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Sunday February 17th, 2008

National interest first
President Mahinda Rajapaksa has submitted a cabinet memorandum to secure national interest in recommending tender awards.
The President had submitted this memorandum for approval on January 13. In his memorandum, President Rajapaksa had stated, “Having conducted a review of the implementation progress of several projects,...  (See Inside)

PB to replace Mervyn?
Parliament is likely to be prorogued on Friday, February 22.
Informed sources told The Nation that Parliament would take up several important financial bills on Wednesday and was likely to go in for a long recess afterwards. (See Inside)

US, Sri Lanka in diplomatic row
The United States and Sri Lankan Governments are on a diplomatic collision course over former UNP MP Ali Zaheer Moulana being posted to a high ranking diplomatic position at the Sri Lankan Embassy in... (See Inside)


             Seeking salvation?         

SLFP rebel leader Mangala Samaraweera appears to be seeking divine intervention for his future political survival, as his long trusted friend and sole colleague, Sripathi Sooriyaarachchi, made his final journey on Wednesday at Borella Kanatte
                                (Pic by Ishara S. Kodikara )



Mahinda promises ailing Anura a bag of goodies
President Mahinda Rajapaksa visited ailing former Minister Anura Bandaranaike on Saturday afternoon and spent nearly one-and-a-half hours at Bandaranaike’s bedside, chatting with him and going down memory lane. Rajapaksa offered Bandaranaike medical treatment at any destination of his choice and asked him to clear the rest with his sisters, Chandrika... (See Inside)

Minister backs ‘electrifying’ hike
The daily losses at the crisis-ridden Ceylon Electricity Board (CEB) has catapulted to a whopping nearly Rs. 100 million a day from an initial Rs. 45 million, The Nation learns.
The drastic increase comes following a Treasury decision to withdraw subsidies given... (See Inside)




Vasu, Liyanage trade charges over CMC crisis
Colombo Municipal Council (CMC) Opposition Leader Vasudeva Nanayakkara yesterday held Municipal Commissioner Jayantha Liyanage responsible for the unabated corruption prevalent at the CMC.
Speaking to The Nation, Nanayakkara alleged that the Commissioner was acting in an arbitrary manner, which had affected the people who were attempting to clean up the mess in the CMC.
“Even the council members have no say in the way in which the CMC is functioning at present,” he charged.
He further pointed out that the main reason for the present situation to arise was the inefficiency of the current Mayor, U. Mohamed Imitiyas. (See Inside)

JVP denies allegation of arms deal link with LTTE
The Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) yesterday denied the allegations levelled against the party, accusing it of having had an arms deal with the LTTE during the 1988-’89 period, across the Hambantota coastal area.
JVP Propaganda Secretary Wimal Weerawansa told The Nation that the accusation was cooked up by retired Major General Wasantha Perera in favour of the court case filed against Weerawansa.
“He is trying to influence the procedure of the court with such stories, which are in favour of him. Anyway, we do not believe that anyone will believe those tales as the JVP has contributed immensely to bring the LTTE... (See Inside)

Dilan to take PSC to court
Justice Minister Dilan Perera is contemplating legal action against the Public Services Commission (PSC) for preventing the recruitment of casual workers to the country’s prisons.
The Minister, who has been prevented from recruiting casual workers to help guard prisons, has requested the Prisons Commissioner to forward him the PSC’s objection to the recruitment of casual workers.
The Minister told The Nation that the letter from the Commissioner was essential to take legal action.
The Minister’s proposed legal action is a sequel to the PSC’s refusal to grant permission to recruit 1,000 officers to the Prisons Department immediately.
Accordingly,... (See Inside)

SLMC cries foul in Valaichchenai
The Sri Lanka Muslim Congress (SLMC) has alleged that the Valaichchenai Police is not taking any steps to maintain law and order in the area and is openly ignoring election violations committed by supporters of a government minister in the area.
SLMC Organiser, M.L.A.M. Hisbullah told The Nation that the Valaichchenai Police had refused to take action against the culprits who assaulted SLMC provincial council candidate Mohammad Naushad on February 11. The 25 culprits in question are alleged to be supporters of Disaster Relief Services Minister Amir Ali. (See Inside)

Moves to clamp down on ‘brand new’ vehicle racket
In an attempt to prevent sub standard vehicles being imported to the country, a new set of standards regarding brand new imported vehicles are to be introduced in the near future, Import Export Controller Neil Hapuhinna told The Nation.
The reason behind the introduction of the new standards, titled ‘Sri Lankan Standard,’ is to prevent sub standard vehicles being imported in the guise of brand new vehicles.
“We have found that in recent times some importers are importing vehicles that are nearly 20 years old, claiming that they are brand new. (See Inside)

Protest now or be damned, warn energy experts
Outright ignorance from the general public will lead to an outrageous electricity tariff hike in the coming months, energy experts have warned.
The warning comes subsequent to a notice published by the Ceylon Electricity Board (CEB) on February 2 on the proposed electricity tariff hike, running to anything between 30 to 80 percent.
The more than quarter page-sized newspaper notice gave a six paragraph excuse outlining why the board would be compelled to increase electricity tariffs in the coming weeks. (See Inside)




Eliminating LTTE: MR’s ticket to power
Last Saturday saw the death of Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) rebel Sripathi Sooriyarachchi under tragic circumstances in what may turn out to be a critical event in opposition politics in the foreseeable future.
Sooriyarachchi, no matter what the allegations levelled against him were, was a dynamic politician. He had the audacity to challenge the powers that be, when he could have taken the path of least resistance and nodded his assent to the establishment. For whatever reason, he chose not to do that.
In breaking away from the mainstream SLFP along with Mangala Samaraweera, Sooriyarachchi... (See Inside)

