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2019: A year of defeats and darkness

Dec 18 (CT) Year 2019 will go down as a black year globally for pluralism, socialism and democratic values. Nativism and sectarianism bestride the world, the toxic right-wing scores election victory upon victory. Liberal, socialist and enlightenment ideals are pushed on the back foot. The explosion of nativism is global from Trumpís anti-migrant rhetoric, to Modiís Bill to permit new citizenship only to non-Muslim migrants, to Aung San Suu Ki prostituting her Nobel Peace Prize to justify more..

Editorial: Constitution and blood

Dec 18 (Island) One may ask what the Constitution has got to do with blood. But, it may be recalled that the passage of the 13th Amendment led to a bloodbath with the JVP unleashing terror in a bid to scuttle it and the then UNP govt launching a savage counter-terror campaign. The introduction of the 19th Amendment (19-A) did not cause any bloodletting, but an argument is being peddled in some quarters that only blood can make it work. President Gotabaya Rajapaksa (GR) has more..

5 ways to give back this Christmas

Dec 18 (Roar) The end of 2019 is near, and for many of us, that marks one of the most important days of the year: Christmas! As we take part in the festivities, indulge in amazing food, and spend quality time with our family and friends, itís imperative that we donít forget those who donít have the means that we do. As itís the season of giving, here are a few things you can do to make this Christmas a memorable one for those who more..

Aftermath of Easter Sunday attacks: Tourism needs fixing Ė and quickly

Dec 18 (FT) It is a mid-size hotel facing the serene beaches of southern Sri Lanka. One wing of the hotel containing about 100 rooms has been permanently closed since the horrendous Easter bombings. Of the other wing, which also contains an equal number of rooms, a few have been occupied by foreign tourists. The pool is virtually empty. In the main dining room, there are more unoccupied tables than the few occupied ones. No luxury coaches waiting for tourists in the car park. more..

The most beautiful road is yet to meet a cartographer

Dec 18 (DN) Nazim Hikmet believed that he hadnít yet said the most beautiful words he wanted to tell his beloved when he wrote of seas, children, days and of course words. And yet, that verse about the unspoken is as beautiful a love note as any. The most beautiful sea: hasnít been crossed yet. The most beautiful child: hasnít grown up yet. Our most beautiful days: we havenít seen yet. And the most beautiful words I wanted to tell you, I havenít said yetÖ Reminds one of more..

Bandula Gunawardana

Swiss Embassy case could have been handled differently

Dec 18 (CT) The role of the international community in SLís affairs has once again taken the centre stage due to the ongoing investigation into a Swiss embassy local staff memberís complaint that she was abducted and subjected to interrogation. The arrest of this complainant on the grounds that she gave false evidence and caused disaffection towards the govt is an unfortunate escalation. Govt has stated that the account of her abduction does not tally with the facts of the investigation. more..

Plan to admit additional 100,000 students to universities

Dec 18 (Island) We are quite happy that new President Gotabaya Rajapaksa has, in his election manifesto, given an undertaking that an additional 100,000 university slots will be created for students who pass the GCE A/L examiation. This is something discussed at the International Higher Education Conference organised jointly by CMA Sri Lanka and CPM SL supported by the Association of Management Development Institutions in South Asia (AMDISA) on the theme more..

Electronic voting machines: an unacceptable threat to democracy

Dec 18 (Island) It will be no exaggeration to suggest that the Chairman of the Elections Commission Mahinda Deshapriya has a cult-like following in the country, at least among the media. The flawless conduct of the last prez election, albeit with some interventions that appeared overzealous at times, showed that such kudos is well deserved. The question arises, however, as to whether the commissionerís more..

Whither football after SAG debacle

Dec 18 (ST) SLís shock first round exit at the South Asian Games has sent shock-waves among the football fraternity who are now calling for a complete overhaul of a system that has failed to produced results over the years. Though there was no high hopes of winning gold in Kathmandu many expected Sri Lanka to be among the top three positions especially after India and Pakistan pulled out of the tournament. But they failed miserably as inadequate preparation, insufficient int'l exposure more..

Import substitution in higher education

Dec 18 (ST) I had marked the answer as zero in the square in front of the question. The question was, how many foreign academics are in the staff (of the economics department)? It was a questionnaire to collect some information to be sent for the World University Ranking. I am sure most of the questionnaires from all the universities in Sri Lanka must have had the answer zero. A couple of days later, Stafan Ė one of my colleagues from the Sri Lanka branch of a foreign university, more..

