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China gets controlling stake at Hambantota port

Oct 19 (ST) News that Sri Lanka had granted Chinese state-owned companies operating rights to four berths at the Hambantota Port once they are completed next year has caught the shipping industry unawares. There had been no tenders or prior announcements. But SLPA Chairman Priyath Wickrama says govt had agreed to such an arrangement with the Hambantota Port’s Chinese lenders as far back as 2010. more..

Customs holding on to 359 tusks: Attempts to distribute the contraband to temples

Oct 19 (CT) Sri Lanka Customs is yet to take a decision regarding the large illegal consignment of elephant tusks confiscated by them on 22 May 2012. Valued at Rs 4.2 billion, the 359 elephant tusks make up the largest haul of illegally obtained tusks detected by the SLC in the South Asian region so far. Even though these tusks were confiscated they have not been disposed of by the SLC yet and that there is a strong possibility more..

MR sets condition to abolish executive

Oct 19 (CG) President Rajapaksa has reiterated a condition in order to abolish the Executive Presidency and he says if that condition is met then he will act within 24 hours. The main demand set by President Rajapaksa is for the pro-LTTE diaspora and the TNA to give up separatism. Rajapaksa noted that the main demand of the diaspora and the TNA these days is for the Executive Presidency to be abolished. more..

EU eye on Sri Lanka

Oct 19 (CT) The European Union (EU) is closely monitoring the recent developments in Sri Lanka, including the domestic reconciliation process. EU Ambassador to Sri Lanka, David Daly said that the Presidential Commission appointed to probe the missing persons is a recent development and the EU has always encouraged Sri Lanka to have its own strong independent credible domestic process, which is a part of more..

Over 400 trade unions to storm Colombo tomorrow

Oct 19 (CT) Over 400 public sector, private sector and estate sector trade unions have threatened to storm the city of Colombo tomorrow and the day after, to protest against the present administration and to demand a pay hike. National Trade Union Centre (NTUC), comprising over 350 public, private and state sector trade unions, will engage in a three-hour protest, demanding a Rs 10,000 pay hike in Budget 2015. more..

'18th Amendment could not have been enacted without a referendum'

Oct 19 (Island) Law Professor Suri Ratnapala says that the 18th  Amendment to the Constitution  could not have been enacted without the approval of the people at a referendum, if it had the effect of retrospectively extinguishing a condition on which the 2010 Presidential Election was held. Ratnapala is a Professor of Law at the University of Queensland, Australia, Fellow of the Australian Academy of Law, & Attorney at more..

Colombage or Justice Tilakawardane tipped as SL’s new HC in London?

Oct 19 (Island) Speculation is rife that former Navy Commander, Admiral (Retd) Jayanath Colombage is tipped to be appointed Sri Lanka’s new High Commissioner to London. The govt has opted to nominate a senior naval officer to counter LTTE propaganda in the UK, which is expected to heighten, particularly after an EU court lifted sanctions against the LTTE, knowledgeable sources indicated. more..

Room for further cuts in domestic petroleum prices

Oct 19 (Island) International oil prices have been falling through the year despite various attempts by the OPEC to drive prices up, industry statistics reveal, with prices of Brent crude oil down to 83.56 USD/BBL in October from 94.72 in Sept 2014. Brent crude averaged 41.63 from 1982 until 2014, reaching an all time high of 145.61 in July of 2008 and a record low of 8.75 in July of 1986. "The Govt may not hesitate to pass the benefits of more..

Auditor General smells rat

Oct 19 (NS) The Auditor General’s Department has conducted an audit query into the issuing of 10 more licenses by the Department of Wildlife Conservation (DWC) to so-called ‘tamed elephants’ and will finalize it by this week, Auditor General H.A.S. Samaraweera said. Samaraweera further said his department was not prepared to accept the response submitted by the DWC to an earlier audit query compiled on more..

