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Editorial: The year that was

Jan 1 (SL) When we reflected on the year that is ending, our thoughts went back to a person whom we like the least but had said an absolute truth about a pathetic failing of Sri Lankans: ‘You fellows just cannot remember a thing beyond two weeks’. We won’t spoil the festive season by recalling his name but it is true that most of us just cannot recall events beyond two weeks or even less. What happened in 2011? We went to our archives to refresh our memories and it all began falling into place. more..

'LLRC Report vital in reconciliation process'

Jan 1 (SO) Minister Wimal Weerawansa said the approach adopted by the LLRC Report is of paramount importance for the Govt’s reconciliation process. He said that the need of the hour is to strengthen bilateral relations with friendly countries and also to win over countries who stand up for us. The Minister said it is no easy task to win over those who hatch conspiracies against us. We should not think a Report such as the LLRC would help us to win over these more..

Editorial: A wish-list for 2012

Jan 1 (NS) Landmark days, like the 1st of January and, more importantly for us in Sri Lanka, the AluthAvurudda in the month of Bak, are about renewal, discarding of hang-ups and errors, and a fresh page. We are now done with 2011. The year 2012 is ours to inhabit, revel in and decorate. It is ours to mess up too. Landmark days, like today, are made of kiribath, some decorations, greeting cards and everyone wishing everyone else makes for good cheer. more..

Editorial: The A-Level disaster; desperation to make Tangalla one as well

Jan 1 (LB) Some heads should roll no doubt due to the nationally enacted fiasco that was the release of the A’ Level exam results this week. However, though one disaster was quite bad, it is the maximum effort that is being exerted in some quarters to cause yet another catastrophe, that is galling. Horrendous it was, but the killing of a British tourist on Tangalla beach was an isolated incident, and the vicious attempts to use it to bring crashing down the momentum of more..

Priority is to solve internal crisis, says Jagoda

Jan 1 (NS) Pubudu Jayagoda joins the JVP as a full time member in 1997. After gaining some experience as a student wing member and a leader of the Moratuwa University students he was elected to the party’s Central Committee in 2008. In 2011 elected as a Politburo member too. He also became the party’s Education Sector Secretary. JVP faced another rift in last October, when a group of its known members decided to leave the party. more..

Editorial: Tourism and the Tangalle killing

Jan 1 (Island) The newspapers are full of stories on the massive investment in tourism following the end of the war, both on ongoing projects as well as others in the pipeline. Many billion rupees have already been invested in refurbishing existing properties and building new hotels. From all accounts the ongoing winter season, where beach resorts tend to get the cream of the business, is going nicely despite the horrendous incident of a British tourist of more..

Editorial: The hopes and fears of 2012

Jan 1 (ST) With the dawn of the New Year in the Gregorian calendar today, traditionally one looks forward to good tidings in the months ahead. For some, this would be more of what they have enjoyed in the past; for others, there might be a need to forget the past and look to the future with renewed hope. The government wishes the people a "suba anagathayak" or a blessed future, leaving the citizenry to contemplate the blessed past they may have experienced. One might say that more..

'LLRC has exceeded its mandate'

Jan 1 (LB) Minister and JHU Gen. Secretary, Champika Ranawaka in an interview with Sanjaya Nallaperuma, articulates the JHU opposition to the LLRC Report. Q: What is the stance of the JHU concerning the LLRC Report that was released around two weeks ago? A: The LLRC panel was appointed by President Mahinda Rajapaksa in May 2010. It was around that time that Sri Lanka started to get extreme adverse pressure from the international lobby concerning more..

Time for TNA to get real

Jan 1 (NS) Opposition politics took a backseat last week as the focus shifted to the govt that is locked in a stalemate with the TNA in trying to fashion a political solution to what is broadly described as Sri Lanka’s ‘ethnic issue’. There has been renewed interest on this matter since the LLRC report was released that recommends the implementation of a political mechanism to ensure ethnic harmony. Opposition politics took a backseat last week as the focus shifted to more..

A failing government

Jan 1 (Island) Today is January 1 and it would have been better if we had been able to say positive things on a day like this. But if we did, we would have been practicing self deception. The year 2011 was a bad year for the govt and the opposition alike and bad therefore for the country as well. The present govt which was arguably the most efficient and dynamic regime in post independence history, suddenly began to lose the plot in 2011. And it was not in major matters of policy that more..

