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Coal slipping on oil?

Feb 9 (NS) Treasury Secretary Dr. P.B. Jayasundera’s claim that criticism of the Norochcholai coal power plant is politically motivated, raised questions regarding both the motive and instigators, both unnamed by him. Norochcholai has a history of frequent breakdowns, but Jayasundera makes the valid point that other power plants which have suffered similar breakdowns have been spared criticism. The criticism has come mainly from political more..

Exploring masculinity

Feb 9 (Hindu) When acclaimed Sri Lankan filmmaker Prasanna Vithanage read the Fyodor Dostoyevsky novella A Gentle Creature, he found the perfect subject to explore masculinity. His seventh film Oba Nathuwa Oba Ekka (With You, Without You) is an intense, poignant portrayal of the conflict. The film explores post-war trauma through a turbulent angst-ridden romance that tears even the most beautiful of relationships apart. In his fascinating adaptation, they can’t be more..

Journalist's death: A sign of Sri Lanka's brutalisation?

Feb 9 (BBC) One of Sri Lanka's most prominent journalists, Mel Gunasekera, was stabbed to death in her home, on Sunday. Although this death does not appear to have been politically motivated, Sri Lankans have reacted by lamenting what they say is the "brutalised" nature of their country. To wake up to the news that a friend has been murdered is shocking. My own distress and horror at the sudden ending of Mel more..

SB’s son Narada secretary of the committee

Feb 9 (ST) Higher Education Minister S.B. Dissanayake has appointed his eldest son Narada Dissanayake as the Secretary of a Quality Assurance and Accreditation Committee which will govern all non-state degree awarding institutions. The committee’s main task is to assess applications from institutions, seeking degree-awarding status. Narada is one of the five permanent members of the committee headed by Higher Education Ministry Secretary Sunil Nawaratne. more..

Judgement on pictorial warnings next week

Feb 9 (NS) The judgement regarding adding pictorial warnings on cigarette packs will be given by the Courts of Appeal on May 12. The respondents, the Ministry of Health and Ceylon Tobacco Company (CTC) completed their submissions to court on Friday. Handing over submissions, the legal counsels for CTC maintained that the existing law does not provide for pictorial warnings to be added or even remotely consider it. They stated the then Minister of Health had made a deliberate more..

SB’s private degrees cause concern

Feb 9 (ST) A Gazette notification to allow private institutions to award degrees without conforming to professional standards has led to a howl of protests. Some of the main areas where provision has been made to award degrees are in the fields of medicine, engineering and architecture. The SLMC, the governing body for medicine, said it was “gravely concerned” over the implications of the move by the Ministry of Higher Education. more..

Bus driving only for 23-65 year olds

Feb 9 (ST) With the increase in road accidents involving public transport vehicles, the Ministry of Transport is to introduce tough regulations. An official said the age group of those eligible to drive public transport vehicles would be limited to between 23 and 65. In addition, those with any criminal record would also be barred from driving public transport vehicles. It would be mandatory to have at least two years of driving experience to get special endorsement from more..

Sri Lankan woman dies at 117 years

Feb 9 (Island) A SL woman believed to be oldest in Asia died last week at the age of 117 years. Ukku Amma died in her native village of Hemmathagama in Mawanella. Born on Oct 22, 1897, she was the mother of 7 children. She had 98 great-great-grandchildren. Ukku Amma’s husband, Bandiya had died six years ago at the age of 111 years. According to the Guinness World Records, a Japanese man was the world’s oldest living person, and the longest-lived man in recorded history. more..

Visa issue: India says nothing more to discuss

Feb 9 (CT) A senior official attached to the Indian High Commission in Colombo, commenting on the controversy surrounding the on-arrival-visa, said, "There is no question about why the on-arrival-visa facility was not granted to Sri Lanka, because the facility was not there to begin with." The decision taken by the Indian Govt was purely based on policy and since Sri Lanka was not granted visa-on-arrival to begin with, more..

Misuse of state resources: New unit to monitor upcoming elections

Feb 9 (NS) At the suggestion of PAFFREL, a special election monitoring unit will be established to monitor and investigate complaints with regards to misuse of govt resources by candidates for the upcoming elections. “We approached the Human Rights Commission with regards to this issue and the new unit will be established specially to look into reports of misuse of govt resources,” said Executive Director of PAFFREL, Rohana Hettiarachchi. According to him, this has been more..

