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Musical chairs in provincial councils

Jan 19 (ST) More provincial councils run by the former ruling UPFA are set to change hands with UPFA members throwing their support behind the UNP. Provincial governors are being pressed by council members to change the councils’ chief ministers who are suddenly finding themselves deserted by their own party members who are flocking to back President Maithripala Sirisena and the new UNP-dominated national govt. more..

Expose the old regime or risk its return

Jan 19 (DM) President Maithripala Sirisena has asked exiled journalists to return, promising an end to attacks on media and the culture of impunity. The new media minister Gayantha Karunathilaka echoed the same assurance when he assumed duties last week. As of now, the new President has remained true to his promises; he has shown no interest in personal aggrandisement and shown a flexibility - unseen in his predecessor- in the national question. He appointed a civilian governor for more..

After the post-Election Euphoria

Jan 19 (Island) After the euphoria caused by what was for most people (though not for me) the unexpected election victory of Maithripala Sirisena, we are now in the post-euphoria phase in which we feel the need for sober assessment of what it’s all about and what the prospects might be. It’s quite confusing, pointing to a need to get down to the fundamentals. But first of all, since we Sri Lankans are a people who know how to be grateful and to give credit where credit is due, more..

Law to cancel Parliament membership of crossovers

Jan 19 (DN) National Executive Council (NEC) has unanimously agreed to introduce a new law to cancel the Parliament membership of MPs, who crossover. NEC, that consists of 11 members was established to advise the govt on this matter. Moreover, the NEC has drawn attention on implementing new laws to disallow persons with duel citizenship to contest elections. This proposal has been tabled by the representatives of JVP. more..

Ravi K orders Rs 13.2 b in MoD account transferred to Treasury

Jan 19 (Island) Finance Minister Ravi Karunanayake said that said Rs 13.2 billion in an account maintained at the Taprobane branch of the Bank of Ceylon had been transferred to Consolidated Account of the Treasury. The matter was being investigated as the account belonged to the Ministry of Defence, he added. Minister stressed that the MoD had no right to maintain such an account in violation of regulations and therefore the opening of the account was being investigated. more..

'SL election won by the people, not by RAW'

Jan 19 (Hindu) Sri Lanka’s election was won by its people, the country’s new Foreign Minister, Mangala Samaraweera, said in a sharp response to a Reuters report that the RAW station chief in Colombo had been “expelled” by the previous govt for helping the Opposition to victory in the island nation. “There is no substance in the report at all,” Mr. Samaraweera said, echoing the denial of the same report by the External Affairs Ministry in Delhi. It is Mr. Samaraweera’s first visit abroad as more..

'Operation anti-corruption begins'

Jan 19 (DN) Active preparations are underway to launch the national anti-corruption programme, minister Gayantha Karunathilaka said. “Work is underway by the National Executive Council to ensure the implementation of govt’s anti-corruption programme in keeping with President Sirisena’s 100-day plan,” he said. “The govt’s anti-corruption instrument will be reformed with an empowered legal framework to fight more..

'Guidance of Maha Sangha for future course of actions'

Jan 19 (DN) The guidance and consultation of the Maha Sangha will be valued in the future course of actions, President Maithripala Sirisena said. He was addressing the gathering at the Kelaniya Raja Maha Viharaya on Saturday. President said all possible steps would be taken to develop the Buddha Sasana while working for the well-being of the people. "It is our duty and responsibility to build a prosperous country with a strong economy, while facing the challenges in promoting peace more..

Govt urged to cancel fuel station licences issued on polls eve

Jan 19 (Island) The Petroleum Corporation trade unions have urged the newly elected govt to cancel 20 new permits issued to political allies by the previous board of the CPC at its last meeting. The offices of the key officials of the corporation have already been sealed as there were alleged documents on corrupt deals and irregularities taken place during the previous regime. The new Power and Energy Minister Chamipika Ranawaka has said that all those involved in corrupt deals and more..