Of A/L Results and Z Scores

Jan 1 (NS) The fiasco surrounding the release of the 2011 A/L exam results was one of the most talked about issues in the country last week. In the past, the usual practice has been to release the results before the year-end school vacation and the start of the GCE O/L exam. However, the Department of Examinations was unable to release the results before school vacations this time, despite officials earlier claiming it would be possible. more..

The fiasco and the fiasco-man

Jan 1 (LB) The govt is scoring own goals, complained the Minister Wimal Weerawansa at a book launch last week, coming up with a rather curious theory that there seems to be a method in the madness of the vegetable crate fiasco, and the A/L results disaster that followed last week. There were certainly elements of own-goal behaviour in both instances, but, the number of own goals could have been minimized if the powers-that-be had any sense that there is something called damage control. more..

5th column: Finding answers to a comedy of errors

Jan 1 (ST) The court of King Kekille was in session. The King wanted to find out who was to blame for the mistakes in the A/L exam results. There were many accused: the Commissioner of Examinations, the Chairman of the University Grants Commission, the Senior Tuition Master in charge of education, the Seeni Boley in charge of higher education and the Junior Tuition Master who had just joined the team. The Commissioner of Examinations was in the dock first. more..

Conde Nast lists SL among world’s top five destinations in 2012

Jan 1 (Island) One of the world’s leading and most discerning and trusted monthly travel magazine in Britain "Condé Nast Traveller" has nominated Sri Lanka as one of the top five destinations to watch in year 2012 with experts on its staff predicting that Sri Lanka will be among the hottest new holiday destinations this year. Unveiling the list of destinations the magazine says, "One of the great joys of travel is the feeling you’ve discovered more..

Tourism, banking to lead growth in 2012

Jan 1 (NS) Continuing with the buoyancy in the economy following the end of the war in mid-2009, Sri Lanka’s tourism and banking sectors are expected to lead the growth momentum in the year 2012 as well, predicts a recent research report. This report prepared by TKS Securities states that with the growth in the broader economy, all sectors would benefit considerably in the year 2012 when compared to the past years, though tourism and banking sectors would be the stand outs. more..

Biodiversity rich Kanneliya requires urgent protection and study

Jan 1 (LB) The extent of the Kanneliya forest reserve which falls under the purview of the Wildlife and Conservation Department (WCD) has decreased to 5,276 hectares (from 6,114.4 hectares previously). Kanneliya was designated a forest reserve 73 years ago. However, 838 hectares of forest land was lost due to illegal acquisitions for tea and coconut plantations. Minister Anura Priyadarshana Yapa said that he had already signed a Cabinet paper regards this issue. more..

Mixed views on Govt. performance

Jan 1 (ST) The majority of respondents, in an email and street poll conducted jointly by the Business Times and the Research Consultancy Bureau this week, gave a mixed rating on the govt’s performance in 2011. Asked to rate the govt’s performance on a scale of 1-to-10, nearly 70 % of those who responded on email gave a rating of 5 and below. In the street poll conducted by RCB in a Colombo suburb, 63 % rated the performance at 5 and below. more..

Hero Herath climbs high as Sanga seals his number 1 ranking

Jan 1 (ST) The Durban hero, Rangana Herath achieved his career-best ranking among test bowlers, in the ICC Player Rankings after his heroic performances in the second cricket test, which Sri Lanka won by 208 runs at Durban. Herath claimed a match bag of nine for 128 at Durban to leap frog six places and claimed the seventh position among the current test bowlers. This is great news for Sri Lanka. Herath is the only Sri Lankan bowler, to be ranked among the top ten test bowlers, more..

'No pressure on me to withdraw'

Jan 1 (Island) Michael de Zoysa is contesting from the Thilanga Sumathipala camp for the post of SLC secretary, against Nishantha Ranatunga. ‘Island’ asked him whether he would withdraw from Tuesday’s SLC elections due to pressure from various parties. Excerpts of his answer follows: No pressure on me whatsoever from anyone. However the clubs, the District and Provincial Associations are under pressure to withdraw. I’ve no idea who is exerting such pressure. more..

Captain predicts youngster will be next Sri Lankan to 10,000 runs

Jan 1 (Island) Two days after Sri Lanka’s historic triumph in the second Test in Durban, the national cricket team was overjoyed with what young Dinesh Chandimal could bring into the team. The 22-year-old wicket-keeper batsman, who replaced Kaushal Silva in the side, slammed two half-centuries and was a key contributor to Sri Lanka’s success in winning their first-ever Test Match in South Africa. more..

