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Govt seems to be trying hard to please too many people at the same time

Dec 28 (LG) First the government stated that the establishment of the Panel of Experts by the UN Secretary General Ban ki-Moon was ‘illegal’ and the members of the Panel would not be permitted to enter Sri Lanka. A few weeks later, the government said that if a request was made, it would be willing to ‘consider’ granting visas. A few more months have gone by, and the government now announces that it is ready and willing to facilitate the visit of the UNSG-Panel. more..

A prudent move by Health Ministry

Dec 28 (DM) The decision of the Health Ministry to make it compulsory for alcohol and cigarette users to pay for any government medical services they undergo could be considered prudent. This decision follows Health Minister Maithripala Sirisena’s repeated assertion that the general public should not be made to pay for others’ iniquities. As Health Ministry officials say, non-communicable diseases (NCD) such as diabetes, strokes, heart attacks, more..

National safety day held in Jaffna

Dec 28 (Cimic) “Thousands of Jaffna citizens who gathered at the Weerasingham Hall on Sunday remembered their loved ones, soldiers and all others who perished in natural and man-made disasters. Prime Minister D.M. Jayaratne was the Chief Guest of the national ceremony which commenced with the hoisting of the National Flag, Provincial Flag, District Flag and the Disaster Management Flag. It was followed by reciting of the National Anthem and two minute silence more..

It has to be Devolution, not Decentralisation

Dec 28 (DM) Some of the old and recent Sinhala formulations on a political solution to the ethnic issue have revolved around pre-war institutions like district and village-level administrative units. Proponents of such formulations tend to forget that the failure of the existing administrative scheme was a contributing factor to ethnic discomfort, and consequent violence leading to war. The earlier scheme, which is now being sought to be revised, was not about devolution. more..

Mahinda’s problems and Ranil’s woes….

Dec 28 (SL) On the 16th of December, Adam Werrity, the personal aide to British Secretary of Defence Liam Fox arrived in Sri Lanka. He arrived in advance to vet the arrangements that were being made for Liam Fox’s visit when he was expected to make the keynote speech at the Lakshman Kadirgamar commemoration. He first met with Mrs Suganthi Kadirgamar to go over the arrangements. Werrity received an urgent message early next morning from England where he was informed more..

Free school books and scholarships for children of war heroes

Dec 28 (MoD) Seva Vanitha Unit of the Department of Civil Security gave away school books and awarded scholarships for many school children of brave men and women of the country in a function held at its head office, today (27 Dec). This social welfare programme has been launched in parallel to the welfare programmes carried out for the betterment of war heroes, under the guidance of Secretary Defence Mr. Gotabaya Rajapaksa. more..

2011: Same undesirable Baggage with the same Rajapaksas

Dec 28 (SL) Another year, the last of the first decade of the new millennium is over. Almost. The first full year budget after the war concluded in 2009 May, was also passed in Parliament a few weeks ago, for year 2011. Ready for the new year, with a multitude of promises for a gorgeous new beginning, on our way to be the “Wonder of Asia”. Pessimistic though to begin a new year, how hopeful can we be? Year 2011 would be decided by what we carry from this year and how well. more..

Editorial: Holy Innocents Day: Save our Children

Dec 28 (DM) Super highways and flyovers, international ports or airports and other high-tech facilities are being built as part of the Rajapaksa regime’s mega development plan to make Sri Lanka one of the foremost countries in the world. While these are important much more emphasis needs to be given to the moulding of our children because without people who are committed to sincere, sacrificial and selfless service, we will be building on sand and more..

‘Elelphants, elephants, run, run!’

Dec 28 (ST) After many visits to Yala National Park, I was fortunate to carry out some work within Wilpattu National Park in 1959. The Ranger in charge was a Mr. de Alwis from Kandy. The Maha Willachchiya Project was 22 miles west of Anuradhapura in the Wilpattu intermediate zone. I assumed duties in May 1958, on transfer from Matara after serving there from mid 1955. May 1958 ended with the Sinhala- Tamil conflict and more..