Plastic dustpan inside Thriposha machine: Top level probe in progress

Feb 9 (Island) Health Ministry investigators moved in last week for a top-level probe to ascertain whether sabotage led to a plastic dustpan finding its way into the govt-owned Thriposha production facility at Kapuwatte, Jaela, which resulted in the contamination of a stock of thousands of packs of this vital food supplement, senior officials said. The factory’s quality assurance manageress has been charge-sheeted and interdicted over this incident as investigators continued to dig deep to more..

Geneva process moving to new level despite high cost PR campaign

Feb 9 (ST) Though in panic mode over the UNHRC sessions in Geneva next month, there is at least one issue less for the UPFA Govt to worry about — the move to form a common opposition front to take it on. “We are not looking for a govt change. Nor are we looking for any common ground with the UNP,” the JVP’s new leader Anura Kumara Dissanayake said. “It is the UNP that has to answer for the current situation in the country,” more..

New opportunities for India-SL relations

Feb 9 (IDN) India and Sri Lanka share a long historic relationship. The relation saw a new multi-faceted phase post Eelam War IV in 2009, after the complete elimination of the Sri Lankan rebel group LTTE. The new phase represented extensive economic and political cooperation for the comprehensive development of the Northern and Eastern provinces. India today is one of Sri Lanka’s largest trading partners and has been the first to make foreign direct investment. more..

Slaying the HR dragon

Feb 9 (CT) Offence they say is the best form of defence, but in the context of what is becoming a Geneva ritual every March, perhaps it is worth considering conciliation as a better defence. Not so much as a form of appeasement, but as doing the right thing in the interest of the country and its people, and move forward. The govt already has two strikes against it in the form of two resolutions in consecutive years. In baseball parlance, a third strike would mean a clear out. more..

‘Ground’ in Geneva favourable for Lanka

Feb 9 (SO) Sri Lanka’s former Ambassador to the UN in Geneva Dr. Dayan Jayatilleka said with the West having only a fraction of votes in the UNHRC, the “ground” in Geneva is favourable for SL if the support of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa is harnessed as a bloc against the third US sponsored resolution next month. “When we get things right we can defeat UK-US and Madam Navi Pillay’s offensive, more..

Sri Lankans abstain at the voting

Feb 9 (ST) The ICC’s controversial Working Paper worked its way into the mainstream as South Africa, one of the three nations that opposed the proposal, changed its stance and voted in favour of the resolution yesterday. Both Sri Lanka and Pakistan abstained from voting citing that they needed more time to discuss the amended resolution with their respective Boards. It is learnt that at the last moment the South Africa more..

India tells Lanka to stop arrests

Feb 9 (CG) The Indian Govt has urged Sri Lanka to stop arresting Indian fishermen in order to facilitate talks between both sides to an the fishing dispute. Indian Union Minister of State at the Prime Minister’s Office, V. Narayanasamy said that unless Sri Lanka put an end to the arrests of Indian fishermen, nothing fruitful would come out of the proposed talks between the two countries on the festering fishermen issue, more..

Pro-Lanka groups seek free rides to Geneva

Feb 9 (ST) Pro-Sri Lanka groups in Europe are set to stage a demonstration outside the Palais des Naciones in Geneva when UNHRC discusses the third successive resolution to be moved by the US next month. Slogans are ready and the placards are to be ordered but the sponsors have come up against a major problem. Who will pay for the travel and other expenses, particularly to the key players who want to travel from Italy? more..

Elections chief furious over candidates not submitting assets declarations

Feb 9 (Island) Elections Commissioner Mahinda Deshapriya lashed out at candidates for not handing over their assets declarations with the nomination papers to contest the forthcoming PC poll in the Western and southern provinces. "They should do so by the Feb 28 deadline", he said. He warned that the names of those who failed to do so would be disclosed on March 1. They could also lose their more..

After drawn Test, captains call each other defensive

Feb 9 (CI) Angelo Mathews has criticised Bangladesh for declining to orchestrate the highest successful chase in cricket's 137-year history. Mathews also labelled the Chittagong surface "a road", after which Mushfiqur Rahim countered by saying Sri Lanka had not bowled well enough to win. The two-Test series finished at 1-0, after Bangladesh chose to bat for the draw, instead of going after a target of 467. more..

