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A commendable move

Dec 1 (SO) Manifestos are usually confined to the dustbin of history once the objective of victory is achieved. The public too does not give much thought to manifestos and promises of candidates, since most voters know that the promises are hardly delivered. But Prez Gotabaya Rajapaksa has turned this trend on its head in two ways: He has implemented many decisions that are not even on the manifesto and pledged to fully implement his Vistas of Prosperity manifesto within his five-year tenure. more..

Tightening of ties with India

Dec 1 (CT) Prez Gotabaya Rajapaksa made his maiden Head-of-State visit to India last week, just 10 days after being elected seventh Executive President of SL, obtaining 52% of the votes. Notably, on the eve of Prez Rajapaksa's swearing-in, India dispatched its External Affairs Minister, S. Jaishankar, to Colombo to invite the new Prez to New Delhi for his first State visit abroad. Speaking to reporters after a ceremonial welcome at the Rashtrapati Bhavan by both Prez Ram Nath Kovind and PM Narendra Modi, more..

'We will make friends not foes'

Dec 1 (SO) In an exclusive interview with the Sunday Observer, Foreign Affairs Minister Dinesh Gunawardena said Sri Lanka will have a strict neutral foreign policy where it will strive to have only friends and not foes among the global community. Outlining the country’s agenda for the UN Human Rights Council, the Minister said the Ministry has already begun the process to revisit the detrimental HRC resolutions co-sponsored by Sri Lanka under the last govt. more..

Gota breaks new ground

Dec 1 (Island) Prez Gotabaya Rajapaksa has broken new ground by inviting interested and qualified people to serve as chairpersons and board members of state-owned enterprises. Dr. P.B. Jayasundera, Secretary to the Prez (as well as head of the public service) published notices to this effect in the media last week. Jayasundera who long served as Secretary to Ministry of Finance and the Treasury in two Mahinda Rajapaksa govts from 2005 to 2015, had long grappled with state enterprises losing billions of rupees, more..

Whitewashing the past

Dec 1 (ST) This is the honeymoon period for a newly elected first term President, still riding the wave of popularity from the election victory of November 16. Even the media are expected to give the new President time to settle down, and some leeway to carry out his campaign promises and fulfil the expectations of his new office. This is not, however, to say that no comments ought to be made on the performance of the new administration during this period. One of the eyebrow-raising issues, more..

Adding insult to injury: Fighting the stigma of HIV/AIDS

Dec 1 (CT) "I lost my job. They sent me away from their country like a prisoner. The colleagues I worked with got to know about my disease. I could not explain it to anyone in my family. I'm thankful I got the assistance I needed from the Lanka Plus Organisation; I don't know what I would have done otherwise," noted Lanka Plus Organisation (LPO) Coordinator, Sarath Peiris about the discrimination he faced when diagnosed as Human Immunodeficiency Virus positive (HIV+). more..

A political career of great interest…

Dec 1 (ST) My dear Green Man, I thought I should write to you because all that fuss about the big race is now over. Gota maama won quite convincingly and, although many thought that it would be a close contest, Sajith only came a distant second. It is that time when everyone is asking what the Greens should do next. After Gota maama formed his govt, you had to leave Temple Trees. Green Man, did you realise that while you are the person who has been the PM of Paradise the most number of times, five in all, more..

Pleasing the masses

Dec 1 (ST) Christmas, it seems, has come early to Sri Lanka after the new administration announced sweeping cuts in taxes, offering goodies to the people. This was on my mind as I sipped my cup of morning tea and watched Kussi Amma Sera and her friends – Mabel Rasthiyadu and Serapina – amusing themselves at the gate, watching a young girl playing with her dog on the road. After a while they walked to the margosa tree and were engaged in a conversation, with the topic being the tax breaks offered by the new govt more..


A scary saffron surge

Dec 1 (Island) That quote above of two lines is from an email received from a powerfully thinking friend, just stated off her own bat. It however added weight to the thoughts that have been surging in my feared mind after seeing so many Buddhist monks in active politics and so much visiting of temples by those who won the recent election. Also a statement made by a monk loud and clear that the leaders who won the recent elections took their advice (the monks’) and should continue doing so now they are in power. more..

President Gotabaya Rajapaksa: A thorough professional

Dec 1 (SO) In Sri Lanka, the month of December dawns today with great expectations amongst all citizens that the newly elected President, His Excellency Gotabaya Rajapaksa and his govt comprising his brother, former President and seasoned political campaigner, Hon. Mahinda Rajapaksa as the PM will speedily bring back peace, harmony, security and normalcy to Mother Lanka and usher a golden era. As the chilled winds fill the air, signalling the dawn of Christmas season, more..

