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Course correction in our foreign policy

Mar 1 (SO) In no arena was the aberration that was the past nine years of governance more starkly apparent than in SL's foreign relations and foreign policy. Some may argue that in its policy towards the internal ethnic conflict, too, the Rajapaksa regime was an aberration in that no other previous regime had attempted a purely military 'solution'. Others may dispute that, pointing to the vigorous military campaigns conducted by successive govts against the secessionist insurgency. more..

Good governance and Animal Farm

Mar 1 (SL) Events taking place in the country today brings to mind the proclamation in George Orwell’s book Animal Farm that ‘All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others’. The sentence is a comment on the hypocrisy of govts that proclaim the absolute equality of their citizens but give power and privileges to a small elite. During the last few days several men and women were arrested on drug charges but those alleged to have been involved in large scale drug trafficking more..

‘Independence and corresponding power within a united country’

Mar 1 (SO) Northern Province Chief Minister Canagasabapathy Visuvalingam Wigneswaran PC shot to political prominence when he was plucked from retirement as a Supreme Court Judge by the TNA to be their leader for the war-battered, but staunchly independent, people of the North. Today, after just 15 months as first Chief Minister of the Northern Province, he is a hugely popular leader in his own right and cuts a more..

Oh, what a tangled web you weave! My Dear Wimal,

Mar 1 (ST) I thought I must write to you because you are very much in the news these days, be it organising rallies at Nugegoda or attending to your sick ‘haamine’. Whatever people blame you for, I am sure they cannot blame you for not being a source of controversy and sensational headlines! Wimal, we didn’t give you enough credit for being a clever politician. When Mahinda maama was defeated, we thought that you would spend the next few months quietly thinking about what you should more..

Ranil’s true colors

Mar 1 (NS) Ranil Wickremesinghe didn’t run for the Presidency. Indeed, we can safely conclude that Ranil Wickremesinghe could not have won had he contested simply because if ‘reform’ was his thing then it is more easily obtained by winning the Presidency rather than waiting on the largesse of someone else who was elected. As things stand, we are not even sure if Wickremesinghe wants reform, considering the fact that he’s quibbling over the utterly petty issue of whether more..

'Cannot condone govt attitude'

Mar 1 (SL) The JVP has on several occasions expressed their displeasure over the lethargic attitude of the current govt to bring those responsible for corruption in the previous regime to book. Almost 50 days have gone by since this govt assumed power, but so far no one has been charged although this govt made a huge hue and cry regarding fraud and corruption by the previous regime. JVP however has warned that they more..

Northern PC: Spoiling for another fight

Mar 1 (ST) The Northern Province Chief Minister has written to the Prime Minister saying, inter-alia, that “the Sinhalese polity is a decent community. Only the politicians mislead them in the wrong path”. Might we echo the Biblical quote; ‘first cast out the beam out of thine own eye, and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother’s eye’. Chief Minister was responding to the Prime Minister’s earlier missive that the recent NPC resolution he had moved calling more..

No quick fixes for corruption

Mar 1 (Island) There are many Lankans disgusted to the core with the rampant corruption and profligacy of the ousted Mahinda Rajapaksa administration that are publicly and bitterly complaining that no big fish have been netted or locked up bar the soap opera-type arrest, remanding and bailing of former Minister Wimal Weerawansa’s wife over a relatively minor offence. Ministers John Amaratunga who is responsible for the police and Cabinet Spokesman Rajitha Senaratne added more..

'Govt has kept its promises'

Mar 1 (SL) The people voted for change purely on the expectations that the current Ranil/Maithripala coalition would make many changes for the betterment of the country and deliver on their election promises of bringing those previous corrupt politicians to book and also making changes that would reduce the powers of the executive presidency. However today the people are somewhat disgruntled as there has been more..

How long is the 100 days?

Mar 1 (Island) Purawesi Balaya was one of the main NGO umbrella organizations that spearheaded the campaign that brought President Maithripala Sirisena into power. Last Wednesday when they held a public meeting titled, Dina 100 kethram durada? (How long is the 100 days?) this writer assumed it to be a critical self evaluation of the failure of the govt to deliver on its promises particularly the constitutional promises that formed the pivot around which more..

What ails our National Carrier

Mar 1 (Island) Our national carrier SriLankan Airlines has many critics, a few defenders mostly ex and current staff for emotional reasons and many beneficiaries. Many a time, decisions to withdraw from unprofitable routes have met with resistance and objections from different interest groups who never lost an opportunity to remind the national carrier of its ‘national responsibilities’. Govts of the day are pressurized to change commercial decisions of the national carrier, or else, more..