Editorial: That chicken-and-egg question

Dec 28 (Island) Some medical doctors have asked the government whether a consignment of chicken imported from India is fit for human consumption because, they say, no tests have been conducted to ensure its quality. The government, whose desperation knows no bounds vis-à-vis skyrocketing food prices, has dismissed this allegation saying that the imported meat weighing 500 MT, which is part of 2,500 MT of chicken to be brought from India, in a hurry, to arrest the soaring chicken prices here, more..

Case of lost and found tsunami child still a mystery

Dec 28 (ST) While in-depth investigations are being conducted in to the incident where a six year old girl, believed to have gone missing during the December 2004 tsunami, was located from Wellampitiya two weeks back, the NCPA is trying to locate her biological parents. Refusing to divulge sensitive details about the incident as it would hamper the ongoing investigations, NCPA Chairperson Anoma Dissanayake requests parents who lost their children of similar age during that more..

Indian eggs cleared from port, chicken awaits MRI okay

Dec 28 (Island) Fifty million eggs, imported from India, were cleared from the Port of Colombo yesterday on a priority basis due to high prices in the local market. The shipment of 500 MT of chicken would be cleared later, sources said. Documentation and Meat samples were sent to the Medical Research Institute (MRI), for the quarantine report. Sathosa’s Additional General Manager (AGM) of Imports and Exports, S. Somaratne was in the Port to clear the eggs. more..

Kelaniya Uni students say hostel issues not solved

Dec 28 (ST) The problems faced by the students of the University of Kelaniya continue with some lectures still being suspended, students charge. The Student’s Union of the University of Kelaniya held a protest last Thursday demanding that the University restart lectures for 2nd and 3rd year students immediately. These students from the Humanities and Social Sciences Faculties of the University of Kelaniya told the Sunday Times that they had been informed that more..

Our national anthem: Statement by the Rt. Rev. Duleep de Chickera

Dec 28 (TC) I am deeply perturbed with the regrettable Cabinet decision to deprive our Tamil speaking citizens of the right to sing the National Anthem in their mother tongue. The decision amounts to an insensitive shift and conveys a message of exclusion to the Tamil speaking minorities. It will undoubtedly isolate the minorities even further at a time when policy decisions that strengthen National integration should receive priority. more..

Sri Lanka looking at hosting maiden SA beach games

Dec 28 (DM) Sri Lanka is making elaborate arrangements to conduct the first South Asian Federation Beach Games in Hambantota in August next year. The organising committee will be headed by Dilan Perera, Minister of Foreign Employment and already two main working committees and ten sub committees have been formed towards working on these Games. It will also be the first time that a major event is to be conducted in Hambantota. more..

Ghosts of Christmases past haunt Sri Lankans

Dec 28 (UCAN) While many parts of the world celebrated Christmas with cheers, Catholics in Sri Lanka spent their time mourning over the murdered brethren on previous Christmases. Two allegedly ‘unidentified’ gunmen in 2005 opened fire at a Christmas Eve Mass in St. Mary’s Cathedral, Batticaloa, while a Tamil parliamentarian Joseph Parajasingham, his wife and others, were about to receive Holy Communion from Bishop Kingsley Swampillai of Trincomalee-Batticaloa. more..

Aggrieved principals on the warpath

Dec 28 (Island) Most of the principals who received Grade 2 and Grade 3 appointments to the North Central Province Schools, but feel that they have been discriminated against as regards the manner in which the placements have been made, have submitted their resignation letters to the Governor of the North Central Province, Karunaratne Divulgane. The principals who submitted their resignation letters have complained that more..

Rajapaksa’s ouster is a tall order

Dec 28 (SG) Hundreds of supporters of legislator Sajith Premadasa gathered outside the Colombo headquarters of Sri Lanka’s main opposition party, the UNP on Dec. 12, 2010 and cheered lustily when crucial reforms in the party constitution were announced. Premadasa, 43 year-old son of the late, assassinated President Ranasinghe Premadasa, is making a pitch for party leadership and has been opposing plans by current leader and more..

A credit card for state sector employees

Dec 28 (N360) Sri Lanka is planning to introduce a “credit card” for state sector employees in its bid to encourage them to do “e-transactions”. This is to be in line with the Government’s e-governance program which is currently underway. Accordingly starting from January, the Bank of Ceylon will issue a “BOC credit card” for state employees. Banks DGM of product and development banking C. Samarasinghe revealed, “We will start the program on the 15th of January”. more..

