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'UNP will protect people not govt'

Feb 2 (SL) Visit to Sri Lanka by t US Assistant Secretary of State Nisha Biswal has increased the spotlight on Sri Lanka ahead of the crucial UNHRC session in Geneva in March. Domestically, the focus is on the opposition and what stand it will take when the US sponsored resolution is eventually submitted. UNP says it will always protect the country and its people, but will not protect the govt. UNP holds govt responsible for what more..

Satellite has some space to orbit again

Feb 2 (NS) My Dear Satellite, I thought I must write to you when I heard people speculating about how you would be the common opposition candidate-obviously against Mahinda maama — at the next big election. I don’t think you would mind, would you, especially since very few people must be writing to you these days! I know you have already said that you have no such intentions because you have retired from politics. That is a very sensible statement and many people would like you to more..

Thwarting the freedom of discussion

Feb 2 (NS) Latin term Sub judice is used profusely in our Parliament. Whenever the government cannot continue answering questions on burning issues - it is natural that the majority of such hot issues are forwarded to courts and become pending cases. Under such circumstances the ministers can get away citing the issue is sub judice. These were the two words that helped Deputy Minister Lalith Dissanayake during last session of sittings to escape from JVP MP Anura Kumara more..

SLC’s lack of intent disappointing

Feb 2 (Island) All full members at ICC have expressed their stance on the proposed revamp to the International Cricket Council except Sri Lanka. While Sri Lanka are thought to be against the move, alongside South Africa and Pakistan, their administrators have not come out strongly against the proposed changes, which will invariably harm Sri Lankan cricket. SLC bigwigs, as usual, have been beating about the bush. more..

How J.R.Jayewardene faced Geneva

Feb 2 (Island) The main topic of conversation these days is not so much the forthcoming Western and Southern provincial elections but the upcoming meeting of the UNHRC in March this year. The way people discuss the upcoming meeting of the UNHRC would lead one to imagine that this was the first time in Sri Lanka’s history that this country was facing adverse resolutions in the UNHRC. But there is nothing new in all this. From the very beginning of Tamil separatist terrorism in the 1980s, more..

The Rush Hour

Feb 2 (SL) The UNP, the main opposition party of the country, has embarked on some serious reforms – perhaps on a very subterranean level. As part of that programme, the party decided that there should be a drastic change in the media apparatus of the party, enabling the party to draw more support from journalists and media at large. This approach prompted the party to appoint a new Working Committee member who was entrusted with the task of coordinating media on behalf of the party. more..

The 66th national independence day celebration: Where do we stand?

Feb 2 (SL) As Sri Lanka is celebrating her 66th Independence Day this month, many wonder where Sri Lanka stands as a nation. The Island has come a long way since gaining independence in 1948 and achieved few developments in spite of going through several bloodsheds, insurrections, youth uprisings and a 30-year-long war, but citizens still feel that some of the core issues faced by the minority of the more..

Rathupaswela: no decision yet on court martial

Feb 2 (Island) Although a military court of inquiry into the Kandy Road shooting over the alleged well water pollution issue at Rathupaswela has been concluded, there has been no decision yet on whether a court martial will follow, Army Commander, Lt. Gen. Daya Ratnayake said yesterday. Gen. Ratnayake explained that following the court of inquiry, individual regiments to which the suspect soldiers belonged must record summaries of evidence after which the Military more..

Expensive CEB fleet blocked

Feb 2 (SL) Public Utilities Commission of Sri Lanka (PUCSL) has blocked an attempt by the CEB to purchase a fleet of vehicles worth billions of Rupees. PUSL Deputy Chairman Dr Bandula Perera said that the CEB wanted approval for the release of a multi billion rupee sum to buy the fleet of vehicles which however was struck down by the PUCSL because of the possibility of such costs being passed on to the consumer. The CEB was looking to purchase the expensive fleet despite incurring losses more..

Oil Mafia behind sabotage?

Feb 2 (SL) Serious allegations are being levelled against private power developers in the oil sector for purposely sabotaging at least four main power plants in the country in an attempt to force the CEB towards buying power on an emergency basis. Senior most officials at the CEB threaten to ‘expose’ developers forcing the sector towards a crisis. They charge that the attempt was to force the CEB to renew contracts more..

PB counting his days?