Talk at the Cafe Spectator

Oct 19 (ST) External Affairs Ministry (EAM) evidently needs a crash course in the European justice system. A media statement issued on Thursday said Govt of Sri Lanka had “noted with concern the decision of the European Court of Justice (ECJ) on Oct 16, to annul the EU regulations proscribing the LTTE”. “Concern” is certainly a valid sentiment to express — except that it was not the European Court of Justice that had reversed more..

The UN Security Souncil and Sri Lanka

Oct 19 (Island) UN Security Council (UNSC) is perhaps the most powerful of the six principal organs of the United Nations and is charged with the maintenance of international peace and security. Its powers include the establishment of peacekeeping operations, the establishment of international sanctions, and the authorization of military action through Security Council resolutions; it is the only UN body with the authority to issue binding resolutions to member states. more..

0.8% of GDP to develop the temple of justice

Oct 19 (CT) 'Justice delayed, is justice denied,' is an oft repeated adage. Recently retired Attorney General (AG), Palitha Fernando, imputed just that, in an interview. He raised two, no three issues in that interview, which are the causes of 'justice delayed.' Those were the lack of Court Houses to clear the backlog of cases, lack of space in the AG's Department and this lack, ipso facto, preventing the expansion of the AG Department's cadre strength to tackle the burning issue of 'laws delays.' more..

Cracks in UPFA, UNP as President finalises plans for January polls

Oct 19 (ST) It is less than a handful who could muster such a political event with the hierarchy of the Government and the main Opposition in attendance. If that was a feat last Tuesday, the blunt message delivered by the convener was unsurpassed. A touch of irony was that it came from a UPFA partner, a live wire that espoused the cause of the majority Sinhala-Buddhist people in the ruling coalition. more..

All political parties agree to limit election propaganda

Oct 19 (NS) JHU policy of not harming the environment with banners and cut-outs at the election propaganda campaigns has been given thumbs up at the Friday’s meeting between the political party secretaries and the Commissioner of Elections Mahinda Deshapriya. The party officials who represented the meetings had agreed to come to consensus on using the cut-outs considering the environmental and ethical aspects. Udaya Gammanpila said that the parties agreed to more..

Land Bill is a concern, needs flexibility: US Trade Rep

Oct 19 (ST) Sri Lanka’s proposed new Land Bill shouldn’t be ‘one size fits only’ and should accommodate unique situations, according to a top US trade delegate. “We have a few concerns on the new Land Bill. It is a ‘one size fits all’ Bill at present. It should have (provisions) to fit individual situations that merit flexibility,” Michael J. Delaney Assistant US Trade Representative for Central and South Asia told the Business Times on the sidelines of SL–USA Business Forum on Thursday. more..

Pope’s visit in the balance: Cardinal writes to President

Oct 19 (ST) Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith has sought President Rajapaksa’s early advice whether the visit of Pope Francis should go ahead or be cancelled in the light of the upcoming presidential election. 3-day visit is scheduled to begin on Jan 13 next year. Request has gone in the form of a letter sent to President this week. Cardinal said, “I wrote a confidential letter. I cannot tell you anything more. I am awaiting a response.” more..

'Lifting of curbs may help revival of LTTE'

Oct 19 (ENS) European Union Court’s annulment of the EU’s ban on the LTTE will help revive the separatist and terrorist outfit in Sri Lanka’s Tamil-majority Northern Province, warned V Anandasangaree, President of the TULF. “Pro-LTTE groups both within the island and overseas have received a shot in the arm, and will now openly propagate the LTTE’s cause of separatism and terrorism. The TNA will now up its ante reflecting the LTTE’s demands,” Anandasangaree said. more..

Tourism stumped by northern travel ban

Oct 19 (ST) Sri Lanka’s tourism industry was caught unawares after the Govt announced restrictions on travel to the north for foreigners. While one industry body said they had received news of the restriction and noted that henceforth it would take 2-3 days to get clearance for foreigners to visit the north, at least two other associations were unaware and expressed surprise. “I thought the ban was temporary due to the President’s visit to the north last week,” one association official said. more..