Galle–Matara stretch to power 100 kmph

Dec 28 (DM) The Galle - Matara stretch of the railway track has now been structured to accommodate high speed trains and trains will have a speed of 100kmh. The railway services between Galle and Matara are due to become operative again on January 15, 2011. The track had been upgraded to handle high speed trains. Implemented under the Indian Loan Project, the Coastal Railway had been planned to become a high speed railway. Galle- Matara stretch had been identified as the first stage and more..

Zonal Deputy Director of Education shot dead in Jaffna

Dec 28 (TN) Armed men who arrived in a motorbike shot and killed 52-year-old Markandu Sivalingam, the deputy director of Education, Valikaamam Zone, Sunday night at his residence in Urumpiraay in Jaffna, sending shock waves across the education sector in Jaffna. The killing of a peaceful educationalist, who recently took up the post after serving at Koappaay Teachers Training College for a long time, has taken place when more..

Floods worsen woes of Champoor uprooted in transit camps

Dec 28 (TN) Continuous rain for the last one week has disrupted the normal life in several parts of the Trincomalee district, especially the refugees uprooted from Champoor in Moothoor East in 2006 military operations by the Sri Lanka Army and currently sheltered in temporary transit camps in Ki'liveddy, Manatcheanai and Paddiththidal. The transit camps are now under water following heavy rain displacing the refugees again to nearby public buildings and Kovils for night stay. more..

More cracks in coconut crisis

Dec 28 (DM) The debate on the coconut crisis took a cracking turn yesterday with the UNP arguing that it was prohibited for the government to import coconuts under the Plant Protection Act. The government earlier decided to import coconut from Kerala, India to bring down the prices in the local market. There is a sharp drop in the production of nuts in Sri Lanka due to the infectious disease that hit plantations in the southern province. more..

Sounds of Sri Lankan drums in US

Stale food in Pettah shops and hotels

Dec 28 (DM) The Colombo Municipality seized large stocks of outdated food from shops and small hotels in Pettah when it carried out raids over the week end. Chief Medical Officer Dr. Pradeep Kariyawasam said the Municipality destroyed 300 kgs of fruit, 40 kgs of ice-cream, 40 kgs of Kottu and a large stock of outdated biscuits from small scale food outlets. He said legal action would be taken against these traders. more..

UNP has been united to oust Rajapaksa regime - Ranil

Dec 28 (Island) Leader of the UNP Ranil Wickremesighe said yesterday that the party has been united following the recent annual convention and a cohesive unit was in place, to oust the Mahinda Rajapaksa regime before it completes its second term. Speaking to the media in Colombo,he said that a strong team comprising seniors such as Karu Jayasuriya, Gamini Jayawickrema Perera, Joseph Michael Perera and Tissa Attanayake, ably assisted by youth leaders such as more..

Indian Defence Secretary in Colombo to discuss peacetime engagement

Dec 28 (Hindu) To outline the contours of India's defence engagement with Sri Lanka during peacetime, Indian Defence Secretary Pradeep Kumar arrived here on Monday on a three-day visit. He met External Affairs Minister G.L. Peiris, Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa, and took part in official-level talks between the two sides. Over the past few years, including in the crucial phases of the war, India had provided know-how and technical support to more..

Sri Lanka to set up more domestic airports

Dec 28 (SL) The Civil Aviation Minister Priyankara Jayaratne has said that seven domestic airports are to be set up in the country. He has said that a domestic airport would be developed in Puttalam and six other domestic airports are to be developed in other parts of the country and this number would be increased to 30 in the future. He has said that domestic air services to the Puttalam area would be developed when Puttalam is declared as a tourist zone. more..

Special ranking system for universities

Dec 28 (DN) A special ranking system will be introduced to universities from next year. The best local university, the best faculty,the best department and the best lecturer will be selected according to the ranking, Higher Education Ministry Secretary Dr Sunil Jayantha Nawaratne said. Presidential Awards will be presented to those selected. The ranking system will be implemented parallel to the Higher Eduction Action Plan (2011-2015) which is scheduled to more..

