The government-owned budget airline Mihin Lanka is in debt
over its head to the tune of billions of rupees, prompting its
controversial CEO Sajin Vaas Gunawardene...
Rice crisis deepens
Consumer Affairs Minister Bandula Gunawardena threatened to use
the military to force open rice shops yesterday if the owners...
Kitulgoda showdown to
The showdown between the opposition parties and the government
over the appointment of Dhammika Kitulgoda as the Secretary
General of Parliament is showing...
Shutters down on consumers
Consumers who rushed to the
government mooted Budget Mart in hope of purchasing rice after
other privately owned retail and wholesale shops downed shutters
in protest of the new price control mechanism were angered by
what met their eyes, closed shops!
(Pic by Nissanka Wijeratne)
‘White van’ victims at
Several Tamils who were abducted in Colombo and suburbs by
unidentified gangs that came in white vans during the last...
Weerawansa gets security
Controversy rigged former
Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) strongman Wimal Weerawansa, who
is now residing in an undisclosed location, has been given a
security boost by the government.
|Mahinda promises a
helicopter for Ranil
Rajapaksa has assured his political arch-rival, Ranil
Wickremesinghe that he will look into a request made by the
United National Party (UNP) to make available a helicopter for
Wickremesinghe’s election campaign in the Eastern Province.
The assurance was given when Wickremesinghe met Rajapaksa at a
weeding. Wickremesinghe had lamented the Defence Ministry’s
refusal to provide him with a helicopter for a four-day election
campaign, to be carried out in view of the May 10 Eastern
Province Provincial Council Elections.
The President had told Wickremesinghe to send a letter addressed
to him and that he would personally look into the matter.
A letter was then sent to the President by UNP Chairman Rukman
Senanayake requesting a Mi-17 helicopter.
Senanayake, in his letter has pointed out that it was
unsafe for the Leader of the Opposition to travel to the
areas in the Eastern...
4500 eligible Grade V scholars not admitted to leading
The Education Ministry has failed to admit some 4500 eligible
Grade Five scholarship students to leading Colombo schools last
year, an audit report has revealed.
“The audit inquiry held with regard to admission of scholars to
Grade Six in 2007, following the results of the Grade Five
scholarship examination held in 2006, reveals that the Schools
Unit of the Education Ministry had not been just and proper in
admitting scholars to the schools,” the audit report issued late
last year stated.
The query states that students who had not gained the minimum
marks required for admission, and even failed to sit for the
scholarship examination were admitted, instead.
“Instances were noted that the principals of popular schools
were instructed to admit children without presenting their
documents on scholarship results,” the query noted.
Highly trained security
personnel for VIPs
The Defence Ministry’s research division has recommended the
use of extensively trained security personnel for the protection
of the country’s VIPs.
The recommendation comes amidst reports that the government was
looking at getting assistance from India’s Gurkhas or Black Cat
commandos to provide protection for VIPs in Sri Lanka.
However according to a spokesman attached to the Indian High
Commission in Colombo, no official request has so far been made
by the Sri Lankan government via the mission in Colombo, but it
was possible that a direct government to government request may
have been made.
Meanwhile, the government’s defence spokesman minister Keheliya
Rambukwella told The Nation that the Defence Ministry’s research
unit was studying various aspects on how to upgrade...
No fresh invitation to India -
Despite the recent hype generated over a bigger Indian role
being played in Sri Lanka’s almost faltered peace process, the
government will not extend a formal invitation to India urging
it to play a more pivotal role in the island’s stagnant peace
The Sri Lankan government’s Defence spokesman Minister Keheliya
Rambukwella told The Nation that India already was playing a
‘substantial role’ and there was no necessity to extend a fresh
Norway’s special peace envoy, Jan Hansson Bauer last week urged
India to play a more crucial role in the island’s conflict, by
mediating between the government and the LTTE in an attempt to
put an end to the more than two decades long...
Take Bhagwati to courts – JHU
The Jathika Hela Urumaya (JHU) yesterday demanded President
Mahinda Rajapaksa to immediately take legal action against the
Chairman of the International Independent Group of Eminent
Persons (IIGEP) Justice P.N. Bhagwati, on grounds that he
neglected to carry out his duties properly.
