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Coaching or poaching: Lock is ticking now

Feb 19 (ST) It was not very long ago, one day, none other than the then CEO of Sri Lanka Cricket confronted me and lamented about poaching of cricketers by a leading school by the sea. He said he also represented that same school with distinction in the past but, he thought that it was unfair how the criteria of eligibility and the core values of participation in extracurricular activities have changed or degenerated down the line. more..

Big Matches: A little something for the young and old?

Feb 19 (Island) March Madness.  That’s what it was called a few decades back.  That’s because all big matches were played in March.  Now the big-match seasons begins in February and goes on till the end of April.  Back then there were elaborate previews of each encounter; now there are almost none simply because there are way too many to be crammed into the sports pages of newspapers.  Back then there was the Roy-Tho, the Joe-Pete, the Ananda-Nalanda and the Trinity-Anthonian. more..

Suspicious minds! Malinga is forced to turn out his pockets by umpires

Feb 19 (DM) Umpires momentarily stopped Friday's T20 International to check the pocket of fast bowler Lasith Malinga. The Sri Lankan speedster was walking back to his bowling mark in the 17th over of Australia's innings when umpire Mick Martell approached him and questioned what was in his pocket. Malinga, in the balls previous, kept placing his bowling hand in his pocket which prompted commentator Michael Clarke to reveal the 33-year-old keeps a hand warmer in his pocket.  more..

'China-SL tariff plan needs extreme caution'

Feb 19 (ST) While professionals and businesses have been focusing attention on the alleged, ill-effects of the proposed trade and services pact with India, unknowingly the pendulum has swung quickly in favour of China with a trade agreement close to be finalised. The Business Times reliably learns that China wants to fast-track the deal, before India, with a visit by PM Ranil Wickremesinghe to Beijing in May being part of that initiative. more..

Five Weightlifting medals expected

Feb 19 (ST) Sri Lanka has targeted to bag five medals including two gold at the Commonwealth Games, Gold Coast, Australia from April 4 to 15, 2018. This was stated to the Sunday Times by Nalaka Hewamadduma, President Sri Lanka Weightlifting Federation. Seventy Commonwealth countries will take part in the competition featuring 18 sports. Weightlifting will be held for five days from April 5 to 9, 2018. The two gold medals are expected in the 56 kg and 62 kg events. more..

Chandika shatters 19-year-old SL record

Feb 19 (CT) Soldier Shamila Chandika shattered the 19-year-old SL record for the 20km Race Walking at the Indian National race walking championship held at New Delhi yesterday. Shamila from Electronic and Mechanical Engineering Unit (SLEME) clocked one hour 30 minutes and 9 seconds in the race to shatter the record set by present AASL Assistant Secretary B.M. Nayanananda of 1 hour 30:45 seconds set at Asian Games 1998 in Thailand. Chandika finished ninth in the race which was won by K.T. Iran. more..

Foreign investors withdrew Rs 100B

Feb 19 (CT) Foreign exits from the govt securities market (GSM) topped the Rs 100 billion mark in the 18 weeks ending Wednesday (15), after they pulled out Rs 17,707.18 million in the week under reference, data shows. In the 18-week review period, investments of up to Rs 105,222.62 million have been withdrawn from the GSM (Treasury T-Bill and T-Bond market), thereby reducing foreign investments in the GSM by a third (33.22%) more..

Architect 2017 exhibition ends today

Feb 19 (ST) Architect 2017 the pre-eminent and most popular exhibition hosted by Sri Lanka Institute of Architect’s (SLIA) began on February 16 and ends today at the BMICH. There are 305 stalls and 135 panels displaying architects’ work and is open to the public from 10 am to 10 pm. The organisers said that the exhibition showcases the work of architectural firms, creations and course work of the Students of Architecture from the University of Moratuwa and City School of Architecture. more..

Blue brigade: Friend or foe

Feb 19 (ST) Ten years ago, the armed forces and police would be patrolling the streets of Colombo and the suburbs to deter a LTTE suicide bomber or in preparedness for LTTE cadres entering the city & causing mayhem. On Wednesday, while passing Police Park grounds at Thimbirigasyaya, I saw a group of police personnel training in preparation to counter a different kind of scenario – protests on the streets, to some a necessity and to others, a menace, depending on whom you talk to. more..

