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Unofficial presidential election battles begin

Aug 3 (SL) The public meeting organized by the Movement for a Just Society, which called for the abolition of Executive Presidency, has made one major impact on the UNP. As a result of the meeting, the UNP, at the moment, is moving in the direction of forming a joint opposition alliance to face the forthcoming Presidential election which would take place early next year. The meeting, which was organized by the Ven. Maduluwawe Sobhitha Thera, was attended by representatives of more..

Religious rhetoric!

Aug 3 (SL) The report compiled by the US State Department on religious freedom this year has recognized the year 2013 as a black year for religious freedom due to many violent incidents that happened in several countries. Unfortunately, among the countries like Syria, Egypt, Iraq, Bangladesh, Indonesia, India and Nigeria, Sri Lanka has also been mentioned in the report for failing to protect vulnerable religious more..

Kaththi director meets pro-Eelam leaders to clear air

Aug 3 (Hindu) Post-censor certificate censorship — it seems to be the fate of Tamil cinemas of late. Even the biggest stars do not seem immune to the fell swoop of divisive groups that seem to have a strong say in whether a movie plays in the theatres or not. Will actor Vijay's next film, ‘Kaththi’, also have to travel this tortuous path? The controversy that has risen centres around Subaskaran Allirajah, chairman of Lyca Mobiles, whose company Lyca Productions is co-producing the film along with more..

Could Pakistan’s cricket drought be Sri Lanka’s gain?

Aug 3 (ST) Chief selector Sanath Jayasuriya feels that the need to beat Pakistan in upcoming series has become much more important to SL cricket since losing to South Africa last week. Jayasuriya said: “When you play in your own backyard the expectations are always high. This is not a new phenomenon; it was the same when we played the game and I must say with the type of cricket that we have played in SL, beating us at home has become a prized trophy for the visitors”. more..

Just a few days in Jaffna

Aug 3 (Hindu) I remember a time, not that long ago, when getting around in the Lankan capital was an obstacle race from one checkpoint to another. Out of town, one carried one’s ID at all times, was polite to the Police and Army boys when one was waved down and, if one ventured northeast to Trincomalee, one was advised to drive down the middle of the road because you never knew what dangers might lurk on the sides. more..

Exporters fear ‘Middle Income trap’

Aug 3 (NS) Chairman of Exporters’ Association of Sri Lanka, Rohan P Daluwatte last week highlighted that the risk of falling into a ‘middle income trap’ can result in manufacturers and exporters finding themselves unable to compete in export markets with low-cost products in other competing countries whilst also lagging behind advanced economics in high value products. Noting that both Sri Lanka’s exports to GDP share has steadily declined starting from a peak of 33% in year 2000 more..

Vote cart runs over miscalculated scorecard !

Aug 3 (ST) In Sri Lanka, the scorecard is always wrong. However you mark it, the score tends to give a wrong total at the end of the day. Galle, once described as the bastion of Lankan cricket, is a venue the Lankan team generally begins an inbound tour, win it and then go on to defend the rest of the series. Yet, since 2010, the coin has not turned so diligently in Sri Lankas favour. Since 2010, the home team has only a 50% success rate at this venue. In 2010, Lankans made a triple centurion more..

State control expands at Commercial Bank

Aug 3 (ST) The vacant position on the board of directors of the Commercial Bank after Dinesh Weerakkody stepped down in line with the maximum 9-year rule is likely to be filled by a Treasury nominee. If that happens, the Govt would take effective control of the privately-held bank with five directors representing its interests through govt stakes and in other ways. Directors that represent state interests (Treasury & Central Bank) more..

Kollywood gears up for protest tomorrow

Aug 3 (DC) The Tamil film industry will stage a protest on August 4 in the city, demanding that the Sri Lankan Embassy be shut down. TN Film Directors’ Association president Vikraman said on Saturday that their demonstration was to condemn the derogatory article about Chief Minister J. Jayalalithaa on the Sri Lankan defence ministry website. Film actors, directors, cinematographers, technicians, producers and theatre owners among others will participate in the demonstration. more..

SriLankan Airlines office in Tiruchi attacked

Aug 3 (Hindu) Police arrested two persons who stoned the SriLankan Airlines booking office here on Saturday evening. P. Udayakumar, 35, district coordinator of the MJKK, and V. Sathiakumaran, 28, district organiser of the TNMK, entered the office posing as customers. All of a sudden, they threw stones on the glass panes and raised slogans against the Sri Lankan govt for an article critical of CM Jayalalithaa posted on the Sri Lankan Defence Ministry’s website. more..

