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'On evolving a political solution: Govt. should reciprocate our good faith and talk to us'

Dec 25 (Island) TNA MP M. A. Sumanthiran said the party welcomes the government’s decision to consult them on evolving a political settlement. "The TNA is a Tamil political party which strongly believes that actions speak louder than words and we demonstrated our good faith and commitment towards this process by abstaining from voting against the government on the Budget this time", he said. more..

Sri Lankan selectors to name final squad after domestic tournament

Dec 25 (IC) With the ICC Cricket World Cup 2011 just 56 days away, the Sri Lankan selectors are expected to name their final squad of 15 players shortly. The selectors are expected to name their final squad on January 5, 2011, which gives them the ability to observe performances of World Cup hopefuls during the Premier League limited-over cricket tournament. more..

Work towards lasting peace: Catholic Bishops

Dec 25 (DM) The Catholic Bishop’s Conference, in a Christmas message said yesterday it was necessary not only to identify the obvious dangers to peace but also the insidious dangers to its restoration in Sri Lanka. “Let us, therefore, be agents of peace and share with all our brothers and sisters the gift of peace Christ has brought to us and be resolute in working towards the realization of lasting peace more..

Poya no more a mercantile holiday?

Dec 25 (DM) The government is considering the pros and cons of scrapping the Poya holiday for the mercantile sector from next year, Labour Relations Minister Gamini Lokuge said yesterday. The public, bank and mercantile sectors enjoy the Poya holidays now. Minister Lokuge told the Daily Mirror that there were requests from various quarters to take such a decision. “We have not taken any such decision. There are requests. We are now holding discussions with more..

A/H1N1 influenza spreading to epidemic levels: ministry

Dec 25 (DM) The A/H1N1 influenza is spreading alarmingly and according to health ministry estimates there are more than 30,000 afflicted in the country though the figures given by Government Epidemiology Unit stands at 340 patients and 22 deaths, a health ministry source said yesterday. ‘The WHO announced in April last year that Sri Lanka has successfully controlled A/H1N1 after only one patient was detected that month. more..

‘Toothless’ Police Commission to be revived on Jan. 18

Dec 25 (Island) The National Police Commission is expected to be revived on Jan. 18, 2011, but sans its independence, which the now defunct 17th Amendment to the Constitution, conferred on it. The Rajapaksa government, which had come under severe criticism after the 17th Amendment was abolished in favour of a toothless 18th Amendment, was keen to reconstitute the National Police Commission (NPC), as soon as possible, more..

Crackdown on perfume

Dec 26 (NN) New regulations are to be introduced to crackdown on perfumes of poor quality being shipped to Colombo from overseas. National Pharmaceuticals Authority (NPA) Director Dr. Hemantha Benaragama said that the move follows several complaints lodged by consumers. Speaking to News, Benaragama said that several people complain of suffering from rashes and other forms of skin disease by using poor quality perfumes. more..

Lanka's tallest x-mas tree

Dec 26 (NN) A 105 foot tall Christmas tree has been erected by students of the Don-Bosco technical Centre in Nochiyagama - the tallest Christmas tree in Sri Lanka. The students who erected the massive tree have named it the ‘friendship tree’ as it was built by students from different communities and religions. The students claim that the tree is the biggest Christmas tree in Asia but the claim has yet to be officially verified by the authorities. more..

'Only 5000' Tamil Tigers in custody

Dec 26 (BBC) Nearly 5000 ex- Tamil Tigers are currently under government custody, the minister in charge of rehabilitation has said. Prison Reforms and Rehabilitation Minister Chandrasiri Gajadheera said most of them will be released soon and those who are regarded as "hardcore" Tigers will be charged in due course. He was speaking at a ceremony in the northern Sri Lankan town of Vavuniya to release 100 former Tamil Tigers. more..

Reconciliation for another generation

Dec 26 (LG) In a crowded courtroom in Vavuniya, there is a moment of ecstasy when detainees who had surrendered in the final months of fighting between the government forces and the LTTE are allowed to mingle with their families for a shot while before being segregated to stand at attention when their cases are called. One scene is particularly striking; that of a small seven year old child hugging and embracing his father who is one of the surrendered detainees while more..