Feb 2 (ST) Sri Lanka’s most powerful bureaucrat, Treasury Secretary Dr. P.B. Jayasundera, on Wednesday made several references to his tenure in public service and even inferred it might not be long before he leaves – which would then be for the third time. The Treasury Secretary quit his post once before on a ruling by the Supreme Court in the LMS privatisation case some years back but was re-appointed. His record tenure as Treasury Secretary was also broken briefly when more..

Of war and peace

Feb 2 (Hindu) Born in 1954, Romesh Gunesekera grew up in Sri Lanka and the Philippines before moving to England in 1972. His first novel, Reef, was shortlisted for both the Guardian Fiction Prize and the Booker Prize. In India recently to launch his latest collection of short stories Noontide Toll, Gunasekera took time out for an interview. Q: How long did it take to write Noontide Toll? There is a reference to V Prabhakaran’s killing, so it seems to have been finished recently. more..

Shangri La Colombo hotel on stream; other plans on hold

Feb 2 (ST) Hong Kong-based Shangri La group is focusing on Phase 1 of its Colombo project – construction of a luxury 500-room hotel but re-thinking its Phase 2 development of luxury residencies and a 25,000 square metre high-end shopping mall. Piling work at the Shangri-La, Colombo hotel site is now underway after around two years of its ground breaking ceremony held in Colombo on February 2012. more..

Two detained containers released without checks

Feb 2 (ST) Amid continuing controversy over the detection of a container carrying about 260 kg of heroin, two containers were released on Friday without any inspection, Customs sources said yesterday. The two 20-foot containers declared as containing sanitaryware had been detained by the Customs for more than two weeks for investigations after they arrived from China. The containers were detained on a directive from the Custom’s Preventive Unit and the Revenue Task Force. more..

Moves to block Mattala birds

Feb 2 (SL) The Airport and Aviation Services has submitted two proposals to prevent birds from disrupting flights at the Mattala International Airport. Civil Aviation Ministry Secretary Ravindra Ruberu said that one proposal involves using radar which detects birds in the vicinity and uses a high frequency sound to chase them away. Ruberu said that planes landing at Mattala have, at times, faced the threat of being damaged by birds in the area. Recently an international flight which more..

Another dengue epidemic in Colombo

Feb 2 (ST) Colombo city is experiencing another outbreak of deadly dengue fever with four deaths — three of them children below 5 — and another 376 victims last month while the Colombo district recorded 1091 cases. The Colombo Municipality’s Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Pradeep Kariyawasam, said this was a 30% increase compared to January last year. Last year, 757 dengue cases were reported in the more..

Mahela and Herath on the move

Feb 2 (Island) Mahela Jayawardena has jumped five places to 13th in the latest ICC Player Rankings for Test Batsmen following his unbeaten knock of 203, against Bangladesh in the first Test at Mirpur. Jayawardena’s seventh career double hundred helped Sri Lanka register an innings and 248 runs win, to thereby take a 1-0 lead in the two-Test series on Thursday. Jayawardena, named player of the match, is now on 714 ratings points, just two behind Angelo Mathews, who is in 12th place more..

'Finance Act raises constitutional issues'

Feb 2 (ST) Wide ranging powers to the Monetary Board (MB) in the Finance Business Act of 2011 governing finance companies are raising serious constitutional issues, a top company lawyer said on Friday. K. Kanag-Isvaran, PC, said provisions in the Act giving powers to ‘directors’ (meaning the MB of the Central Bank) to freeze passports or seize property infringes on the judicial process raises concerns whether this is the due process and infringes on the rule of law. more..

Legal Director of Presidential Secretariat: Top lawyers voice disapproval

Feb 2 (NS) Eminent lawyers have criticized the move to appoint former Principal of Sri Lanka Law College, Dr. W.D. Rodrigo as Legal Director of the Presidential Secretariat. Senior Attorney-at-Law Gomin Dayasiri criticized the move to appoint Dr. Rodrigo, who had earlier been removed from his position as Principal of Law College by the Council of Legal Education, following serious allegations of misconduct. more..

‘Take-over of private lands of Tamils in North’ discussed at London Forum

Feb 2 (Island) The Sri Lankan army’s "take-over of private land belonging to Tamils in the North of Sri Lanka" was a key issue at the International Conference of the British Tamil Forum and All Party Parliamentary Group for Tamils, on Friday in Committee Room 14 of the British Houses of Parliament. The Conservative MP for Illford North, Lee Scot and Labour Party MP for Mitcham & Morden, Siobhain McDonagh opened the proceedings. more..