Draft laws to ban foreign ownership of land

Aug 3 (ST) New legislation is being drafted to strictly enforce rules pertaining to the 2013 ban on foreigners owning land, which is now being enforced through administrative circulars. The proposed laws are to be promulgated to tighten loopholes in the administrative process of enforcement. In the 2013 budget (presented in Nov 2012), President proclaimed that foreign nationals and companies would be completely more..

Pope invited to visit Madhu

Aug 3 (SL) Pope Francis has been invited to visit the Madhu church in Mannar but the schedule for his Sri Lanka visit is yet to be confirmed. The Vatican had last week confirmed the dates for Pope Francis’ second trip to Asia, which includes a weeklong visit from January 12-19, 2015 to Sri Lanka and the Philippines. The Director National Catholic Centre for Social Communication Rev. Fr. Cyril Gamini Fernando said that Pope Francis will make an apostolic voyage to Sri Lanka from more..

Health services, health tips: Call 1959

Aug 3 (ST) The National Hospital will launch a new service tomorrow where the public could call 1959 and ask for assistance from a centralised information hub for patient-care services, Hospital Director Anil Jasinghe said. Information pertaining to clinics, special patient care units, investigations and preparation for procedures, health education, health tips, and first aid tips for poisoning etc can be obtained by calling the number. The service will be in operation from 8am to 4pm on weekdays more..

Stock market Mafia investigations over

Aug 3 (CT) Capital market watchdog SEC Chairman Dr. Nalaka Godahewa said that all investigations into stock market irregularities during the 'mafia' period have been concluded, but did not elaborate on the outcomes. The CSE boomed after the decades-long conflict ended in 2009 fuelled by rampant price manipulations, pumping and dumping, insider trading and front running and two former SEC more..

Goldern Key Task Force seizes new Kotelawala hotel in Aluthgama

Aug 3 (ST) The GK company, aiming to detect and seize more GK Company assets and properties of former directors based on a Supreme Court order, has seized a boutique hotel named ‘Tripna’ in Aluthgama owned by the former Ceylinco Chairman. Seizure on July 15 follows information received by them, a GK Director Dushanthi Hapugoda said. This hotel was owned and managed by Tripna Travels and Tours and its directors were Lalith Kotelawala and his sister Sherrene Wijerathne. more..

Govt to bring back 70 migrant workers from Libya

Aug 3 (NS) Govt of Sri Lanka (GOSL) is to bring back around 70 Sri Lankan migrant workers in Libya within the next two weeks as fighting in the country and its capital Tripoli has intensified. Deputy General Manager of Sri Lanka Bureau of Foreign Employment (SLBFE), Mangala Randeniya said that the bureau had allocated US$100, 000 for repatriation of the migrant workers. The SLBFE has already brought back around 30 Lankan migrant workers from Libya in several batches. more..

Swamy firm on taking part in Sri Lankan meet

Aug 3 (TOI) BJP leader Subramanian Swamy said that he was firm on participating in the defence conference organized by Sri Lanka despite opposition from Tamil Nadu parties. "I would definitely participate in the conference," he told reporters in Madurai. "The Sri Lankan commander-in-chief invited me to participate in the conference. Many military officers are also scheduled to participate," more..

Dengue campaign re-starts on Thursday

Aug 3 (ST) The dengue prevention campaign headed by the Presidential Task Force will continue on August 7, 8, 18 and 19, particularly focusing on high-risk areas of the Western Province, the Sri Lanka Epidemiological unit said. Senior Consultant Epidemiologist, Dr Hasitha Tissera described this campaign as a “mop-up of the high-risk areas” and said the team would also focus on other potential dengue mosquito breeding areas. The Chief Epidemiologist and Director of more..

Pakistan High Commission denies involvement in espionage on India

Aug 3 (NS) The Pakistan High Commission in Sri Lanka denied claims by India that one of its diplomats was involved in managing Pakistan’s Inter-Service Intelligence Service (ISI) activities in India. The Indian media recently reported that a Pakistani Diplomat in Sri Lanka was on the radar of Indian intelligence agencies since 2012. According to Times of India, Amir Zubair Siddiqui is, “The person managing ISI activities in India from Sri Lanka.” However, more..

Govt. allows import of high-powered motorbikes

Aug 3 (ST) Govt will allow the import of high powered motorcycles — from 450 cc to 1001 cc — upon payment of duty. The decision by the Cabinet overturns objections earlier by the Police that they did not possess such high capacity motorcycles to cope with an influx. Ministers have decided to lift the restrictions imposed on the import of high powered bikes up to 1001 cc. They can now be imported legally and registered with the DMV. more..