The UNSG Panel, the diaspora and a blinding case of clientitis

Dec 26 (LG) The graphically descriptive phrase in quotes is borrowed from a WikiLeaks cable from former US ambassador Robert O’Blake to the US State Dept. In it he describes the selective ‘blindness’ of certain INGOs operating in Tigerland before the war’s end. It describes in detail the modus operandi used by the Tigers to hijack INGO dollars and euros sent to Sri Lanka for relief purposes in the Wanni, channelling them through the Tamil Rehabilitation Organisation (TRO) to Tiger coffers. more..

Many thousands attend chariot festival at Karainagar Sivam temple

Dec 26 (Cimic) Karainagar Sivam Kovil, another highly venerated Hindu Temple in Jaffna was congested with over 5000 devotees on Tuesday when the Kovil had its Chariot Festival, which is considered the most significant ritual of the festival. Pious Hindus despite occasional drizzles poured into the Temple premises to pay their homage to God Siva and Iyanar to whom this magnificent shrine is dedicated. more..

CaTpad rejects Rudrakumaran’s claim

Dec 26 (LG) We Canadian Tamils for Peace and Democracy (CaTpad) totally rejects the claim by the Mr.V.Rudrakumaran of so called Transnational Government of Tamil Eelam (TGTE), as “ Thamil Eelam was the Thirst of Tamils” but was the thirst of LTTE. Until 2002 ceasefire agreement, the slogan of the LTTE is “Pulikalin Thaakam Thamil Eelath Thaayakam” (Thamil Eelam is the Thirst of Tigers). In the ceasefire LTTE agreed to abandoned their separate state claim and more..

Who on the Tamil side is accountable for spawning and sustaining Tiger fascism?

Dec 26 (TC) The strangest polarization is taking place in perspectives on Sri Lanka’s recent conflict and the way forward, as reflected in submissions to the Lessons Learnt Panel and the debate surrounding them. One the one hand there are those who say that the roots of the conflict have to be dug up and addressed, if not for which the conflict would recur or reconciliation would not be effected. This school of thought could be identified by their slogan or cliche, more..

'Some ministers still have nowhere to stay'

Dec 26 (NF) There should be long term solutions to develop the country. However, unlike the appointment of the cabinet, where there are some ministers who still have nowhere to stay, no staff and no secretary, the government should implement such work with a proper plan, says minister Ratnasiri Wickremanayake. He was addressing a function to declare open an electricity scheme in the Menerigama area yesterday. more..

Editorial: 2011 to usher in a more promising year

Dec 26 (SO) Another year is fast approaching as the 2011 New Year dawns next Saturday. In this context, it is time to take stock of how we fared during the current year and prepare ourselves for the coming year with renewed confidence and greater targets. We should make a careful assessment of what we have achieved during the year as well as our failures, if any. Hence, we could identify and capitalise on our strengths and prepare for the coming year with greater confidence. more..

Editorial: Consistent foreign policy vital need

Dec 26 (NS) Sri Lanka’s foreign policy seems to be in a spin and the way it ‘turns’ would have made Mutthiah Muralitharan proud. The latest controversy surrounds an announcement to the effect that the special ‘advisory’ panel appointed by UN secretary-general Ban Ki-moon would be allowed to visit Sri Lanka. It erupted when the Secretary General himself told the media that his panel of experts ‘is now able to visit Sri Lanka and meet with the LLRC’ and more..

'Foreign Policy cannot be formulated by jokers fasting at UN'

Dec 26 (NF) Foreign Policy of a country cannot be formulated by jokers fasting in front of UN headquarters and the territorial integrity of a country does not change just because some persons come over here for an inquiry, says UNP MP Dayasiri Jayasekera. He was expressing these views when the UNP called a media briefing on the UN panel of experts' proposed visit to Sri Lanka. “The territorial integrity of a country will not change just because more..

Editorial: Better country, better decade?

Dec 26 (LB) The Governor of the Central Bank suggests in this edition of our newspaper that growth would scale a tremendous 9 percentage points in the coming year. For those who have made the economy priority number one for the nation, this suggestion if correct, must sound sweet music. There is no doubt in the meantime that most of our governance and civic systems are corrupted. Most Cabinet posts for instance are gifts given to buy silence and compliance of Cabinet officeholders. more..

Editorial: Lessons Learnt From Mahinda

Dec 26 (SL) People follow leaders. Thus, there is a great danger that President Mahinda Rajapaksa is teaching people all the wrong things. He is teaching that violence can resolve conflicts, that opinions can be silenced and that laws can be bent. The imminent danger is that people are taking him seriously. Many children today are growing up with the story that war was the solution to the ethnic conflict. The fact is that war has simply ushered in Southern dominance. more..

