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Don’s diary IVa: A week in Jaffna

Jan 1 (CT) Last two weeks, I travelled in Sri Lanka, participating at two conferences at the Universities of Jaffna and Peradeniya. This is the first of a two-part diary of random events and thoughts. Previous diaries can be read here and here. Thursday: Straight after a workshop in Winchester, I take a bus to Heathrow giving me just two hours before the flight takes off. Much is said about the management of Sri Lankan airlines, but one cannot complain about their generosity with on-board service: more..

Walking away from yesterday

Jan 1 (CT) As we arrive at the end of an year and look apprehensively towards the tragedies that the new year will bring the world, bring us, our neighbours near and far, we fear the fact that as Russian President Vladimir Putin put it unflinchingly some time ago that if there must be a fight, hit first. While that might be the preferred voice of advice that politicians and others hear from the spirits within them, the horror of that opine lies in the fact that it's not always the man that more..

'Sri lanka needs a Parliament that suits 16 Nov mandate'

Jan 1 (CT) Minister Wimal Weerawansa, says if a Defence Minister is not available under the Gazette, naturally, the President becomes the Defence Minister. Q: What is your actual feeling about the last month of the Govt? A: When we look back at the first month of the Govt after 16 Nov, we see that people are very eager. Extremist gangs who were openly performing have now controlled themselves. Young people are painting on walls. more..

Prevent an MR-GR 2/3rd majority in next election

Jan 1 (CT) My MR-GR supporter friends and my Gota besotted relatives are adamant that they must win a 2/3rds majority in the elections slotted for about May. They are after a constitutional amendment, but when I ask them what they want they become hazy. 19A has made the PM powerful at the expense of the President, so do they want an all-powerful Presidency as during JR’s tenure reducing MR to a pantaloon? No some say, especially the politically savvy who trust MR more..

GCE A/L results of 2019

Jan 1 (CT) GCE A/L Exam results of this year (2019), released by the Department of Examinations on Friday remained significant as nearly half of the total number of candidates who sat for the examination have performed well highlighting the younger generation's appetite for higher education to expand their vistas in various fields. Out of the 337,704 candidates who sat for the GCE A/L Exam of this year including 198,229 new applicants, 181,126 have gained the opportunity to enter more..

2010-2020: Notes at the end of a decade

Jan 1 (Roar) A decade has come to an end, and as we step into a new one, we must stop to reflect on the past; to savour the glory of victory and grieve from the bitterness of loss. The last decade has brought great changes to our world and challenged us to grow; to understand diverse perspectives, to enlarge borders, to increase communication and to come together as a global community. Although a small island, more..

Taking Stock for the New Year

Jan 1 (GV) A tumultuous year has ended, and an uncertain future lies ahead. Democratic space is already closing around us, and it is critical for civil society to be clear-eyed about where we have been and the challenges that lie ahead. Nothing much happened after rescuing the country from a constitutional coup. The PM forgot why the masses protested and why MPs joined before the Supreme Court and the Court of Appeal to reinstate him. Meanwhile, Sirisena became a lame duck. more..

Air Ambulance to ferry into Diaspora warmth

Jan 1 (Island) That was the week that was! Built on an abduction, an exfiltration out of the country by air was planned through voluntary rendition. This sophisticated people smuggling effort was worthy of the Le Carre thriller, "The spy who came in from the cold." The effort metastasized, though not by the smuggling face launching a thousand gun-boats but by frenzied diplomatic sound bites getting issued. In a world embroiled in moral relativism, all that is fair is foul, and, all that is foul is fair. more..

Udaya Gammanpila

Disaster management agencies play catch up on social media

Jan 1 (DM) Fifteen years ago, I woke up on the day after Christmas to something that I was never prepared for. A phone call from a relative was my first alert to get to the coast. I grabbed a camera and got to the nearest beach front, just south of the Colombo harbour. I saw a ship tilting on its side and larger multi-day trawlers pushed like paper boats on to the shore. What I saw frightened me. But nothing prepared me for what I would see during the next three months, most of which was spent on more..

Editorial: A New Year wish

Jan 1 (Island) Another year has dawned and people must be making numerous resolutions amidst celebrations. Let them be urged to resolve, today, to help save precious lives that are snuffed out on our roads daily. What prompted us to write about road safety or lack of it was a tragic mishap reported from Warakapola, yesterday; it claimed the lives of four persons. They were returning from a funeral when the trishaw they were travelling in collided with a truck. Such tragedies are not infrequent more..