Sri Lanka to up employer EPF contribution to 15%, start social security fund

Dec 18 (EN) Sri Lanka will raise the contribution by employers to the EPF to 15% from the current 12%, and start a social security scheme for public and private sector workers who become unemployed. At the moment SL workers contribute 8% of their salary to the EPF and the employer contributes 12% on top of the salary. However, some employers reduce their contribution by giving employees non-EPF money more..

Cricket in 2019: Stokes and Smith shine in eventful year

Dec 18 (AFP) Ben Stokes starred as England won the World Cup for the first time before producing one of the most memorable innings in Ashes history as Australia's Steve Smith enjoyed a successful return to the international stage after the sandpaper ball-tampering scandal. But they were not the lone standout performers in 2019. Below AFP Sport looks back at five memorable incidents from the year in cricket. January saw Kusal Perera compile one of the greatest innings in Test history when more..

Wartime seizure of UN workers and an abduction that never happened

Dec 18 (Island) War winning Prez Mahinda Rajapaksa (Nov 2005-Jan 2015) addressed editors of national newspapers and senior representatives of the electronic media at Temple Trees. Formal meetings with the media began in his second term, beginning 2010. Prez Rajapaksa was always flanked by several ministers and in some instances, top officials. Finance Secretary Dr. P.B. Jayasundera and Secretary to the Prez Lalith Weeratunga had been present regularly at the meetings more..

Mickey Arthur wants better control from Sri Lanka's bowlers in Karachi

Dec 18 (CI) On the last day in Rawalpindi, the partnership between Abid Ali and Babar Azam skipped along at 4.2 runs an over. SL coach Mickey Arthur would like his bowlers to contain the Pakistan batsmen a little better in the second Test in Karachi. Rawalpindi's surface offered little to the bowlers on the final day, in which only two wickets fell. With only 167 overs bowled through the course of the Test, the surface behaved more like more..

You can't develop sports without high performance: Asanga Seneviratne

Dec 18 (CT) It's time for Sri Lanka to boast about their sporting achievements with the record haul of medals at the recently concluded South Asian Games (SAG). However, no programme is presently in place to support and develop these athletes to the next level. Govt funding is not provided for elite athletes to meet their day-to-day expenses, advance training, improving techniques and nutrition. NOCSL Vice President and Head of its High Performance Unit, Asanga Seneviratne, said more..

ICC Test Championship: Format given new life: Mathews

Dec 18 (GEO) Senior SL cricketer Angelo Mathews said he feels the ICC Test Championship has given new life to Test cricket and made the red-ball contest more interesting. The 32-year-old all-rounder, who spoke during a media session in Karachi, said the championship has added value to the format. ďThe idea of a Test championship has given new life to Test cricket. All teams are after points and each match is important for all teams,Ē he said. ďWe are looking to get all 60 points in Karachi,Ē more..

Sri Lanka could be a big beneficiary of BRI: Top Economist

Dec 18 (FT) Sri Lanka could be a big beneficiary of Chinaís Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) such as other Asian frontier markets, given that macroeconomic fundamentals are improved, a world renowned economist said recently. Macroeconomist and internationally renowned emerging markets investment expert Dr. Jim Walker delivering keynote address at Asia Securities 3rd Annual SL Investment Conference titled Global Growth and more..

McLarens Holdings eye automobile component manufacture

Dec 18 (EN) SLís McLarens Holdings, a shipping sector player that has started an advanced engineering and productivity enhancement business is now planning to make automobile components, group chairman, Rohan De Silva said. McLarens already making engineering and design related components, to boost productivity in SLís apparel industry. ďWe are currently working closely with the apparel sector, with discussions already in place with three potential partners to expand more..

IFC and Ceylon Biscuits Limited ink partnership to support women retailers

Dec 18 (EN) The International Finance Corporation (IFC), said it has inked a partnership with Ceylon Biscuits Limited (CBL) Group to provide training and business development opportunities to strengthen and increase female participation in retail supply chains in Sri Lanka. The project will also focus on promoting digital payment methods among retailers and distributors and on improving efficiencies of the fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) distribution chain. more..

