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PM interprets Wimal’s independence differently

Feb 24 (Island) PM Ranil Wickremesinghe said that Wimal Weerawansa’s NFF could not be accepted as a separate party in parliament but the latter’s intention to give up Mahinda Rajapaksa’s leadership and be independent should be appreciated. He said the NFF MPs could function in parliament as a group of independent MPs. PM said so in response to a demand by NFF Leader Weerawansa who more..

Wimal can't form a new party: Dayasiri

Feb 24 (DM) NFF Leader Wimal Weerawansa has no right to form a new party to function independently, SLFP Minister Dayasiri Jayasekara said. Mr. Weerawansa yesterday told Parliament that five members belonging to his party would function independently in the Opposition and that they should be recognised as a separate party in Parliament. He said he had informed the Speaker about this decision in writing earlier and the latter had failed to heed the request. more..

DB’s daughter’s funeral on Friday

Feb 24 (Island) The funeral of Chitranganie Wijetunge, daughter of late President D. B. Wijetunge takes places on Friday at the Mahaiyawa Crematorium in Kandy at 4 p.m. Miss Wijetunge was the only daughter of late President. She passed away at a private hospital in Kandy following heart failure on Wednesday. Miss Wijetunge contributed largely to social welfare during the past several years. Funeral procession leaves their Pilimatalawa residence at 3 p.m. today. more..

Civil society alleges Gotabhaya responsible for Noyahr abduction

Feb 24 (Island) A civil society grouping that campaigned for Maithripala Sirisena at the Jan 2015 presidential poll alleged that the wartime Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa was behind the abduction of Associate Editor of The Nation, Keith Noyahr in May 2008. Chameera Perera, co-convenor of Left Centre alleged that the ongoing investigation pointed to the direct responsibility of Gotabhaya more..

TNA will achieve purpose whatever happens at referendum: JO

Feb 24 (DM) If the govt opts for a Constitutional referendum, TNA will achieve its objectives regardless of the referendum results, Joint Opposition (JO) said. MP Keheliya Rambukwella said the reason behind both R. Sampanthan and M.A. Sumanthiran calling for a referendum was because TNA would benefit from it even if the referendum was lost. “If the referendum is won by us with a majority of over 95%, TNA would complain to UNHRC while stating that it was the reason more..

Indonesian President invites SL President for a state visit to Indonesia

Feb 24 (PSL) President of Indonesia Joko Widoda invited President Maithripala Sirisena to pay a state visit to his country immediately after his scheduled participation at the Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA) Summit meeting to be held in Jakarta. Indonesian President’s special envoy, A M Fachir, Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs delivered the letter of invitation to President Sirisena at the Presidential secretariat today (23). President Sirisena will attend the IORA Summit on 6th and 7th of March more..

Probe on CBSL bond scam: Mystery gazette forces suspension of sittings

Feb 24 (Island) Chairman of the Special Presidential Commission of Inquiry probing the Bond Scam, SC Judge K.T. Chithrasiri yesterday temporarily suspended its sittings after halting the recording of evidence from Finance Ministry Secretary Dr. R.H.S. Samaratunge. The commission ceased to record evidence from the Finance Ministry Secretary due to controversial situation which arose with regard to Special Gazette notification more..

Ensure that RTI does not fail

Feb 24 (DM) Sri Lanka’s achievement in having the world’s 3rd best RTI Act is without doubt mainly a result of having good Rules on Fees and Appeals, as proposed by the new Right to Information (RTI) Commission. Also of help was the Commission’s Regulations on proactive disclosure of Public Authorities, laying down criteria for the appointment of information officers and providing free reuse of all information obtained under the RTI Act passed last year. more..

The problem with justice as reconciliation

Feb 24 (DM) When an historic Obama Presidency took control of Washington in early 2009, there was a wide expectation that the new administration would rectify one of the Bush administration’s greatest moral failings – its use of torture. Previously, Bush administration lawyers had drafted several legal memos, on which members of the CIA relied, stating that certain methods euphemistically called enhanced interrogation techniques were legal and did not amount to torture. more..

To Rwanda with Love: A story of social service and Tea

Feb 24 (DM) We put Sri Lanka on the map in Rwanda says Honorary Consul of the Republic of Rwanda in Sri Lanka, Callistus Alles. Better known as Cally Alles, he has been associated with the Tea Industry since 1960 when he joined the Colombo Commercial Company Engineers Ltd (CCC) as an apprentice. He is a Chartered Engineer and Honorary Life Fellow of the Institute of Engineers Sri Lanka, serves on the board of more..

