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President and Salley remind political journeys are a long grind

May 5 (NS) Twenty May Day rallies were held in Colombo on May Day including the major rallies by the UPFA and the JVP. The UNP travelled outstation like last year. However, what was most significant was that the May Day was free of clashes or violent incidents like in previous years. Police announced that they had plans to deploy 5,000 personnel in Colombo to make sure law and order remained when the rallies were being held. Two deaths were reported on May 1 more..

Editorial: CHOGM -Beware of what happened after 1976

May 5 (ST) The London meeting of the CMAG last week has cleared the path for the holding of the CHOGM in Sri Lanka as scheduled in November this year. It seems it was, eventually, a storm in a tea cup. The Govt made an issue that any doubts relating to the holding of the summit in Sri Lanka owing to the country’s chequered good governance track record was not on the agenda, but it turned out that CMAG had no mandate to change the venue anyway. This did not, however, mean that more..

'Our demand is to ensure no increase in electricity tariffs'

May 5 (SL) UNP MP Ravi Karunanayake says the govt that promised subsidies and cuts in water and electricity bills is now playing with the future of the people. He noted that the UNP’s demand is nothing else but ensuring no increase in electricity tariffs. “We always said that there was no free meal and it is now evident that somebody has to pay for it and ultimately it is on the people,” he said, adding that that it is now evident that this is a govt more..

Commonwealth curate’s egg

May 5 (Island) Although there was more good news from London yesterday that both the British Prime Minister and Foreign Minister will be attending the November Commonwealth Summit in Sri Lanka, we do not apologize for returning to the theme of our editorial last week of whether the money that we will spend on hosting this event will bring us benefits that are worth the price. As we said at the time, losing the bid to host the Commonwealth Games here was widely welcomed by more..

Saluting the sinful

May 5 (ST) My Dear Dumi, I thought I must write to you when I heard that you had made a sudden and complete recovery and was returning home. Dumi, you have done the impossible and proved many people wrong, so congratulations are in order! I am sure there would have been many people who would have been hoping that you would be out of action for a few years to come, so that they could sneak into either your seat in Parliament or at least become the organiser for the Blues at Kolonnawa. more..

'Govt should not burden people for its faults'

May 5 (SL) JVP MP Anura Kumara Dissanayake says the President and the govt is trying to mislead the public by saying that the electricity tariffs have been reduced. He blamed the govt for the losses incurred by the CEB, which has been attributed for the increase in electricity prices. “The people should not be burdened with an electricity tariff hike due to the faults of the govt,” he said. “The current govt is unable to solve more..

Garrisoning of the Indian Ocean

May 5 (NS) A leaked draft MoU between the govts of the USA and the Maldives indicates that plans are afoot to set up a US military base in the Indian Ocean. While the US Embassy in Colombo has pooh-poohed the said document as a ‘Status of Forces Agreement’ (SOFA) of the kind that exists with respect to some 100 other countries, and that there is no intention of ‘setting up a military base’, the wording is more than adequate to sanction such designs at any given moment. more..

Hosting Commonwealth Meeting a diplomatic triumph

May 5 (NS) In what must amount to a major diplomatic triumph for the government, the Commonwealth last week confirmed that its next CHOGM will be held as scheduled in Sri Lanka in November. The decision affirmed at the CMAG meeting in London was a significant setback for the Eelamist lobby which campaigned indefatigably to have the venue for the summit shifted. It was also a snub for countries such as Canada which endorsed this view. It was an anti-climax, but reports more..

Opposition gathers strength: Litmus test for MR

May 5 (SL) The age-old adage that you cannot fool all the people all the time has now come true for the Rajapaksa govt. Pledges made about granting relief following the end of the war and development projects that would help uplift the economy have become nothing but pipe dreams and the people are now aware of the bluff. A nation that has faithfully stood by its govt that fought a war against the LTTE listening to the many more..

Electricity tariff: piddling concessions

May 5 (Island) On May Day, following the president’s announcement of reductions in the electricity tariff hike, UNP MP Harsha de Silva was over the moon. The president’s announcement that there would be no increase in the electricity tariff for those consuming less than 60 units, seemed to be a direct endorsement of the submission that he made to the Public Utilities Commission that those consuming less than 50 units be considered a special category and some concession be more..