Stiff competition affecting private hospital margins

Jan 1 (NS) Since competition between private healthcare providers, particularly in Colombo has increased with customer demands for quality services going up, this is putting constant pressure on the margins of private hospitals, says a recent Equity Research Report published by a brokering firm. Bartleet Religare Securities publishing an equity research report on Nawaloka Hospitals recently says, the healthcare industry today is such that hospitals are under more..

Education Ministry trains its guns on Sirasa

Jan 1 (Island) The Education Ministry last week denied permission to Sirasa media to cover a media conference explaining the messing up of GCE (A/L) exam results. A private security guard told Sirasa journalists that they couldn’t be allowed in to the premises as they weren’t among those authorized to cover the briefing. A few days earlier, UNP leader Ranil Wickremesinghe and Deputy Sajith Premadasa clashed over the former accusing Sirasa of an alleged plot involving more..

4 Tiger stamps in France

Jan 1 (ST) More than two and half years after the military defeat of Tiger guerillas, four French stamps in honour of the LTTE’s slain leader Velupillai Prabhakaran have been released at the behest of pro-LTTE groups. His photograph is on one of the four stamps issued. Others include a map of so-called Eelam, the rising sun flag with a tiger emblazoned and a “national flower” used by the LTTE. The move has drawn angry response from the Ministry of External Affairs more..

Sampanthan assures Sampur’s IDPs of resettlement soon

Jan 1 (ST) TNA leader and Trincomalee district Parliamentarian R. Sampanthan paid his first visit to Sampur, after it was captured from the LTTE in April 2006. With the permission of the Defence Ministry, he went to Sampur, where he was received by Brig. Hettiarachchi of Trincomalee 22 Division Brigade, and was taken on a guided tour to several parts in Sampur including areas now being acquired for the proposed construction of a coal power plant with Indian aid. more..

26 new schools open in the East

Jan 1 (ST) For close on three decades, young people in the North and East were denied a proper or continuous education as schools were closed, damaged or destroyed during the war. In the East, education is slowly recovering. Of the 69 schools closed during the conflict, 45 have reopened in the past three years – six in Trincomalee, 18 in Mutur, one in Kantalai, two in Batticaloa, 17 in Kalkudah, and one in Ampara. Rural education in the East has had a further boost with the opening of 26 new schools, more..

UNP rebels support Tiran Alles’ `Free Fonseka’ bid

Jan 1 (Island) UNP Reformists on Friday distanced themselves further from UNP leader Ranil Wickremesinghe, as they threw their weight behind DNA MP Tiran Alles engaged in negotiations with President Mahinda Rajapaksa to secure the release imprisoned defeated presidential candidate, General Sarath Fonseka. Former Deputy Leader Karu Jayasuriya expressed confidence in the ongoing talks spearheaded by Alles on behalf of Gen. Fonseka. more..

Online visa draws thousands

Jan 1 (ST) An estimated 15,000 online visa applications have already been received from intended foreign visitors, as the system came into effect from midnight yesterday, Immigration and Emigration Controller Chulananda Perera said. He said a top-level immigration team led by him would be at the Bandaranaike International Airport (BIA) from 10 a.m. today to personally monitor the new visa process. “However those who have not applied for the online visa will not be turned back. more..

Muslim peace secretariat funds under scrutiny: Rs 45.7 m spent sans details

Jan 1 (ST) Member and founder Secretary General of Peace Secretariat for Muslims (PSM), A. Javid Yusuf has charged that various financial and other irregularities have taken place at the Secretariat, and alleged that its Board of Directors has done little to rectify them. In a letter to its President Shibly Aziz, he has questioned the expenditure of Rs 1,168,207 by the PSM for Board meetings in 2009/2010. “Even if a Board meeting was held once in two months, it would only amount to nearly Rs 200,000 per Board meeting,” more..

Junior medical intern threatens DG of Health Services over tender issue

Jan 1 (Island) A shocking incident where a politically-appointed junior medical intern had allegedly threatened Director-General of Health Services, Dr. Ajith Mendis over a tender issue is expected to be reported to Minister Maithripala Sirisena on his return from a private visit overseas. Health officials remained tight lipped on the intern’s outburst due to his close affiliation with the Minister himself, but sources who asked not to be named, more..

COPE; No action talk only

Jan 1 (LB) The govt has not taken any action so far though the Committee on Public Enterprises (COPE) has found damning evidence of financial irregularities in institutions totalling over Rs 500 billion, state sources said. The COPE report revealed financial irregularities in 229 govt institutions. Chairman of COPE D.E.W Gunasekara who was asked as to what action the govt will take against the persons and institutions that have misappropriated public funds, remained tight-lipped. more..

