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Sunday May 25th, 2008

Fuel on the up and up – again!
Despite assurances by Petroleum Minister A.H.M. Fowzie barely 48 hours ago, Ceylon Petroleum Corporation (CPC) increased its fuel prices exponentially with effect from midnight yesterday.
The prices of diesel and petrol were increased by Rs. 30 while kerosene prices went up by Rs. 10. As per the latest price revision, the current price of Lanka Auto Diesel... (See Inside)

Engineers breathe fire over car bonanza
The crisis over the government’s decision to issue car permits to only a limited number of professionals is set to explode this week, with furious engineers geared up to issue a stern warning to the authorities on Tuesday.
Some 3,000 engineers, representing some 14 leading institutions in the country, will launch a non-cooperation action with their respective chairmen and ministry officials, including the minister in charge, beginning Wednesday. (See Inside)

JVP, Catholic Convention condemn savage attack
The Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) yesterday condemned the assault on the senior journalist and The Nation Associate Editor Keith Noyahr and called on the government to ensure and safeguard media freedom. (See Inside)



Is this the article that led to the brutal attack on Keith Noyahr?



‘No Japanese blow’ – Vijitha Herath
Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) MP and International Affairs Committee Secretary Vijitha Herath has denied claims that JVP supporters and sympathisers in Japan have officially informed them that they would no longer support the party.
He made this claim referring to reports that Saman Priyankara, the Organiser of the JVP... (See Inside)

Losing UNHRC won’t directly impact GSP+, says...
Sri Lanka not being able to enter the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) does not have a direct impact on the newly extended special incentive arrangement for sustainable development and good governance of the Generalised System of Tariff Preferences (GSP+), as long as the government abides by the human rights... (See Inside)

Govt. warned of protest campaign
The Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) yesterday warned of a protest campaign against the government and the increasing cost of living and inflation prevailing in the country.
JVP MP K.D. Lalkantha told The Nation that the party will soon enter a protest against the... (See Inside)




VAT fraud court case continues despite absence of eight accused
The trial of the biggest, most complex and most controversial Value Added Tax (VAT) fraud case, which deprived the public fund of Rs. 3.5 billion in revenue, has been continuing for the last five months, despite the absence of eight accused persons.
The trial commenced before Colombo High Court Judge Sunil Rajapaksa on January 24. During the last five months, prosecution led evidence of two main witnesses.
Retired Deputy Commissioner Piyadasa Guruge, who was the in charge of the Goods and Services Tax (GST) and VAT, gave evidence before court on the procedure... (See Inside)

UNP seeks redress on Provincial Council election
The United National Party (UNP) that was narrowly defeated at the May 10 provincial council election has decided to appeal to the Supreme Court to appoint an inquirer at magisterial level to investigate election violence.
UNP senior Member of Parliament John Amaratunga told The Nation yesterday that UNP lawyers were working on it and were preparing papers to institute legal action against the government and the elections commissioner.
Describing the recently concluded provincial poll as ‘fraudulent,’ the Parliamentarian said the UNP was determined to take the government and the election commissioner to task.
Admitting... (See Inside)

Muslim youth abduction causes grave concern
Muslim youth in the east are up in arms against the abduction of two youth from Eravur allegedly by TMVP cadres.
Following the gunning down of two TMVP cadres, the TMVP unleashed violence against the Muslims in Kathankudi last week.
Subsequently, two Muslim youths from Eravur were abducted. It is widely believed the youths may have been abducted by the TMVP.
The UNP has already held discussions with TMVP leader and Eastern Province Chief Minister Sivenesathurai Chandrakanthan alias Pillaiyan, regarding the abduction and the ensuing violence in the east. (See Inside)

Sri Lankan detainees seek release
Sri Lankans detained in India, in connection with former Indian Premier Rajiv Gandhi’s killing, have appealed for their immediate release.
In the Rajiv Gandhi killing incident Nalini, Murugan, Santhan, Perarivalan, Jeyakumar, Robert Payaz and Ravichandran were sentenced to death in 1988.
However, following appeals by their family members, including the wife of Rajiv Gandhi and Congress Leader Sonia Gandhi, the death sentence was reduced to life imprisonment.
Since then, the suspects have been serving sentence for the past 17 years, in a prison in Vellore, in South India.
Of the seven suspects, three Sri Lankan suspects... (See Inside)

Jailed Indians plea to return home
Some 43 Indians languishing in Sri Lankan jails have approached an Indian human rights organisation, urging intervention to help them return to their country.
Most of the jailed are those who have been convicted for offences related to drug trafficking in accordance with Sri Lankan law.
The India-based organisation Manitham Human Rights Organisation said that some of the Indians have been in Sri Lankan prisons for as long as 16 years.
Most of the jailed are from Tamil Nadu, who went... (See Inside)

End in sight for Red Cross tsunami housing efforts
By the end of 2008, Red Cross and Red Crescent partners aim to have built or contributed funding towards the construction of approximately 30,000 houses in the four years since the tsunami struck Sri Lanka.
With the housing programme in Sri Lanka entering its final phase, the construction of over 18,500 houses has been completed with Red Cross support and a further 10,500 homes are at various stages of construction.
“The Red Cross built houses that gave back the dignity of many people who lost their loved... (See Inside)