New lease of life for Grand Hyatt Colombo

Jan 1 (DN) Govt is once again opening up Grand Hyatt in Colombo property for international investors, State Minister Laksman Yapa Abeywardane said. Grand Hyatt Colombo is a 47-story five star hotel in Colombo, The hotel will feature 475 guestrooms and 84 serviced apartments. Consortium consisting of SL Insurance Corporation, Litro Gas Lanka and EPF along with Sino Lanka Hotels and Spa Ltd had almost complied 70% of work of the building more..

Sumanthiran at Sirikotha briefing, Rajitha, Swiss Embassy employee Garnier...

Jan 1 (Island) The UNP, struggling to cope up with a simmering crisis caused by the then Minister, Rajitha Senaratne’s, declaration, at a pre-presidential poll press conference, that some of those who had been abducted in white vans, at the behest of Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa, were thrown into a tank in Moneragala, infested with crocodiles, received the backing of TNA. The briefing was held on Nov 10 - less than a week before the prez poll, in support of the candidature of more..

Sampanthan: Second class or Superclass citizen?

Jan 1 (Island) The Daily Mirror on Dec 30, 2019, carried a news item titled Former Govt. Gives Luxury Residence in Colombo 7 for Sampanthan. The Island also on Dec 30, 2019, carried a news item of a statement by Tamil National Alliance Deputy Leader MA Sumanthiran MP titled Govt. considers Tamils second class citizens. The Daily Mirror news item relates to TNA leader R.Sampanthan being permitted to live in the official residence of the Leader of the Opposition. more..

Mathilda on verge of becoming first Sri Lankan Equestrian Olympian

Jan 1 (CT) Sri Lankans are not too familiar with equestrian sports and most of them wouldn't have even seen an equestrian event live within the country, while they may have only seen it on TV once in a while - probably during the Olympics. Sri Lanka is now on the verge of entering their first Olympic qualified equestrian for the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games, as Mathilda Karlsson, SL born show jumper who grew up in Sweden, more..

Swiss authorities welcome release of embassy employee on bail

Jan 1 (FT) Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (FDAD) of Switzerland yesterday welcomed with relief the release on bail of the employee of its embassy in Colombo. Swiss authorities welcomed the release of the employee with a message via its official Twitter account @SwissMFA. Ganiya Banister Francis, the Embassy employee who is at the centre of an abduction debacle, was released on bail on Monday after two weeks in remand custody. She is facing charges under the Penal Code more..

SLC Invitational Limited Over Tournament: Kamindu stars as Chilaw Marians win title

Jan 1 (Island) Kamindu Mendis came up with a knock of 44 runs and picked up three wickets to guide Chilaw Marians to 91 runs victory over NCC in the SLC conducted Invitational Limited Over Tournament final at the SSC Grounds in Colombo yesterday. Chasing 296 runs to win NCC were dismissed for 204 runs with six overs remaining in their innings as Mendis and Shehan Jayasuriya picked up three wickets each. . For the winners Indian Sumit Ghadigaonkar scored 79, more..

Tourism industry closes crisis year 2019 with less than 1.9 m arrivals

Jan 1 (FT) Sri Lanka tourism has ended the crisis year of 2019 below the revised target of 1.9 million arrivals – an achievement that failed to match several revised targets, yet still commendable following the Easter Sunday tragedy. “We expect the final full year arrivals figure to be between 1.7 million and 1.8 million or close to 1.9 million,” SL Tourism Chairperson Kimarli Fernando said. A provisional figure on arrivals on more..

Another lean year for cricket; hope for 2020?

Jan 1 (DN) It was another lean year for cricket with SL hardly showing signs of lifting themselves from the depths of despair they have sunk to at international level. In another troubled year for the sport’s controlling body, SLC eventually managed to terminate the services of head coach Chandika Hathurusingha and replace him with South African Mickey Arthur towards the end of the year with the hope that he could turn the fortunes of the national team into a winning one in all three formats more..

Malinga in Wisden ODI team of the decade

Jan 1 (HT) Wisden has announced the T20I team of the decade and unlike the teams in the other format, this playing XI is far more diverse and finds representation from several other countries. There were 897 T20Is played in the decade, in which there were 249,578 scored and 11,293 wickets taken. For starters, Aaron Finch, who is Australia’s captain in the limited overs format, will open the batting and was also named the captain of this particular side. His opening partner will be NZ’s Colin Munro, more..