TNA undecided on common candidate

Aug 3 (SL) TNA is undecided on supporting a common candidate for the Presidential Elections scheduled to be held next year. TNA leader R. Sampanthan and TNA MP M.A Sumanthiran had recently attended an event chaired by the Ven. Maduluwawe Sobitha Thero who has already indicated he is ready to contest Presidency. However TNA MP Suresh Premachandran said that the TNA had issued an official communication on that event. “We have not officially made a more..

Sri Lanka Tamil immigrants reject India

Aug 3 (DC) The 157 illegal Tamil immigrants, mostly from Sri Lanka, who had travelled to Australia by boat from Puducherry, refused to speak to Indian consular officials and were sent to a detention centre on the Pacific island of Nauru on Saturday. The consular officials were to meet the asylum seekers after India agreed last week to take back the Indian nationals among them. However, following their refusal to meet Indian officials, Australia said they had been transferred to more..

India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka Diplomatic row over espionage

Aug 3 (CT) India has urged Sri Lanka to probe the background and events pertaining to Sri Lankans, involved in terrorist activities, suspected of having links with Pakistan's Inter Services Intelligence (ISI), plotting terror attacks in India. The Home Ministry of India has sent a letter, which has listed nearly 25 points that needed to be probed by the Sri Lankan officials to arrive at a conclusion regarding the terror plot by the ISI. more..

Abbott govt faces barrage of criticism over 'secret' Nauru transfer

Aug 3 (Guardian) The federal govt faces mounting criticism for its handling of a group of Tamil asylum seekers, now in detention at Nauru. It is the latest stop for the 157 people, including some 50 children, who are the subject of a high court case and have been on a “wretched rollercoaster” ride, Labor’s immigration spokesman, Richard Marles, said. Held at sea for three weeks on board a customs vessel, the asylum seekers were transferred last Sunday to Western Australia’s Curtin detention centre. more..

Banner showing Rajapakse seeking Jayalalithaa's forgiveness appears

Aug 3 (PTI) A large banner, portraying President Mahinda Rajapaksa as seeking forgiveness of CM Jayalalithaa for the derogatory article against her in a defence website, today appeared at a main junction in Mettupalayam. Banner, written in Tamil and showing Rajapakse with folded hands, read "Amma, I have made a big mistake. Please forgive me and give me life," police said. 20X10 feet banner has the names of Town AIADMK, Amma Peravai, Students wing, trade union wing and more..

As UN probe begins, controversy over local inquiry

Aug 3 (ST) The first phase of the international investigation into alleged war crimes in Sri Lanka has begun in Geneva. The exercise, the Sunday Times learnt, is the study of voluminous material including complaints which the OHCHR has received. The idea is to categorise them before the formal process begins towards the end of this month. Originally they were expected to begin this task in mid-July. more..

Bank of Ceylon at 75

Aug 3 (Island) It has been 75 years since then British Governor, Sir. Andrew Caldecott, inaugurated the Bank of Ceylon in Bristol Street, Fort, on Aug 1, 1939. It is in the fitness of things that the bank, which today commands an approximate 30 percent share of the country’s commercial banking market and also the lion’s share of the govt’s banking business, to celebrate this notable anniversary through a number of events that will continue during the rest of the year. more..

Colombata Kiri, Pita Palaathata Kekiri

Aug 3 (Island) No truer statement was pronounced this day. Truer it would be if additions were made to the pithy saying thus: Colombata kiri saha peni, pita palaathata thiththa kekiri. I mean to substantiate this saying, so here goes. Crowds throng the The Arcade Independence Square; still to be visited by me. It is stunningly beautiful, considering what the buildings previously looked like – stately colonial offices gone to rack and ruin. But was it necessary to have people walk on fish tanks and more..

Talk at the Cafe Spectator

Aug 3 (ST) Police and Customs continue to conduct raids on those dealing with wallapatta or Aquilaria spp used in the manufacture of perfumes. However, Minister Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena wants the Government to import young plants from this Thymeleacae family “to boost the development process” and to “introduce strategies of earning foreign exchange through recently popularised walla products exporting.” more..

CEB engineers differ: Recommend 300MW power plants

Aug 3 (Island) Despite a firm govt directive to go ahead with the second coal fired power plant complex in Sampur, senior engineers of the CEB have strongly recommended two 300MW plants, instead of the earlier proposed 250MWx2 plants. A senior engineer said that with their latest recommendations, there may be a delay in the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) by Central Environment Authority (CEA). more..