Premadasa: Twenty Years Later

May 5 (Island) The 20th death anniversary of President R. Premadasa fell on May Day. How will people judge this former head of state in the light of what has happened between the time of his death and now? There is no doubt about the fact that the UNP govt to which Premadasa belonged set new standards for politicians. Premadasa too was a creative and hardworking politician. He worked hard and made it known that he worked hard. He built things and made it known that he had built more..

Are the Lankan cricket selectors playing hide and seek?

May 5 (ST) Is Sri Lanka’s ‘A’ team tour to the West Indies hitting the headlines for the wrong reasons? The Sunday Times reliably learns so. Last week, we spoke about the inclusion of Ramith Rambukwella in the original 34-member un-pruned ‘A’ team squad, while a number of players who had performed better had been left out. Subsequently seven names were added to the list making it a total of 41 players who went through the three more..

Treasury struggles with Fiscal Position Report

May 5 (ST) The Finance Ministry is grappling to finalise the mid-year 2013 Fiscal Position Report in the face of an unexpected increase in state expenditure and a shortfall in tax revenues. The Treasury has no alternative other than pruning capital expenditure on social infrastructure, especially in health and education to achieve the budget deficit target of at 5.8% of gross domestic product in 2013, a senior official said. Financial allocations made in the 2013 budget for more..

Dialog to reward employees with shares for service consideration

May 5 (Island) Shareholders of Dialog will meet on May 8 to consider a special resolution proposing a Long Term Incentive Plan (LTIP) for employees of the group that will replace an existing, partly unsuccessful, Employee Share Option Scheme (ESOS) that is being discontinued. Dialog said that the LTIP has been devised to reward employees of the company and its subsidiaries with shares "contingent upon achievement of certain long-term goals and subject to the terms and conditions more..

President and PBJ get most number of ‘votes’

May 5 (ST) President Rajapaksa, as Minister of Finance, and Treasury Secretary Dr. P.B. Jayasundera received the most number of ‘votes’ during a Business Times poll which asked: “Who is responsible for deciding the electricity price hike?” Four names were given – a) the President, b) Minister Pavithra Wanniarachchi, c) former Minister Champika Ranawaka and d) Treasury Secretary Dr. P.B Jayasundera, and respondents asked to more..

Minor Offenders

May 5 (SL) The advice of the Attorney General has been sought to reduce congestion in prisons by releasing those imprisoned for minor crimes. Prisons Commissione said that most inmates who had been imprisoned for minor crimes were those who were unable to pay their fines. He said that some inmates had to pay only Rs. 10 as a fine and yet could not do so and so they remain in prison. Pallegama says the govt has to pay much more for food and as maintenance costs for the prisoners, more..

No phone tapping, says govt

May 5 (SL) The govt insists that there is no tapping of mobile phones in Sri Lanka especially phones used by journalists. Media Ministry Secretary Charitha Herath said that the authorities in Sri Lanka did not possess the technology to tap mobile phones. “As far as I am aware there is no instrument that can tap mobile phones. I have no knowledge of such a move and moreover there are certain regulations in the country which does not allow such activities,” he added Police spokesman more..

SLMC decision this week

May 5 (SL) The SLMC is to take a crucial decision this week with regard to its future with the govt. SLMC General Secretary Hassan Ali said that SLMC MPs and provincial councilors from the eastern province would take part in the meeting on Tuesday. He said that the Muslims in the east have been facing several issues over the years and those issues are yet to be resolved. At Tuesday’s meeting the SLMC will look at exerting more..

Politician’s thugs attack Army Int. officers

May 5 (NS) A group of thugs who attacked a team of Intelligent Unit Army officials attached to the Army Military Intelligence Training School, Pelawatte have been released by Police on directive a high ranking politician in the area, Army officials claim. The incident was reported to have occurred near the Doowili Ella in Gall on May Day. A verbal argument ensued between a group of 30 persons under the influence of alcohol and a security officer in charge of the Doowili Ella when he had prevented more..

SLFP teams up with EPDP for Northern polls

May 5 (SO) The SLFP would contest the Northern Provincial Council elections in coalition with the EPDP headed by MP Douglas Devananda while the TNA would go it alone. SLFP sources citing party’s national organiser Basil Rajapaksa said that the party has already held talks with the EPDP and the latter’s chief representative Douglas Devananda would be the coalition’s chief ministerial candidate. However, the SLFP would function as a separate entity within the coalition. more..