Mathews recalled to T20I squad after 18 mo.s

Jan 1 (DN) Former captain Angelo Mathews was included in Sri Lanka’s T20 International squad of 16 for the first time in 18 months for the three-match T20I series in India commencing January 5 at Guwahati. A series of injuries and battles with fitness saw the one-time all-rounder being left out of the shortest format of the game. However of late Mathews has recovered from his injuries and started to bowl which is one of the reasons more..

'Barter deal with Iran for Ceylon Tea still on'

Jan 1 (FT) Sri Lanka Tea Board confirmed that discussions are underway towards finalising a crucial barter deal with Iran to resolve an impasse over exports and payment due on oil imports. “We are continuing the process of seeking the possibilities of a barter system with Iran to settle a long-outstanding debt of $240 million by CPC,” SL Tea Board Chairman Jayampathy Molligoda said. Noting that there are multiple views to resolve the impasse over tea exports to Iran, more..

Aitken Spence partners with Marella Cruises

Jan 1 (CT) Aitken Spence Maritime stated that it facilitated the sailing of Marella Cruises' largest super-luxury cruise ship, Marella Discovery of the Marella fleet, to the Port of Colombo recently. Marella Discovery commenced its voyage from the Persian Gulf and cruised past Cochin to reach Colombo and continued to cruise towards South East Asian destinations after visiting Sri Lanka. Marella is the third-largest cruise line in the UK, with a fleet of six ships. more..

Remittances down 5.9% Jan-Nov

Jan 1 (CT) Workers' remittances, SL's largest foreign exchange earner, slipped 5.9% during the first eleven months of last year to US$ 6.05 b from US$ 6.43 b a year ago. Worker remittances declined 7.15% in Nov last year to US$ 515.3 m from US$ 555 m recorded during the same month of 2018. Worker remittances increased 1% in Oct last year to US$ 607 m, from US$ 599 m recorded during the same month of 2018. more..

CICT ends 2019 with 2.9 mn. teus, 40% of Colombo Port’s volume

Jan 1 (Island) Colombo International Container Terminals (CICT) has announced it handled a total of 2.9 million teus in 2019, achieving an 8.6% increase in its throughput and accounting for 40% of the volume of the Port of Colombo in the 12 months ending Dec 31, 2019. The company, which manages the Colombo South Terminal, said its 2019 performance represented a four-fold or 322% growth over the past five years, from 686,639 teus handled in 2014. more..

A new hope for the young in developing country: PM

Jan 1 (GDI) PM Mahinda Rajapaksa in his New Year message said the most valuable resource in the new decade will be the drive and motivation among young people to take an active part in developing the country. ”It is my belief and expectation that the young people of today, who have been motivated and inspired to make a personal and direct contribution to building a new SL, will not look back until they have achieved their objective of a prosperous and well governed country”. more..

2020 heralds salary boon for public servants

Jan 1 (FT) The monthly salary of all public servants will increase by a minimum amount of Rs. 3,000 and a maximum of Rs. 24,000 per month, effective from January 2020, according to a salary structure put in place by the previous Govt. This salary increment will amount to a 107% increase by 2020, compared to the basic salaries that were in place in 2015. The enhanced salary structure was announced last September more..

The Year of Prosperity has dawned: Prez

Jan 1 (GDI) President Gotabaya Rajapaksa in his New Year message said the new govt is determined to make 2020 the Year of Prosperity. The message reads: I am of the view that the New Year dawns at a time when the entire Sri Lankan nation is beaming with hopes for a new era in economic, political, social, cultural and technological spheres of life, in their Motherland. Hence, the new govt welcomes the New Year with determination and commitment to make it the Year of Prosperity. more..

MCC committee to submit report before election

Jan 1 (CT) The newly appointed committee to study the Millennium Challenge Corporation's (MCC) US$ 480 million grant has decided to submit their final report before the upcoming General Election, a committee member said. "We have to submit our final report within four months of our appointment; therefore we will try our best to finalise the report most probably before the upcoming general election," he said. However, he said that the committee only has the authority to provide more..

Tottering economy President GR’s biggest challenge in election year: DEW

Jan 1 (Island) General Secretary of the Communist Party DEW Gunasekera, yesterday, warned of dire consequences unless tangible measures were taken to shore up what he called a tottering national economy. Gunasekera, who held several ministerial portfolios in different administrations, said that Prez Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s biggest challenge would be to revive the national economy in 2020. more..