Govt to end contract with costly US PR firms

Jan 19 (Island) New govt would cease the ‘dubious and controversial’ practice of hiring expensive foreign public relations firms, Finance Minister Ravi Karunanayake said. Services of foreign firms would be sought only if the govt lacked the required expertise to handle a particular subject. He was responding to a query whether the hiring of several US public relations firms by previous govt would be investigated. more..

SL coup theory alive with arms discovery

Jan 19 (ENS) The discovery of huge caches of arms and ammunition on board a vessel in Galle on Sunday, and in a room in the BMICH in Colombo earlier on Friday, has kept alive speculation about an attempt by former President Rajapaksa and his cohorts to stage an armed coup to avert defeat in the Presidential election. The media quoted SSP Ajith Rohana as saying that an armory belonging to Rakna Arakshaka Lanka, a quasi-civilian security agency affiliated to Defence Ministry, more..

Jaffna Chamber of Commerce urges new govt to develop north sincerely

Jan 19 (FT) The Jaffna Chamber of Commerce last week expressed sincere hope that the new Government would genuinely endeavour to develop the north. At a press conference on Friday, Jaffna Chamber of Commerce Chairman R. Jeyasegaram stated that minority Tamils, Muslims and the Sinhalese who were willing to bring peace to the country supported President Maithripala Sirisena at the presidential election and that they joined hands to put the country on a democratic path. more..

India denies expulsion of RAW official from Colombo

Jan 19 (PTI) India dismissed reports that the Colombo station chief of RAW had been expelled in the run up to this month’s presidential election and maintained that he has moved out after completion of his three-year tenure. Reports from Colombo said that the SL govt had asked India to recall the official in December for allegedly helping gather support for joint opposition candidate Maithripala Sirisena who won the polls. more..

Plan to return seized boats in the works

Jan 19 (ENS) In a move reflecting renewed vigour in bilateral ties, India and Sri Lankan on Sunday agreed to “re-engage” on repatriation of refugees from India as both countries held “substantive” talks on a raft of crucial matters including the political reconciliation process and the fishermen issue. On the reconciliation process, MEA spokesperson Syed Akbaruddin did not divulge many details but said some of the information visiting Lankan Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera listed more..

Decision on EPC before Tuesday

Jan 19 (NS) SLMC media spokesperson Nizam Kariyappar stated that a decision on the Eastern Provincial Council’s future will be taken before the council reconvenes on Tuesday. He said that the SLMC was conducting discussions with the TNA regarding the future of the council. The Eastern PC was controlled by an alliance of UPFA, SLMC and the NFF before a series of defections took place to the camp of the common opposition candidate during the presidential elections. more..

Misdeeds of Sri Lanka tourism officials during poll exposed

Jan 19 (ST) Sri Lanka Tourism Promotions Bureau (SLTPB) has allegedly misused state resources and public money amounting to millions of rupees to promote the former president and the UPFA during presidential and the recent Uva PC elections, trade unions alleged. A trade union official said that the SLTPB had spent over Rs.114 million on advertisements and other propaganda activities of the former president more..

Sri Lanka business delegation in Lahore to promote tech education, vocational training

Jan 19 (BR) CEO of The Ceylon Chamber of Commerce Sri Lanka Mangala Yapa while addressing a networking and experience sharing seminar held on Saturday has said that here is a lot for collaboration between Sri Lanka and Pakistan especially for the promotion of technical education and vocational training and both countries can learn from each other experiences. The delegation of employers from Sri Lanka inspired the Pakistani companies on how they can participate in more..

‘Arjuna had Lloyd-like influence’

Jan 19 (TT) Muttiah Muralidharan feels 1996 was a watershed year for Sri Lanka cricket. In a column written for the ICC World Cup website, the iconic off-spinner wrote that the World Cup victory actually put Sri Lanka cricket on the world map. “The reason why Sri Lanka cricket is where it is today, producing world-class players, is one: our success in the World Cup of 1996… Before that, cricket was amateurish. It was popular, but not a uniting force by any means. “But when we won in Lahore all that changed. more..