Drought-bungling and graft-cries rise from a desperate million

Feb 24 (ST) People in many more districts are facing ruin because of the unprecedented drought, while farmer groups are insisting that the govt pay Rs 50,000 for every acre destroyed. Farmers charge that govt incompetence and corruption has made the situation worse. Some estimates suggest that at least a million Sri Lankans are desperate. Govt officials say money has been made available to provide drinking water and more..

Govt calls for ethnic harmony on Maha Shivaratri

Feb 24 (CG) The Govt today noted the importance of ethnic harmony as Hindus in Sri Lanka celebrate Maha Shivaratri, President Maithripala Sirisena, in his Maha Shivaratri message, noted that the prime expectation and the noble vision of all religions is to promote spiritual and moral well-being of humankind. “All their religious rituals and celebrations recall those core values of religious teachings. more..

Coach Kuruppu lauds reluctant schoolboy cricketer Gunaratne's growth

Feb 24 (CI) Sri Lanka batsman Asela Gunaratne has been described by his school-cricket coach Aubrey Kuruppu as a confident but reluctant cricketer in his youth. Kuruppu, a Sri Lanka cricketer of their pre-Test era, who coached Gunaratne in the basics of the game, said he had the batsman pinned as a long-format player but was glad to see him proving him wrong by performing in the shorter formats too. more..

Sri Lankan military intelligence officers suspected in journalist's murder

Feb 24 (CPJ) Sri Lankan authorities should fully investigate the 2009 murder of an editor and bring his killers to justice, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today. Five military intelligence officers were arrested this week in connection with the murder of Lasantha Wickramatunga, the editor-in-chief of the weekly Sunday Leader and a fierce critic of former president Rajapaksa, according to news reports. more..

SL detains migrants bound for New Zealand

Feb 24 (AFP) Sri Lanka on Friday arrested 18 people suspected of trying to leave the country illegally for New Zealand. Sri Lankans have sought asylum in New Zealand in the past, most of them members of the island's Tamil minority who say they are fleeing persecution at home. "The information we have is that they were trying to go to New Zealand," Walakuluge said. "We handed the men to the police for further action while more..

Govt likely to get two more years

Feb 24 (SL) The govt is likely to get another two more years to show progress on the accountability issue when the UNHRC meets for its 34th session from later this month. The United Nations Resident Coordinator in Sri Lanka Ms. Una McCauley had told the Northern Province Chief Minister C. V. Wigneswaran last week that she feels Sri Lanka should be given more than just one year to take the process forward. more..

Mahinda openly encouraged elected govt representatives to be corrupt: Chandrika

Feb 24 (Island) Former President Mahinda Rajapaksa openly encouraged elected govt representatives to be corrupt, says Ex-President Chandrika Kumaratunga. Whenever Mahinda held meetings, especially with local councillors, he always reminded them to collect their 20% Commissions from any project under their purview, as if it was a legal right, she told a meeting with the Foreign Correspondents’ Association more..

Innocent military personnel will not be punished: President on firm stance

Feb 24 (DN) President Maithripala Sirisena is on a firm stance that innocent military personnel should not be punished. He was also of the view that those who had committed offences should be dealt with, said Minister Mahinda Amaraweera. He made this observation yesterday in Parliament responding to NFF leader and MP Wimal Weerawansa. “We know over 99.99% of the military officers had acted in keeping with the law,” more..

Proposed Coke factory will reduce water resources: MP

Feb 24 (DM) Coca Cola factory proposed to be established in SL would further reduce the water resources which are already diminishing as a result of the drought, MP Douglas Devananda charged. He said Coca Cola was planning to shift the largest manufacturing plant owned by it in South Asia, which was initially situated in India, to SL. He therefore cautioned the govt stating that the company has ran into trouble in India more..

Blunderbussing West

Feb 24 (CT) Ms. Anna Uggla, Delhi based Swedish Embassy's Political Affairs Counsellor, speaking to this newspaper recently, said that South Africa's former High Commissioner to Colombo Geoffrey Doidge had impressed upon her the importance of foreign judicial involvement to guarantee the accountability and reconciliation process in Sri Lanka. She was speaking in the context of the pledge that Colombo had given UNHRC in Geneva in Sept 2015, of permission for foreign jurists more..