Minors binge at Electric Peacock Festival

May 5 (NS) Minors as young as 13 were seen drinking and smoking pot in the open at a recently concluded Music festival held at the Water’s Edge this past week much to the dismay of parents and onlookers. The event which was supposedly open to those above the age of 18 (according to information provided on the ticket) had allowed teenagers as young as 13 and 14 to not only enter the venue but to partake in liquor and drugs more..

Papua New Guinea to support SL at CHOGM

May 5 (DM) Papua New Guinea said that it would give it's support to the Sri Lankan govt at the forthcoming CHOGM, the Sri Lankan High Commission in Canberra said. It said that Admiral Thisara Samarasinghe, the High Commissioner for Australia concurrently accredited to Papua New Guinea presented the Letter of Credence of President Mahinda Rajapaksa to the Governor General of Papua New Guinea Grand Chief Sir Michael Ogio at the Govt House Konedobu, more..

SLFP decision not to name CM candidate welcomed

May 5 (Island) The decision by the SLFP, the main constituent party of the ruling UPFA, to refrain from naming its Chief Ministerial candidate for the forthcoming elections to the Northern Province was welcomed by political circles as a positive sign to avoid divisions amongst govt ranks. The SLFP has advised all contenders vying for the CM’s position that it would be fair by all if they proved they had the support of the majority of the voters in the five districts of the Northern Province more..

Azath Salley continues fast: Health condition deteriorates

May 5 (Island) The health condition of former deputy Mayor of Colombo and leader of the Tamil Muslim National Alliance, Azath Salley has deteriorated as he still refuses food and continues with his fast, family members said yesterday. Salley, was admitted to Ward 55 of the Colombo National Hospital on Friday following his arrest by the CID under the PTA. "He refuses to take any food and is still going ahead with the fast he launched more..

‘Leaders should urge for political solution in Lanka’

May 5 (Hindu) Economic ban on Sri Lanka may only worsen the situation for Tamils in Sri Lanka, said Communist Party of India (Marxist) state secretary G. Ramakrishnan. He said that many businessmen and traders selling textile goods in the island nation procured them from Pondy Bazaar, Chennai, and other cities in the State. When such was the situation, economic ban, as suggested by some political outfits and leaders, may affect the Tamils there. Instead of issuing emotional threats, more..

Govt. considering employing migrant workers

May 5 (CT) The govt is considering allowing the apparel industry based in the Investment Promotion Zones (IPZ) to employ migrant workers, in order to address crippling shortage and mass exodus of local workers in the apparel industry. Two rounds of talks have already been held between the representatives of the owners of the garments and the BOI in this regard. No specific decision has been taken so far regarding the countries from which such workers are to be brought down or the signing of more..

DEW shoots from the hip at meeting with IMF delegation

May 5 (Island) Minister Dew Gunasekara on Friday told a visiting IMF delegation that the country was in a dire financial crisis due to unprecedented decline in state income over the years and the failure on the part of those responsible for managing the economy to take remedial action. CPSL is a constituent of the SLFP-led ruling coalition in power since August 1994 except for Dec. 2001-April 2004 period when a UNP-led more..

Electricity tariffs: PUCSL still in the dark

May 5 (NS) The tariff proposals including recommended concessions by President Mahinda Rajapaksa on electricity bills have not yet reached the Public Utilities Commission of Sri Lanka (PUCSL) for its approval prior to its implementation. The revised tariff rates need to be handed over to the PUCSL for its approval before May 10. When contacted, Ministry Spokesman said that so far the ministry has not been officially notified about the revised cost structures. more..

Karu J slams Salley arrest

May 5 (Island) Mr. Karu Jayasuriya, the UNP’s former deputy leader said that all right thinking people in the country would condemn the arrest of former Deputy Mayor Azath Salley in the strongest possible terms. Jyasuriya said his arrest for allegedly inciting communal hatred under the Prevention of Terrorism Act, is further proof that the government continues to retain these repressive war time laws to hunt political opponents in peace time. "Mr. Salley’s arrest must not come as a more..

NPC polls in first week of September

May 5 (ST) President Rajapaksa will direct the Elections Commissioner to conduct the Northern Provincial Council election in the first week of September, the Sunday Times learns. Although authoritative Govt sources declined to name a date, such polls are usually held on Saturdays. Minister Basil Rajapaksa, who is the also the SLFP’s Chief Organiser, said the Govt was keen to “have the election and finish it off”. more..