If talks fail Navy will arrest poaching Indians

Feb 2 (ST) The Sri Lanka Navy warned yesterday that it would continue to detain Indian fishermen intruding into the country’s territorial waters after high level-talks between the two sides failed to resolve the issue of poaching. Navy Commander Jayanatha Colombage said that even after the recent talks, Indian fishermen continue to poach in the seas off Pesalai, Delft and Talaimannar. “We have so far arrested 38 Indian fishermen after the talks were held and detained six boats,” more..

Monk for President?

Feb 2 (SL) A prominent Buddhist monk has been approached to contest as the common opposition candidate at the next Presidential elections. Chief incumbent of the Kotte Nagaviharaya, Ven. Maduluwawe Sobitha Thero says he was approached to come forward as the Presidential candidate on behalf of the opposition. Thero said that discussions are being held with some political parties on the proposal. more..

Mainstream political parties yet to finalize nomination lists

Feb 2 (Island) Only a few Independent Groups have so far handed in their cash deposits to contest the forthcoming PC polls for the Western and Southern Provinces, whereas the mainstream political parties have still not finalized their nomination lists. The deadline for handing over nominations for Independent Groups is 12 noon on Feb 5, while the political parties have to complete the process by Feb. 6. As in the past, both the UPFA and UNP yesterday expressed confidence of more..

JVP party leadership issue: Slated to be resolved today at Annual Convention

Feb 2 (NS) A proposal regarding the leadership position of the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) will be presented when the party holds its Seventh Annual Convention at the Sugathadasa Indoor Stadium today. President of the National Trade Union Center and former JVP MP Lal Kantha said that a proposal regarding the party leader’s position was presented by current Party Leader Somavansa Amarasinghe to Central Committee, where it was unanimously approved. more..

CHOGM Benzes sold at between Rs. 16-17 million

Feb 2 (Island) The Mercedes Benz S400 class Hybrid vehicles imported for the CHOGM are being sold at between Rs. 16 to 17 million each and 15 of the 53 imported for this event have been sold, Dimo CEO Ranjith Pandithage said. Asked how much this model, sold brand new with all taxes and levies paid would cost, he said that subject to exchange variations it would be around Rs. 32 million. He explained that Dimo was more..

Rape of Aussie student: Police probe love affair with suspect

Feb 2 (ST) Police are conducting further investigations into the alleged rape of a 20-year-old Australian student in Ambalangoda following reports that the suspect had a brief love affair with her. The suspect, an 18 year-old youth from Hirewatta in Ambalangoda, surrendered to police on Friday after evading arrest for four days. He was produced in court and remanded till February 10.The victim, a university student, was in Sri Lanka with eight others as volunteers at a turtle conservation centre more..

Milk powder prices go up

Feb 2 (ST) Prices of powdered milk were increased yesterday, ending a three-month long battle between milk powder companies and the Consumer Affairs Authority. A spokesman for the Ministry of Co-operatives and Internal Trade said the price of a 400g packet of milk powder packet was increased by Rs 61 from midnight yesterday and the one kilogram pack by Rs 152. Accordingly a 400 gram packet will cost consumers Rs. 386 and a kilogram packet Rs. 962. more..

Geneva: Hard line at home, heart cry abroad

Feb 2 (ST) Ministers at their weekly meeting on Thursday rejected a proposal for the Govt of Sri Lanka to enter into a MoU with the United States Pacific Command (PACOM) to construct three fully equipped schools in the North. A point at issue was how Minister Bandula Gunawardena came to make a recommendation for this purpose. According to him, Department of National Planning and more..

Norochcholai is a Lemon: Junk it!

Jan 2 (Island) This is my third piece on Norochcholai in the last two years; previously, soft and mild mannered gentleman that I am, I expressed myself in polite terms . . . hmm, well! But it’s just too much now; junk the wretched thing, sell it for scrap, collect insurance, get the Chinese Government to write off the loan; in the long run this will be cheaper and less annoying than pottering around with this Lemon in the hope that it may come right one day. Lemon is an Americanism for a dud, usually a car, more..

Lessons for UNP from the JVP

Jan 2 (CT) JVP, the self-proclaimed Party of the down-trodden and the oppressed, is reportedly looking for a new leader. A major political force in the late 1980s, its turbulent history saw its secret Politburo presiding over the decisions of who should live and who should die. However, with the demise of the Party's legendary leader, Rohana Wijeweera and subsequent decimation of its entire political network, the Party folded its revolutionary map and adopted the traditional line more..

