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Sirisena appoints left-liberal Reginald Cooray as Northern Province governor

Feb 14 (ENS) In a progressive step welcomed by Tamil leaders, President Sirisena appointed Reginald Cooray, an acclaimed leftist liberal and a veteran SLFP politician, as Governor of Tamil-majority Northern Province. 1947-born Cooray succeeds former civil servant HMGS Palihakkara, who voluntarily demitted office last week on completion of his short term fixed by an agreement between him and Sirisena govt. more..

We agreed to disagree on some issues says UNP leader

Feb 14 (CG) Prime Minister and UNP leader Ranil Wickremesinghe today said that the UNP and the SLFP agreed to disagree on some issues. He said that both main political parties must work together to take the country forward. The Prime Minister said that while working together both parties must also look at strengthening the parties individually. The Prime Minister was speaking at an event held in Kandy today in remembrance of former President D.B. Wijetunga. more..

Danuna Tillakaratne sends letter of demand to justice minister

Feb 14 (AM) Danuna Tillekaratne, former son-in-law of Field Marshal Sarath Fonseka, sent a letter of demand to Justice Minister Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe, demanding Rs 25 million as damages for his reputation. In the letter of demand, Tillekeratne says that he has been wrongly accused by Rajapakshe in several TV programmes regarding Rs 88.7 million deposited in his accounts. Tillakaratne recalled that Rajapakshe had repeatedly made a claim that he had made a request from Rajapakshe to more..

What would happen if the gamarala loses his grip? asks Mahinda

Feb 14 (AD) The decision by several SLFP members to work together with the ruling UNP is unacceptable, says former President Mahinda Rajapaksa. The observation was made during a meeting organised by a group of SLFP local council members in Negombo on Sunday. Quoting the Sinhala folk tale of the gamarala going to the heaven, Rajapaksa said “they are trying to see the heaven by hanging on to the elephant’s tail. more..

'Foreign production companies and business tycoons wooed to invest in film industry'

Feb 14 (Island) Film Location Services has wooed business tycoons associated with Hollywood and also those from the Emirates to invest on a US$ 60 million film shot in SL. Chandran Rutnam, an internationally acclaimed film director who heads Film Location Services, as its Chairman, said that shooting on his latest film Solar Eclipse started last week and is expected to be completed within four months. The film will be screened internationally, he said. more..

Cases filed on 778 people during crackdown on dengue

Feb 14 (CG) Cases have been filed on 778 people during a crackdown launched by the Ministry of Health on the spread of dengue in the Western Province and seven identified districts. The Health Ministry said that during a three day program which ended yesterday officials were able to identify several mosquito breeding grounds. Accordingly notice was issued on 5656 people and cases were filed against 778 people for having mosquito breeding grounds in their property. more..

Lankan tycoon’s Lycamobile given 14 days to submit accounts

Feb 14 (ST) Lycamobile, a giant telecom company founded by a Sri Lankan businessman and investigated in Sri Lanka for business transactions with the former administration, has been given 14 days to submit its overdue accounts for 2015 or face the possibility of being struck off British company register. A spokesperson for Companies House, registrar of British companies and an executive agency of British govt, more..

Police investigate kidney racket on Health Ministry tip-off

Feb 14 (ST) The police this week said that they have started investigations into the kidney racket on a request by the Health Ministry. ASP Ruwan Gunasekera declined to comment in detail on the investigation but said the Colombo Crime Division (CCD) is visiting all hospitals where the kidney transplants have taken place as alleged in the Indian media reports. He also said the doctors allegedly involved in irregular activities in the transplantation process performed in those hospitals more..

Conflicts have arisen among different groups of resource users: Minister

Feb 14 (Island) Sri Lanka has always given priority to the fishing Industry and considered it as a key sector in the social and economic development of the country. In terms of providing, the much needed animal-based protein requirement of the country, and also in providing employment and income opportunities to the population, the contribution of the fisheries sector has been most valuable, Mahinda Amaraweera, Minister of Fisheries said last week. more..