UNDP’s Asia Pacific Regional Director arrives in Sri Lanka

Feb 9 (DM) UN Assistant Secretary-General, Chair, UN Development Group Asia-Pacific and UNDP Assistant Administrator & Director, Regional Bureau for Asia and the Pacific, Haoliang Xu, who arrived in Sri Lanka yesterday evening said that he look forward to better understanding the human development priorities of Sri Lanka. Xu said that he looks forward to understanding the progress made in the first year of the UN Development more..

No material to probe bribery head over charge – one-commissioner probe

Feb 9 (ST) A Commissioner of the Bribery and Corruption Commission has found there is no “material upon which an investigation need to be conducted” against the Chairman of the Commission, former Supreme Court Judge Jagath Balapatabendi in relation to a complaint submitted by JVP MP Sunil Handunetti on Jan 1, 2014. The JVP MP alleged that Justice Balapatabendi was one of the judges of the Supreme Court who more..

GL-Rajitha clash in credit sharing over fishermen’s release; poachers carry on

Feb 9 (ST) Two Ministers in the Cabinet are fighting it out publicly over who should take the credit for the release of detained fishermen both in Sri Lanka as well as in India. The first salvo was fired by External Affairs Minister G.L. Peiris last month. He claimed that the release followed a telephone conversation he had with Indian External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid. This was to infuriate Fisheries Minister Rajitha Senaratne. more..

Despite visa refusal, Russel to talk with Lankan women

Feb 9 (CT) Unfazed by the alleged refusal of a visa for the United States Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women's Issues, Catherine M. Russell, the US Embassy in Colombo has gone ahead with a video conference between the local women's activists and rights groups and Ambassador Russell. Ambassador Russell, who is in Nepal, on her South Asian tour of India, Pakistan and Nepal, would discuss issues with more..

Sobitha Hamuduruvo takes a stand

Feb 9 (Island) Maduluwave Sobitha hamudurovo has told it like it is in an interview with E. Jayasuriyan in the Sunday Thinakural (Tamil) of 2 Feb, website This is a volcano but the Sinhala and English press have still not picked it up (4 Feb). But no ways will anyone get away with self-censorship; it will come out. I will summarise the interview in a moment, but let me touch on two other points first. Only a charlatan or a dunce would still believe that more..

Do we enjoy true independence?

Feb 9 (Island) Jawaharlal Nehru at midnight on 14 Aug 1947 addressed the nation with his now famous ‘We made a tryst with destiny’ speech. The more you read his address to the nation announcing that India was now a sovereign state having thrown off the yoke of the British Raj, the more you are enthralled and the more nuances that assail you. I admit I break out in gooseflesh, his speech and remembering his voice in a recording so deeply expressive against a background of violence more..

Hague, Baird to set the tone

Feb 9 (SL) British Foreign Secretary William Hague and Canadian Foreign Minister John Baird are expected to set the tone on Sri Lanka at the 25th regular session of UNHRC next month as they have been scheduled to make statements at the High Level segment on the opening day. UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon is scheduled to deliver the opening statement of the session on March 3 followed by more..

Hirunika to be appointed Provincial Minister

Feb 9 (SL) The UPFA is considering appointing Hirunika Premachandra as a provincial minister following the WPC elections. The decision regarding the appointment was discussed by govt ministers at an internal party meeting. Govt ministers have considered offering her the post as she is already acting as a co-organizer of the Western Province for the party which gives her qualifications for the post. According to sources several ministers and party members including more..

Maduluwawe gives Polls Chief advice

Feb 9 (SL) The Chief incumbent of the Kotte Nagaviharaya, the Ven. Maduluwawe Sobitha Thero has called on Elections Commissioner Mahinda Deshapriya to get tough with those violating election laws. He said that a public statement will be issued in due course raising his concerns over the failure to crackdown on election violations. “Even though the candidates were asked not to come in organised groups or in parades to hand over their nominations last Thursday, they came in parades and more..

Ravana Balaya wants GL out!

Feb 9 (CT) Ravana Balaya has called for the resignation of Minister G.L. Peiris, if he is unable to fulfil his role as the country's foreign minister, especially given the backdrop of the upcoming UNHRC session in March, which the organization deems as a definite disadvantage to the country. Organization also states that a majority of heads of Sri Lanka' diplomatic missions abroad are failed politicians, who should be in retirement as more..