NOC secretary Maxwell blames Sports Ministry officials for inaccurate statements

Dec 18 (DN) National Olympics Committee of SL (NOCSL) secretary Maxwell de Silva said that some inaccurate statements made by Sports Ministry officials and its Director General regarding the South Asian games have created a wrong impression. He further said ďItís all began in November when the officials of the NOCSL and Ministry of Sports met at the SAG executive meeting which was conducted from Nov 9-10 more..

Síporeís Zilingo buys Lankaís nCinga in landmark $ 15.5 m cash and stock deal

Dec 18 (FT) Leading technology platform Zilingo has bolstered its position as a global digital supply chain enabler with its acquisition of Sri Lanka-based software company nCinga Innovations. The acquisition is being touted as one of the largest tech exits in Sri Lanka in recent memory. The deal marks a major win for Sri Lankaís startup ecosystem, taking homegrown technology to the global stage. The acquisition will drive the adoption of Manufacturing Execution System (MES) software more..

The gender dimension of remittances to Sri Lanka: Who remits more?

Dec 18 (IPS) Remittances are often considered a stable and reliable source of development financing. In 2018, remittances to Sri Lanka totalled to USD 7.015 billion. At the macro level, the contribution of remittances to the Sri Lankan economy is immense. In 2018, remittances accounted for 7.8 % of the GDP, and could cover 59% of the total import bill of USD 11.89 billion, or over 13% of SLís outstanding external debt (USD 52.31 billion). Nevertheless, in 2015, remittances to Sri Lanka declined more..

New Tourism Chief vows quick turnaround

Dec 18 (FT) Sri Lanka Tourismís new Chairperson Kimarli Fernando expressed confidence to turn around the industry in an organised manner to ensure that the country will become a top tourist destination to attract around 7 million travellers, with an income of over $ 10 billion within the next five years. Fernando, who has vast private sector experience in top positions in many local and int'l companies, is 1st woman Chairperson more..

'We are not here to catch thieves'

Dec 18 (RN) Minister Mahinda Amaraweera says that the present govt has not undertaken the task of catching the thieves of the previous govt as there are other institutions to do that work. He added that the ministers of the previous govt made a mistake by coming to power claiming to catch wrongdoers but they did not work for the public. ďMinister should not be spending their time hunting down wrongdoers of the previous administration. There are other institutions that do that,Ē he said. more..

Rs.5 mn funding for each Grama Niladhari Division

Dec 18 (DN) Govt will allocate Rs.5 million for each Grama Niladhari Division to carry out essential development activities, State Minister Lakshman Yapa Abeywardane said. He made this observation addressing the media yesterday at the Information and Communication Technology Ministry yesterday. ďUnder the first phase of the programme, Rs.2 million has already been allocated and letters informing these allocations have already been sent to the relevant divisional secretaries,Ē more..

Govt says Swiss authorities must respect Sri Lankaís sovereignty

Dec 18 (DM) The govt urged Swiss authorities to respect the Sri Lankan law and the sovereignty of the nation and assured that investigations into allegations of the Swiss embassy employee were ongoing without political interference. Cabinet Spokesperson, Ramesh Pathirana said that despite the Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs releasing a statement, raising concerns over the investigations, more..

WP Governor declares war on mosquitoes

Dec 18 (Island) Western Province Governor Dr. Sitha Arambepola yesterday said all steps had been taken to eradicate the dengue menace with the help of the public and others. Dr. Arambepola, addressing the media at the Operations Unit of the Dengue Eradication Campaign at the Western Province Governorís Office, said that what was needed was a long-term plan to destroy the mosquito larvae. Dr. Arambepola said a system had been put in place to recycle garbage including plastic waste. more..

No support to implement MCC: Sajith

Dec 18 (DM) NDF Prez candidate Sajith Premadasa who has been named as the new Leader of Opposition said he would not support the implementation of proposed Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) agreement with USA but would only support an abolition of it. ďWe will provide two third majority for the govt to tear the MCC agreement into pieces as that was the pledge given by the present got during the prez election,Ē he said while speaking to UNP activists more..

White Van drivers media exercise: Rajitha, former Osu Sala chairman under CID probe

Dec 18 (DN) CID has begun probing former Minister Rajitha Senaratne and the State Pharmaceutical Corporationís former Chairman Dr. Rumi Mohamed over allegations of having deployed two known criminal suspects to concoct a white van abduction allegation with the aim of tarnishing the image of Prez candidate Gotabaya Rajapaksa during the election period, CID sources said. more..

