|Quick action by forces saves the day
A filling station and its stores in the Kamburupitiya town and
another 15 shops were destroyed following a sudden fire that
engulfed the area yesterday afternoon around 12:45 p.m.
According to Minister Lakshaman Yapa Abeywardena, the fire
caused severe damage to eight shops in Kamburupitiya, situated a
few kilometres from the Matara town.
“We were able to completely extinguish the fire within two hours
with the help of the Fire Brigade, Air Force, Army and Navy. No
civilians were injured in the fire and no damage was caused to
any vehicles. Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa took quick
measures to order the three forces to extinguish the fire before
it spread,” the Minister added.
Despite the allegation that the damage could have been minimised
if the Fire Brigade reached Matara from Galle on time, Minister
Abeywardena explained that the Fire Brigade reached the scene in
a reasonable amount of time given the distance it...
Over 90% eateries in Colombo prepare
In a shocking discovery by the Health Department of
the Colombo Municipal Council (CMC), only a mere 80 out of a
staggering 1,000-odd eating houses prepare food that is
acceptable by health and hygienic standards.
The discovery was made following a newly launched grading
programme by the department.
Chief Medical Health Officer Dr. Pradeep Kariyawasam told The
Nation that the eating houses in the city of Colombo,
ranging from ordinary food kiosks to star rated hotels,
were inspected and graded by the...
Galle Face goes ‘nuts’
The Galle Face Green, which is in the process of being given
a facelift, is to receive 47 high-breed coconut plants.
A function to mark the tree planting ceremony will take place at
the Galle Face Green next Saturday.
Coconut Cultivation Board Chairman Dr. Jayantha Gunatilleke told
The Nation that the main intention of planting coconut trees is
to improve knowledge about cultivating a coconut trees among
“It was President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s idea,” he said.
Sri Lanka Navy celebrates 58th
The Sri Lanka Navy will commemorate its 58th
anniversary today. The event will be marked with several
religious ceremonies to invoke blessings on deceased Naval
personnel, those wounded during the ongoing conflict, and the
rank and file currently serving.
The Ceylon Navy was established on December 9, 1949 with the
passing of the Navy Act. The event also coincided with the
commissioning of HMS Flying Fish as Her Majesty’s Ceylon Ship
Vijaya, which remained the Navy’s sole vessel for many years.
The Navy has come a long way from its humble beginnings to
become a formidable first line of defence for the country.
Since 1983, the Navy faced many a challenge from the LTTE’s Sea
Tiger Wing, with many Navel vessels being destroyed in attacks.
The Navy has seen several successes in the past year, with it
being able to destroy many LTTE cargo ships.
SC calls for explanation from Gota, IGP
The Supreme Court has ordered the Defence Secretary,
IGP and three service commanders to explain the reasons for the
arrest and detention of four Tamil civilians.
The Bench comprising Chief Justice Sarath N. Silva and Justices
Gamini Amaratunga and Jagath Balapatabendi made this order
sequel to a Fundamental Rights Application filed by the Ceylon
Workers’ Congress (CWC). The court gave respondents time until
December 14 to submit their explanations and also ordered them
to produce a list of persons who are still being detained.
The Centre for Policy Alternatives (CPA) also filed a similar
application on behalf of those arrested by Maradana, Pettah,
Grandpass, Kotahena, Dehiwala, Pelawatta, Mirihana and Mount
Lavinia Police Stations.
No change in Budget position – JVP
The Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) yesterday claimed
that there has been no change in its decision to vote against
the Budget at its third reading, scheduled for December 14.
JVP MP Anura Kumara Dissanayaka told The Nation yesterday that
his party has not seen any positive developments from the
government for the JVP to reconsider its decision.
“It is not a new and improved Budget. It is still the same
thing. So we will definitely vote against it. There is no need
to reconsider our decision as nothing political has changed in
favour of the government.”
Meanwhile, CWC Vice President, Parliamentarian R. Yogarajan told
The Nation yesterday that his party also intends to retain its
decision to vote in favour...
|Move over Prabha. Take a bow Murali
The incidental fact that champion spinner and new world record holder
Muttiah Muralitharan is a Tamil, is not the only thing in common he has
with the leader of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE). If
Prabhakaran evokes emotions of hatred with some intensity, Murali has
succeeded in inducing sentiments of unity and national pride with the
The off-spinner’s road to stardom was littered with trials and
tribulations. At first, his bowling action was queried, and thereafter
he was called for chucking by umpires during a tour to Australia. It
took a lot of courage and determination from Muralitharan, and a lot of
legal work and lobbying from the Sri Lankan cricket authorities to
overcome these hiccups.
Last week, all these efforts came into fruition with Muralitharan
creating cricketing history, eclipsing Australian leg spinner Shane
Warne’s short lived record for the most number of test wickets. And
through it all, while Muralitharan smiled his trademark infectious grin,
the whole of Sri Lanka rallied around him. And that is where the
reference to Prabhakaran becomes relevant.
Govt. fast-tracks to appease JVP
ahead of crucial Budget vote
Lanka is heading for yet another week of political turmoil, with
the government and the opposition braving for the third reading
of the Budget scheduled for Friday, December 14.
At this juncture, the point to ponder is how some of the
political parties manoeuvered to vote for the Defence Budget
The JVP, which opposed the second reading of the third Budget of
the Rajapaksa administration, however, voted with the government
in this instance, drawing the attention of the entire country.
The more plausible reason for this is that the JVP is more or
less obsessed with the security situation in the country and are
seasoned campaigners against the terror tactics of the LTTE
against the state. If the JVP decided otherwise, it would have
had a negative impact on them, politically, hence, the “aye.”
