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Sirisena cracks the whip; bites the bullet, risks splitting Party

Aug 21 (ST) After the religious rituals ended on Nikini Poya day, President, who was at his Paget Road residence found time to read the day’s newspapers. His attention was drawn to a report of a news conference the JO leaders had given on the Office for Missing Persons law. They were voicing their protests over the Govt rushing through the Bill in Parliament without hearing their views or the amendments they wanted to move. more..

Premonitions around a referendum

Aug 21 (Island) A vigil, called Different Yet Equal, organised last week in Colombo by a group of individuals against the racism promoted by the BBS and Sinha-le movement prompted some revealing reactions, in person and online. Coming as it does a year after this govt was elected into office, the reactions showcase significant challenges ahead around meaningful implementation of mechanisms around transitional justice, and also, as importantly, seeing through a new constitution. more..

The Left and Ranil: Economics

Aug 21 (Island) This column has consistently approached Ranil’s economic outlook and programme with the acceptance that it is a frankly capitalist strategy. At this stage most people are not interested in all sorts of left-right theoretical debates or even questions of class equity; they simply want to know "Will it work; will the strategy that RW is pursing bring growth; will it promote economic strength?" They say, yes fairness and spreading the butter more evenly are good things, more..

One year later: On Track or Straying?

Aug 21 (Island) If the development of a country goes hand in hand with the worsening of living conditions of the people, for whom or for what is that development? A developed country for a malnourished people – is this not an insanity? Must the people of the country gaze at highways like a child looking yearningly at an empty ice cream cup? i A student-participant of 2007 essay competition to commemorate President Premadasa. more..

PM stops bid to ban Muslim veil

Aug 21 (ST) Believe it or not! The National Security Council (NSC) recently considered a proposal by a top Defence Ministry official to impose a ban on Muslim women in Sri Lanka wearing the burqa or niqab. The burqa is the full body dress, usually black, with a mesh cover over the eyes. This is worn by some more traditionally minded Muslim women. The niqab is similar with only an opening over the eye area. more..

War Accountability Issues : Sri Lankan govt cannot walk alone: U.S.

Aug 21 (Island) The United States, while emphasising that the dark chapter of Sri Lanka’s decades old war could not be closed by its govt walking alone, says it does not know of any request for anything other than provision of basic medical treatment at its camps in the Jaffna District which concluded yesterday. A closing ceremony is scheduled to be held tomorrow. Asked about reports that Northern Province Chief Minister more..

Ban Ki-moon to contest South Korean Presidency

Aug 21 (CT) It is learnt that UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon whose tenure at the UN ends at the end of this year will be making a bid for the Presidency of South Korea in the 2017 Presidential poll. And the man aspiring to the top job at Seoul counts his influence in the Sri Lankan ethnic imbroglio as one of the feathers in his cap as a pre-qualification for that position. Secretary General who visited Sri Lanka in 2009, more..

Borella Kanatta gets facelift

Aug 21 (CT) One of Colombo's most iconic and historic locations, the Borella Cemetery is on the verge of undergoing a major restoration programme, after being neglected by the authorities for over two decades. Following the Minister Faiszer Musthapha's visit to the Borella Cemetery last Tuesday (9) the largest cemetery in Colombo will undergo a major beautification & revival programme, which hopes to make it a friendlier more..

SriLankan Airlines’ wet-lease goes dry

Aug 21 (SL) Although the public which was pacified by the govt that SriLankan Airlines, which recorded billions of rupees of taxpayer money during the heyday of Rajapaksa regime; will recover under the Yahapalana, is in for another horror with the newly-hatched Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) deal failing to break even at the least. SLA which recorded a profit of Rs. 4.4 billion in 2008 under the Emirates management, incurred more..

Digital forensic lab, new gadgets to fight crime

Aug 21 (ST) Facial recognition technology to track down criminals will be among new facilities available at the govt’s first digital forensic lab due to start functioning within the next three months, a senior official said. The lab now under construction with funding from South Korea will have its own facilities to carry out DNA tests, forensic identity of firearms, telephone tapping and analysis of CCTV footage and sounds, more..

Issue of injecting former LTTE combatants with poisonous drug likely to fizzle out

Aug 21 (ENS) The Tamil politicians’ allegation that the Sri Lankan army had injected a poisonous drug into former Tamil Tiger combatants while the latter were in detention or undergoing rehabilitation in camps run by it, is likely to lose steam because those who have made the charge are unable to come up with any names of those who had supposedly died or are gravely ill because of the injections. more..