'Scouts rendered yeomen service'

Dec 28 (DN) The Scout Movement has gained wide popularity around the globe for the services it renders during natural disasters, tsunamis, floods, earthquakes etc, said President Mahinda Rajapaksa. He was addressing the eighth National Jamboree at the International playground at Angunakolapelessa. The President said during the past Century the Scout Movement in Sri Lanka rendered yeomen service during times of disaster and calamities. more..

Sri Lanka to get fish canning plants

Dec 28 (LBO) Two fish canning plants are to be built in Sri Lanka next year to supply both the export and domestic markets, fisheries minister Rajitha Senaratne said. "By the end of next year, we aim to have a local canned fish industry," he told a news conference. "Two exporters are ready to open two canning factories. They will export part of their production and sell the rest in the local market." more..

Malaria: A disease close to eradication grows, aided by political tumult in Sri Lanka

Dec 28 (NYT) Malaria cases jumped 25 percent in Sri Lanka from 2009 to 2010, the country’s ministry of health is reporting. And while this year’s total is still small, at 580, the trend is unsettling to experts. Sri Lanka is a bellwether for the dream of malaria eradication — and Exhibit A for the argument that politics affects the disease more than climate or public health measures do. The country — the former British colony of Ceylon, more..

Mixed signal on new election process

Dec 28 (DM) The government said yesterday it would present legislation in parliament on January 4 to conduct the local council elections under a mixed system of proportional representation and first-past-the post. However, the government is still uncertain whether to conduct the upcoming elections under the existing system or the proposed system. The Local Authorities Elections (Amendment) Bill providing for the introduction for more..

Lottery winner cheated by bank manager, others

Dec 28 (Island) An estate worker from Morawaka, who won the first prize of Rs. 21 million in a lottery, has complained to the Matara Police, that a few people including a bank manager cheated him by fraudulently withdrawing the money in his account in installments. The complainant, Sinniah Selladorai, has told the police that he won the first prize in a lottery ticket he purchased in Morawaka. more..

Floods again: 57,000 families displaced

Dec 28 (DM) Some 57,000 families have been affected by the floods caused by torrential rains continuing to lash several districts including Jaffna, Batticloa, Anuradhapura, Puttalam and Ratnapura. About 100 houses had been destroyed while 434 houses were partly damaged. It said according to reports more than 95 houses had been destroyed in the Batticaloa District while one house had been destroyed in Kandy. more..

MPs complain of stray dog menace

Dec 28 (DM) It was transpired at the House committee meeting in the Parliamentcomplex last week that Members of Parliament occupying MPs’ quarters in Madiwala are often disturbed by stray dogs. This had been brought up by TNA Vanni District MP Selvam Adaikalaanthan who said he and other MPs were disturbed by stray dogs. It was also reported that several other members of the committee had raised the matter. more..

CPC back to bunkering business

Dec 28 (DM) The Ceylon Petroleum Corporation (CPC) will soon re-enter the lucrative bunkering business after a lapse of eight years following the Supreme Court order that nullified the privatization of bunkering, Minister Susil Premjayantha said yesterday. The supply of bunkering facilities which was a CPC monopoly and managed by its subsidiary, Lanka Marine Services (PVT) Ltd, was sold to John Keells by more..

Calm before tourism storm as Sri Lankan coast awakens

Dec 28 (DPA) The only people who were never frightened by the civil war were the surfers. No matter what, they always came here to Arugam Bay on Sri Lanka's southeastern coast. Surfers like Jason, in his mid-20s, with bleached dreadlocks and a full beard, his chest tattooed. The Australian doesn't need long to consider what has changed in the half-moon bay since the end of Sri Lanka's civil war in May 2009. more..

Statistics Dept. reveals prices of essentials increased

Dec 28 (Island) The prices of essential consumer items continue to spiral contrary to government claims that the cost of living is well under control and food is available at much cheaper rates during the festive season this year. However, the Department of Census and Statistics revealed that most of the prices of essential commodities have increased in leaps and bounds compared to the same period last year. more..

Law traps 235 pickpockets: SAARC Gold Medalist among suspects

Dec 28 (DN) Six men directing pickpockets and another 229 members were arrested in Colombo during the current festive season. This is the first time that such a large number of criminals involved in pickpocketing in Colombo were arrested in a short period, Police said. Among the gang was a SAARC Gold Medalist. He had allegedly been addicted to heroin and subsequently joined the criminals. more..