Eight former LG heads to defy party instructions

Feb 14 (DM) The eight former local authorities’ heads, facing disciplinary inquiries by the SLFP, said they would defy the party’s instructions. Addressing a group press briefing, they were again critical of the present SLFP leadership. “Someone who acted with the UNP to defeat our candidate at the election is now calling for explanations from us. Explanations have to be called for those who acted with UNP, not from us,” more..

Unattended lands prime source of dengue breeding grounds, says PHI’s Union

Feb 14 (ST) Unattended lands – some of them purchased as investments with the owners living overseas – have also turned be one of the main mosquito breeding grounds contributing to the spread of dengue, the Public Health Inspectors’ Union) said. PHI’s Union President Upul Rohana said the PHIs were facing difficulties taking action against owners of unattended lands due to difficulties in tracing their owners. He explained that when a property with over grown grass and more..

Venezuelan arrested after swallowing cocaine at airport

Feb 14 (CG) A Venezuelan national was arrested at the Katunayake airport and has been admitted to hospital after she swallowed cocaine. The Venezuelan, a 62 year old female, was arrested by the staff of the Customs Narcotics Unit after she arrived from Brazil via Dubai. She is suspected to have swallowed 87 pellets of cocaine weighing more than 500g, the customs department said. Customs officers produced the foreigner before the Negombo Magistrate who remanded her for 14 days. more..

Sampur to get green light

Feb 14 (SO) Central Environment Authority (CEA) after a lapse of over a year has finally granted approval under stringent conditions to implement the Trincomalee (Sampur) Thermal Power Plant project. Prof. Lal Dharmasiri, CEA Chairman said that approval for Environment Impact Assessment report, submitted in January was granted conditional approval. Authoritative source, however, said CEA was compelled to more..

Over 100 stranded SL Kuwaiti workers return

Feb 14 (SO) The govt brought down over 100 workers who were stranded in Kuwait yesterday morning, Media Secretary to Foreign Employment Minister Thalatha Athukorale said. The group reached Sri Lanka in two SriLankan Airlines flights, UL230 and FZ551. Many of them were from Anuradhapura, Polonnaruwa, Kurunegala, Galle, Trincomalee, Batticaloa and Kandy. "Ministry provided the transport cost for 54 of them, as they did not have money to go back home," more..

PM gets tough with CEB officials

Feb 14 (SL) PM Ranil Wickremesinghe has warned officials of the CEB that he will be forced to take measures on his own to implement proposals related to the power sector if they fail to do the needful. PM said that renewable and non conventional energy sources are the way forward for the betterment of the energy sector and the country and not more coal power plants. Speaking at a Cabinet Sub Committee in Parliament, after analyzing the Power and Renewable Energy more..

Passport left in toilet: Dark moon for SL MPs

Feb 14 (ST) A group of Sri Lankan MPs missed the opening day of an Inter-faith conference in South Korea after one MP left her passport in the Seoul International airport toilet and the delegation was not allowed entry into the country. The group of 17 MPs had arrived in Seoul to attend the International Conference of Parliamentarians for Peace, an event sponsored by the Universal Peace Federation run by the widow of the late Rev. Sun Moon. more..

Sri Lanka fetes independence, interdependence with Korea

Feb 14 (KH) Sri Lankan Embassy held a National Day reception in early February to celebrate the 68th anniversary of independence from Britain and the development of ties with Korea. While Sri Lanka has made significant progress as a democracy, the country also had to face “formidable challenges, including a conflict that ravaged the nation for three decades,” said SL Ambassador to Korea Manisha Gunasekera in a speech. Located in the Indian Ocean, the lush, tropical island more..

President to be given report on North land issue

Feb 14 (SL) President Maithripala Sirisena is expected to be given a report this week on the civilian land and property being occupied by the military. State Minister M.L.A.M. Hizbulla said that steps are being taken to resettle the remaining war affected families soon. He said that once President studies the report on the land occupied by the military in the North, final decision on the resettlement will be taken. President is expected to take final decision by the end of this month. more..