Rajapaksa unlikely to form a new party

Aug 21 (ENS) Former President Mahinda Rajapaksa, is unlikely to break away from the ruling SLFP and form his own party even though 40 of his key followers have been removed from district and electorate level posts by party Chairman and President Mithripala Sirisena in an exceptionally strong purge earlier this week. Political circles here feel that Rajapaksa would want to remain in the SLFP and capture the entire party. more..

SriLankan pilot suspended

Aug 21 (DM) The Captain who was due to fly the Frankfurt to Colombo flight last Friday has been suspended as he failed to pass a Breathalyzer (alcohol test) carried out by the Authorities at Frankfurt Airport in Germany, SriLankan Airlines confirmed. The Airline stated alternative measures had been taken to operate the flight back to Colombo. SriLankan Airlines confirmed that one of its Captains who was due to operate UL554 more..

Two or three things I know about my country

Aug 21 (Island) We’ve never really had a father. We like to think we did, of course, be it D.S. Senanayake, S.W.R.D. Bandaranaike or S.J.V. Chelvanayagam. But they never had a vision for Lanka that made sense, in the end. Unlike a Mahathir, Nehru or a Mandela, their vision was partisan, and the results plain to see. Senanayake’s great contribution was to disenfranchise the up country Tamils, and ignore the vernacular language question. Bandaranaike and Chelvanayagam more..

Heading for human-elephant co-existence

Aug 21 (Island) "If we humans are supposed to be the most evolved species, we should be understanding other animal species and work around them. On the contrary, we do our development work assuming that elephants (in this case) will work around us. So we get the bright idea of fixing an electrical fence and driving out these creatures and carrying on with the development project. They return and find smart ways of breaking the fence and the conflict starts. more..

'RAW was grooming Mahattaya to usurp LTTE’s leadership'

Aug 21 (CT) Neena Gopal, author of the book The Assassination of Rajiv Gandhi, on 21 May 1991, had finished just about one part of an interview with Rajiv Gandhi.—This evidently turned out to be the last he would ever give — for when his car reached the election rally at Sriperumbudur, it was just moments later, that Rajiv Gandhi was no more, blown up by a suicide bomber Dhanu. Irrevocably changing course of Indian politics, more..

Reconciliation Task Force to hand over report in September

Aug 21 (SO) Consultation Task Force on Reconciliation Mechanisms headed by reputed Human Rights Defender and attorney-at-law Manouri Muttetuwegama will submit its final report to the Govt late September. Dr. Paikiasothy Saravanamuttu, Secretary of the Task Force said that they hoped to wrap up entertaining public submissions by the end of this month and submit the report by mid or late September this year. Comprising eleven members, most of whom more..

OMP Bill duly passed & legally valid: Speaker

Aug 21 (SO) Speaker Karu Jayasuriya said the Office of the Missing Persons (OMP) Bill has been duly passed as it was in order and was legally valid. It is the Joint Opposition’s (JO) contention that the OMP Bill was not properly passed in Parliament. “I take the legal stand that due procedure that has been laid down was followed,” Speaker Karu jayasuriya said yesterday. The Speaker said “The JO’s argument is only a matter of opinion which I respect. more..

Petroleum trade unions up in arms

Aug 21 (SO) Petroleum trade unions came down hard on the govt at a media briefing against the move by the govt to hand over repairs of the colonial oil tank farm in Trincomalee to the Indian Oil Company (IOC). Petroleum Common Workers Union Secretary and Petroleum Trade Union Alliance Convener D.G. Rajakaruna said the Trade Union Alliance is against the move by the govt to enter into a joint venture with IOC to renovate more..

Scholarship Exam: Results before Oct 15

Aug 21 (DM) Marks of the competitive Grade Five Scholarship Examination which was held yesterday with 350,701 students at 2,959 centres island-wide will be issued before Oct 15, the Commissioner General of Examinations said. Commissioner General W.M.N.J. Pushpakumara said seven hundred thousand answer sheets have been received to the Examination Department, Battramulla. He said the evaluation process will be held from August 28 till Sept 3. more..