Germany grants financial assistance to re-construct local maternity hospital

Dec 18 (AD) Mahamodara Maternity Hospital is being reconstructed with the financial assistance from KfW, a state-owned development bank in Germany. KfW has initially extended a loan of Euro 28 mn to complete the reconstruction work of the hospital which was initiated by a grant from the Helmut Kohl Foundation. Further, KfW has extended a supplementary loan of Euro 13 mn to cover the cost escalation and additional requirements of the hospital. more..

IGP seeks bail to attend sonís wedding

Dec 18 (FT) Colombo High court said it will direct a request for bail to attend his sonís wedding by IGP Pujith Jayasundara, who is current held in remand detention, to the Commissioner of Prisons. Jayasundara was sent on compulsory leave following several investigations regarding failures that led to the Easter Sunday bombings not being prevented. The bail application was submitted to Court by Jayasundaraís lawyer, seeking bail for the IGP to attend his sonís wedding next month. more..

Sajith wants all

Dec 18 (FT) A month after his presidential loss MP Sajith Premadasa yesterday said he would not spearhead the UNPís parliamentary campaign as a prime ministerial candidate unless he is given the party leadership as well. Premadasa made the comments when addressing party faithfuls for the first time since his defeat, at a private venue near the party headquarters in Pita Kotte. more..

Shall we have forests in Colombo ?

Dec 18 (DM) Dubai has its own indoor rainforest now. India is creating mini-forests in all big cities following the Akira Miyawaki method while Brazil, the home of Amazon forest, is doing the same. China which is creating forests in major cities like Beijing and Shanghai at a rate is in the process of building a fully-fledged forest city. Once completed, the Liuzhou Forest City will have all its buildings covered with plants. Itís slated to absorb some 10,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide, more..

Will we ever learn?

Dec 18 (DM) Some time ago, kids were going to be given free TABS; why could they have not assessed what they really needed in each school district and ensured that they got it? Moving from global warming and energy crisis to school crisis, rising prices, mega sales, train crisis, medical, environmental, salaries, the country is riddled in CRISES!!! The world over it is worse, natural and unnatural disasters by the score!!! Have we ever stopped to ask ourselves what is happening; more..

New street art trend Drawing the line between purpose, standard and creativity

Dec 18 (DM) Days before the new regime secured power Sri Lanka witnessed many changes, one of them being the much-spoken-about street art trend. Today, every nook and corner of the island is being transformed into a work of art under different themes. But art is not only about colours and figures. Quality, structure and attention to detail also come into play. As such, the new wave of street art currently trending in Sri Lanka more..

Illegal sandminers rampant in north after licences scrapped

Dec 18 (ST) Illegal sandmining has rapidly increased in the north on state and private land following the new govtís decision to suspend the licence system for sand transport, prompting a violent reaction from frustrated locals and a warning of public protests. In all the five districts of the north, illegal sandmining is being carried out in broad daylight as well as at night, with local authorities and police reportedly turning a blind eye more..

New Mannar Basin blocks likely to be rolled out for bids next year

Dec 18 (FT) Petroleum Resources Development Secretariat (PRDS) is anticipating opening up more blocks of the Mannar Basin to possible exploration opportunities next year, a top official revealed, with development set to begin on the M2 block within the next few months. Secretariat received three bids for the M2 block in the Mannar Basin and is hoping to start development and production work as soon as more..

Sri Lanka gets World Bank loan, EU grant to boost public sector

Dec 18 (EN) The World Bank has approved a 25 million US dollar loan to Sri Lanka to improve the transparency and efficiency of core govt and public financial management functions, a statement said. The Public Sector Efficiency Strengthening Project (PSEP) will help strengthen the institutional capacity of the Ministry of Finance to improve efficiency and deliver better services, with better use of IT and human talent. more..

Uber introduces two new safety features to Sri Lanka

Dec 18 (RN) US-based ride-hailing company Uber announced two new safety features for users in Sri Lanka as part of a Safety Never Stops campaign launched in Colombo. The announcement comes in the wake of a number of complaints on safety issues and the user being charged a cancellation fee when the driver cancels a trip. A Two-way Phone Anonymisation feature has been introduced, Uber said in a statement, more..