New subject streams for O/L, A/L students

Dec 26 (SO) In a move to introduce more vocational training-based subjects to the school curriculum, the Education Ministry is making arrangements to introduce a new subject stream to the A/L and O/L examinations from next year. Minister Gunawardena said the Education Ministry along with the Youth Affairs and Skills Development Ministry is now conducting discussions to introduce a new subject stream called Technological Studies for the A/L syllabus. more..

Editorial: Pol sambol

Dec 26 (Island) Despite the dangers of the introduction of pests, the government is talking about resorting to the import of coconuts after the price of a nut had hit a dizzy price of Rs. 60 a nut. Whether this will in fact come to pass remains to be seen as there have been appeals for the re-thinking of this measure both from producer interests as well as well informed scientific opinion. The Island carried a letter from Dr. U. Pethiyagoda last week warning more..

Editorial: Only rascals will shun right to information

Dec 26 (ST) At the conclusion of less than even a year since the new Parliament was elected by the people, it might be appropriate to reflect on the performance of our lawmakers and assess how worthy they have been as the representatives of the people. The final report card, alas, is a grim and dismal one. One of the first things the new MPs did was to get themselves duty-free car permits - and then go on to flog them in the open market pocketing the profits. more..

No Tamils in new intake of 135 For Sri Lanka Administrative Service

Dec 26 (TC) Last week, President Mahinda Rajapaksa presented appointment papers to a new intake of 135 recruits to the Sri Lanka Administrative Service (SLAS). The apex of the government’s bureaucracy, the SLAS is supposed to represent all communities which form the citizenry of this country. Alas, there were no Tamils and just a single Muslim among the new batch of recruits. more..

Taste of success

Dec 26 (NS) The dust is settling on the special convention of the UNP but as most other political parties go into hibernation during the festive season, the tempo in the UNP has been different, with intense back-room brokering going on. The focus of course is on the leadership of the party, where opposition and UNP leader Ranil Wickremesinghe and leadership aspirant and presidential off-spring Sajith Premadasa appeared to be previously locked in political mortal combat. more..

President steps in to boost diplomacy

Dec 26 (NS) President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s decision to allow the UN expert panel appointed to inquire into allegations of war crimes during the closing stages of the offensive against the LTTE, to visit Sri Lanka is commendable. According to reports, there had been some sort of agreement between the President and UN secretary-general Ban Ki-moon when they met in the sidelines of the UN General Assembly held in New York, last September. more..

Travel chaos in Europe hit Sri Lanka’s tourism industry

Dec 26 (Island) The travel chaos caused by snow and frigid temperatures across northern Europe has impacted negatively on Sri Lanka’s tourism industry as the grounding of flights coupled with widespread disruptions has resulted in a string of cancellations, officials said last week. The fallout from the freezing conditions, which led to the temporary closure of many airports as the heaviest snow in decades was reported in that part of the globe, more..

Foreign policy? What foreign policy?

Dec 26 (Island) What most people say about this government is that it has not even the semblance of a foreign policy. The three major embarrassments that occurred one after another in recent days, the president’s Oxford Union fiasco, British Defence Secretary Liam Fox’s Kadirgamar memorial oration cancellation and the supposed ‘invitation’ to visit Colombo extended by the president to the UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon’s Expert Panel on Sri Lanka despite more..

‘No intention to devolve’

Dec 26 (Island) ‘There is clearly no intention on the part of the centre to devolve power on the Eastern Provincial Council. This is borne out, among other things, by the recent budgetary provision to the effect that BTT should be collected by the centre and not the Provincial Councils. This is scandalous because the bulk of the PCs’ revenue comes from BTT. This is a complete violation of the 13th amendment, informed sources said. more..

Piecing together Lanka’s biggest peace-time robbery

Dec 26 (ST) Far from being centres of rehabilitation, prisons are where crimes are planned, new gangs formed and experiences shared. It comes as no surprise that Sri Lanka’s biggest ‘peace-time’ robbery was an outcome of a plan hatched inside the secure environs of the Welikada prison in Colombo. Here six men, including four army deserters, remanded for drug-related offences, came up with a plan to carry out a robbery big enough to give them enough money to more..