Coal Mafia: No invoices for 100 coal ships

Feb 19 (SO) Lanka Coal Company (LCC) has failed to clear invoices for nearly 100 ships that have transported coal to SL, since 2009. A highly placed ministry source said nearly 150 ships had transported coal to SL over the past 7 years. “But, the invoices have been cleared for only 50 ships. As a result, we are still in the dark about payments made in relation to nearly 100 ships. These transactions involve billions of rupees,” more..

Private sector should be roped in: CCC chief

Feb 19 (SO) The prolonged drought has affected the agriculture sector. Govt is taking measures to mitigate its effects and the private sector too could take certain steps to overcome such situations in the future. “We are faced with an unprecedented drought which is one of the worst we have had during the past 40 years. In agricultural terms, a country which has agricultural crops such as paddy which is rain-fed and irrigated, gets badly impacted due to drought,” CCC Chairman said. more..

Bankrupting SL: Treasury’s internal debt service ratio moves towards a danger zone

Feb 19 (ST) Treasury’s internal debt service ratio is moving towards a danger zone with state banks’ overdraft touching over Rs. 120 billion and the balance outstanding of govt’s borrowings for the current financial year showing a staggering figure of Rs. 1,579.11 billion. A sum of Rs.1, 480 billion is needed for payment of loan installments and interest this year. Cabinet has given its approval this week to the Finance Ministry to issue international sovereign bonds, to raise US$ 1.5 billion more..

Horana tyre factory: Legal tangle over land ownership

Feb 19 (ST) A land transaction between BOI and controversial businessman Nandana Lokuwithana has become more complicated. Mr. Lokuwithana’s Rigid Tyre Corporation is tipped to receive 100 acres of land from the gazetted BOI industrial zone at Wagawatta in Horana. Deal was negotiated by the Development Strategies Ministry which proposed a 99-year lease to Rigid Tyre at well below BOI’s base price for lands in that area. more..

Murali's initiative goes to Jaffna

Feb 19 (TI) First came the annual Murali Harmony Cup, five years ago, and now Muttiah Muralidharan's Foundation of Goodness (FoG) has started the first Village Heartbeat Empowerment Centre in Jaffna, Sri Lanka's premier city in the North, which bore the brunt of the civil war which held centre stage for decades. Till 2009, Jaffna would make headlines which wouldn't really be of the pleasant kind. However, times have changed and the areas once controlled by outlawed LTTE are more..

Govt to promote flower cultivation

Feb 19 (SO) Minister Jayawickrama Perera said that his Ministry will launch a 5-year action plan this year to promote the cultivation of flowers on a large scale. Under this plan, flowers will be grown in each and every province covering the whole island. All infrastructural facilities would be developed and expertise and technological assistance would be provided to those who come forward in the cultivation of valuable and rare varieties of flowers on a commercial basis and more..

'Govt extends deadline for more competition'

Feb 19 (CT) Govt will give more time to prospective bidders to bid for the restructuring of SriLankan and Mihin to get the best deal for the govt and country, Minister Kabir Hashim said. He was responding to a question from this newspaper at what stage was the SriLankan Airlines deal at present. We called for proposals and we have shortlisted three bidders. One bidder has been qualified by Committee which is headed by more..

Decision on GSP+ on May 15

Feb 19 (SL) European Union (EU) is to decide on Sri Lanka’s application for GSP+ on May 15. This was communicated to Northern Province CM C.V. Wigneswaran by the EU Ambassador to SL Tung-Laï Margue during a meeting in Jaffna last week. Wigneswaran said he was informed by the EU envoy that the decision on GSP plus for Sri Lanka is to be taken on May 15. European Commission last month proposed that a significant part of the remaining import duties on SL products more..

New highways: Govt won’t seek foreign loans

Feb 19 (ST) Govt has decided not to obtain foreign loans for mega road construction projects, Minister Lakshman Kiriella said.  He said that instead, Govt would rely on Private Public Partnership (PPP), Build-Operate- Transfer (BOT) or Build-Own-Operate-Transfer (BOOT) systems to finance the major road projects, including expressways. He said the decision was taken on the advice of PM in view of the huge foreign loans already obtained by the Govt and issues of repaying them. more..