JHU spokesman Nishantha Sri Warnasingha, told The Nation that
Justice Bhagwati, former Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of
India failed in his duties by not issuing a vital report on
human rights to the President and the Attorney General’s (AG)
“It was President Mahinda Rajapaksa who invited justice Bhagwati
to come and investigate into the of human rights
situation in Sri Lanka. But he neglected his
responsibilities and cold shouldered the Human Rights
Commission in Sri Lanka.
Potta Naufer attack under full probe
The Borella Police and the Prison Department are conducting
separate investigations in connection with the attack on
underworld leader Mohammed Naufer alias Potta Naufer at the
Welikada prison on Friday.
Potta Naufer is serving a death sentence after he was found
guilty in the Justice Sarath Ambepitiya assassination.
OIC (Crime), Borella, IP Gamini Hewawitharana, told The Nation
that they had recorded statements from three suspects connected
with the attack and the statements will be reported to courts on
The underworld leader continues to receive treatment to his
injuries at the National Hospital, Colombo caused by sharp pins.
Battle of a different
Amidst all the festivities for the Sinhala and Tamil New Year, and in
the throes of an election campaign in the East, the government had a
battle of a different kind on its collective hands these past few
weeks-that of the rising cost of living that has been taking the gloss
off its popularity in recent months.
The latest ad hoc measure resorted to by the government, was to impose
price control on rice- a step reminiscent of the Sirima Bandaranaike
regime in the seventies when the country was in dire straits
Significantly, this was announced only after the New Year, when most
households would have purchased their stocks of rice, at least for the
festive season. Most probably, the powers that be anticipated problems
as a result of this measure-and sure enough, more complications arose
soon after price control was announced.
Some traders put up shutters while others displayed blithe disregard for
the regulations and continued to sell rice at higher prices.
Pitch battle for Chief
focus is once again on the East. After the liberation of the
East from the clutches of the LTTE, this is the first time that
both the government and the opposition have shown a keen
interest in the province.
It is after a long pause that the Eastern Province is gearing
itself to elect a body to manage its own affairs under a Chief
Minister from the province.
Definitely the people will hear many stories, some times fairy
tales from both the government and the opposition UNP, as a
prelude to the crucial election.
It is crucial for the government since the Security Forces
cleared the East from the LTTE under the political leadership of
President Mahinda Rajapaksa, and several massive development
projects had been launched since then, including the “Nagenahira
Udanaya” which is known as the Sunrise Region Development. A
rejection of the UPFA by the people at this election means that
the government efforts are in vain. It would also
paint a negative picture in the eyes of the
To clean up the HR closet
It was only last Tuesday, April 15, a panel of top legal
luminaries requested Sri Lanka’s government to clean up its
human rights record.
The International Independent Group of Eminent Persons (IIGEP),
comprising experts from several countries in the European Union
and the United Nations, said the government did not appear
interested in taking action.
This advice from the IIGEP came shortly after a thundering
warning issued to the UPFA government by the European Union’s
GSP plus regime, saying that if the human rights situation was
not improved, Sri Lanka might lose the chance of gaining the GSP
Virtually shaken by the warning from the EU, the Rajapaksa
government immediately sprang into action.
It was only two weeks ago the cabinet dwelled into the
intricacies of the Generalised System of Preferences (GSP+)
BOI Chairman calls the bluff
The first case filed in the Supreme Court this year was
Fundamental Rights Application No. 1/2008 by Vasudeva
Nanayakkara, who had filed an earlier case praying for the
cancellation and annulment of the dubious privatisation of Lanka
Marine Services to John Keells. The Nation understands from
legal circles that this case was concluded and judgment reserved
by Chief Justice, Sarath N. Silva, with parties permitted to
file written submissions by May 9, 2008. According to the same
legal sources the disclosures made in the Supreme Court, to say
the least, have been quite shocking, and the officials of the
Attorney General’s Department have been at sea, trying to defend
a hopeless cause.