SC gives AG time to consider releasing money to Udayanga from some accounts

Feb 24 (Island) The Supreme Court gave the Attorney General further time till March 16, 2017 to consider whether it was possible to advice the Central Bank to release money from at least some of the bank accounts held by Udayanga Weeratunga, the former Sri Lankan Ambassador to Russia. Weeratunga had filed a fundamental rights violation petition in the Supreme Court complaining that the Colombo Magistrate had issued an open warrant to arrest him, through the Interpol. more..

අපේ රටේ මගීන්ට කාගේ පිහිටක් ද?

Payagala Boat Skipper arrested

Feb 24 (NR) Police say the skipper of the boat that capsized in Payagala last Sunday has been arrested. The boat capsize resulted in the death of 16 persons. The skipper of the boat was arrested in Beruwala last night. The 24 year old, a resident of Beruwala, will be produced before the Kalutara Magistrate’s Court today. A body of a female was found washed ashore in Katukurunda yesterday bringing the death toll to 16. The boat was carrying a group of pilgrims engaged in more..

Man arrested with gold worth Rs 4.2m at BIA

Feb 24 (AD) A Sri Lankan national has been arrested at the BIA in Katunayake for attempting to smuggle gold worth over Rs 2.4 million out of the country this morning Customs media spokesman said that the 30-year-old from Wattala was preparing to board a flight to Bangalore, India at 3am today when he was apprehended by officers. They found 32 pieces of gold, weighing 400g and valued at Rs 4.2 million, wrapped in carbon paper and concealed in his hand luggage. more..

JVP MPs import six duty free vehicles

Feb 24 (CT) All JVP MPs including its leader Anura Kumara Dissanayaka and the COPE chairman, Sunil Handunneththi have imported brand new Toyota Hilux 4wd Diesel Double Cabs from Thailand using duty free vehicle permits which resulted in the country losing millions of rupees in revenue. The total tax waived off for JVP Double Cabs which were imported on Feb 15, 2017 is approximately Rs. 30 million. more..

SAITM issue: A rational approach needed

Feb 24 (CT) There have been wide ranging views expressed extensively in all media regarding the degree awarding status of the SAITM in respect of their medical degree program. I consider this as an extremely important national issue with regard to the expansion of higher education sector in Sri Lanka. Therefore, we need to address this issue without any bias and considering the current realities, global trends in university education and long term national interests in Sri Lanka. more..

Hambantota land will be leased to JV, not sold to foreigners: Sarath Amunugama

Feb 24 (FT) Promising not to sell Hambantota land to foreign parties, Minister of Special Assignments Dr. Sarath Amunugama said that land needed for development purposes would be leased through a joint venture established in Sri Lanka. “A company registered in Sri Lanka will be established partly-owned by Chinese investors and partly by Sri Lanka and the Hambantota port and land required for development purposes will be leased out to this company,” Dr. Amunugama said more..

Anti-SAITM project: GMOA strikes gather mometum

Feb 24 (Island) The 24 hour strike by doctors in the North Central and Eastern Provinces yesterday inconvenienced a large number of OPD patients who came to hospitals in the two Provinces. Director of Batticaloa Teaching Hospital, said however that the hospital had been able to conduct its clinics as usual. Hospital receives around 700 OPD patients daily. However efforts to contact A'pura Teaching Hospital and Polonnaruwa more..

Japan to extend waste collection trucks for Clean and Green Galle

Feb 24 (EJ) Ambassador of Japan Kenichi Suganuma and Municipal Commissioner of Galle Municipal Council Ranil Wickramasekara signed a grant contract worth US$ 103,487 (Rs 15 million), on 20th Feb at the Embassy of Japan in Colombo, aimed to upgrade solid waste management process of Galle by providing 5 Japanese waste collection trucks (compacters). The project will include not only the provision of 5 trucks but also training for the maintenance of such vehicles from Japan. more..

Shooting of LRC director a result of a contract: Police

Feb 24 (DM) Police suspect that the alleged shooting of Wimalaraj Nesan, Director of Land Reform Commission in Batticaloa, had been a contract put out by a party involved in the unauthorized alienation of government lands in the Eravur area. Police had deployed two separate teams to conduct further investigations. 428 acres of land belonging to the National Land Commission, located in the Punnakuda area in Eravur, Batticaloa had been illegally acquired by by politicians more..