Bankrupting SL with corruption: CB briefs Cabinet on looming economic crisis

Feb 19 (ST) Ministers on Tuesday discussed what portends to be a frightening economic situation unfolding in the country. With no substantial Direct Foreign Investment (FDI) coming in, despite numerous claims to the contrary by relevant ministers through media statements, Govt is facing a serious challenge in servicing its foreign and domestic debt. If all the projected plans to raise funds do not materialise on time, more..

The political economy of drought

Feb 19 (Island) The drought crisis in Sri Lanka is not on the same scale as the dreaded drought and famine that plagued African countries in the 1970s or the Bengal famine much earlier. Yet, the present drought is the country’s worst in 40 years and is bad enough to attract the attention of the World Food Programme (WFP), a UN initiative to identify and address food security problems worldwide. The two sides of the globalization coin cannot be more ironical. more..

Two Sides of the SAITM Issue

Feb 19 (Island) I met and spoke with four students of the Jayawardenapura Medical Faculty recently and wished I could be on their side. They wanted to merely air their thoughts and ideas and did not expect to be quoted in a newspaper. I told them at the outset that I was for SAITM and felt the private medical college had to go on and students who could not get into the eight state university medical colleges because their AL marks were below the cutoff point, and more..

Loan-flying SriLankan faces new threat from pilots

Feb 19 (ST) The crisis-ridden national carrier Srilankan Airlines, which is bleeding the country’s resources, is now facing another threat – industrial action by its pilots. It was only last month the Cabinet decided to infuse US$ 50 million to the airline to cope with expenditure it will incur during the daytime closure of the BIA. The runway is being resurfaced. It came on a recommendation by Minister Kabir Hashim. more..

'Rajapaksas offered huge bribes to stifle criminal investigations by FCID'

Feb 19 (Island) Some members of former President Rajapaksa’s family facing criminal allegations, have been accused of  offering huge bribes to the FCID. Former President Chandrika Kumaratunga, who now heads Office For National Unity and Reconciliation, said that some officers of the FCID had complained of attempts  by agents  of the Rajapaksa family of having attempted to bribe them with big sums of money, but more..

SAITM still tossed on a stormy sea

Feb 19 (CT) Embroiled in bitter controversy for over two years, the rigmarole pertaining to the South SAITM has reached its zenith leaving many disgruntled students and faculty members in its wake. The city of Colombo was rampant with protests by the IUSF demanding SAITM to be closed down. The Sri Lanka Medical Council (SLMC) has denied registration of degrees awarded by SAITM and the veracity of more..

Rice at a price

Feb 19 (CT) The era of King Parakaramabahu the Great was a time Lanka was self-sufficient in rice. Sri Lanka was then considered the Rice bowl of the East. Later, the place was replaced by other cash crops such as tea, rubber and coconut. Minister S.B. Dissanayake said Sri Lanka was self-sufficient in terms of rice back in 2003 after the Sinhala kings. He was the then Minister of Agriculture. more..

Foreign job industry at stake

Feb 19 (ST) With a significant decrease in the number of Sri Lankans going overseas for jobs, the Foreign Employment Ministry is to seek Cabinet approval to reverse a budget decision on a minimum salary for skilled and unskilled Sri Lankan workers, a senior official said. A Cabinet paper was being submitted by Minister Thalatha Athukorala, showing possible repercussions on SL’s economy if this decision was implemented. more..

Cash strapped SLC on spending spree

Feb 19 (SL) Cash strapped SLC has a Marketing and Public Relation Divisions (SLC) and pays high salaries to the officials. It has been accused of spending several millions of rupees to pay an advertising company and an event management company to organize last week’s limited overs domestic cricket tournament launching ceremony. It is alleged that one of these two companies is owned by a sibling of more..

Irregular appointment of HC judge threatens judiciary’s independence: MR

Feb 19 (AD) It is essential to abide by the accepted practice in making judicial appointments so as to safeguard the independence of the judiciary, former President Mahinda Rajapaksa said. Issuing a statement he alleged that this is a govt that started off by terrorising the entire judiciary by sacking the then Chief Justice with just a chit from the President’s Office with the connivance of certain office bearers of the BASL. more..

Sri Lanka seeks to reverse migrant minimum wage: report

Feb 19 (EN) Sri Lanka's Foreign Employment Ministry has sought permission from the cabinet of ministers to reverse a minimum wage which can workers, particularly less skilled ones, from getting jobs, a media report said. The deadly minimum wage of 450 dollars for skilled workers and 350 dollars for unskilled workers was mandated by the budget. Sri Lanka Bureau of Foreign Employment has issued a circular to more..