Sri Lanka’s inflation ends at 4.8% in 2019

Jan 1 (EN) Sri Lanka’s inflation rose to 4.8% in the 12-months to December from 4.4% in November, with the index rising November with a rise in food prices. Colombo Consumer Price Index grew to 132.4 in December from 131.7 in November. The food sub index grew 2.4% in the month, with several commodities going up, ending the year up 6.3%. Central bank has been injecting liquidity into the money market, after a soft-pegged rupee collapsed in 2018, altering price structure of the island. more..

Green concept at railway stations from Jan.1

Jan 1 (DM) Minister Mahinda Amaraweera has instructed Railway Department officials to launch the pilot programme for converting all railway stations under the Green (Haritha) concept beginning from the Dematagoda Railway station on January 1. He said all railway stations should be converted into Green (Haritha) railway stations under the concept of Green Places and Cities for Health and Prosperity. He said the Kandy Railway Station could be identified as the cleanest railway station. more..

Private Member’s Bill to bring Defence Ministry under President

Jan 1 (FT) A Private Member’s Bill to enable the Prez to hold the Ministry of Defence and any other ministries will be introduced to Parliament by MP Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe shortly. 22nd Amendment to the Constitution has been published in the Gazette ahead of its presentation to the House, Rajapakshe said. The Amendment, he says, is intended to give clarity to the allocation of ministries to the Prez, which has become more..

PMK demands dual citizenship for Lankan Tamil refugees

Jan 1 (IANS) PMK general council demanded that the SL Tamil refugees living in India should be allowed dual citizenship and the govt should sign an agreement with the Lankan govt in this regard. According to the PMK, there is a demand in Tamil Nadu that the Lankan Tamils be given Indian citizenship under the Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA). Pointing to the Lankan Tamils' fears that they would lose their Lankan citizenship if they acquired citizenship of some other nation, more..

Opposition should extend its support for a progressive budget: Sajith

Jan 1 (DM) Opposition should support a progressive budget that would fulfill the pledges made by the ruling party during the presidential election, UNF led alliance’s Prez Candidate Sajith Premadasa said today. He suggested that time and agenda for a budget should be set when Parliament meets on January 3rd, 2020. “We will act as a progressive opposition and support all progressive steps govt takes to provide the concessions it promised to the people during the prez election” he said. more..

Video: Strict action against public servants involved in corruption: President

Jan 1 (AD) Prez Gotabaya Rajapaksa has emphasized the need for an efficient and corruption-free service to the public. He made this remark during a meeting held with the subject ministers and officials of the Ministry of Transport and other State institutions today (31). Prez has also stressed the need to simplify the processes to meet objective of hassle-free access to public services. Those who are involved in corruption more..

Who is Champika?

Jan 2 (CT) Patali Champika Ranawaka is a wolf hiding in sheep's clothing. We received a file a few days ago. We asked two questions from the internet, nearly 20-30 times. The first was could this kind of thing happen in SL which is a Sinhala Buddhist country? This story is just like a Chicago movie. Our second question was: Why the SL electronic and print media never published this story. This is sad but true. The date is 9 Sept 2016. A person named Harsha Bandara alias Sukee was kidnapped more..

Development & devolution can go together

Jan 2 (CT) The new govt under President Gotabaya Rajapaksa can be seen to be doing many new things. These can contribute to the betterment of the country and the people. Most recently the president paid a surprise visit to the Department of Motor Vehicles. This is a govt agency where delays and corrupt practices can occur as indeed they do in other govt institutions. During the course of his visit the president stressed on the need to provide prompt and accurate service to the public. more..

On the verge of extinction: Hapless creatures smuggled for good luck!

Jan 2 (CT) Star tortoise (Geochelone elegans) is a threatened species of tortoise most commonly found in dry areas and scrub forests in SL, India and Pakistan. Considered good luck charms, they are the world's most endangered species to be illegally traded as pets. However, it is questionable whether luck truly resides in an unlucky animal as one exposed to the risk of danger throughout his life due to the threat of being held captive and more..

The rule of law in Sri Lanka: Gania Banister Francis & British woman in Cyprus

Jan 2 (CT) On 25 Nov. 2019, Gania Banister Francis, a Tamil employee of the Swiss embassy (aged 38) alleged that she was kidnapped by the Sri Lankan police. She has said she was treated brutally and subjected to coercion and sexual harassment. She added that the Police asked her for sensitive information on political asylum cases, before releasing her. Subsequently, according to news reports, she was taken in for questioning despite medical conditions, questioned for 30 hours more..