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Ambassador recalled after exposing abortion scandal in Oman

July 27 (ST) Sri Lanka’s ambassador in Oman has been recalled after he ordered a probe on the activities of Foreign Employment Bureau labour officers allegedly involved in getting Lankan housemaids to undergo abortions there. At the centre of the controversy, are labour officers, who, it is alleged, had asked a housemaid who sought refuge at the embassy to undergo abortion. The officers in question were in league with more..

‘President didn’t ask me to leave’ – Navin

July 27 (Island) Minister, Navin Dissanayake said that he was not shown the door by the President at a recent Cabinet meeting. Asked to comment on media reports that President Rajapaksa had asked him to quit the govt, Minister said these stories had emanated after an incident at the Cabinet meeting. "President was angry following a heated discussion over the actions of certain Cabinet Ministers", he recalled. more..

Poor turnout: Pro-LTTE demo in Glasgow

July 27 (Island) With "security concerns" keeping President Rajapaksa away from attending last week’s opening ceremony of the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, Scotland, the planned pro-LTTE demonstration opposite the Celtic stadium lost its steam. "The number of activists expected to turn up for the demonstration dwindled as news spread that the President would not be coming for the event", sources said. more..

Simply appalling!

July 27 (CT) Environmentalists have voiced their concerns over the deteriorating conditions at the National Zoological Gardens (NZG) in Dehiwala and its animals. With the recent transfer of some of the Veterinary Surgeons at the NZG, Environmentalists say the animals are badly neglected and are being kept in very poor living conditions. Sathva Mithra President, Sargarica Rajakarunanayake, said she is appalled at more..

Lankan polity ‘twixst devil and deep blue sea’

July 27 (Island) Observe that I refer to Lankan polity not only the regime though it is obviously the centre forward player and principal actor. My objective today is to separate the critical conflicts in Lankan polity in this period into two separate categories, they are linked but not the same. My objective is to organise thinking about Lanka’s state and society into as simple terms as possible though you may be a little surprised when I begin with a decidedly odd sounding concept. more..

For every 100 Kg detected...

July 27 (CT) The Customs last week confiscated close to 100 kg of heroin, with a street value of Rs 700 million, from its compound in Orugodawatte, making it the second largest haul detected so far, pushing to third place the 85 kg, with a street value of Rs 760 million, confiscated from Biyagama barely a month ago. A 260 kg consignment, known as the largest haul of heroin in South Asia was detected, also in Orugodawatte, several months ago. However, cause for concern is not the more..

Crisis-riddled Govt. goes into denial mode

July 27 (ST) UPFA Govt seems to be in a state of denial. Latest addition to that syndrome came from Minister G.L. Peiris. He was asked in Parliament by UNP Leader Ranil Wickremesinghe for his response to a reference in Sunday Times (Political Commentary) that Govt has allowed state owned China National Aero Technology Import-Export Corporation (CATIC) to set up an Aircraft Base Maintenance Centre in Trinco. more..

Diaspora can make submissions

July 27 (SL) The Sri Lankan Diaspora will be able to make submissions to the Presidential Commission of Inquiry on Missing Persons which has now been asked to investigate the war. Chairman of the Presidential Commission, Maxwell Paranagama told The Sunday Leader that the Commission on Missing Persons will publish a notice inviting the public to make submissions. “Even the Diaspora is allowed make submissions to the Commission and testify before the Commission,” he said. more..

Move to import 50,000 tonnes of rice

July 27 (ST) Cabinet approval has been sought to import 50,000 metric tonnes of rice to keep as buffer stock to overcome any shortfall occurring due to the severe drought. Anticipating rice shortages in the market due to crop failures in the Yala and Maha seasons this year, Ministry of Internal Trade had proposed the import of rice from India. Ministry planned to import the stocks to avert any artificial price hike or shortage caused by hoarding of stocks by unscrupulous market players. more..