Vasudeva filed his case in the public interest, given the
judicial activism of the Chief Justice, Sarath N. Silva and the
Supreme Court intervening to protect public interest and public
property. One of the Supreme Court Judges had recently reminded
the public of what Arahath Maninda had preached to King
Devanampiyatissa – ‘You are only the custodian and trustee of
the property of the kingdom, which belong to the people’. Legal
circles are of the view that the Attorney...
|McCullum fireworks mark IPL’s
Indian Premier League, with its potential to transform world
cricket, began on Friday with a spectacular floodlit match in
Bangalore. The sell-out crowd of 55,000 was treated to a
remarkable innings from New Zealand’s Brendon McCullum.
Playing for the Kolkata Knight Riders he hit 158 not out off 73
balls (10 fours, 13 sixes), the highest ever individual Twenty20
score, as his side romped to a 140-run win.
Kolkata Knight Riders sent into bat rattled off 222-3 off 20
overs and bowled out Bangalore Royal Challengers for a mere 82
off 15.1 overs.
The cricket was preceded by a lavish opening ceremony at the
Acrobats, singers and cheerleaders from the Washington Redskins
performed to a backdrop of some impressive fireworks.
But the home team, the Bangalore Royal Challengers, was soundly
beaten, and there was one other sour note. A row about the
restrictions placed on international news agencies Reuters, AP
and AFP led to all three boycotting coverage. It meant websites
and newspapers were unable to show photos from either
the match or the opening...
Why blame the captain?
Is there a hidden hand behind a campaign to oust
Mahela Jayawardene as captain of the Sri Lanka one-day side?
News items appearing in certain sections of the press point to
an organised campaign to remove him from the pedestal. Not so
long ago it was the very same critics who hailed him as the best
captain, but since of late they seem to have adopted a different
stance and called for public opinion to chuck him out.
One thing the critics should remember is that captains cannot be
changed just like you change your underwear. Just because the
team he leads has suffered a series of defeats why blame only
the captain? Aren’t there others who should also take part of
the blame? It is not only the captain who decides on the
composition of teams but also the national selectors and the
We don’t say that Jayawardene is foolproof. He does have his
faults but all captains cannot be everyone’s darling. A good
example is Arjuna Ranatunga, the present Sri Lanka Cricket
interim committee chairman. He had his own faults
especially with players, officials and coaches and a
running battle with some sections of the media for his
“A Muslim unit in Muslim areas”
Sri Lanka Muslim Congress (SLMC) which threatened to
sweep the eastern province at the May 10 polls, has complained
that the government has already begun its terror tactics using
state resources in the guise of development work, to woo the
supporters and thereby win the election. However SLMC General
Secretary and Ampara district chief candidate Hasan Ali says the
party is ready to face any such threats to sweep the province on
May 10. Throwing a challenge to the government, the SLMC General
Secretary told The Nation that the UPFA will be forced to eat
the humble pie and regret it this time. “We are going all out to
crush the UPFA. For the UPFA, this election may be a face saving
mechanism. But for the people of the east, it is a referendum,”
the experienced politician opines.
Following are excerpts;
Q: What is the progress of the election campaign?
A: The election campaign is going on smoothly. So far there have
not been major incidents. But the biggest hitch is the
government’s new policy to restrict the campaign time. We are
severely handicapped because of this new regulation.
“Our goal is to return a Muslim as
The man who spearheads the campaign for the UPFA in
the east, is none other than Ameer Ali, the Minister of Disaster
Relief. A former SLMC strongman, Ali, is all out to give his
best, to ensure a UPFA victory. His ultimate goal is also to
ensure that, M.L.A.M. Hisbullah, who was his arch rival, a few
weeks ago, is brought to power and made the first Chief Minister
of the eastern province, after the North and East were de-merged
by a Supreme Court order. Ali says that, if the SLMC had agreed
to join the UPFA, then it would have ‘the easiest’ to return a
Muslim to the post of Chief Minister. But adds that, with the
refusal of the SLMC to join hands, the job is not going to be
‘that easy’. “But we are trying our level best. This is our goal
and we will somehow achieve it,” he told The Nation in an
Following are excerpts;
Q: What is the progress of your campaign in the East?
A: We have just begun our campaign. The campaign so far, has
gone on smoothly. Our goal is to return a Muslim, as a Chief
Minister to the East. We are working very hard, to achieve this