperatives Johnston Fernando yesterday lashed out at the UNP and JVP over their blaming the government for permitting prices of essentials to soar. "Opposition Leader Ranil Wickremasinghe, who was once my leader and the JVP derive a stupid happiness from blaming the government for not bringing down the prices of essentials despite essentials being imports to bring down prices, he said. more..

'Rajapaksa govt. on course to antagonise India as well'

Dec 24 (Island) The Mahinda Rajapaksa government was on course to antagonise India as well by failing to resolve the problems faced by the Tamils, nearly 19 months after the defeat of the LTTE, the UNP said yesterday. WPC UNP member Kithsiri Manchanayake said that President Rajapaksa had claimed that he needed only India’s support, however, concerns expressed by Rahul Gandhi, the General Secretary of the All India Congress Committee, more..

Ship ordered to leave

Dec 24 (DM) The authorities yesterday found that a ship, that arrived at the Colombo port claiming that it was carrying 15,000 tonnes of fertiliser, actually contained a stock of raw material used to produce organic fertiliser. The ship was ordered to leave the country yesterday. Agrarian Services Minister S.M. Chandrasena said he had instructed the National Fertilizer Secretariat to order the ship to leave. more..

More steps to reduce tobacco and alcohol use

Dec 24 (Island) The use of tobacco products among the Sri Lankan youth shows a remarkable reduction, the National Authority on Tobacco and Alcohol said. "According to the global youth tobacco survey only 1.2 per cent of the youth population in Sri Lanka are smokers," Coordinator, NATA, Dr. Prasanna Cooray said. Sri Lanka is at a top level compared to other countries. However the consumption of tobacco and alcohol is very high among the adult and middle aged population more..

MR wants CEB to stick to 90-unit limit

Dec 24 (DM) President Mahinda Rajapaksa dismissed the suggestion made by a Working Committee (WC) appointed to look into the electricity tariff, to reduce the special relief package down to first 60 units from the current 90 units and ordered to keep the relief package unchanged up to 90 units, Minister Patali Champika Ranawaka said. Commenting on the electricity tariff revision to be introduced from January 2011, more..

Refrigerator users will have to pay more for power

Dec 24 (Island) Any home that uses a refrigerator will consume more than 90 units of electricity per month and will be compelled to pay a higher tariff rate beginning January. The proposed tariff hike will hit the consumer who uses more than 90 units. However, consumption in excess of 90 units will be charged separately in blocks of 30 units, he said. The PUCSL is all geared up to implement the tariff hike to stabilize the debt ridden CEB. more..

Rs. 400 million for 10 new tanks to reduce floods

Dec 24 (DM) The Land Reclamation and Development Corporation (LRDC) is to spend Rs 400 million to dig 10 new tanks in and around Colombo to prevent floods in the future. LRDC General Manager Shyama Gunawardene told the Daily Mirror work in Pelawatte, Thalawathugoda, Madiwala and Waters edge premises were underway. She said five tanks would be constructed in the first phase which was expected to end by the middle of next year. more..

Two minutes silence for Tsunami victims

Dec 24 (DM) A nation-wide two minute silence would be maintained from 9.25 am to 9.27 am on Sunday (26) as a mark of respect for all those who died in the 2004 tsunami. The National Safety Day that is to be held to commemorate tsunami victims will be held at the Weerasingham Hall in Jaffna this year under the patronage of the Prime Minister D. M Jayaratne. The Center said that this would be the first occasion that the National Safety Day is be held in the North more..

Talks to introduce 5-day-week for private sector

Dec 24 (DM) The Labour Ministry which is in the process of introducing a five-day week for the private sector started discussions with employers and trade unions, Minister Gamini Lokuge said. Some eight million private sector employees will be benefited from the implementation of the five day week, he said. “If the ongoing tripartite dialogue (the Employers Federation, Trade Unions and the Ministry) on the issue is concluded successfully, more..

UN says Expert Panel on Sri Lanka has a broader plan than just meeting LLRC

Dec 24 (AD) The United Nations says that its Expert Panel would deal with other parties in addition to the LLRC. The Panel’s work is broader than simply dealing with the LLRC, Farhan Haq, Spokesperson for the Secretary-General said. Excerpt from the press briefing: Q: Farhan, when the Secretary-General gave the last press conference here, he said that he was glad to announce that his Panel of Experts on Sri Lanka was going to be able to travel to Sri Lanka. more..