Govt. busted millions in lobbying

July 27 (CT) Govt has gone after several US based lobbying firms squandering over USD 100 million in order to defend its status in the global arena, especially the US. It is said that the administration of President Rajapaksa currently pays four US lobbying firms to defend the country and four are under contract or active accounts in the US. Latest additions with the Foreign Agents Registration Act contracts in the US more..

Eastern Province women: Gold smugglers’ new accomplices

July 27 (NS) Customs officials believe smugglers have started a new trend of using women from the Eastern Province as ‘carriers’ for smuggling gold to India. The suspicion has arisen following the arrest of three women from the Eastern province within a span of 24 hours at the BIA as they were about to board flights to India, carrying concealed gold in their possession. Customs officials were able to recover gold weighing over two kilograms from the women. more..

Australia PM defends treatment of migrants held on boat

July 27 (AFP) Australian PM Tony Abbott said his govt's treatment of a boatload of 157 asylum-seekers who have been kept at sea for weeks would underline its resolve to stop people-smuggling. Abbott, who came to power in September promising to "stop the boats" bringing asylum-seekers from countries such as Iran and Afghanistan, said Canberra would not dodge its international and legal obligations. "What we do is always in accordance with our international obligations, more..

Solheim ready to testify

July 27 (SL) Former Norwegian peace envoy, Erik Solheim, says he is ready to testify before the Govt Commission of Inquiry tasked to investigate the war. Solheim said that he has nothing to hide and is willing to share whatever he knows with the Govt Commission. Earlier, Solhiem had offered to testify before the UN led investigation which has already commenced investigations into the war. Now that the domestic Commission more..

Laughing Heads of State

July 27 (CT) A special discussion was held last week between President Rajapaksa and Prime Minister of Portugal, Pedro Passos Coelho. This was the first time a Portuguese Head of State visited the island after the 1505 AD conquest of Ceylon by Portugal. Therefore, the President did not forget to recall this past. A smiling President asked if this was the first time a representative of Portuguese Govt visited Sri Lanka. A beaming PM of Portugal said that the earlier visit of the Portuguese was more..

There was only one Geoffrey Bawa — there could not be another

July 27 (Island) Architect Geoffrey Bawa’s memory and his greatness were over riding influences that provoked a representative gathering of mostly architects last week. They were to witness another within its confraternity to win handsomely, in an addition to the growing artistry of architecture that hopefully would level what Geoffrey Bawa left behind. At last week’s Geoffrey Bawa Awards for Excellence in Architecture, Pradeep Kodikara won the top accolade of Rs. 1 million for his more..

Tobacco tax a double deception

July 27 (NS) The Alcohol and Drug Information Center (ADIC) - backed study titled ‘Parliament should have a formula for regulating cigarettes’ conducted by Verité Research finds tax and price setting system for cigarettes in Sri Lanka is ad hoc and in the clutches of political and bureaucratic discretion. “The first such research published four years ago was completely ignored by the Treasury,” said ADIC Executive Director of Pubudu Sumanasekera. more..

H'tota island open for investments next year

July 27 (CT) A man-made island off Hambantota will be open for investment and lease next year and will be off limits to locals. This second man-made island of Sri Lanka, located in the government's focus area, the Southern Coast, is nearing completion and will be available for lease starting next year. According to a senior official this 50 acre island located in proximity to the Hambantota port would be a no entry zone for Sri Lankans unless authorized. SLPA Chairman, Dr. Priyath B. Wickrama, said that more..

Touchwood Kiwlegedera on the run

July 27 (ST) While courts are trying to track down former Touchwood Investments chief Lanka Kiwlegedera, the Liquidator is now seeking ways to prevent the reported felling of trees on lands owned by the company last week. Summons were issued on Mr. Kiwlegedera to appear before courts on July 31 as he had failed to submit the assets of the company as requested by the liquidator Sudath Kumar. It was learnt that Mr. Kiwlegedera has either fled the country or was seeking to do so and more..