Opposition suffers another crash
The untimely demise of parliamentarian Sripathi Sooriyaarachchi created a void in the opposition ranks of the Sri Lankan political landscape, removing from our midst a vociferous campaigner.
No doubt, he was able to take on any powerful political figure with ease, given his disposition towards the complex political scene within the country.
Point man
Sooriyaarachchi was, essentially, a Chandrika Kumaratunga loyalist nurtured and groomed under her leadership, when she headed the SLFP and thereby, the UPFA.
During his stint in the UPFA, he was one of the main opponents of the UNP and its leader Ranil Wickremesinghe, never failing to shred the UNP policies to pieces, whenever he appeared on TV for talk shows. (See Inside)


The ICES crisis
Usually this column devotes itself to issues related to politics, political violence, terrorism, ethnic conflict, war, peace process, power sharing, etc. It departs from this practice this week to focus on an institution that has been in the news for the past few weeks – The International Centre for Ethnic Studies (ICES) in Colombo.
At the outset I wish to emphasise that I am both biased and unbiased on this subject. Having been associated with ICES in the past, I have nothing but appreciative regard and affectionate goodwill towards it.
I owe a lot to ICES and remain grateful and loyal. Therefore I am firmly biased in favour of ICES as an institution. I am very much concerned that ICES is currently enveloped in a tragic crisis.
However, I must assert that I am unbiased as far as the personalities involved in the ICES crisis... (See Inside)

Upali Wijewardena: Memories of the unforgettable tycoon
If Philip Upali Wijewardena was among the living he would have reached the biblical life span of three score and 10 today (February 17). Alas, this was not to be as he disappeared 25 years ago, just four days before his 45th birthday. This article is written as tribute to the man in this eventful week of significant anniversaries.
Legally, Wijewardena is presumed dead though his body was never found. He was travelling in his own Lear jet from Malaysia to Sri Lanka when the plane disappeared. The disappearance continues to linger in the collective memory of the nation as an unresolved mystery. There are people who ask me even now, “I say, what really happened to Upali? Don’t know, no?”
Indigenous... (See Inside)



Jayawardene calls for smarter cricket
Sri Lankan captain Mahela Jayawardene said his team needed to play smarter cricket at international level after this week’s 63-run loss to Australia.
Sri Lanka blew their chance to go top of the tri-series ladder here Friday when several batsmen threw their wickets away as they were dismissed for 173 in the 46th over, giving Australia a crucial win.
Classy left-hander Kumar Sangakkara anchored the Sri Lankan chase with 80 and was the last man to fall, but received no support and could do little but watch as poor shots cost wickets at the other end.
Jayawardene applauded his team’s aggressive play at the start at the innings, but said that overall shot selections needed to improve and smarter cricket needed to be played.
“We need to go hard, but the shot selection has to be a bit better,” he said after the loss.
“In world cricket a lot of guys do go hard up front, with the power plays and all that, but the guys have got to be a bit smarter.
“The way we lost wickets was not good. At crucial times, we keep losing wickets and you can’t do that in a run chase.”
Sri Lanka hammered India by eight wickets on Tuesday to revive their hopes in the series after earlier being thrashed by Australia by 128 runs.
But veteran opener Sanath Jayasuriya has shown only glimpses of form, with 46 runs at 15.33, while Jayawardene, Chamara... (See Inside)

Point Blank
Focus on Junior World Cup
With the future of school cricket’s traditional matches popularly known as ‘Big’ matches hanging in the balance for the current year following an Education Ministry decision, the focus on our schoolboys turns on the squad of 15 picked from 12 schools to represent the country in the seventh edition of the ICC under 19 World Cup which begins in Malaysia today.
The competition which started with only eight countries in 1988, has gained momentum by doubling the quantity from the second edition ten years later and has proved to be the launching pad for many international cricket stars such as Brian Lara, Inzamam-ul-Haq, Sanath Jayasuriya, Michael Atherton, Yuvraj Singh, Chris Cairns, Michael Clarke, Graeme Smith and many other household names.
Despite the decline in our school cricket standards, Sri Lanka has somehow continued to produce at least one cricketer who has gone on to make it to the national team, but that was until the 2002 World Cup. (See Inside)


Mirissa harbour submerged by ‘foreign invasion’...
Mirissa, a beautiful fishing hamlet in the South which was devastated by the 2004 tsunami has lately come under the scrutiny of several foreigners, for a number of reasons.
One reason could be the rapid rebuilding process that took place after the tsunami. Another could be that it was one of the few tsunami affected areas in Sri Lanka that bounced back to normal life and recovering its erstwhile glory within a short period of time.
Mirissa also continues to boast of having the second or third largest fish production in Sri Lanka.
However, this little village today is embroiled in a huge controversy over ‘foreign invasion’.
Villagers accuse especially a leading Belgian businessman who is also the Honorary Consul for Belgium in Sri Lanka of attempting to invade the Mirissa fishing harbour, a claim flatly denied by the Honorary Consul himself.
The 63 year old Honorary Consul for Belgium in Sri Lanka, Pierre Pringiers has been engaged in business in Sri Lanka for the past 27 years. But his latest move to enter the Mirissa fishing harbour and convert it into either a yacht club or even a leisure club has annoyed the fisher folks. And it is this that has led to a conflict between the Belgian and the Mirissa... (See Inside)




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