Top FAO official, hundreds of others turned away at Omanthai

Oct 19 (ST) A top UN official was turned away at the Omanthai checkpoint this week as the Defence Ministry started strictly enforcing a requirement that prior approval is needed for foreign passport holders to travel to the north. UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) Country Representative, Beth Crawford, was on her way to Kilinochchi on Wednesday when she was turned back. more..

Fined Rs 60,000 for trying to sell protected species

Oct 19 (CT) Five Star-Tortoises and two giant squirrels were rescued from captivity, on Thursday, following a raid conducted by the Department of Wildlife Conservation (DWC). The raid was carried out on a tip off received by DWC Director General H.G. Ratnayake. One suspect was arrested in this connection. Suspect (45), a resident of Gonawala, had in his possession five star tortoises and two giant squirrels in separate cages, presumably for sale. These species are protected and more..

MILCO to shift to Badalgama

Oct 19 (CT) State-owned MILCO (Pvt) Ltd, successors to the National Milk Board and Milk Industries of Lanka (Pvt) Ltd, will get a brand new factory at Badalgama, in the Kurunegala District, costing Euro 60 million. MILCO's operations will also be shifted to Badalgama. Cabinet approved construction of a new factory to increase fresh milk production and also allied products such as butter, yoghurt and ice cream, while the Ambewela factory will concentrate on increasing the production more..

Govt looks for Trinco 5 witnesses

Oct 19 (SL) Govt is still looking for three key witnesses to the case involving the murder of five youth in Trincomalee in 2006, in what is now knows as the ‘Trinco 5’ murder. In a written submission to UNHRC, which is now meeting in Geneva, SL govt recalled that the prosecution had moved for summons on three witnesses by email. Registrar of Trincomalee Magistrates Court was directed to issue email notice about the date of further inquiry. more..

'LTTE seeks legal loopholes on foreign soil'

Oct 19 (SO) LTTE is now reorganising to seek legitimacy on foreign soil through loopholes in their legal systems with the same ruthlessness and deceptiveness it operated in Sri Lanka in the post 2009 phase, Terrorism Expert Rohan Gunaratna said. Commenting on the recent ruling by the European Court of Justice (ECJ) that may unfreeze LTTE assets in the EU, he said LTTE groups are planning similar cases in Canada, US, UK, and India where the LTTE is still blacklisted. more..

Army denies, Police to probe

Oct 19 (SL) The military denied allegations that it was involved in threatening journalists who attended an awards presentation ceremony last week while the police said if there is a complaint it will investigate the claims. The ‘Investigative Journalists Action Committee’ requested the President and the Govt to hold an investigation immediately and arrest those responsible for disrupting an awards presentation ceremony for investigative journalists arranged by Transparency International SL, more..

Sabaragamuwa Uni tensions reach boiling point

Oct 19 (NS) Tension still prevailed at the Sabaragamuwa University last evening after police took action to remove the temporary structure built by students engaged in a Sathyagraha campaign. Students accused police of trying to remove them from the streets surrounding the university after they had earlier vacated the university hostels following a court order. Tense situation arose after police showed up at more..

'Some people have completely misconstrued the Chapter on corruption'

Oct 19 (Island) The Sri Lanka Economic Association (SLEA) convened a special forum to fete Prof. A.D.V. De. S. Indraratna who completed a decade’s service to the institution as its Chairman. Indraratna pioneered teaching economics in the University, switching from English to Sinhala. Before he retired from the faculty as its Dean, he is credited with teaching over 20,000 students, who eventually contributed to the economic wellbeing of the country. He was also responsible for teaching more..

2 Heroin peddlers from Sri Lanka held

Oct 19 (ENS) In an inter-state joint police operation, the anti-narcotics wing of the Delhi Police and the Chennai city police nabbed two Sri Lankans and a Chennai resident from a hideout at Poonamallee, on Friday night. The three were part of a gang involved in international heroin smuggling. The police, based on specific clues, zeroed in on the two suspects residing at a house in Narasimha Nagar near Poonamallee. Nearly 17 kilograms of heroin was seized from the two suspects more..