MR to skip SLFP convention

Aug 21 (CT) A senior representative of Joint Opposition (JO) said that JO and SLFP MP Mahinda Rajapaksa will most probably leave for Rome in early September, in order to address some audiences arranged by Sri Lankans living in Italy. He said the former President will not be able to attend the 65th anniversary celebrations of the SLFP at Maligapitiya, Kurunegala on 4 Sept. JO sources said a final decision will be made on whether JO MPs and its party leaders will meet on 22 August more..

Tender bender in coal deal

Aug 21 (SO) Despite damning revelations arising from the three-member committee report on the controversial coal deal alleging that the tender board may have overlooked environmental impacts during the procedure, Secretary to Ministry of Power Dr. Suren Batagoda revealed that owing to a ruckus, spot tender prices have increased to a staggering USD 64.7. “USD 64.77 is the lowest among four of the bids more..

CID yet to get bank details in Lasantha probe

Aug 21 (SL) CID is yet to receive the bank details of several army intelligence officers over the investigations related to murder of Editor of The Sunday Leader, Lasantha Wickrematunge. Two weeks ago CID had submitted to 23 banks and financial institutions a court order seeking details on 60 army intelligence officers who are to be investigated in connection with Wickrematunge’s murder. Court approval to investigate bank accounts was obtained by CID. more..

Pannipitiya Hospital unveils 5D Ultrasound Sscanner

Aug 21 (SO) Pannipitiya Private Hospital has added a state-of-the-art 5D Ultrasound Scanner to its portfolio of modern equipment. Thus it will be one of the first hospitals in Sri Lanka to introduce this technology to a Maternity Unit. Significant feature of the 5D Ultrasound Scanner is its ability to display images of the fetus in the womb of the pregnant mother. Parents get the opportunity to witness the unborn baby in the womb on the screen real time with the 5D Ultrasound technology. more..

Video: Bandula says will resign as Homagama SLFP Organiser

Aug 21 (DM) UPFA MP Bandula Gunawardena announced his resignation as Homagama SLFP Chief Organizer. He made this announcement in a public meeting in Pitipana today. This comes two days after a controversial speech by President Maithripala Sirisena threatening the 'Joint Opposition' which backs former President Mahinda Rajapaksa and a few days after some SLFP organizers were sacked by Sirisena. more..

SL muster 227 despite Starc, Faulkner efforts

Aug 21 (CI) Mitchell Starc became the fastest bowler in history to 100 ODI wickets as a pace-heavy Australia tethered SL's many attacking batsmen. Hosts' 227 for 8 is fewer than they would have hoped for, but with their army of spinners to descend on a dusty pitch, in the second innings, it may well turn out to be a competitive score. Dinesh Chandimal was top-scorer, remaining 80 not out in a 118-ball innings that featured just three fours. Kusal Mendis hit his fourth ODI half-century more..

Port City was to go to S'pore company?

Aug 21 (SL) Colombo Port City Project was to be given to the Singapore Harbour Corporation, Company that developed the world renowned Singapore harbour. However, a senior official in the committee feared that it would not favour SL and so the deal was given to China. He said that some high ranking officials in the previous regime were keen in handing over the project to China. A high ranking official, who now serves as a ministry secretary, said that he agrees that Singapore proposal more..

Asian Cricket Council (ACC) opens new head-office in Sri Lanka

Aug 21 (SLC) In a momentous occasion in Sri Lanka’s cricketing history, the Asian Cricket Council (ACC) announced that it has established its Head-office at Maitland Crescent, Colombo 7, at a high profile event on 20th August 2016. The occasion was graced by Dayasiri Jayasekera, Minister of Sports and Ravi Karunanayake, Minister of Finance as Chief Guest and Guest of Honour respectively, more..

Children getting addictive snuff at schoolgates

Aug 21 (ST) Using a decade-old loophole in the law, importers are bringing an addictive substance called SVS snuff, or dunkudu, and peddling it mainly among schoolchildren. Snuff is smokeless, powdered tobacco. While it does not contain narcotics, snuff has nicotine and is addictive. It is also a gateway product for schoolchildren. This means there is a danger of children using this snuff going on to take up smoking and other addictive substances in future. more..

Damro gets nod for expansion in India

Aug 21 (SO) Well-known local retailer and furniture specialist, Damro hopes to expand its presence in India by setting up of mega showrooms in main cities in that country. “The Indian govt has already granted approval for Damro to invest Indian Rs. 12,000 million in the furniture retail trade in India. This approval to enter the Indian furniture industry has only been granted to two foreign companies – Damro of Sri Lanka and Ikea of Sweden,” a Damro official said. more..

