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A saint and an island beloved by two countries

Mar 10 (NS) St. Anthony’s Shrine at the Kachchathivu Island celebrated its annual feast of the patron-saint of seafarers last Sunday (march 1) attended by thousands of devotees. The whole event as usual was assisted by the Sri Lanka Navy. The devotees from Rameshwaram were not only the fisher folk, but from several other professions. Sri Lankans who attended the event also represented all the professions and almost all religions. more..

Tamil Diaspora becoming part of larger SL community

Mar 10 (Island) President Maithripala Sirisena is reported to be seeking to build relations with the Tamil Diaspora while in London to participate in the Commonwealth Day celebrations as chair of the Commonwealth. Along with Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera, the president is expected to meet with British PM David Cameron to explore ways and means of securing the support of the Diaspora groups. This signals a paradigm shift in the approach of the govt towards a group that more..

Editorial: An ill-conceived ban

Mar 10 (Island) The government has banned full-face crash helmets to prevent armed robbers from using them to conceal their identities. The ban is expected to take effect towards the end of this month. Public Security Minister John Amaratunga says he has decided to suspend the ban. The police are all at sea. So is the public. Motorcyclists who observe road rules in the breach have become a public nuisance. Most of them ride dangerously as if they had a death wish. more..

ITAK condemns attacks on TNA leaders

Mar 10 (CT) ITAK leader and the General Secretary of the TNA Mavai S. Senathiraja while criticizing the burning of the effigies of TNA MPs Sumanthiran and Sampanthan has said that it was a highly irresponsible act at this political juncture by certain misguided elements. He also said that the TNA was not at all manipulated by the Tamil Diaspora abroad and the majority of the Tamils living abroad agree on the stance taken by the TNA towards handling more..

‘We blew and blew the grate for years: Now griddle’s hot, go burn the rotiya

Mar 10 (ST) With the much promised crackdown on corruption moving at the speed of continental drift, the nation senses an unnerving rumble in its belly and smells a foul fishy stink pervading the air giving rise to nagging doubts whether some shady horse deals are being struck behind closed doors to secure political futures at the expense of political promises to bring the guilty to justice. Compounding the issue further is the move to postpone the elections and form a national govt more..

A longer view to improve economic fundamentals

Mar 10 (ST) The interim govt cannot be expected to pursue long-term economic policies. Admittedly some steps have been taken in its 100 days programme to improve economic governance, but its primary concern is to establish itself by delivering the promises made during the presidential election campaign. Political expediency will determine its economic policies for the present, but vital economic reforms must be undertaken after the election to improve economic fundamentals. more..

An island's damaged heritage

Mar 10 (DPA) The reclining Buddha statue in Danagirigala, Sri Lanka now only has one eye. Treasure hunters pulled out the other one. The stone pillow on which the Buddha rests his golden, curly-haired head has a hole in it."The perpetrators were hoping to find gold, silver, precious stones or ivory," says Senarath Dissanayake, director general of Department of Archaeology. Destructive treasure hunting is a major problem in the island country. more..

‘Pakistan-SL FTA not harnessing full potential’

Mar 10 (Island) Even though the Pakistan govt has allowed Sri Lanka to export 156 goods free of tariff, at present, Sri Lanka is only exporting 35 goods of them, Director of the IPS, Sri Lanka Dr. Saman Kelegama told a seminar organized by the High Commission of Pakistan in Sri Lanka recently. The point was brought up at an event which was organized by the Pakistan High Commission with the objective further strengthen bilateral ties between Pakistan and Sri Lanka. more..

Asia Capital–Belluna Japan ink $ 137 m for 3 property development projects

Mar 10 (FT) Capitalising on the booming leisure and real estate sectors, Asia Capital, in partnership with Belluna Co. of Japan, yesterday announced that they would invest over $ 130 million to develop three properties in Sri Lanka. Two companies have shortlisted a resort hotel in Galle worth $ 15 million, a city hotel in Colombo 3 worth $ 22 million and a mixed development project in Vauxhall Street costing $ 100 million. Agreement in this regard was officially signed more..

‘US-SL talks on TIFA in the offing’

Mar 10 (Island) Govt will resume talks shortly on the much needed Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA) with the US, Deputy Minister Harsha de Silva said. Addressing the shipping and logistics community, Dr. de Silva stressed that TIFA is a major market for exports. He said that talks broke down following the change of regime in 2004. However, the present govt is committed to strengthening the country’s economy by holding crucial discussions. more..