New look Col 2: UDA to acquire private land

July 27 (ST) A redevelopment and mixed development project on eight acres of land in Kompannaveediya will enable the UDA to acquire private lands in underdeveloped or underserved areas of Colombo City, a gazette notification said. The project labelled as a pioneer concept for urban renewal is to be undertaken by a private company which will get tax concessions running into millions of rupees for project related work. more..

Maalu Maalu goes to Kalpitiya

July 27 (ST) A bigger version of the existing Maalu Maalu Pasikudah property would be established in Kalpitiya and marketed as a beach resort. The 4+star resort, named Maalu Maalu Kalpitiya, would be constructed at a cost of Rs.1.8 billion. It is to comprise 82 rooms with a state-of-the-art conference facility and located next to the kite surfing lagoon. Key interests in this area are dolphin and whale watching attractions for visitors with May to Oct planned as the kite surfing period. more..

Dheerasinghe’s conflict of interests at Commercial bank

July 27 (ST) Just as Dinesh Weerakkody steps down tomorrow as chairman of Commercial Bank, a well-managed institution, conflicts of interest of his natural successor, Dharma Dheerasinghe are surfacing once again, three years later. Dr. Dheerasinghe retired from the Central Bank in late 2011 as Deputy Governor and soon after was appointed to the Commercial Bank as a director, representing a state stake in the private bank. In Dec 2011 when Mr. Weerakkody took over more..

EPF pulls back on some benefits for private sector workers

July 27 (ST) The Employees Provident Fund (EPF) is to pull back some EPF benefits for private sector employees since the fund anticipates a negative cash flow due to increasing withdrawals by retirees. The 30% EPF loan facility, one of the benefits granted for private sector employees before they reach retirement age of 55 years for medical treatment or housing, has been pulled back due to cash flow fluctuations in the fund, more..

Malaysian star of Lanka origin dies in MH17

July 27 (E24|7) A Malaysian film star, who has roots in Sri Lanka, was on the ill-fated MH17 with her family. Subhashini Jeyratnam, 38, an actress, dancer and TV star was onboard the flight along with her only daughter and Dutch husband. Just two days before taking the flight she had celebrated her birthday in Amsterdam. They had gone to Amsterdam to visit her husband’s family and show their 21-month-old baby girl, Kyla Maya Jey. She was a resident of Kuala Lumpur. more..

Resolve Tamil issue for better trade: India

July 27 (PTI) India has told Sri Lanka that it needs to resolve the Tamil issue for making progress in bilateral trade and commerce, a senior BJP leader has said. "We have told them (Sri Lanka) that you should resolve the Tamil issue if you want trade and commerce between Colombo and New Delhi (to progress)," Seshadri Chari, National Convener of Foreign Policy Cell of the BJP, told PTI. He made the remarks after addressing a Singapore forum on "PM Modi's Govt: Imperatives & Challenges". more..

Herath takes South Africa on rough ride

July 27 (CI) Rangana Herath was in the Sri Lanka dressing room when his destiny two days into the future began to materialise. On the first morning of the Test, Vernon Philander bustled in from the SSC's South End and sent his first one down, full and wide for Upul Tharanga to leave alone. But it was not the delivery or the shot that would concern Herath. Half a second after the new ball left Philander's hand, the spikes on his more..

Chinese invade local cricket

July 27 (ST) For the first time a Chinese Company has come forward to sponsor the Mercantile Cricket Association’s Under-13 and Under-15 Inter-Academy Cricket Tournament for 2014. This was revealed at the presentation of the sponsorship package by Chinese Machinery Engineering Corporation to the Mercantile Cricket Association at a press briefing held at the MCA Pavilion. U-13 and U-15 tournament matches are scheduled to be played from August 9 to 24. more..

Domingo does not rule out SA win

July 27 (CI) They did it in Adelaide, when they batted out 124.3 overs in a match they were never trying to win. They did it again in Johannesburg, when they saw off 136 overs and surprised everyone by getting within eight runs of a huge target. Now South Africa are gearing up for Survivor 3: SSC. This time though, survival is not the only objective on the visitors' minds. Despite falling well behind in the game after conceding a first-innings deficit of 139 and using most of day three to more..