MPs quarters misused

Feb 9 (SL) The houses given to MPs in Madiwala have been misused with most of them being occupied by outsiders. Deputy Secretary General of Parliament Neil Iddawala said that there have been reports that some houses are being used by outsiders but yet there is nothing anyone can do. He said that a list is usually given to Parliament on those staying at the official quarters of MPs in Madiwala. Meanwhile a proposal has been submitted to build new luxury quarters for more..

Law makers and law breakers

Feb 9 (ST) Election law prohibits the display of cutouts, banners and conduct of processions once nominations close. Nevertheless almost all parties went on to violate the law no sooner nominations closed on Thursday. Soon after nominations closed, supporters of all political parties were seen parading the streets at the District Secretariat offices in the six districts of the southern and western provinces where the provincial councils elections will be held. All this in brazen violation of election law, more..

Dial M for Murder: Killer trapped by mobile he used to check on Mel

Feb 9 (ST) When well-known journalist and analyst Mel Gunasekera lingered longer than expected with her old St. Bridget’s schoolmates on Saturday night last weekend the 40-year-old unwittingly set in train a tragedy that ended with her dead in a pool of blood, slain by a man she had once trusted and employed. Mel – founder of one of Sri Lanka’s best-known financial news portals LBO, a former reporter for the AFP, more..

Milk food import duty down, but customers won’t benefit

Feb 9 (Island) Govt has slashed the import duty on powdered milk food by Rs. 50 per kilo, but the benefit will not be passed down to consumers. This reduction is meant to be a subsidy to importers to cushion spiraling import costs, they said. Fonterra Milk MD, Leon Clement said the govt has provided a subsidy to milk powder importers to recover losses suffered as a result of rising global prices. Asked whether consumers will benefit, he replied, "No, that won’t happen. more..

Nestlé collects 62m liters of local fresh milk in 2013

Feb 9 (Island) Nestlé Lanka, Sri Lanka’s largest private sector buyer of fresh milk, announced that it had procured its highest ever collection of 62 million liters of local milk in 2013, marking a 15% growth from 2012. Currently procuring an average of 170,000 litres of fresh milk daily from 18,000 Sri Lankan farmers, the company has played an active role in developing the local dairy sector since the early 1980’s, working closely with the local govt and farmers over the years to more..

Law College’s new principal resigns citing personal reasons

Feb 9 (ST) Former Supreme Court judge P.A. Ratnayake P.C has sent in his resignation as the Principal, Sri Lanka Law College, citing personal reasons just over a month after taking up the position. Justice Ratnayake said that he sent his letter of resignation last Tursday to the Council of Legal Education (which makes the appointment), since he was involved in the maritime sector including work on Sri Lanka’s claim to the UN more..

Rector says he was not contacted; but that’s not so

Feb 9 (ST) Responding to a news report headlined ‘St. Joseph’s College Rector transferred to Aquinas’, published in Sunday Times, the Rector, Rev. Fr. Sylvester Ranasinghe, has sent the following reply. “I write in reference to an article published in the ‘Sunday Times’ 0f Jan 12. The article is obviously damaging to my good name and reputation and it has damaged the reputation of the College, a College which has set benchmark standards in Catholic education over the past 117 years. more..

US rejects Canadian Tamil Congress call for sanctions against SL Govt.

Feb 9 (Island) Canadian Tamil Congress (CTC) has urged the international community to impose financial and diplomatic sanctions on the Sri Lankan govt for alleged war crimes but the US has ruled it out. Canada was yet to respond to the CTC’s request. CTC Spokesperson David Poopalapillai said that decisive action should be taken at the UNHRC sessions to be held in Geneva next month to establish a war crimes tribunal to investigate what he alleged was the killing of between more..

Polythene common candidate for SLFP-UNP

Feb 9 (NS) The two major political parties, SLFP and UNP, do not have a clear anti-polythene policy when it comes to election campaigns. JVP and JHU, however, have strict policies in this regard and are determined to conduct environmentally-friendly campaigns. JVP MP Vijitha Herath stated the party, as a principle, has always used cloths for their election campaign purposes, and has refrained from using plastic for their campaigns. more..

Golden Key depositors reveal ‘Kothalawalas’ in business

Feb 9 (NS) Golden Key depositors have uncovered 80 companies, belonging to the Ceylinco Group, that have been functioning outside Sri Lanka whose assets have not been disclosed. The revelation was made following an investigation carried out by the depositors themselves. This was after a statement made by Kothalawala way back in 2008 where he mentioned that the group owned over 400 companies locally and internationally. Kothalawala had mentioned to Janmabhinandana; more..