ICA Gem and Jewellery Congress to be hosted in May

Mar 10 (FT) Sri Lanka will play host to delegates representing all stages of the global gem and jewellery industry at the biennial congress of the International Coloured Gemstone Association (ICA) from 16 to 19 May 2015. A joint initiative of the ICA and Sri Lanka’s Export Development Board (EDB), the National Gem and Jewellery Authority and the Sri Lanka Gem and Jewellery Association, the congress, which will take place at the Cinnamon Grand hotel, more..

Raids to arrest train beggars

Mar 10 (DM) Railway Department has initiated raids to arrest train beggars in intercity and long distance trains today following a string of complaints by harassed commuters. Planning Director attached to the Railway Department Wijeya Samarasinghe said the arrests were launched by the Railway Security Service to put an end to the phenomenon of begging in the trains. At the moment no arrests were reported since it was the first day and the raids would be implemented more..

Kusal Janith to replace injured Chandimal

Mar 10 (DM) Sri Lanka will replace injured batsman Dinesh Chandimal with opener Kusal Janith Perera who is already in Hobart with the World Cup squad as a stand-by player, ahead of the team’s crucial final World Cup Group stage match against Scotland here in Australia. Sri Lanka will desperately need a win on Wednesday (to avoid playing the top team of Group B) following Bangladesh’s upset win over England. Chief national selector Sanath Jaysuriya more..

Tourism promotion gets US$ 100m

Mar 10 (DN) For the first time a mammoth budget in excess of US$ 100 million will be allocated for 2015 Sri Lanka's tourism promotions, Sri Lanka Tourism Promotions Bureau Chairman Rohantha Athukorala said. Speaking at press conference at the ITB he said that for the first time five institutions, Sri Lanka Tourism, the Tea Board, the Gem and Jewellery Authority, SriLankan Airlines and the Export Development Board will jointly promote Sri Lanka as a destination. more..

Com Bank conducts capacity building programme for Agri SMEs in Uva

Mar 10 (Island) Commercial Bank of Ceylon recently extended its support to 150 entrepreneurs of the Uva Province by providing them with valuable information on developing their businesses, through a special programme organised for them. Programme was jointly organised by the Bandarawela, Badulla and Welimada branches with assistance of the Bank’s Agriculture and Micro Finance Unit (AMFU) –Bandarawela. The programme in Bandarawela was conducted in collaboration with more..

'Rs 15 B Bond Issue to settle overdues to road contractors'

>Mar 10 (CT) Central Bank Governor, Arjuna Mahendran said that the reason for the Rs 15 Billion Bond issue was to settle overdue payments to local and foreign road contractors. Explaining the events that led to the decisions for the bond issue, Governor Mahendran said: " A meeting was held on 26 Feb at the Central Bank with the participation of Ministers Ravi Karunanayake and Kabir Hashim; Secretary to the Treasury, Dr. R.H.S. Samaratunga; more..

SriLankan Airlines CEO resigns

Mar 10 (DN) Chief Executive Officer of SriLankan Airlines Kapila Chandrasena has resigned from his position yesterday. The CEO had handed over his letter of resignation minutes after Senior Lawyer J.C. Weliamuna presented his first report on the national airline to Ports and Aviation Minister Arjuna Ranatunga. The Ministry appointed a four- member committee to look into alleged malpractices and irregularities that occurred in SriLankan Airlines in the recent past. more..

India reclaims its backyard

Mar 10 (WSJ) This week, India’s PM Narendra Modi will visit the Indian Ocean island nations of Seychelles, Mauritius and Sri Lanka. New Delhi’s influence in the region has been eroding in the face of a quiet challenge from Beijing—Chinese-built highways, power plants and seaports have appeared in all three countries. With promises of increased civilian and military assistance, Mr. Modi will likely try to reassert India’s influence. Indian Ocean has long been considered India’s backyard. more..

'Don’t look at Sri Lanka through Tamil prism'

Mar 10 (Hindu) India should see Sri Lanka as a whole and stop focussing just on the island’s Tamil-majority Northern Province, Sri Lankan Cabinet Minister Champika Ranawaka said in an interview to The Hindu on Monday. The Power and Energy Minister said PM Narendra Modi’s pragmatic approach to Sri Lanka could enhance trade, technological and political partnerships, paving the way for a “win-win situation” for the neighbouring countries. more..