Views expressed on the SC verdict

July 27 (SL) Recently the Supreme Court (SC) issued a verdict that Muslim mothers could enter schools wearing their traditional dress but without covering their face and in a manner in which the wearer could be identified. This verdict of the SC on the Muslim dress, followed a petition filed by the mother of a student of President’s College, Rajagiriya, with the SC as she was prevented from entering the school in her chosen attire. more..

Lobby Correspondence in Sri Lanka - It’s been a long trek

July 27 (NS) Lobby correspondence is considered one of the mainstream beats of journalism in countries where parliamentary democracy prevails. The term lobby correspondent is originally British and BBC describes it as the name given to a member of small group of journalists who enjoyed privileged access to certain parts of parliament. Though reporting on legislature seemed to be a tradition that we inherited from British along with Westminster system of governance, more..

Question Time reveals colossal waste of public funds while masses struggle

July 27 (ST) Some interesting facts were revealed during Question Time in Parliament this week, but they also exposed the colossal amounts of public funds spent on maintaining a few individuals, as well as how projects on which billions of rupees are spent, do not reap any benefits for the country, while the masses struggle to get by. While more than half the people in the country did not receive the minimum income needed by a family of four, for its monthly subsistence, more..

‘There is definitely hope for Tamils’

July 27 (SL) According to the Chairman of the Missing Persons Commission Maxwell Paranagama, the Commission, under its new mandate, despite the doubts of some Tamil political parties, is quite confident of handling investigations effectively on both missing persons and allegations of civilians killed during the war. He said that the Commission is answerable only to the President but to no one else, and it is beyond their more..

Wimal on fiery mode again

July 27 (SL) Leader of the NFF, Minister Wimal Weerawansa fired two salvos at the govt this week, expressing his viewpoints on two major developments in the political front. The first issue was the appointment of international experts to assist the Sri Lankan Commission on Missing Persons which is already conducting its inquiries. In a strongly worded letter to the President, Minister Wimal Weerawansa expressed his displeasure over the appointment, saying more..

Sobitha Thera’s irrelevance

July 27 (Island) The meeting held to call for the abolition of the executive presidency at the New Town Hall last Thursday should be an eye opener for the entire opposition and especially the UNP. It was presided over by Maduluwawe Sobitha Thera and attended by virtually everybody who counts in the opposition. Ranil Wickremesinghe, R.Sampanthan, General Sarath Fonseka, former CJ Shirani Bandaranayake & Chandrika Kumaratunga was present and the hall was packed. more..

Chaos theory: connecting the dots

July 27 (Island) I found Mr. Upul Jayasuriya, incumbent head of the Bar Association of Sri Lanka, getting ready for the customary BASL meeting on the last Saturday of the month yesterday morning. Over breakfast I threw at him all I had – question-wise! Q: What is your take on the task and role of the Bar Association? A: The Bar Association, by its constitution has an objective that states that when there is a breakdown of the rule of law more..

Satellite on reverse orbit

July 27 (ST) My Dear Satellite, I thought of writing to you when I heard that you were among those who had attended a meeting calling for the abolition of the Executive Presidency — which was an essential component of JR’s ‘bahubootha vyavasthaawa’ as you used to call it those days. I didn’t know whether I should laugh or cry when I saw photographs of you seated alongside Uncle Ranil, Sampanthan seeya and the General at the meeting where the call to abolish the Executive Presidency was made, more..

Losing diplomatic war

July 27 (ST) In marked contrast to the hysterical screeching by Govt leaders that there shall be no domestic or international inquiry into the last days of the military campaign to defeat the LTTE in May of 2009, we are now faced with both. The silence by these same leaders to last week’s decision to hold a domestic inquiry is deafening in comparison. There has been no official statement by the Govt up to date on the Gazette that was issued on July 15 expanding the scope of the Commission on more..