Holcim tight-lipped over malpractice charges

Jan 2 (NS) Holcim Lanka, Sri Lanka’s largest player in the cement industry maintains silence over the allegations which have been raised over the company and its management. Several media had highlighted the issue, but the Holcim Lanka has not so far come out with at least a comment over those allegations. The allegations against the company include some financial irregularities and violation of the Foreign Exchange Control Act more..

Mackwoods to open electric vehicle charging stations

Jan 2 (ST) Mackwoods Energy is aiming to set up electric vehicle charging stations across the country, officials said. “Currently we’re doing some market studies on this. Most probably this year we’ll roll it out,” Arjuna Yatawara, MEP Managing Director told the Business Times. He said they plan to set up roadside charging stations. “We’ll also be discussing with some petrol stations to build charging stations,” he said. more..

More lies in the skies with SriLankan Airlines

Jan 2 (ST) Instructions were given to divert to Singapore a scheduled SriLankan Airlines direct flight from Kuala Lumpur to Colombo whilst the Airbus A-330 aircraft was on the ground in Malaysia, the Sunday Times can reveal today. That was how Captain Lakshman Fernando, commanding the flight touched down at Changi International Airport in Singapore. Aircraft was on the ground for half an hour to enable more..

HIV on a dangerous threshold in Sri Lanka

Feb 2 (IPS) 400 HIV infections in a population of 20 million should not be a difficult figure to manage. But experts in Sri Lanka say social customs and strict laws are hindering them from carrying out prevention and awareness campaigns among high-risk groups. Despite impressively low national infection rates, there are signs that the spread of HIV, which can lead to AIDS, has increased among these groups, more..

Mattala: Planes come, nobody gets in or gets out

Jan 2 (ST) Questions are being asked why certain SriLankan Airlines flights continue to stop at Mattala Rajapaksa International Airport (MRIA) when there are no passengers embarking or disembarking. For instance, a Colombo-bound flight from Kuala Lumpur made a scheduled stop at MRIA on Thursday. Writing to Sunday Times, a passenger on that aircraft said there was “no apparent reason” for the flight to have landed there. more..

None of the NPC opposition parties voted in favour of anti-Sri Lankan resolution

Jan 2 (Island) SLFP Organizer for Jaffna District, Angajan Ramanathan issued the following statement on the resolution passed at the NPC on the forthcoming Geneva sessions: "While categorically denying and rejecting the claim made by the NPC ruling party TNA’s statement stating that anti-SL resolution targeting the upcoming Geneva sessions against our motherland was unanimously passed on Jan 27, more..

How will India vote in Geneva next month?

Jan 2 (Island)India has politely declined to give an assurance of its support to Sri Lanka on a resolution the United States is planning to move in the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) in Geneva next month. The resolution may seek an impartial international probe into the excesses and human rights violations allegedly committed by the island nation’s security forces during the last phase of the so called Eelam War IV in early 2009. more..

Former AFP journalist murdered in Sri Lanka

Feb 2 (AFP) Former AFP journalist Mel Gunasekera was stabbed to death on Sunday after a break-in at her family's home, police said. Body of Gunasekera, who had been working for the ratings agency Fitch, was discovered by her parents at their house in Battaramulla after they returned from church, SSP Ajith Rohana said. "We have deployed several investigating teams and we are depending on forensic evidence," more..

66th Year of Independence to be celebrated in Kegalle

Jan 2 (ST) The 66th Independence Day Celebrations will be held in Kegalle on Tuesday under the patronage of President Mahinda Rajapaksa. A tri-forces military parade comprising 1,400 Army Officers, 250 Naval Officers, 250 Air Force Officers, 250 Police Officers, 250 Members of the Civil Defence Force, 325 Cadets of the National Cadets Force and 300 Members of the National Youth Corps will be the highlight of the celebrations. more..

Sri Lanka rejects US criticism over rights, democracy

Feb 2 (AFP) Sri Lanka on Sunday rejected "patently unfair" allegations by the United States that its rights record had deteriorated in the five years since the end of a bloody separatist war. Foreign Minister G.L. Peiris said remarks by Nisha Biswal, US Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asia, at the end of a two-day visit on Saturday suggested that she wanted to believe the worst of the regime in Colombo. more..