'Getting islet back no solution'

Mar 10 (ENS) Retrieving Kachchatheevu islet from Sri Lanka will be no solution to the Rameshwaram fishermen issue who often enter Sri Lankan waters, said speakers at a seminar in Madras Institute of Development Studies (MIDS), Adyar, on Monday. The Indian fishermen who owned trawlers often went far into the Lankan waters. So retrieving Kachchatheevu will not be a solution to ensure adequate catch for fishermen in a sea where resources were depleting fast. more..

Sri Lanka takes step back on fishermen

Mar 10 (TI) PM Ranil Wickramasinghe signalled a climbdown from his comments last week justifying his country's navy shooting at Indian fishermen, two days after foreign minister Sushma Swaraj protested his statement. Wickramasinghe, in a statement published on SL govt website, said the two countries could resolve disputes over fishermen peacefully. Sri Lankan PM had questioned the protests from India over his navy shooting at fishermen who trespass into more..

Tsunami, landslide & flood rehearsals today

Mar 10 (DM) A tsunami, landslide and flood rehearsal will be held from 10 am to 3 pm today in selected villages covering eight districts, the DMC said. DMC Deputy Director Sarath Lal Kumara said the rehearsal programme will provide guidance to people to seek places of safety and check tsunami early warning systems and also to familiarise residents to react properly in the face of disasters during the drills. more..

First passenger ship at H'tota Port

Mar 10 (CT) The first ever passenger ship called at the Hambantota Magampura Mahinda Rajapaksa International Port recently, after the new govt assumed office. There were 381 passengers in the ship and the passengers visited the Hambantota International Port. Later, the passengers visited the National Parks in Kataragama and Bundala. Hambantota Seaport Deputy General Manager, Norman Weeraratna said since the ship was anchored and services was provided, more..

Discussions on the 19th Amendment commence tomorrow

Mar 10 (CT) Two special discussions on the proposed 19th Amendment Draft Bill will be held at the Parliament Committee Room tomorrow and Thursday. Minister Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe said electoral reforms would not be brought in with the 19th Amendment. The discussions will be chaired by PM Ranil Wickremesinghe and leaders of all political parties representing the Parliament. At the request of political party leaders, the final Draft Bill of the proposed 19th Amendment has been more..

Colombo Port City Project’s main contractor expresses hope

Mar 10 (DM) Expressing hopefulness that the govt would give its nod to continue the Colombo Port City Project without delay, the project’s main contractor CHEC Port City Colombo Ltd, said that the completed work would be washed away leaving only half of it if the suspension continues for two weeks. Company had completed 13% of the entire project as at last Thursday, when the Cabinet suspended the Chinese-funded more..

Zoo notches some records

Mar 10 (Island) The National Zoological Gardens in Dehiwela had recorded its highest daily turnover–– Rs. 4.8 million––on February 6, 2015, Zoo’s Director, Anura de Silva said. The previous highest daily income was Rs. 3.9 million recorded in 2014. The director told The Island yesterday last year he had expected an income of Rs. 1,000 million, however inclement weather had affected the visitor arrivals. Local visitor turnover dropped by 50% in December. more..

'Fishers issue will not strain historic ties'

Mar 10 (DN) Tamil Nadu politicians trying to justify their fishermen frequently trespassing into Sri Lankan territorial waters to engage in illegal fishing, will not damage the historic relations between India and Sri Lanka nor affect the high level visits between the two countries Deputy Foreign Minister Ajith Perera said. He said this on being asked about the situation following a certain Tamil Nadu Indian Congress Leader reportedly urging Indian PM Narendra Modi to call off more..

Cameron on his meeting with Maithripala

Mar 10 (DM) Following is the Op-ed piece by British PM David Cameron exclusively for the Daily Mirror on his scheduled meeting with visiting President Maithripala Sirisena today. Ever since my visit to Sri Lanka in 2013 I have been determined to help address the issues of Sri Lanka’s past and put the country on the path to a brighter, peaceful and prosperous future. Since my visit, a UN led investigation into alleged war crimes by all more..

Mangala, UK FM discuss reforms

Mar 10 (CG) Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera and British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond met in London and discussed the proposed reforms of the new Sri Lankan Govt and human rights related issues. The Foreign and Commonwealth Office said that Samaraweera and Hammond also spoke on reinvigorating the UK-Sri Lanka relationship, and how the UK could support the new Sri Lankan Govt’s reforms and to deliver on its commitments to the UNHRC. more..