Top Chinese Communist Party office-bearers call on President

Feb 24 (PSL) A group of representatives of the Chinese Communist Party has stated that China will stand with Sri Lanka as a true friend in the future too. They made this remark when a group of senior members of the Chinese Communist Party including the head of the International Liaison Department of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China, Song Tao met with President Sirisena at more..

Sigiriya toilets out of order; tourists asked to go to jungle

Feb 24 (DM) Tourists have been forced to use the jungle to answer calls of nature as the washrooms at Sigiriya heritage site are have been closed for repair. Authorities were forced to close the facility after the septic tanks in the washrooms overflowed. An employee stationed at the washroom, at the complex located near the tourists' vehicle car park at Sigiriya Moragamula, has been directing foreigners to the jungle area nearby for their needs. Several disgruntled tourists offended by the lack of more..

WHO dubs Dr Senaratne the most efficient Health Minister

Feb 24 (Island) World Health Organisation recognised Health Minister Dr Rajitha Senaratne as the most efficient Health Minister the country ever had. Addressing the opening of the main office of the WHO, Regional Director, Dr Poonam Khetrapal said that under the guidance of Dr Senaratne, the Sri Lankan health service had seen a development during the last two years. The main reason was his dedication towards battling tobacco and cigarettes. She said the Minister had been instrumental more..

Video: BASL President denies using undue influence to appoint HC judge

Feb 24 (AD) President of Bar Association of Sri Lanka (BASL), Geoffrey Alagaratnam, says that it is very unfortunate that people have misunderstood the role of the Bar Association and its president in unofficial bar appointment to make it a political issue and a communal issue. The scheduled election of the BASL was postponed until further notice when the Judicial Service Association (JSA) refused to more..

Video: It is a strategic move: MR

Feb 24 (DM) MP Wimal Weerawansa’s request that five members of the NFF would function separately in Parliament was a strategy, former president Mahinda Rajapaksa said yesterday. Addressing the media, he said members of the NFF would remain as members of the joint opposition even though they would no longer be a part of the UPFA. “At a point we all will get together. We are working according to a certain plan. We cannot reveal those tactics in public,” he said. more..

Panelist gets death threats

Feb 24 (CT) Information has come to light that a group of unidentified persons had issued a death threats to a member of the three-member panel, appointed by the Prisons Department to probe an incident, where it is alleged that a sum of Rs 2 million has been deposited by a sister of a drug lord in the Prison Superintendent's bank account. The death threat has been issued to the Assistant Superintendent of the Mahara Prison, Rajiv Srimal, who is a member of the probe panel. more..

Kabir-Ravi: No spat!

Feb 24 (CT) Minister Kabir Hashim said, in a media release, that his attention has been drawn to several news reports incorrectly describing a Cabinet Paper that was submitted by him at the last Cabinet meeting. Communiqué said: I vehemently deny that there was any mention of Ministry of Finance recommending the cancellation of a payment of US$ 154 million. I further regret that the recent articles have attempted to make it more..

Professor Carlo Fonseka admitted to hospital

Feb 24 (DN) Sri Lanka Medical Council President Professor Carlo Fonseka was admitted to the Colombo General Hospital earlier today after a brief illness. Sources said that he was admitted after complaining of heart ailment and is currently undergoing several medical tests. The Professor will be discharged shortly, the sources added. Professor Fonseka will turn 84 this year in March. He received a first class MBBS (Ceylon) in 1960 from the University of Colombo more..

US Zydeco band Mo’ Mojo visits Sri Lanka to strengthen cultural connections

Feb 24 (USE) Mo’ Mojo, an American zydeco band, concluded its five-day tour of Sri Lanka on Feb 16  with a high-energy, free, public concert for an appreciative crowd in Colombo.  U.S. Embassy-sponsored visit included public performances in Jaffna and Colombo; workshops for music students; and master classes for Sri Lankan musicians. “We bring American musicians here to increase understanding of the US’ diverse musical heritage and to strengthen our cultural connections more..

National Scout Award Ceremony under President’s patronage

Feb 24 (PSL) National Scout Award ceremony organized by the Sri Lanka Scout Association was held under the patronage of President Sirisena at the Nelum Pokuna Theatre, yesterday (22). During the ceremony, which is held once in four years, President presented Gold Lion Award to 20 distinguished members for their great contribution for the Scout movement. Chief Minister of Central Province, Sarath Ekanayake also received more..