Can President Gotabaya remain neutral between India and China?

Dec 1 (CT) Prez Gotabaya Rajapaksa undertook his first official tour as the Head of State, to India where he pledged to elevate Indo - Lanka relations to the highest level possible during his tenure of office. Indian PM Narendra Modi was not only amongst the first foreign leaders to congratulate newly elected Rajapaksa but was quick enough to send his External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar to Colombo few hours after the new President was sworn into office, to officially invite him to visit India. more..

SLC rejects Dharmadasa’s bid to replace Sumathipala on ExCo

Dec 1 (ST) Sri Lanka Cricket’s (SLC) Executive Committee has rejected a request by businessman Jayantha Dharmadasa to join cricket administration after the position of the immediate past president got vacant following the exit of Thilanga Sumathipala. Dharmadasa who lost to Shammi Silva at the SLC election early this year has made a request through the Ministry of Sports to fill the vacancy created by Sumathipala’s exit following the enactment of new regulations barring people with more..

Snags aplenty in Sri Lanka on way to SAG!

Dec 1 (ST) On this day, Dec 1, the South Asian Games (SAG) in Nepal, will unfold with the opening ceremonies heralding a galaxy of sports competitions in this Asian region and our backyard as it were! On record over the years, India goes out there to dominate the arenas that stretch from Kathmandu to Pokhara and beyond, with Sri Lanka perceived as a worthy contender. Feverish activity has thus pervaded the corridors of the Ministry of Sports (MOS) and the National Olympic Committee (NOC) with more..

South Asian Games 2019: SL Team in dilemma following continuous blunders

Dec 1 (CT) Sri Lanka athletics team found themselves in quandary due to booking mishaps by the organisers while Table Tennis, Golf and Wushu teams were faced with dilemmas following a flight delay ahead of 13th South Asian Games 2019, which gets underway with its opening ceremony today. Surprisingly, the Table Tennis team whose schedule begins at 9.30 a.m. on 2 Dec were given tickets for the Air India flight early 30 Nov morning, to Kathmandu, Nepal via Delhi, more..

Sri Lankan boxers make history at Euro meet

Dec 1 (SO) SL’s young boxers produced a stunning display at the King of the Ring Int'l Boxing Championship in Sweden to return with three Silver medals while also showcasing the Best Technical Boxer and the Best Fight featuring Nisal Bandara a student from Peradeniya Central College. Bandara is a champion Stubbs Shield pugilist in the SL schools arena. The three Silver medals were won by Attaab Manzil from Trinity College, Isuru Hansaja from Vidyartha College and Vikneswaran Sanujan from Hartley College in Jaffna. more..

SA Games discard still unbeatable

Dec 1 (SO) For the ninth year running Chalitha Ranjana from Seylan Bank once again proved his power to win the men’s Open championship at the 64th Mercantile Table Tennis tournament at S.Thomas’ College gymnasium Mount Lavinia. Chalitha, a four time National champ, defeated Lakshitha Chaturanga of CDB Bank 3-0 to win the men’s Open while he also won the Masters Open title by defeating Nirmala Jayasinghe of MAS Holdings with a hard fought 3-2 setter at the final. Jayasinghe is the captain of the SL men’s team for more..

Sprinter Kalinga Kumara exonerated of doping charges

Dec 1 (ST) Promising 400m sprinter Kalinga Kumarage has been exonerated of all charges after the SL Anti-Doping Agency (SLADA) and World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) failed to establish that there were banned substances in his body or that he has violated anti-doping rules. Kumarage, who tested positive for the banned substance dehydrochloomethyltestonsterone, an anabolic steroid, at the 55th Army Meet more..

Raids in Tamil Nadu for followers of Zahran Hashim

Dec 1 (TM) National Investigation Agency (NIA) on Saturday conducted searches at Thanjavur and Tiruchirapalli districts in connection with a TN-Kerala ISIS module case. The raids follows the arrest of suspects believed to be followers of SL Easter Sunday Bombings mastermind, Zahran Hashim. An NIA spokesperson in Delhi said that the anti-terror probe agency carried out searches at two locations, one each in Thanjavur district and Tiruchirapalli city of TN based on warrants issued by NIA more..

319 gold medals up for grabs as Games declare open today in Kathmandu

Dec 1 (ST) With a strong contingent of athletes, SL posses the rare opportunity of topping the medals tally of a South Asian Games in its history of 13 editions. One of the main reasons behind Sri Lanka’s likelihood of taking a top place, will be the decision of India, the regional powerhouse in sports, to cut down its contingent, by representing in only 17 sports out of the total of 28. A total of 319 gold medals will be up for grabs with an equal number of silver medals and 481 bronze medals as SL more..