Trade Union fears drug mafia

May 5 (NS) The Govt Nursing Officers’ Association (GNOA) last week called on the govt to launch an intense investigation into the massive haul of ‘Depo-Provera’ birth control injection vials from a Pakistani national stating that it could be a tip of a ‘drugs mafia’ involving influential public officials. Chairman of the GNOA, Saman Rathnapriya said his union had requested the President and the Health Minister to conduct independent inquiries into this massive drugs racket which is resultantly affecting more..

HC Nonis wants human rights activists to apply officially for visas

May 5 (Island) Sri Lankan High Commissioner in London, Dr. Chris Nonis assured visas to representatives of the International Bar Association’s Human Rights Institute (IBAHRI) to visit Sri Lanka if they applied officially. Speaking to BBC last week, Dr. Nonis said that the IBAHARI representatives were denied visas last time as they did not give the correct reason for their proposed visit to Sri Lanka. Sri Lanka refused visas to members of IBAHRI delegations on two occasions more..

Rapprochement with India, way cleared for C’wealth summit

May 5 (ST) Even if most Sri Lankans did not realise it, this week’s developments came as further proof that the Govt is on reverse gear over important domestic and external developments. In essence, it reflects a clear policy change in some areas and underscores a new resolve to address issues differently. President Rajapaksa announced at the UPFA’s well attended May Day rally that some drastic changes more..

Editorial : Beware the floodgates of angst

May 5 (CT) The President’s May Day declaration that the new power tariff structure will not be applicable to those using less than 60 units of power, though having an element of Yogi Berra’s ‘it was déjà vu all over again’ refrain, may not provide much of a succour for the suffering public, who have been forced to pay, and pay dearly, for the sins of waste and corruption of the people they elected to power. The inadequacy of the declaration is reflected in the decision of the 600 or so more..

In praise of non-violence: Politics of ITAK

May 5 (CT) The defeat of the armed struggle waged by the LTTE seems to have now resurrected the debate about the non-violence struggle amongst the Tamils. The Federal Party’s post 2009 trend of holding Thanthai Chelva memorial meetings annually and the eulogies given to non-violence in these meetings, attest to this development. Mr.R. Sambandan, leader of the Federal Party, in one of his speeches in the Parliament has alluded to the terrorism practiced by the LTTE as the more..

Forex reserves ease to US$6.67bn in Feb

May 5 (LBO) Sri Lanka's forex reserves fell 185 million US dollars to 6.659 billion US dollars in Feb 2013 from a month earlier, and was down 3.1% from the beginning of the year. Foreign reserves have moved down for two months in a row from 6,877 million US dollars in Dec 2012. But official forex reserves can fall or gain from month to month due to marked-to-market valuation differences in various foreign reserves assets more..

Talk at the Cafe Spectator

May 5 (ST) ‘Rolls Royce diplomacy’ of Britain and its co-relation with CHOGM exclusively reported in the political column of this newspaper last week has figured in last Friday’s The Guardian newspaper published in the UK. This is what it says (extracts): Rolls-Royce to provide engines for SriLankan Airlines refit Campaigners urge Rolls-Royce deal not to influence UK’s diplomatic position over human rights in Sri Lanka Rolls-Royce more..

Personalised number plates for Rs. 1 million

May 5 (ST) A new series of three-letter number plates for motor vehicles will be issued from July, Motor Vehicles Registrar S.H. Harishchandra said. He said that a proposal to offer personalised numbers for Rs. one million each was also being considered. The new three-letter number for cars would start with CAA-0001 while dual purpose vehicles, jeeps and cabs also would be offered a number preceded by three letters. more..

Lanka gives assurances to EU on fishing

May 5 (ST) Sri Lankan fishermen engaged in illegal, unregulated and unreported (IUU) fishing in international waters face tough penalties — but talks to resolve disputes over Indian fishermen intruding into Lankan territorial waters have been further delayed. A Sri Lankan delegation led by Minister Rajitha Senaratne has informed the EU that Lankan fishermen involved in IUU fishing will be fined Rs. 1.5 million or their boats confiscated, more..

‘If opposing hate is a crime, then we are all criminals today’

May 5 (Island) Saying that he is gravely disturbed to learn of the arrest of former Deputy Mayor of Colombo and MTNA leader Azath Salley by the CID on May 2, UNP MP Mangala Samaraweera noted that this is yet another blatant manifestation of the depths to which the rule of law has sunk in this country. "It is further proof that even as the Govt prepares to host the next CHOGM in Colombo in a few months, it is simultaneously more..