Sacked SLFP Organizers speak

Aug 21 (CT) President Sirisena earlier this week removed 13 SLFP electoral organizers, replacing them with 40 district level electoral organizers. Among the former stalwarts stripped of their positions were a few who carried considerable clout at district and national electoral levels. A few of them also held ministerial portfolios in the Rajapaksa regime. Asked for comments, a few of these former office bearers expressed more..

TID postpones questioning Jeyakumari

Aug 21 (SL) The Terrorist Investigation Division (TID), which was to question activist Balendran Jeyakumary on Friday, had postponed it for a later date. Jeyakumary had been summoned for a second time following an interrogation by authorities earlier as well. Jeyakumary, who campaigned since the end of the armed conflict against enforced disappearances, was arrested and detained under the Prevention of Terrorism Act in 2015. She was held for 362 days before being released and more..

SL army denies closing camps in East

Aug 21 (TG) The SL army has denied reports that it will be closing down camps in the Eastern province. The Ministry of Defence as stating there is no truth to a report that 64 camps were set to be withdrawn from the Eastern province. It went on to label such reports as misinformation adding that there would be no reduction in the number of camps in in Trincomalee, Amparai and Batticaloa. Camps are to been maintained “as part of a holistic plan to ensure national security” it said. more..

Sri Lanka hikes food tax on onions by midnight gazette

Aug 21 (EN) Sri Lanka has raised an existing food import tax on large onions to 40 rupees a kilogram from 25 rupees to keep prices domestic high to give profits to producers, with a price control also imposed 78 at rupees a kilo. Levies on foods and other items are routinely hatched in secret in SL by bureaucrats and ministers and slapped by midnight gazette to help special interests lobbies, literally while the citizenry is sleeping in more..

Tiran Alles indicted for misappropriating Rs 167 million

Aug 21 (ST) Businessman and former MP Tiran Alles has been ordered to appear in the Colombo High Court on August 24, to answer charges of misappropriating Rs 167 million. The order issued by Judge Kusala Sarojini Weerawardhana includes three others- Tiger guerrilla fund raiser Emil Kanthan, Rohana Saliya Weerawickremesuriya and Jayantha Dias Samarasinghe. In terms of the indictment, the funds were for building a housing complex for the 2004 tsunami victims. more..

Monsoon Munchers in Sri Lanka

Aug 21 (EN) Eminent personalities associated with New Zealand and calling their group Monsoon Munchers have visited Sri Lanka as part of their annual visit to familiarise themselves with an Asian destination. The group, including a former governor-general of New Zealand, a former governor of the Reserve Bank of New Zealand, retired top diplomats from Australia, Britain and New Zealand as well a top editor, held talks with local dignitaries. Group was hosted in parliament by Speaker more..

SriLankan pilots threaten to strike

Aug 21 (ST) Relations between the Pilots’ Guild of Sri Lanka and SriLankan Airlines management have worsened after the national carrier’s Head of Human Resources (HHR) instructed the pilots’ union not to write directly to the company’s chairman, board of directors or chief executive officer. SriLankan Airlines’ Human Resources Head Pradeepa Kekulawala instructed the Guild to instead route its correspondence more..

Achieving balanced regional development through devolution

Aug 22 (CT) Whatever the weaknesses of the 13th Amendment or devolution in the present constitution, there is a clear socio-economic philosophy behind it, for the benefit of the people living in the provinces. That is the objective of balanced regional development which can hardly be achieved under a complete unitary state. This is something which needs to be carried forward and strengthened in a new constitution. It is generally accepted that uneven development is one underlying more..

Public Representation Committee Report on constitutional reform

Aug 22 (CT) Finally, I found the time to sit down and take a look at the Report on Public Representations on Constitutional Reform, which was released in May 2016. I was keen to carefully read the report because the appointment of the committee to gather public opinion on constitutional reform and the work of the Committee were significant political developments. They marked significant steps forward in the otherwise extremely slow process of constitution making initiated by present govt. more..

New ambulance service in South: Public demand high

Aug 22 (SO) As the new Indian emergency ambulance service enters its second month of operation, members of the public continue to have mixed feelings about the new service. Many have welcomed it as a 'step forward in filling an unmet urgent need for transporting critically ill patients to a hospital.' The Health Ministry, however, seems happy about the progress of the new service which they say, has received a positive more..