Tsunami early warning system in the ocean not functional in Sri Lanka

Feb 14 (Island) The govt is actively involved in reducing risks and dangers stemming from natural disasters, says Deputy Minister Dunesh Gankanda. He said that equating disasters to risk reduction is an active area for managing such risks effectively. "However, do not conclude that we, as a government, could stop such disasters. Our mission is to reduce the severity of its intensity and address aftermath of human suffering". more..

MP’s Coordinating Sec. accidently shoots himself

Feb 14 (DM) Coordinating secretary to MP Weerakumara Dissanayeke has been hospitalized after he accidentally shot himself in Anuradhapura last night. The weapon belonging to one of Dissanayakes’s security personnel accidently fired when the 49-year-old secretary, B.M. Amarasinghe, attempted to examine the weapon at the parliamentarian’s office. The victim was admitted to the Anuradhapura hospital with two gunshot wounds to his arm and leg. more..

Citizens propose executive power sharing by Cabinet, not concentrated in PM

Feb 14 (EN) SL’s powerful presidency should be scrapped but executive power should not be concentrated in the PM and instead shared among Cabinet ministers, according to a report by Citizens Initiative for Constitutional Change. New govt, formed after presidential and parliamentary polls that ousted Rajapaksa regime last year, has called for public views and recommendations for the new Constitution with abolishing the executive presidency a key, & long-standing proposal. more..

SriLankan to ink deals with Qatar, Maldives

Feb 14 (SL) SriLankan Airlines, in an ambitious plan to resuscitate the cash-strapped airline and turnaround country’s flagship carrier, is likely to strike two breakthrough deals with Qatar Airways and the Maldives Govt in the near future. Sources close to the negotiations said that Qatar Airways management was very positive towards the deal. In addition, Maldives govt, which lacks a national carrier and due to its limitations of space and more..

Probe sought on song by Iraj

Feb 14 (SL) An investigation has been sought on a song produced by singer Iraj Weeraratne, the CID said. CID sources said that a court order was sought last week to have the police investigate the song. Colombo Fort Magistrate had ordered the police to investigate the song Manusatha following a concern raised when a case was filed by the CID on a Muslim group was heard. Muslim group had been accused of defaming Buddhism. However when the case was heard the Muslim group alleged more..

Media ministry alert over attempt by CSN

Feb 14 (SL) Media Ministry is alert over attempts by the Carlton Sports Network (CSN) to change hands and appoint a new management. The attempt follows the recent controversy over alleged money laundering involving its current top management who are now behind bars. Deputy Media Minister Karunaratne Paranavitana said that CSN may attempt to install a new management in order to redirect the negative publicity it is receiving and cushion its financial losses. more..

RTI shelved to protect govt

Feb 14 (CT) Right To Information bill (RTI), one of the key promises of Yahapalanaya regime prior to consecutive elections, has been shelved due pressure from officials and Ministers who insist that they should safe guard the govt, high ranking govt sources confirmed. RIT which was drafted and had been presented to the cabinet has not been presented, due to the need to water down the contents, significantly impacting essence more..

Constitutional divides

Feb 14 (Island) You would think that for a country that has embarked upon a historic process to create a new constitution, society and polity would be greatly animated with discussions around ideas, opinions, fears, aspirations, hopes and challenges related to what should and should not be considered or included in the final text. And yet, to date, public interest in and input into the process hasn’t taken off. Many, surprisingly even in Govt, haven’t even heard of Public Representations Committee more..

Sinha Le, Anyone?

Feb 14 (Island) It beats the Grimm’s Tales and the Arabian Nights hollow, that story of a princess who runs away from her home and mates with a lion. Not a lion-like man, not a member of a tribe named after the king of beasts, but an actual man-eating lion. Great Chronicle (Mahavamsa) takes considerable pains to make the point. The princess, described by Bhikku Mahanama as fair and amorous, gives birth to twins. Sihabahu is so named because his hands and feet are formed like a lion’s. more..