LTTE plans second armed struggle!

Jan 1 (NS) Intelligence authorities have uncovered a plan to resurrect the LTTE through an attempt to register an organisation for displaced in Vanni targeting another armed conflict, highly placed intelligence sources revealed. They said the plan behind the move was to recruit rehabilitated LTTE cadres who were in LTTE’s military units back to the now defunct LTTE terror group. They have also reached former LTTE military members who left the organisation earlier to more..

Conditional pardon considered for Fonseka

Jan 1 (ST) A Presidential pardon for former Army Commander Sarath Fonseka in a widely speculated New Year reprieve did not materialize yesterday. Nor were any other prisoners convicted of various offences released, according to Prisons Commissioner General P.W. Kodippily. He said such amnesties were granted on National Day – February 4. However, a pardon for the former General is still under consideration, according to DNA MP Tiran Alles. more..

ITAK hopeful of permanent resolution of ethnic problem in New Year

Jan 1 (Island) The General Secretary of the Illankai Thamil Arasu Kadchi (ITAK), Mavai Senathrajah, MP, said that the party wished all Sri Lankans, particularly those who had suffered as a result of the conflict, would find peace and prosperity with the permanent resolution of the ethnic problem in the New Year paving the way for self-rule in the merged North-east within a united Sri Lanka. A unanimous resolution taken at the Central Working Committee meeting of more..

President to meet his partners against LLRC

Jan 1 (LB) President Rajapaksa is to meet representatives of the constituent parties of UPFA next week to discuss the LLRC report. This comes in the wake of several constituent parties, including the JHU and the EPDP making scathing comments against the report. "The president will meet representatives of all constituent parties to discuss the LLRC Report and to determine how the govt should handle it. Although some ministers have criticized it, there are many others who feel more..

Reign of terror by ruling- party mafia politicos

Jan 1 (ST) The New Year dawns with some dim forebodings for Sri Lankans in many spheres of activity. Two years and seven months after the defeat of terrorist violence, one of the sectors which revived by leaps and bounds was tourism. Arrivals rose and resorts are continuing to mushroom countrywide. Some of the world's leading journals showered plaudits on Sri Lanka, 'the resplendent isle,' as one of the best destinations in the world. more..

TNA to reconsider talks with govt

Jan 1 (SL) The TNA is to discuss and reconsider its position with regard to continuing dialogue with the govt on finding a solution to the ethnic issue. The govt and the TNA are scheduled to meet for the next round of talks on January 17. However, the TNA’s parliamentary group is to meet before the scheduled date to discuss the situation that has arisen since the last round of talks in December 2011. TNA MP Suresh Premachandran said the party MPs would meet before the talks and more..

Fishermen stranded in Sri Lanka, 35 rescued

Jan 1 (Hindu) The Sri Lankan Navy pulled out six more Tamil Nadu fishermen on December 31 from its waters in the north, and handed them over to the state authorities for further action. With this, the total number of fishermen rescued by the Sri Lankan Navy in the past fortnight has gone up to 35. All the fishermen are stranded in Jaffna because of bad weather conditions along the Tamil Nadu coast. “The fishermen want to go back with their boats. The nine boats need some repair. more..

A/L fiasco: Exams chief to be questioned tomorrow

Jan 1 (ST) As widespread protests continued, outgoing Examination Commissioner Anura Edirisinghe will tomorrow be questioned by the special five-member committee appointed to look into the crisis over the GCE A/L exam results. The committee which met on Friday heard evidence from Examinations Department officials including the Commissioners in charge of Evaluation and Examinations and computer programmers. more..

'India can’t take back Kachchatheevu'

Jan 1 (Island) India cannot take back Kachchatheevu from Sri Lanka for the simple reason that the uninhabited island in the Palk Strait falls on the Sri Lankan side of the international maritime boundary line (IMBL), and India had formally ceded it to the island nation through the 1974 and 1976 agreements, a senior central govt official has said. "How can we take back an island that is clearly on the Sri Lankan side of the IMBL ? more..

Fonseka responds positively to joining the UNP

Jan 1 (SL) The UNP says that former Army Commander Sarath Fonseka has responded positively to an invitation extended to him to join the party. UNP Deputy Leader Sajith Premadasa said that Fonseka had responded positively when an invitation was extended to him to join the UNP by former Deputy Leader Karu Jayasuriya and himself when they met Fonseka at the Welikada Prison in December. Premadasa said that Fonseka had said he was more..