Special Committee to probe controversial Russian cancer drugs procurements

Dec 1 (Island) With last week’s appointment of a special committee to probe alleged corrupt practices of the former State Pharmaceuticals Corporation (SPC) Chairman, the procurement of questionable Russian-made oncology drugs at enormous cost during the then Health Minister’s tenure will come under the microscope, health officials said. The committee appointed by the new Health Minister, Pavithra Wanniarachchi, more..

Corrupt vs corrupt: Several former ministers to be probed over alleged financial fraud

Dec 1 (DM) Several ministers in the former UNF got will be probed for alleged financial irregularities which include charging bribes from investors to execute projects in the country. Some of the former ministers who will be probed are senior members from the UNP and its alliance partners. Govt has denied it is on a witch hunt or on a path of political revenge by conducting such probes but said the new interim govt had received information on alleged financial irregularities committed by more..

Video: No plans to remove military camps in north: Defence Secretary

Dec 1 (AD) Defence Secretary Retired Major General Kamal Gunaratne has reiterated that no preparations are underway to remove the military camps in the northern areas. He made these remarks speaking to the media after observing blessings at Sri Dalada Maligawa in Kandy. Defence Secretary then paid a visit to the Chief Prelates of Malwatta and Asgiriya chapters, Most Venerable Thibbotuwawe Sri Sumangala Thera and Most Venerable Warakagoda Sri Gnanarathana Thera this morning (30). more..

Biz community welcomes tax reductions

Dec 1 (SO) The business community while welcoming the slew of tax reforms to stimulate economic growth noted that the move would result in fiscal implications particularly with the reduction in the government’s tax revenue by about one third. Professor of Economics University of Colombo Sirimal Abeyratne said the new government certainly must be aware of the implications of the tax reforms on the budget & would address that challenge. more..

President visits SL High Commission in India

Dec 1 (AD) President Gotabaya Rajapaksa visited the Sri Lankan High Commission office in New Delhi today (30) and planted a tree sapling to mark the occasion. President Rajapaksa has had an audience with the officials regarding the importance of performing diplomatic functions in order to enhance cooperation between the two countries. The meeting was attended by the Sri Lankan High Commissioner in India Austin Fernando and the High Commission staffers. more..

Vehicle prices unchanged despite tax relief: Importers Assn.

Dec 1 (DM) There would be no effect on the import tax on motor vehicles despite the major tax concessions which were announced on Wed. Only the prices of buses and trucks registered less than 5 years from the country of export could be reduced the Vehicle Importers Association of SL (VIASL) Chairman Ranjan Peiris said. He said that the prices of buses and trucks could come down by about Rs.50,000. “There is no effect in the import tax on motor vehicles, despite the major tax concessions,” more..

Hambantota Port deal: Renegotiation only by mutual consent: Official

Dec 1 (CT) China Merchants Port Holdings Company Ltd. which owns an 85 per cent stake in Hambantota Port - given to them on a 99-year lease agreement, has said the port deal was between two sovereign countries and renegotiating it can only be done through mutual consent. A senior official of the Hambantota Int'l Port Group (HIPG), who wished to remain anonymous, said that only a commercial agreement can be revisited more..

Video: Certain clergymen have become political dupes: Cardinal

Dec 1 (AD) Certain members of the clergy at present have turned out to be dupes of political forces, says Archbishop of Colombo Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith. Addressing the 26th convocation of the University of Ruhuna, Cardinal Ranjith said many clergymen are gradually failing to provide spiritual guidance to the country’s leaders and its people. Past kings who ruled the country were committed to the spiritual development of the people concurrent to the nation’s economic development, he said. more..

Heavy rains of above 150 mm expected

Dec 1 (AD) Prevailing showery condition over the island (particularly in Northern, North-Western, Western, Sabaragamuwa, Central and Southern provinces and in Anuradhapura district) is expected to continue, stated the Department of Meteorology. Showers or thundershowers will occur at times in Northern, North-western, Western, Sabaragamuwa, Central and Southern provinces and in Anuradhapura district. Showers or thundershowers will occur elsewhere after 1.00 p.m. more..

Ranil mulls retirement

Dec 1 (CT) Speculation is rife that former PM Ranil Wickremesinghe is considering retiring from politics and offering the UNP Leadership to Karu Jayasuriya and Opposition Leadership to Sajith Premadasa. Sources close to Wickremesinghe said that he has held discussions in this regard with close parties. It is also known that Wickremesinghe has stated that he will turn 75 in 2025 and he wants to spend time leisurely. more..