'Elections must be held under new laws'

Mar 1 (SL) Chairman of the NMJS Ven. Maduluwawe Sobitha Thero is known for his straightforwardness and courage in the country’s political arena since the 1980’s. He has been a much talked about figure in recent politics as being one of the most prominent figures who helped the new govt to come into power. Thero said that the govt and President Maithripala Sirisena made a commitment prior to the presidential elections to end the more..

Mahinda’s re-entry won’t be via expressway

Mar 1 (NS) SLFP is presently experiencing what the UNP went through for nearly 20 years when it was in the opposition. A section of SLFP members, especially some representatives of the grassroots level, are on a feverish mission to bring ‘Mahinda’ back to lead the General Election Campaign of the SLFP as its PM Candidate. A group of PS members of the Ratnapura District have threatened to step down from politics, if the party fails to make Mahinda the Prime Ministerial Candidate. more..

Yahapaalanaya as the new Aascharyaya

Mar 1 (NS) Spokesperson for the FUTA, staunch supporter of the Maithripala regime and shrill advocate of good governance Nirmal Ranjith Dewasiri posed a question to certain individuals on Facebook. He wants to know what they think are the political meanings of a political force Wimal Wererawansa, Dayan Jayatilleka and Vasudeva Nanayakkara are putting together with Mahinda Rajapaksa as leader (”විමල් වීරවංශ, දයාන් ජයතිලක සහ වාසුදේව නානායක්කාර යන more..

Central Bank to move Supreme Court to take over GK management

Mar 1 (Island) Central Bank will be moving the Supreme Court to take over the management of the failed Golden Key and formulate a mechanism to reimburse depositors, a high-ranking official said. "We will be appealing to the SC through the AG’s Department next week to acquire the operations of this company, which collapsed in 2008", he said. Fundamental Rights (FR) plea filed by a group of GK depositors will resume more..

SLC says ‘they knew it before’

Mar 1 (Island) Further to the news item that appeared in certain newspapers saying ‘Sri Lanka were unhappy with World Cup Scheduling’, Sri Lanka Cricket has sent the following statement: ‘SLC has sought the views from the Team Manager who stated that the writer (of the said article) has quoted him accurately when he has said, ‘It would have been nice to have finished New Zealand before coming to Australia… It certainly is inconvenient. It’s tiring for the boys too. more..

Additional Solicitor General Yasantha Kodagoda appointed President’s Counsel

Mar 1 (Island) Additional Solicitor General Yasantha Kodagoda was appointed a President’s Counsel by President Maithripala Sirisena recently. An illustrious Old Boy of Ananda College, Colombo, Kodagoda completed his legal education at the Sri Lanka Law College and earned his Postgraduate degree from the University College London (UCL), UK. He joined the Attorney General’s Department as a State Counsel in February 1989 and later obtained a Postgraduate Diploma in Forensic Medicine more..

Basil’s wife recruits 100 into SLTPB, Jauffer in alleged money scam

Mar 1 (ST) While a former minister’s wife was busy recruiting staff for the Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau (SLTPB) the institution’s head was allegedly misusing state funds, ongoing investigations have revealed. New recruits at the SLTPB numbering almost 100 interviewed by a former powerful minister’s wife have been discontinued. Deputy Minister Wasantha Senanayake said that they had found out that nearly 100 persons more..

Sri Lanka bars entry of Bajaj Auto RE60

Mar 1 (ST) Bajaj Auto RE60, India’s first quadricycle, an alternative to the 3-wheeler, will not be permitted to ply on Sri Lankan roads, Motor Traffic Department (MTD) head said. MTD has rejected the application submitted by the local agent of India’s Bajaj Auto company to market this low priced vehicle in the island, Commissioner General of Motor Traffic S.H. Harischandra said. Department refused the entry of these Indian-made quadricycles, mainly due to passenger safety issues. more..

'Litigations should be expedited'

Mar 1 (NS) The legal system of Sri Lanka should be changed so it doesn’t take six years for a disabled person to receive compensation for injuries caused to them, Dr. Samitha Samanmali told The Nation. “Not everyone has the strength to fight for a long period like six years,” she added.Due to the collapse of a shelter at a Dayata Kirula exhibition held at the BMICH in 2008, the then medical student Samitha Samanmali became paralyzed after being injured. However, the Colombo District Court, more..