Fish prices to tumble?

Jan 19 (NS) Fish prices in the local market are expected to go down in the short term due to the ban by European Commission on imports of Sri Lankan fisheries products which came to effect on Jan 15, industry officials said. However they noted that prices are likely to stabilize in the medium tern with expected Govt intervention. The ban on exports of Sri Lankan fisheries to Europe was imposed by the European Commission as more..

Harsha assures sound policies within social market economy

Jan 19 (FT) Policy Planning and Economic Affairs Deputy Minister Dr. Harsha de Silva on Saturday voiced the importance of a ‘social market economy,’ the benefits of which would be enjoyed by every citizen in this country. Assuming duties on Saturday at the PM’s office located at Flower Road, Dr. de Silva assured new administration would bring sound economic policies that would uplift the lives of every citizen. “We respect former President Rajapaksa for ending the war. more..

'Good governance can spur nation's brand-value'

Jan 19 (Island) With the stunning election victory of President Maithripala Sirisena, on a platform of change for good governance, the potential for brand Sri Lanka to strengthen itself has grown exponentially. In the Brand Finance Nations Brand report published in December 2014, it was concluded that whilst Sri Lanka has made major strides in going up the rankings, that good governance is at the very heart of building the base of a nation's reputation, and unless more..

CBSL's reserves plunge due to rupee protection

Jan 19 (CT) New bipartisan govt led by President Maithripala Sirisena and PM Ranil Wickremesinghe will have to walk a tight rope in trying to prevent a drain in its foreign reserves by trying to protect depreciating pressure on the rupee, while at the same time ensuring that the economy grows in real terms, by ensuring the continuation of a low interest rate regime, market sources said. This comes in the backdrop that in a short space more..

SLASSCOM expects positive effects on IT, KPO-BPM industry

Jan 19 (Island) SLASSCOM, the Sri Lanka IT,KPO-BPM industry chamber has pledged its fullest support to the new govt led by President Maithripala Sirisena, PM Ranil Wickramasinghe and the new cabinet of ministers. SLASSCOM Chairman, Jayantha De Silva shared his sentiments with regard to the optimism and expectations of the IT, KPO-BPM industry stating," "With good governance at the forefront, we expect extremely positive effects to our country, economy, as well as our industry. more..

People have spoken, get to work!

Jan 19 (ST) The new Maithripala Sirisena-Ranil Wickremesinghe partnership has got perhaps the shortest, possible honeymoon ever for a Government starting out after a tense and closely-fought election. Less than a week after Sirisena beat a once-unshakable Mahinda Rajapaksa for the plum post of Sri Lankan President, the screws are on the ruling coalition with new appointments being questioned and many catchers and hangers-on waiting on the sidelines for positions. more..

Maximum with minimum mantra!

Jan 19 (FT) With a new dedicated Tourism Ministry in place, the debate over the minimum room rate has resurfaced, with the Colombo City Hotels Association cautioning against any change while emphasising on the need for a proper monitoring mechanism. The City Hotels’ position comes on hot the heels of inbound tour operators making a fresh push for the abolition of minimum room rates. Letting market forces more..

Message in presidential election outcome

Jan 19 (Island) Mr. Maithripala Sirisena has been elected President. He won by a margin of 449,072 votes. His vote bank of 6,217,162 (Ibid) was predominantly made up of the voters in six electoral districts of the Northern and Eastern Provinces, the Nuwara Eliya District in the Central Province, as well as a considerable proportion of a mix of voters from ethnic and religious communities from the remaining 16 electoral districts who were critical of the manner in which former President Rajapaksa more..

Editorial: Darley Road Drama

Jan 19 (Island) The SLFP version of The Caucasian Chalk Circle, which was being enacted at Darley Road, Colombo 10, for about ten days, is over. Former President Mahinda Rajapaksa has done a Grusha and let go of the party leadership. In so doing he has, in fact, made a virtue of necessity. The SLFP in the throes of a crisis is now President Maithripala Sirisena’s baby! Former President Rajapaksa has indicated his willingness to retire from politics, we are told. more..