However, it may not have a bearing on the third reading of the
Budget, and the JVP is very likely to revert to its earlier
stance and vote against the government, as they did during the
second reading on November 19.
Rhetoric and reality – Part I
Robert Browning’s My Last Duchess was a poem I read decades
ago as a schoolboy. In the self-righteous narrative about his
wife’s beautiful portrait, the Duke recites a litany of woes
against her. Complaining loudly, he paints himself as the
aggrieved party and places his dead wife in the dock.
At one point we realise that he had ordered her execution.
Though the Duke tries to justify his action, it is he who stands
condemned as the guilty one in the eyes of the reader.
The memory of My Last Duchess came back to me after I saw on TV,
heard on radio and read in print the Great Heroes Day (GHD)
address by Velupillai Prabakharan this year.
The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) Leader, in his
speech, was sharply critical of the Sinhala nation, state,
political parties, India, the international community, etc., for
the present predicament of the Sri Lankan Tamil people. The only
unsullied entity in all this – according to Prabhakaran – is the
In this ‘us against the world’ kind of speech delivered in ‘a
holier than thou’ style, Prabhakaran depicted the Tamil people
as suffering underdogs. In that, he was spot on. But Prabhakaran
was dead wrong ...
Last week’s Supreme Court judgment on checkpoints
came as an eye-opener in the backdrop of the escalating war and
heightened threat to the lives of civilians, especially in the
city of Colombo.
While the landmark judgment, which was delivered on Monday – in
the aftermath of two terrorist attacks in the city – was hailed
by some as a step that would put a halt to the harassment the
public was subject to at police checkpoints and elsewhere on the
road, others expressed fears that it would compromise national
The judgment was delivered following a fundamental rights
petition filed by W.I.S. Rodrigo from Panadura. It stated that
if security measures are to be taken to safeguard any person who
is specially threatened,...
England to come back hard
Sri Lanka has the rare honour of going into a Test match with the world’s best
batsman and best bowler in their ranks as they take on England in the second
cricket Test at the SSC grounds today.
With Kumar Sangakkara going to the top of the ICC Test batting rankings to join
Muttiah Muralitharan who is similarly placed in the Test bowling rankings, Sri
Lanka has everything going before them to seal the three-Test series at Sri
Lanka Cricket’s headquarters over the next five days.
Skipper Mahela Jayawardene said: “It’s to do with the brand of cricket that we
play. We are not afraid to express ourselves out there whether it is in a Test
or ODI. We just go out there and enjoy ourselves and play the brand of cricket
we are quite used to playing. That has helped us to be the best that we can be.”
The waiting is over
the waiting is over. Muttiah Muralitharan known to the cricket world, amongst
many other references as the ‘Smiling Assassin’ has conquered cricket’s highest
peak for a Test bowler by becoming the leading wicket-taker surpassing legendary
Australian leg-spinner Shane Warne’s tally of 708 wickets from 145 Tests. To
what further heights Murali will scale only time will tell. Warne in
congratulating Murali predicts that he would finish with 1000 Test wickets. But
Murali who has also been predicting that figure in the not too recent past has
somewhat slightly changed his stance after his record breaking effort.
“I also think that sometimes I can get 1000 Test wickets but it’s very hard. I
am 35 and bowling a lot of overs for my country and playing a lot of cricket
around the year. I want to play both forms of the game
till I retire because we only play about 7-8 Test
matches a year. If you don’t continue to play you will
lose interest. I thought I will take it season by
season. You also have to enjoy the game and your body
should also be fit...
UNHR office not welcome: Mahinda
The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (UNHCHR)
Louise Arbour and Human Rights Minister Mahinda Samarasinghe are
at loggerheads. While Arbour insists that the government should
allocate space for a UN office to monitor human rights (HR)
violations in Sri Lanka, the latter is adamant – not to allow
Arbour dictate terms to Sri Lanka. Besides, both of them are
also contradicting each other. While Arbour says she made a
public request regarding her proposal, during her brief stay in
Sri Lanka, the Minister totally denies it. Samarasinghe who does
not mince words, says in no uncertain terms that Sri Lanka will
never let outsiders dictate terms. “We are a sovereign nation.
We are not a nation that has just been freed from a superpower,
nor just discovered democracy. Our consolidated position is that
there is no room for a UNHCHR monitoring office in Sri Lanka,”
the Minister told The Nation in an interview.
Following are excerpts:
Q: The government, in general, and you, in particular, have
come under flak over growing HR violations. How do you view
A: Of course, there is a lot being said about the general HR
climate. But there is a problem of terrorism. And given the
LTTE’s stated objective of dividing the country, the government
and its agencies have had to take whatever steps required to
Sri Lanka on the path to financial
UNP MP for the Kurunegala district Dayasiri Jayasekara has
been one of the most vocal PAC committee members. In an
interview with The Nation he talks about the controversial
findings of the report, parliamentary rights and why he believes
that the PAC report will make an impact albeit the failure of
the COPE report
Q: The Public Accounts Committee (PAC) has recommended firing
A.A.Wijepala, Commissioner General, Inland Revenue. What are the
reasons behind that recommendation?
A: The Auditor General’s report on the income tax department
caught the attention of the PAC early, because we saw a lot of
irregulaties in the payments of GST and VAT. We discovered that
between 2002 and 2005 there had been around Rs 3.8 billion
fraudulent VAT refunds. Out of this Rs 3.89 billion fraud, Rs
3.03 billion worth of transactions occurred when A. A Wijepala
was the commissioner of the VAT division. Before his time as the
commissioner, several officers were handling the VAT refunds ...