Time to review our human rights record
The inevitable happened last Wednesday: Sri Lanka lost its seat at the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) in what was interpreted by many as a slap in the face for the Mahinda Rajapaksa government.
There was much hype leading to the event. Until the eleventh hour, Colombo was putting up a brave front and maintaining it was confident of retaining its seat in the Council despite a series of reports which provided adverse publicity to the country’s recent human rights record.
In the aftermath of the defeat however, a different tune emerged. There government claimed that there was a concerted campaign within the country and outside it, orchestrated by non-governmental organisations and other interested parties to deprive... (See Inside)

The art of coarse leadership
The time has come for the main opposition UNP to go into a period of introspection, after their defeat at the May 10 Eastern Provincial Council (EPC) elections.
It is essential for a large, people based political party such as the UNP to overcome obstacles, tighten loose ends and set the party in the right direction, if it endeavors to be in the service of the masses and go forward as a responsible political entity ready to take over the reins at any given time.
The allegations levelled by the main opposition that the elections were rigged and failing to take appropriate action is a futile exercise. If one looks at the election history of this country carefully, there has never been a free and a fair election since 1970, according... (See Inside)


A well-deserved slap
The international community should be applauded for having given Sri Lanka the resounding slap it deserves for its continuing disregard of human rights.
The abduction and assault of a senior and respected journalist in the country, Defence Columnist and Associate Editor of The Nation, Keith Noyahr, appears to have been the Sri Lankan response to being voted out of the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC).
Keith’s shocking abduction and assault took place a mere 24 hours after Sri Lanka was beaten to the UNHRC seat by Pakistan. The whole disgusting and ugly incident once again smacks of state compliance.
Keith has in recent weeks, in his defence column, been critical of the Sri Lanka Army... (See Inside)

Brigadier Balraj led from the front
Kandiah Balasegaran, alias ‘Brigadier Balraj,’ the Deputy Military Chief of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) died of a heart attack at Puthukudiyiruppu in the Mullaitivu District on May 20.
In a condolence message issued by him, LTTE Supremo Velupillai Prabhakaran said, “The man who was at the centre of many of our Himalayan victories, the heroic military leader, who trained, guided and fought with our fighting formations and conventional brigades, is with us no more.”
Prabhakaran went on to say of Balraj, “His ability to move the fighting units, his focused actions and his martial characteristics struck fear in the hearts of the enemy. These same characteristics strengthened the conviction and morale of our fighters... (See Inside)



Clark strikes thrice to wobble Windies
Stuart Clark cut down West Indies’ top-order batting with his steady, accurate, if not menacing fast-medium bowling to tighten Australia’s grip on the opening Test on Friday.
Clark has so far collected three wickets for 18 runs from eight overs, as West Indies, replying to Australia’s first innings total of 431, reached 115 for three when stumps were drawn on the second day at Sabina Park.
Clark removed Devon Smith, Ramnaresh Sarwan, and Brenton Parchment in a tidy opening spell which left the home team wobbling on 68 for three.
But Shivnarine Chanderpaul, not out on 25, joined Runako Morton, not out on 23, and they carried West Indies through to the close with little or no incident.
Australia captain Ricky Ponting had turned to Clark, after the new-ball pair of Brett Lee and Mitchell Johnson failed to make an early breakthrough, and West Indies started confidently to reach 47 without loss. (See Inside)

Point Blank
Sports Minister nips it in the bud
Another saga of the Ranatunga cricket administration that failed to materialize was an attempt that was made to replace the present four-member selection committee headed by Ashantha de Mel.
When the term of office of the current selectors drew to a close the Ranatunga administration forwarded names of individuals of their own favour to the Sports Minister. But the Minister sensing something fishy extended the selection committee’s term by one month using the powers vested in him by the Sports Law.
A further attempt was made by the Ranatunga administration to get rid of the present selectors when they advertised for new selectors. This move did not meet with the approval of the Sports Minister because it had been done without obtaining the consent of Sri Lanka Cricket’s (SLC) executive committee.
In a smart move the Minister who celebrates 25 years as a political stalwart today, further extended the period of the selection committee by another three months which would be sufficient for Sri Lanka to go through the upcoming home series against India without... (See Inside)


“I deal with Pillaiyan now, not govt.” – Hisbullah
Having see-sawed endlessly and finally gone meekly back to the government fold following the crisis in the eastern Provincial Council, M.L.A.M. Hisbullah came out looking the quintessential sucker. Having bought the government ruse to appoint a Muslim Chief Minister if the Muslim candidates get a majority of seats, Hisbullah was left high and dry after TMVP leader Pillaiyan was promptly handed the position.
The Nation caught up with Hisbullah soon after he had swallowed his pride and let go of his wild plans for rebellion and taken oaths as a government provincial health minister last week. While admitting to being disappointed by the government’s actions, Hisbullah said he felt he would be able to work with Pillaiyan, even as Kattankudy erupted in violent tit-for-tat battle of arms allegedly between Hisbullah loyalists and the TMVP cadres
Following are excerpts of the interview:
Q:You were threatening rebellion in the EPC after Pillaiyan was given the CM post. What did the President tell you at Temple Trees on Sunday to make you change your mind?
A: Yes, what happened was that a promise was given about the Chief Minister-ship and then, they failed to fulfil the promises. The Muslim community, myself and my party, were all very upset about this. Later our party decided that we should not participate with the government, and we then informed the governor that all three members would function as a separate group. (See Inside)




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