Enforced disappearance: Bill holds superiors also accountable for the crime

Feb 19 (ST) The Bill, to be enacted shortly, to give effect to the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance, provides for the sanctioning of superiors who, by commission or omission, are party to such crimes. The Law also provides for the extradition of a person, including those holding citizenship of other countries with which Sri Lanka has extradition treaties and more..

Boat carrying a group of people sinks off Katukurunda coast: 10 killed

Feb 19 (AD) At least ten persons were killed and several others went missing after a boat carrying a group of people capsized in sea off Katukurunda coast on Sunday. The police said the remains of the deceased have been taken to the Nagoda hospital. A search operation is underway with the assistance from the Navy and Sri Lanka Air Force to locate the missing persons. The Navy has deployed several boats, while an Air Force more..

The Bar must not get involved in judicial appointments

Feb 20 (ST) Amidst the welter of conflicting reports over the recent appointment of a Batticoloa lawyer as a Northern High Court judge by President Maithripala Sirisena, certain facts are crystal clear. First, the involvement of the unofficial (private) Bar in judicial appointments is not a healthy precedent in any sense of the word. The reasons are obvious, including the danger of perception that such appointees may be seen as being beholden to particular interests of the Bar more..

The profound impact of caste in contemporary Sri Lanka

Feb 20 (CT) It is a basic tenet of social sciences that a person’s environment has a profound impact on every aspect of their social behaviour, as well as the overall social psyche. When discussing the maladies that affect Sri Lanka, the main topic is usually the failure of politicians and other responsible parties to competently run a functioning system under the legislative, executive and judicial branches. There is no doubt that there have been catastrophic failures in all these aspects. more..

I believe in cooperative politics: Karuna

Feb 20 (CT) Former Minister Vinayagamoorthy Muralitharan, alias Karuna Amman said: "I strongly believed that former President Mahinda Rajapaksa would solve the issues of the North and East people. If the TNA had joined hands with the govt at that moment, we would have already resolved many issues." He further said, "Opposition Leader R. Sampanthan said recently that former President Rajapaksa should join more..

The crisis of constitution-making 

Feb 20 (CT) Sri Lanka needs constitutional change but not a change of Constitution. A little Political Economy and a touch of class can help in comprehending what’s going on and why. Why a new Constitution/Referendum while an economic crisis looms? Because the economic crisis stems from the same mindset and agenda as the drive for a new constitution. Both originate in the neoliberal globalization project of the current UNP leadership, which necessitates weakening of the state more..

Editorial: CID’s Nelsonian eye

Feb 20 (Island) The CID has woken up like Rip Van Winkle. It has arrested three military intelligence personnel including a major over the abduction of the then Associate Editor of The Nation newspaper, Keith Noyahr, way back in May 2008. The suspects have been remanded. We have been urging the CID, all these years, to seek the assistance of Noyahr, who fled to Australia with his family following his abduction, to nab those responsible for harming journalists because more..

'I like to talk to diehard Sinhala chauvinists'

Feb 20 (CT) Nothern Province CM C.V. Wigneswaran said, " We need to have the North and East merged to avoid Sinhalisation of the North and East. Today Sinhalisation is taking place at a rapid rate". Q: The second of the Eluga Thamil series was held in Batticaloa recently. People say it's the name that is different from Pongu Thamil that was hosted by the Tigers. Isn't it the same concept; awakening the Tamils to fight for a cause? more..

Protests proliferating by the day

Feb 20 (SO) As announced on a news telecast on a TV channel, the number of protests that day matched its date -15th. The announcer said, there were more than 15 protests in various locations across the length and breadth of the island – Anuradhapura, Vavuniya, Peradeniya and Colombo of course. Inevitably, one protest was by university students; the others were by various groups, including disabled soldiers and pensioners. Appropriately, yet coincidentally, the program more..

Win over Australia put bad dreams behind

Feb 20 (CT) Bad dreams sometimes can haunt you though some of them could just disappear with a new day. Then a brand new reality can dawn on you giving you hope and expectations for the future. The recent cricket played by the Sri Lankan National team could be described in such a manner. After a forgettable and poor tour of South Africa, the team has started off the short tour of Australia with a bang winning the first T20 game in a series of three. It may be still early days with two games to go more..