'The tea industry is not profitable'

Jan 19 (CT) The Joint Tea Small Holders Federation (JTSHF) represents the 450,000 tea small holders' families and the two to three million who account for 10% in the country whose livelihood is the tea industry. Chairman of the JTSHF and former JVP MP, Chandrasena Wijesinghe spoke about the issues faced by them. Q: What is the mandate of the JTSHF? A: The JTSHF was started with the intention of safeguarding the tea more..

The SLFP in the 21st century?

Jan 19 (CT) Does the ascension of Maithripala Sirisena to the leadership of the SLFP mark the definitive end of hereditary rule in Lankan politics? Will Maithripala Sirisena and Nimal Siripala de Silva succeed in doing what Mahinda Rajapaksa should have done – transform the SLFP from a semi-feudal entity into a modern democratic party? For more than half a century, the SLFP was headed by three members of one single family – the Bandaranaikes. When Mahinda Rajapaksa took over more..

Rajapaksa regime: Wake-up call to the nation

Jan 19 (CT) I know it is far too early to attempt an assessment of the Mahinda Rajapaksa regime that has just ended. We are too close to the remarkable event. On the other hand, a wake-up call about a serious danger must necessarily be as early as possible if it is to be useful. I was in Sri Lanka during elections and watched the process closely. Rupavahini and ITN, both national ventures of considerable influence, are paid by the taxpayer in order to perform a public duty. more..

'Villagers now call me President'

Jan 19 (CT) Apart from the two main contenders in the presidential election fray, there was another who grabbed the attention of the public, not for his political acumen, but for his close physical resemblance to one of the main contestants. The election campaign of R.A. Sirisena angered some and amused some others. Some also claimed that he was an actor brought in by one camp to hurt the campaign of the other. more..

Rajapaksa’s surprise

Jan 19 (JT) There were two striking developments after voters in Sri Lanka went to the polls on Jan. 8 to select their president. First, the incumbent, Mahinda Rajapaksa, lost. To the surprise of virtually every poll watcher, he was ousted by former Health Minister Maithripala Sirisena. Second, and perhaps even more surprising, Rajapaksa handed over power when the results become clear, rather than clinging to office, democracy be damned. The fights are not over, however. more..

Anti-corruption commission for Sri Lanka

Jan 19 (GV) There is renewed interest and concern among various quarters of Sri Lankan society about the need for a more effective system of preventing, investigating and curbing corrupt activities by govt officials, politicians and those who are close to them. There is also a wide spread view among people that the existing mechanisms for these purposes are not effective or sufficient. This article is to provide some ideas in this regard particularly in the light of the workings of New South Wales Independent more..

'I don't want to risk my life for astrology'

Jan 19 (CT) There were many who pledged bets during the campaign period of the recently concluded presidential election. Some in the government were so confident of the former President's victory that a former minister bet the ancestral home her father had built for her and a Provincial Minister bet a luxury vehicle. However, none would be regretting their bet more than astrologer Chandrasiri Bandara, who pledged more..

Lessons from the previous regime

Jan 19 (NS) Former President Rajapaksa’s defeat at the presidential election was not a surprise as the contest was always too close to call since the advent of President Maithripala Sirisena as the opposing candidate. Yet, it has left many asking the question ‘what went wrong?’ A simplistic explanation has been offered: Rajapaksa lost the election due to the vote against him in the North and East. The former President himself emerged from his Tangalle residence and told crowds that more..

Securing the freedom of expression in the new Sri Lanka

Jan 19 (GV) Chapter 11 of the common opposition candidate’s presidential election manifesto is devoted to media freedom. Among other things, it includes simple commitments such as lifting the bans on news websites run from abroad. Such infantile measures were typical of the tin-pot – and ultimately self-defeating – despotism that emanated from the erstwhile Ministry of Defence. The emphasis on media freedom in a separate chapter of the manifesto was quite rightly placed, more..

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