‘Relatives will be kept informed of detainees' whereabouts'

Dec 24 (DM) Measures will be taken to utilise the common accessibility of communications technology to keep the detainees’ whereabouts informed to their family members, according to the Inter-Agency Advisory Committee (IAAC) which was appointed to facilitate the interim recommendations of the LLRC. It had also been decided to make every effort to ensure that the requisite information on rehabilitation and resettlement efforts in the North and the East was accessible to more..

Port Authority denies UNP allegations

Dec 25 (BBC) Authorities in Sri Lanka have categorically denied allegations by the main opposition that the international sea port in Hambantota has failed to attract international shipping lines. United National Party (UNP) parliamentarian Dayasiri Jayasekara told journalists that the newly built port has failed to secure the International Ships and Port facilities Securities (ISPS) certificate which is essential for international shipping. more..

Ont. suspect linked to Tamil Tigers gets bail

Dec 25 (CBC) An Ontario university student facing terror charges in the United States is out on bail. Suresh Sriskandarajah says he will continue his fight against extradition to the U.S. Last week, the Ontario Court of Appeal upheld an order to send the Waterloo, Ont., man to New York to face charges he worked for the Tamil Tigers in his native Sri Lanka between 2004 and 2006. He is now seeking leave to take his case to the Supreme Court of Canada on the grounds more..

Sri Lanka News Debrief - 24.12.2010

Sailors home after Somali kidnap

Dec 25 (BBC) Eleven Sri Lankan sailors, who had been held captive for nine months by Somali pirates, have arrived home in Colombo. The men were released earlier this month after negotiations between their captors and the ship's Saudi owners. Sri Lankan officials said the sailors were unhurt, but might need time to recover from the trauma. The pirates have demanded USD 20m to release the Saudi oil tanker Al Nisr Al Saudi with thirteen Sri Lankan crew members. more..

Sri Lanka tax refund delays worry Japanese investors

Dec 25 (LBO) Japanese investors are keen to invest in post-war Sri Lanka but firms already operating in the island are concerned about delays in value-added tax refunds and high electricity tariffs, a visiting lawmaker said. These concerns were conveyed to the investment promotion agency, Board of Investment, by Hirofumi Hirano, chairman of the Parliamentarian League and former chief Cabinet secretary. more..

'Hidden conspiracy within the External Affairs Ministry'

Dec 25 (AD) Local as well as foreign conspiracies are taking place in regard to the arrival of the United Nations Expert Panel to Sri Lanka, says President of the Patriotic National Movement Dr. Gunadasa Amarasekara. It appears that these foreign conspiracies are being assisted by the JVP, he accused. A hidden conspiracy is also taking place within the External Affairs Ministry regarding this visit, Dr. Amarasekara stated more..

Sri Lanka formula racing tracks mulled by FIA

Dec 25 (LBO) The Federation International de Automobile (FIA), the governing body of world motor sport, is considering setting up two international formula racing tracks in Sri Lanka, the government said. A statement from President Mahinda Rajapaksa's office said Jean Todt, the president of the International Automobile Federation, had explored the possibility of setting up two motor racing tracks during a visit to the island this week. more..

Seat belts a must

Dec 25 (DM) The government has decided to make wearing seat belts compulsory while driving vehicles with English number plates and also imposed a ban on driving vehicles with garage numbers or CC numbers, the President’s Office said. “In order to curtail the import rackets, the government has decided to impose a ban for using garage numbers or CC numbers with immediate effect,” the President’s office said in a statement. The statement also said the strict action would be taken on those more..

India likely to gift some military equipment to Sri Lanka

Dec 25 (PTI) As a goodwill gesture, India is expected to gift some military equipment such as shoulder-fired missiles and radars to Sri Lanka when defence secretary Pradeep Kumar undertakes a two-day visit there from Monday. The equipment, part of the assistance provided to Sri Lanka to fight LTTE, is planned to be gifted apparently to demonstrate India's efforts to help build the defence capabilities of the Island nation in more..

Seat belt compulsory

Dec 25 (NN) The use of seat belts in vehicles with English number plates has been made compulsory while strict action will also be taken against the use of mobile phones while driving. According to a statement by the President’s office running vehicles on the street using garage numbers or ‘CC’ numbers will also be banned. The decision to strictly enforce the use of seat belts is to minimise the damage caused to human life during an accident. more..

University Student Activism and Academic Freedom

Dec 25 (LG) Sri Lanka’s Minister of Higher Education this week lamented that 60% of the academic staff at our state universities lack a post-graduate doctoral qualification. He stated that t his situation was because many academics lacked the financial resources to go abroad for post-graduate studies. He said he was going to introduce a system where local universities would offer programmes for doctoral qualifications with only a minimum period spent abroad for research. more..