Illegal fishing: EU threatens more

Oct 19 (SL) European Union, which had just last week proposed a ban on importing fish caught by Sri Lankan flagged vessels, is considering more sanctions on Sri Lanka if the govt fails to address concern related to illegal fishing. Among the trade measures proposed to accompany the trade ban include a ban on fishing in the waters of Sri Lanka by EU flagged vessels, on joint fishing operations, on the reflagging of EU vessels to more..

Rajapaksa PR skills enliven Jaffna Peninsula

Oct 19 (SL) Saatchi & Saatchi may want to take lessons in PR from Sri Lanka’s President Mahinda Rajapaksa. He arrived in the Jaffna peninsula to inaugurate the train service to Jaffna Station after a lapse of some 24 years. All throughout the journey crowds thronged the various stations and at several places the crowd mobbed the President. He was in his element. Said a guest, “Nothing makes the President happier than being with the people. He is a natural.” The crowd-pulling Presidential visit more..

INFOTEL–2014 starts on Oct 24

Oct 19 (Island) INFOTEL – 2014, South Asia’s biggest Information and Technology Exhibition organized by the Federation of Information and Technology Industry Sri Lanka (FITIS) will open at the BMICH on October 24. The event will be held from October 24 – 26 and the inclusion of many novel and innovative features will be a specialty in this year’s exhibition – a long awaited annual happening in the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) calendar. more..

'Rajapaksa most likely to hold snap election'

Oct 19 (ST) President Rajapaksa will hold a snap presidential election in early January, was the view of a majority of people in a Business Times (BT) email poll held this week. Asked whether the President will hold a (presidential) election in January 2015 or not, 72% of the respondents said YES, while 19% said NO and the balance were unsure of either. Speculation is rife that the President will hold a poll before more..

China snubs Sri Lanka media

Oct 19 (NS) Authorities in China have snubbed the media in Sri Lanka by refusing to grant Accreditation to cover the third and final Leg of the Asian Sevens in Beijing which commenced yesterday. The rebuff has irked media rights groups who charged that the matter was a deep contrast to the Sri Lanka government’s unwavering desire to grant the Chinese plenty of leverage in the country even above their own countrymen as is visible throughout the island. more..

Train Travel to Jaffna in the mid-1950s

Oct 19 (Island) "Jaffna, here I come" proclaims President Mahinda Rajapaksa with arms lifted high as the Yal Devi Express comes into the Jaffna Railway Station after a lapse of 24 years. This was the caption of the front page picture in The Island newspaper on Tuesday 14 with all other newspapers and TV news channels highlighting this glad news. My first thought on seeing these pictures was that I had approached the rail station and alighted from the Jaffna train very many times long ago, more..

On the Yal Devi to Yalpanam

Oct 19 (ST) Though all the media hype was on the inaugural Yal Devi, the first train to officially arrive at the Jaffna Railway Station after 24 years on October 13 with President Rajapaksa on board, that special train made its journey only within the peninsula from Pallai to Jaffna. Determined to make the first trip to Jaffna from Colombo, I called Mobitel 365 on the 11th evening but all I got for the 4-minute call that cost Rs 40 was the response that more..

A touch of goodness with a cricket sense

Oct 19 (ST) Though on surface it was only a reconnaissance tour about a pending cricket tournament which is scheduled to take place in the former war-torn areas at the end of this month, certainly there was more to it. The modus operandi of this exercise is to bring back normalcy — through the game of cricket — to the people who really faced the strife through the thirty long years of that devastating war. But, what really engulfed my imagination is that reconciliation is a process more..

Trivialities that trip

Oct 19 (NS) During the heady days of the Ceasefire Agreement between the then Govt and the LTTE, the advertising agency Phoenix O&M organized an exhibition titled ‘The Other Side,’ featuring the creative work of its staff outside of advertising briefs. Harith Gunawardena, a Creative Director, came up with a simple cardboard box carrying the legend (A gift to Milinda Moragoda from the Norwegian Govet). There was an invitation to open the box and take a look inside. more..

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