Rajapaksa juggernaut may seem unstoppable but can be slowed down

Dec 26 (TC) Beliatte, Tangalle, Matara, Mahawa, Maharagama…......Five defeats for the UPFA, in one month. In five local-government bodies, the UNP and the JVP, backed by some governing-party members, trounced the UPFA at budget-votes. These defeats, though encouraging, are not the ‘writing on the wall’; the regime is firmly ensconced and will remain so, barring a miracle. Yet, they reflect a malaise at the grassroots-level which can be used to rein-in the Rajapaksas at the national-level if more..

2010: A year of economic recovery and growth

Dec 26 (ST) This year could be best described as a year of economic recovery when the nation reaped a partial peace dividend. The economic growth for 2010 is expected to be 7.5 per cent. Some have expressed the view that it would be higher at 8 per cent. This may well be realized for after all it is a statistic that has considerable scope for manipulation. This year’s GDP growth is more than a doubling of last year’s growth of 3.5 per cent and more..

Sri Lankan Facebook users face threat of Internet hackers

Dec 26 (ST) Sri Lankan Facebook users are facing a threat of Internet hackers who pose as pretty girls or handsome men on Facebook to earn big money by hacking into email accounts and Facebook accounts and hold account-holders to ransom. The Sri Lanka Computer Emergency Response Team (SLCERT) has warned of an organized group of hackers acting in collusion and trying to carry out criminal activity for financial gain. more..

Sons of ‘top guns’ in bank robbery trial

Dec 26 (NS) When the Wellawatte Union Bank robbery case was taken up for hearing before Mount Lavinia Additional Magistrate Ruchira Weliwatte on Wednesday, attorney-at-law Dilum Jayasekera, counsel for one of suspects said in open court that they had come to understand about a move by the prosecution to introduce a revolver used by his client’s father a retired DIG as the weapon used by the gang who staged the robbery. more..

Sea Street jewellers saved from abductors by Gota

Dec 26 (NS) The Sea Street jewellers called on Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa on Thursday to thank him for the prompt action taken on the threats faced by them. President of the Jewellers’ Association, K Radhakrishnan told The Nation that prompt action by the Defence Ministry had resulted in the arrest of those who had abducted one of the jewellers and demanded a ransom of Rs.50 million in Kotahena recently. more..

Wide legal powers for Namal’s movement

Dec 26 (ST) The Government has moved to provide legal status to Tharunyata Hetak, a youth organisation led by Hambantota District MP Namal Rajapaksa. A bill presented in Parliament by Social Services Minister Felix Perera seeks to empower the organisation to "borrow or raise money" with or without security. It will allow the group to receive or collect grants and legally obtain movable and immovable property. more..

Northern Province could get thirsty

Dec 26 (SL) The Northern Province could face problems with regard to scarcity of usable water in the future unless fast action is taken, said Development Economist and Principal Researcher, Point Pedro Institute for Development, Dr. Mutukrishna Sarvananthan. Presently, around 95% of the population in the North depends on well water, he said, adding that in certain areas well water has become unusable due to environmental degradation. more..

Mobile phones taboo for prison officials on duty

Dec 26 (Island) Commissioner-General of Prisons, Major General V. R. de Silva said that the government has banned the use of mobile phones by prison officials on duty, irrespective of their rank, with immediate effect. "Even if I am entering a prison, I will hand over my mobile phone to the security at the gate", he said. He said that in the past prison personnel were not tough on the use of mobile phones by prisoners, but the time has come to enforce a strict ban more..

The comedy of contradictory contradictions by Govt. officials

Dec 26 (ST) Since independence in 1948, Sri Lanka has continued to have only one elected government though different political parties wielded power at different times. The only challenge to their writ in two and half decades came from the LTTE, which claimed they had their own "Government" in the North and wanted to set up one in the East. President Mahinda Rajapaksa, who gave political leadership to the military campaign, routed the Tiger guerrillas in May last year. more..

Bus fare hike plan ‘delayed’

Dec 26 (NS) The National Transport Commission (NTC) said that they will not permit a bus fare hike of five percent from January 15 as demanded by the Federation of Private Bus Operators Associations. Commission director-general GAS Ganepola said that only the NTC has the authority to revise bus fares and they do not see any necessity to increase the fares from next month. The director-general, however added that “the NTC is already having discussions about the issue of more..