Foreign Ministry recalls political appointees

Dec 1 (SO) The newly appointed Foreign Minister Dinesh Gunewardena has issued instructions to recall all political appointees to Sri Lanka’s foreign missions with immediate effect. He said that many political appointments have been made in the run up to the election despite explicit laws announced by the Election Commission not to make new appointments in the state sector during the election phase. “Even head of missions have left for postings during this phase,” minister said. more..

Sri Lanka to abolish fuel price formula

Dec 1 (EN) Sri Lanka will end monthly cost based pricing of fuel, newly appointed State Minister of Energy Rohitha Abeygunewardena had said. He said that there will be no formula fuel pricing. President Gotabaya Rajapaksa in his manifesto promised to abolish the fuel price formula. The fuel price formula helps keep inflation down and the rupee strong balancing external and domestic aggregate demand and preventing the state-run CPC from borrowing to cover losses. more..

Swiss mystery takes a new turn

Dec 1 (Island) Having accused the govt of interrogating a female local employee of the Swiss embassy in Colombo last Monday (25) in the wake of top CID detective, Chief Inspector Nishantha De Silva, his wife and three children taking refuge in Switzerland, the Swiss government has sought approval to move the embassy employee along with her family to Switzerland. CI and his family left the country last Sunday having stayed at a luxury hotel on the previous day, more..

Video: Incident related to Swiss Embassy staffer, a black mark to SL: Sajith

Dec 1 (AD) MP Sajith Premadasa says the alleged abduction of a local staff member attached to the Embassy of Switzerland in Colombo has left a black mark on the country’s history of diplomacy. The former Minister issued a media release today (30) to raise his concerns on the relevant incident. It is unfair to criticize a new govt right after it was assumed power as it must be given a considerable period of time to fulfill the mandate given by the public, he stated further. more..

HRCSL urges impartial probe into Swiss Emb. official case

Dec 1 (TM) The Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka (HRCSL) has called upon the Acting inspector General of Police (IGP) C D Wickramaratne to conduct a thorough and impartial investigation into the abduction and questioning of a Swiss Embassy staff member. In a letter to the Act. IGP, the Commission said an impartial investigation into the matter to unearth those responsible was absolutely essential to strengthen public confidence in law enforcement and to dispel public fears. more..

Swiss embassy employee abduction shakes new govt

Dec 1 (ST) The alleged abduction of a SL staff member of the Swiss embassy in Colombo has jolted the two-week-old new govt. The grave seriousness is in the light of the international implications and the political fallout it portends. “We are taking the matter very seriously. We have ordered a full investigation by the CID,” PM Mahinda Rajapaksa said. His remarks came after a meeting he held on Thurs with acting Police Chief, more..

Are we doomed to repeat the past, in fearful force?

Dec 2 (ST) The wildly popular urban myth of lemmings rushing to the sea in waves of mass suicide has a parallel in SL in waves of meru insects desperately attracted to the very light that eventually kills them. Quaintly known as Christmas flies probably because they are most evident towards that time, hundreds cluster around any point of light, leading to mass insect-icide as it were. A few years ago, guests at a reception had to glumly leave the festivities due to a meru invasion of lights more..

Why Sri Lanka needs a national securitism oriented national security policy?

Dec 2 (CT) National Security was one of the main discussion point in the propaganda campaigns of all major contenders of the Presidential election. Mr Gotabaya Rajapaksa, the war time Secretary to the Ministry of Defence elected as the 7th president of the country, stressing the security gap. The Easter Sunday attack brought attention to the security of the country that appeared as religious fundamentalism and extremism again after a decade of the end of the 30 years brutal war. more..

'Govt to establish a new media strategy'

Dec 2 (SO) Minister of Information and Communications Technology, Higher Education, Technology and Innovation Bandula Gunawardana said that now under a new media culture, opportunity will be given to the Opposition in the state media to make constructive criticism about Govt activities. Minister said that however, the new Govt would completely do away with the strategy followed by the previous regime. more..

Sajith must take the fight to Ranil

Dec 2 (CT) The goings-on in the UNP as gleaned from the mainstream print media to say the least is disgusting and irresponsible for an alternative governing party. Despite blemishes, the UNP has a rich history of which it can be justly proud. The UNP never really recovered from the beating it has taken since its leadership in 1994 virtually fell into the lap of Ranil Wickremesinghe after the assassination of Gamini Dissanayake. Its troubles have grown exponentially since then barring a few years more..