Action against pump and dump traders

Mar 1 (ST) Spending Rs. 36 million in a year on overseas promotional roadshows, donating Rs. 4 million for Namal Rajapaksa’s Tharunyata Hetak political youth scheme and Rs.5 million on promoting the Govt’s 20-20 vision! This is only the tip of the iceberg in unnecessary spending at the SEC during the tenure of former chairman Nalaka Godahewa. SEC sources said that the organisation should never have got involved in funding more..

Sri Lanka Rugby Union under JVP scrutiny

Mar 1 (NS) A group of rugby enthusiasts have submitted a dossier on the current administration of the Sri Lanka Rugby Football Union (SLRFU) to the anti-corruption watchdog the JVP which has pledged to bring the matter before an investigation. Among the points raised in the petition are on what criteria was Yoshitha Rajapaksa selected to captain the Sri Lanka team ahead of several other senior players and the conversion of two Fijians into Sri Lankans to play for the National team more..

Sri Lankan housemaids need Dh800 salary

Mar 1 (FN) Sri Lankan housemaids have more opportunities in the UAE due to the shortage of housemaids in the market. Now more Sri Lankan housemaids are coming to the UAE, a Sri Lankan official said. Of an estimated 300,000 Sri Lankans in the UAE, 55 per cent of them are in lower rung jobs- many of them are housemaids, said the official who did not want to be named. Sri Lankan Govt has imposed a minimum salary of Dh800 for female domestic helps in the UAE. more..

Champika focused on reforms

Mar 1 (NS) ‘Implementing the reform agenda is more important than being fixated about deadlines,’ Minister and JHU General Secretary Champika Ranawaka insisted. Sole representative of the JHU in the Cabinet opined that the two major parties, UNP and SLFP can and must reach an agreement on this soon. ‘Thrust of the mandate obtained from the people on Jan 8 is to institute reforms including effecting changes more..

Sushma here on Friday

Mar 1 (ST) India’s External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj will arrive in Colombo on Friday to set the stage for the visit to Sri Lanka by Indian PM Narendra Modi on March 13. During her two-day stay, Ms. Swaraj will meet PM Ranil Wickremesinghe and Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera. PM Modi is scheduled to arrive here on March 13 for a three-day official visit, the first by an Indian PM since 1987. She is scheduled to travel to Jaffna, Anuradhapura and Kandy more..

Interim report on SriLankan by Mar 15

Mar 1 (Island) The interim report of the probe into alleged irregularities and abuse of power by the management of SriLankan Airlines is expected by March 15. The final report of the committee headed by senior lawyer J.C. Weliamuna and three others is due on March 30. The spokesman said the committee is "completely independent and totally free of political interference - so much so we cannot even comment on the progress of the investigation." Weliamuna said that the investigations are more..

BMICH has no funds to pay compensation

Mar 1 (Island) The BMICH, which was ordered to pay Rs. 180 million as compensation by the Colombo District Court, says the institution is cash strapped and funds will have to be raised from elsewhere to pay Dr. Samitha Samanmali. "With an annual turnover of Rs. 200 million, we will have to borrow money to pay the compensation awarded by court", says Mallika Karunaratne, BMICH’s Director-General. She said that when she received more..

TNA top rung rebuffs diaspora

Mar 1 (SO) TNA MP for Batticaloa S. Yogeswaran roundly condemned sections of the Tamil diaspora community who burnt party leader R. Sampanthan’s effigy in London. He said that the TNA leadership cannot act according to the dictates of the diaspora community on every issue relating to Sri Lankan Tamils. Sections of the diaspora community burnt the effigy of R. Sampanthan together with that of party frontliner M.A. Sumanthiran opposite the US embassy in London as a protest against more..

Finally! 15% interest rate for senior citizens’ deposits

Mar 1 (ST) Nearly two months after it was promised, the 15% special interest rate for deposits by senior citizens was finally accepted by all SL commercial banks from Thursday, officials said. Business Times was in the forefront of a plea by elder citizens to enforce this budget proposal. Treasury intends to subsidise the banks on this account. “The differential between the existing fixed deposits rate for seniors and the newly imposed 15% will be subsidised by the Treasury,” Upali de Silva, more..

Govt cancels fishing licences of eight Chinese companies

Mar 1 (ST) Govt has cancelled fishing licences given to eight Chinese companies to fish in international waters under the Sri Lankan flag, after they were found to have violated the agreements, Fisheries Minister Joseph Michael Perera said. ”The main reason was that they have violated the terms and conditions we have agreed upon in a MoU signed by both parties,” he said. The Chinese companies had failed to provide more..