Vehemently against Bhikku Kathikawath Bill

Feb 14 (CT) Committee member of the Asgriya Chapter of the Siyam Nikaya Ven. Dr. Medagama Dhammananda Thera said that his Chapter stands against the proposed Bhikku Kathikawath Bill. Up to 60 members of the Committee of the Asgiriya Chapter met Friday, 12 February in the temple premises and decided to officially oppose the Bhikku Kathikawath Bill. The Asgiriya Chapter also decided that they could not agree to more..

'Saved Mahinda Rajapaksa from war crimes court'

Feb 14 (PTI) President Maithripala Sirisena on Saturday claimed that his victory in the elections saved his predecessor Mahinda Rajapaksa from being hauled before an international war crimes court. “He (Mr Rajapaksa) was publicly lamenting that he was to be taken before a war crimes court and executed on an electric chair. The people who voted me against him have prevented that,” Mr Sirisena said, more..

Disclose source, if you receive more than Rs. 200,000

Feb 14 (ST) The Central Bank has tightened regulations to monitor inward remittances exceeding Rs. 200,000 – with Sri Lankans being required to provide to their receiving banks the source of their funds. This comes in terms of new Customer Due Diligence (CDD) Rules gazetted by the Financial Intelligence Unit of the Central Bank. The move runs counter to a claim by Finance Minister Ravi Karunanyaka in Oct last year more..

'War Crimes Probe: Sri Lankan govt looking at various options'

Feb 14 (Island) The Sri Lankan govt was looking at various options within the limits of what they have defined as their preference in the manner in which war crimes accusations against the previous Rajapaksa regime and the LTTE should be investigated. The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein revealed in Colombo last week that with regard to the call by his office for a Hybrid Court to inquire into more..

The confusing drama behind AG’s appointment

Feb 14 (ST) President Maithripala Sirisena recommended and Constitutional Council (CC) approved on Wednesday the appointment of Jayantha Jayasuriya as the Attorney General (AG). He succeeds Yuvanjan Wijeyatilake who retired in December last year. Suhada Gamlath, Solicitor General who also served a stint as Secretary to the Ministry of Justice, was acting thereafter. Naming a new AG saw the CC sharply divided. more..

Sri Lanka tax policy that promotes hard alcohol use is shocking: beer maker

Feb 14 (EN) Sri Lanka's largest beer maker who has seen sales fall as taxes on soft alcohol were raised in quick succession late last year says the current tax policy which is making hard alcohol more attractive to consumers is shocking. The firm said in October tax on mild beer (lower alcohol content) was raised by 27% and strong beer by 32%. In November taxes on strong beer was raised by another 29%. more..

Govt faces critical phase: Good and bad news from Zeid’s visit

Feb 14 (ST) There was both good and bad news for the Govt during the four-day visit to Sri Lanka by the UN Human Rights High Commissioner Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein. The good news was Zeid’s demonstrated willingness to address what the Govt of Sri Lanka believes are contentious issues. Main among them is the participation of Commonwealth and foreign judges, prosecutors and investigators in more..

Noel’s body still in mortuary

Feb 14 (CT) The body of Noel Ranaweera (34) exhumed 2 April 2015, remains in a vault of the Ragama mortuary unattended with many claiming this underscores the culture of human rights violations besetting the country. Noel met his fate when a truck ran over him in Moscow, Russia, on 11 June 2014. The family alleged that his death was the result of a pre-planned murder. more..

'ETCA will not impact local fishing industry'

Feb 14 (SO) The proposed Economic and Technical Cooperation Agreement (ETCA) will not impact the local fishing industry, Minister Mahinda Amaraweera said. “However, we are vigilant to see that there are no loopholes in the agreement which might affect the fishery industry. Govt is keen to have talks with its Indian counterparts to seek a permanent solution to the fishing issue. He said with the recent visit of External Affairs Minister more..