Indian, Sindhi contribution adds glitter to Kandy Esala perahera

Aug 3 (ENS) Indians have, in no small measure, contributed to making the Esela Perahera the most spectacular Buddhist festival in Sri Lanka. The festivities, which are held at Kandy in July-August every year, is a major tourist attraction. While the contribution of King Kirthi Sri Rajasinghe, a Nayakar from Madurai, who ruled Kandy from 1747 to 1782, is widely acknowledged, the role of Kishanchand Thadhani from Sindh, more..

Candidates’ lists near completion as UPC nomination day draws close

Aug 3 (ST) With nominations for the Uva PC elections due to close on Wednesday, political parties and independent groups were finalising their candidates’ list amidst the formation of new alliances and some parties going it alone. Party secretariats have been instructed by Elections Commissioner Mahinda Deshapriya to obey election laws and not to pollute the environment or damage public property, more..

Video: Europe should not judge Sri Lanka on human rights: Miss Earth – Air 2013

Aug 3 (AD) Katia Wagner, the title holder of Miss Earth – Air 2013, says that European nations should not judge Sri Lanka over its human rights situation and that she did not see “anything bad” during her visit to the Island nation. Asked about her opinion on the constant criticism of Sri Lanka’s human rights situation by European and Western nations, Wagner said: “I have to tell the Europeans that it’s not us to judge Asian countries and more..

Eran bats for ‘Right to Information’

Aug 3 (NS) UNP MP Eran Wickremaratne on Saturday alleged that Sri Lanka might be the only country in South Asia which has not introduced regulations pertaining to Right to Information. He said that the underlying issue is the lack of political will on the side of the govt because “it lacks transparency”. He mentioned that the UNP had clearly attempted to introduce such legislation twice before. On the first attempt, when more..

Dead witness described councillor’s fury

Aug 3 (ST) Found dead in mysterious circumstances, the dead witness to the notorious act of bullying by a provincial councilor who ordered a teacher to kneel before him in public tellingly described the councillor standing next to the crying teacher, shouting at everyone. The body of Punyasoma Bandara of Nawagaththegama, was found in a well on Friday. Police are investigating whether he died of murder or suicide. more..

Human rights outcry as Scots police train Sri Lankan forces

Aug 3 (HS) A Scottish police project to train Sri Lankan security forces is due to continue until 2015, despite calls for the project to end over concerns at the country's human rights record. Last year, the Sunday Herald revealed how more than 3500 Sri Lankan police officers - including some senior commanders - had received training from the Scottish Police College (SPC) since 2007. The police training reform project, which aims to more..

Abducted child found dumped on roadside at Galgamuwa

Aug 3 (Island) Four-year-old Dinidu Yashen, abducted by a gang earlier in the week, was found dumped on the roadside at Galgamuwa on Friday evening. A CID was also deployed to trace the boy, who was kidnapped in the presence of his terrified parents. Police said that the child was found at Alakolawewa, Abogama. He has now been reunited with his jubilant parents. Four suspects, including a relative of the child’s father, more..

Indian govt launches search for dead Tigers

Aug 3 (ENS) The Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Tribunal has scheduled a hearing on September 3 where it is expecting a representative of the ‘unlawful’ LTTE to appear and reply to a show-cause notice why the five-year ban imposed on it by the Indian Union should not continue. But there's a problem. No one knows where to send the notice, which was issued on July 17. As a banned outfit in India and Sri Lanka, LTTE has no address. more..

An action plan to abolish EP takes off

Aug 3 (Island) Sobitha thero’s Movement for a Just Society (MJS) inaugurated its campaign to abolish the Executive Presidency (EP) at a meeting at the New Town Hall, Green Path, on 24 July. The event was a notable success and attracted professionals and opinion makers from numerous walks of life (academics and lawyers were prominent), an audience made up of every political party (except the SLFP cowering in trepidation of its shadow, that is its own declared principles), all faiths, more..

The Diplomatic Wonder of Asia

Aug 3 (Island) True to its self-designation as the Wonder of Asia, Sri Lanka must have its fellow Asians wondering at the recent practice of its Ministry of Defense issuing long statements of rebuttal of the US Embassy in Colombo. It may well be the case that the US Embassy or the State Department needs to be refuted, but that refutation must come from the Sri Lankan Ministry of External Affairs or, if that Ministry in its wisdom deems that it should not do so, there should be more..