Govt remains soft on illegal project

Mar 1 (NS) The construction of the allegedly illegal Nayaganga hydropower plant will be allowed to continue unless the Department of Wild Life Conservation intervenes, according to Minister of Power and Energy Champika Ranawaka. This is despite the Ministry of Mahaweli Development and Environment, promising to protect forest reserves while also identifying areas that are currently in danger of being destroyed, a clear violation of the pledges in the Ministry’s 100 Day Program. more..

Foreigners summoned

Mar 1 (SL) The Special Investigations Unit of the Department of Immigration and Emigration has notified 20 foreigners, who have arrived in the country on tourist visas and are currently engaged in business ventures and employment, to report to the Department tomorrow. These foreign nationals, 10 Chinese, six Russians, two Ukraine nationals and another two from Australia and Italy, were apprehended by the immigration officials on Feb 27 in the Hikkaduwa area. more..

Record abuse of diplomatic passports

Mar 1 (ST) A record number of nearly 2,000 diplomatic passports were issued by the previous administration to everyone from presidential advisers, clergy and doctors and to ministers, deputy ministers, coordinating secretaries and boundless numbers of children. In most other countries, diplomatic passports are issued under strict guidelines to limited categories of senior State employees. more..

Decision on Port City won't affect FDI: Eran

Mar 1 (CT) Whatever decision taken by the govt, on Colombo Port City Project, would have no impact on Foreign Direct Investments (FDIs), since decisions will be taken rationally, Deputy Minister Eran Wickremeratne said. Responding to a query on whether there will be any impact on FDIs if the govt scraps Port City Project, Wickremeratne made it clear that there would not be any negative impact on FDIs as the decision will be taken based on the facts about impacts on FDIs as the decision more..

Convention to assess progress of 100-Day program

Mar 1 (NS) “While some of the promises made in the 100-Day program are nowhere near being delivered, authorities are more concerned about arresting an innocent lady, even as many of the real culprits have already left the country,” lamented Ven. Maduluwawe Sobhitha Thera of the NMJS. Ven. Sobitha Thera pointed out that 55 days in the 100-Day program have already passed, but many of those wanted in connection of various offences are still running free. more..

President Sirisena’s credibility faces tough test

Mar 1 (ST) Govt this week crossed the half way mark of its 100-day programme to fulfil promises made to the people during the campaign for the presidential election. Ironically that milestone has arrived with some election assurances remaining unfulfilled and was to take a turn for the worse on Thursday. Two major partners in the rainbow coalition — UNP & SLFP — failed to reach accord on impending constitutional changes more..

SLFP-UNP cohabitation in the south, and TNA power struggle in the north

Mar 1 (Island) The north and south are different again. The SLFP and the UNP are uneasily cohabiting in the current parliament. The minority UNP is running the govt and the majority SLFP is constrained to go along with it. The situation is unprecedented and unusual, but not undemocratic or unconstitutional. The constraint on the SLFP is a democratic extension of the January 8 presidential election in which the incumbent president and then leader of the SLFP, Mahinda Rajapaksa, more..

Sri Lanka's voiceless women

Mar 1 (CT) Colombo takes delivery of yet another dead body from the Middle-East. This time it was a case of a woman who had been assaulted and murdered in Kuwait, according to yesterday's edition of this newspaper. The article, quoting the police, said that officials will liaise with Kuwaiti authorities concerning the murder. That however, is small solace to the victim's family. Remittances are Sri Lanka's biggest foreign exchange (FX) earner. It's mainly sent by the island's women slaving more..

Talk at the Cafe Spectator

Mar 1 (ST) This week, a retired Inland Revenue chief, now a consultant to a law firm opened not so long ago by a young VIP lawyer MP under his own name, trudged all the way to the southern town of Matara to open a tax file for the young lawyer — no longer a VIP but an MP nevertheless. Probably anticipating an investigation, the first thing detectives do is to go into a suspect’s tax file; so one must have a file in the first place. more..

Polls Chief moots Media Regulatory Commission to monitor political propaganda

Mar 1 (ST) Election Commissioner Mahinda Deshapriya said it would be useful to establish a Media Regulatory Commission to standardise State and private media and prevent political parties from conducting propaganda campaigns before and after elections. Mr Deshapriya was speaking at a meeting organised by Transparency International Sri Lanka (TISL) at the BMICH on Wednesday, to discuss Electoral Integrity, more..