'Some SLFP MPs to contest general election under UNP ticket'

Mar 10 (AM) Minister Akila Viraj Kariyawasam stated that several SLFP MPs are contesting the forthcoming general election under the UNP ticket. Kariyawasam said that several SLFP members had asked the UNP to give them nominations for the general election. Kariyawasam said that some of them will get an opportunity to contest from UNP ticket. He further stated that despite the request by some SLFP leaders to form a national govt and postpone the election, UNP wants election more..

New war crimes campaign backed by some British MPs gets underway

Mar 10 (Island) A new campaign meant to pressure Sri Lanka over accountability issues will get underway today with the launch of a new Sinhala version of feature documentary No Fire Zone: The Killing Fields of Sri Lanka, at the House of Commons. Among those scheduled to attend the launch are Director Callum Macrae, Labour MP Siobhain McDonagh, Conservative MP Lee Scott. Meeting will also be addressed by a SL more..

If we have ears, let us listen now

Mar 10 (DM) Atomic energy and dynamite are among the great discoveries which a selfish world is today using more for self-destructive purposes than for development of human beings and resources. At least nine countries have abused atomic energy to build a nuclear weapon, which could shatter the whole world to pieces within minutes. The latest and most sensational discovery is the power of the microchip. But the world Health Organisation warned over the weekend that some 1.1 billion more..

Dilemma of President Sirisena

Mar 10 (CT) There is a significant contrast between a parliamentary election and a presidential election, considering the psychological impact made with reference to the choice. Let me explain this taking Colombo District as an example. You get a list of 21 candidates contesting for the parliamentary election after voting for a particular party. You have only three preferential votes. Hence, you have to choose three most preferred candidates out of 21. Your choice of three does not mean that more..

'I will work to strengthen the hands of Ranil'

Mar 10 (CT) Kamal Addararachchi is an award-winning actor, singer and a presenter, who has conquered the hearts of thousands of his fans since the Gamini Fonseka era. Kamal’s name has been in the limelight for decades and two of his most famous songs Unmadawoo and Thun Sitha Dehan Gathawena have created wonders in the Sri Lankan music industry. After a long break, Kamal is yet to take another giant step and in a more..

FUTA dons all out to oust Colombo Vice Chancellor

Mar 10 (Island) Colombo University Federation of Teachers’ Associations (CUFTA) yesterday launched a sit-in protest in the VC’s office demanding VC Dr. Kumara Hirimburegama’s resignation from the post. More than 25 academics started the protest around 12.30 pm insisting that they would not give up until the Vice Chancellor resigned. CUFTA Vice President Dr. Prabath Jayasinghe said that they had earlier more..

Sri Lanka tightens mining laws to prevent foreign gemming

Mar 10 (EN) Sri Lanka has introduced new controls to prevent foreign firms doing gem mining in the island after cancelling exploration licences that a multinational precious stones miner had acquired to dig for sapphires. K L D Dayasagara, deputy director general of the National Gem & Jewellery Authority (NGJA) said the govt will not allow mechanized mining by foreign firms as it would quickly exhaust gem deposits. more..

Election laws need revision: EC

Mar 10 (DM) The governance of consensus, prevailing at the moment, hit a snag when the mainstream parties voiced different opinions on the proposal for the enactment of electoral reforms together with constitutional amendments as part of a simultaneous process. The topic became even more topical after President Maitripala Sirisena announced that electoral reforms would be enacted alongside constitutional reforms. more..

Drug shortage makes mockery of free health

Mar 10 (ST) Another shortage of drugs in the state medical sector is forcing patients to buy prescribed medicines from privately-run pharmacies when they should have been provided free of charge in pubic hospitals. This recurrent situation over the past decade has reduced the concept of “free health care” to a label. Lack of proper planning or awareness of current requirements, and limited funding more..

General Election: Polls Chief tells President short notice sufficient

Mar 10 (Island) Polls Chief Mahinda Deshapriya has, amidst the UNP calling for a general election after the completion of the govt’s 100-day programme on April 23, informed President Maithripala Sirisena that his department needs relatively short notice to conduct the next national election. Minister Rajitha Senaratne last week, said that the President had consulted the Elections Commissioner & Attorney General more..

UK govt urged to take up ban on Diaspora groups with Sri Lanka

Mar 10 (Island) Global Tamil Forum (GTF) has requested the British govt to persuade the new Sri Lankan administration to lift the ban on Tamil groups imposed by the previous govt. GTF is among those groups included in the list of proscribed organisations. GTF President Rev. Dr S.J. Emmanuel has requested the ruling coalition’s Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs Philip Hammond, MP, to take up more..