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Sunday July 27th, 2008

Government censures EU delegation
Foreign Minister Rohitha Bogollagama yesterday criticised the European Parliament’s delegation for taking hasty decisions on the human rights situation in Sri Lanka. (See Inside)

UNP leadership crisis worsens
In a bizarre development to the United National Party (UNP) leadership crisis, a questionnaire has been circulated amongst several party Parliamentarians seeking their thoughts on vital issues including... (See Inside)

Exam paper money pilfered for posters!
Monies released for the printing of term test exam papers are alleged to have been pilfered for the printing of posters for the forthcoming North Central Province... (See Inside)


            Blessings for the brave            

President Mahinda Rajapaksa yesterday visited the Anuradhapura Jaya Sri Maha Bodhiya to invoke blessings for the injured soldiers at the Anuradhapura General Hospital, whom he visited earlier in the day (Pic by Rukshan Abeywansha)
                             (Pic by Rukshan Abeywansha)


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Obama maintains silence on LTTE
Despite his pledge to defeat the Taliban and al Qaeda terrorism in Berlin last week, White House hopeful Senator Barack Obama continues to remain mum on the LTTE, defined as the world’s most... (See Inside)

Opposition vows to fight “unethical” appointments
The main opposition – the United National Front (UNP) and the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) – has vowed to fight... (See Inside)

Compensation inadequate, charge ousted residents
A week has gone by since more than 100 houses were demolished by the Urban Development Authority (UDA) and several families which have been rendered... (See Inside)



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Power and Energy Ministry overbooks CEB circuit bungalows
The Power and Energy Ministry had booked more than five circuit bungalows belonging to the Ceylon Electricity Board (CEB) until August 30.
According to Lanka Viduli Sevaka Sangamaya (LVSS) General Secretary Ranjan Jayalal, the Ministry had booked several CEB circuit bungalows in the North Central and Sabaragamuwa Provinces.
The Ministry has booked the CEB circuit bungalows in Anuradhapura, Minneriya, Udawalawe, Samanalawewa and Thambahinna.
“Usually, when a CEB circuit bungalow is booked, they have to make the payment prior to using it. But, in this case, the Ministry was granted approval without making any payments, while CEB employees who paid for the bookings had been informed that they could not use the bungalows till August 30,” he said. (See Inside)

Doctors up in arms against CEPA
The Government Medical Officers’ Association will launch an island-wide protest if the Sri Lankan Government moves to sign the Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) with India relating to tele-medicines.
GMOA Spokesman Dr. Upul Gunasekara told The Nation that they were against the tele-medicine system in the CEPA and that not a single officer of the Health Ministry had seen the draft and its contents.
“How can it benefit the health sector, since tele-medicine is conducted through the internet? Therefore, who will be responsible if something goes wrong? The patients and doctors will be making contact through the internet,” Dr. Gunasekara said.
Dr. Gunasekara asserted that the government should have consulted medical expertise if it was signing any document... (See Inside)

CCC calls on govt. to address pressing issues
The relatively high government debt burden and under performance of the public investment programme has resulted in increasing inflation, which has hindered our economy, pointed out the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce (CCC), in its report presented at its 169th Annual General Meeting (AGM).
Increases in the prices of oil and the rising costs of food are factors that also contributed to rising inflation and the CCC urged the government to address these factors on an urgent and immediate basis.
It further stated that the cost of money in today’s context could be in the range of 18%-24% or even higher depending on specific circumstances and that this situation would have a harsh impact on overall investment and a host of business decisions.  (See Inside)

‘Crown’ man next in line
Hot on the heels of the Tamil Makkal Viduthalai Pulikal (TMVP) making its mark in the All Party Representative Committee (APRC), the ‘Crown’ symbol carrying National Freedom Front (NFF) Leader Wimal Weerawansa, a one time strong critic of the committee, is likely to be invited into the APRC shortly.
National Unity Alliance Deputy Leader and APRC representative Abul Kalaam had proposed that Weerawansa be included in the committee, which met mid this month after a long lapse. However, it has again ceased sittings due to the non-availability of its normal meeting venue at the BMICH, due to the SAARC Summit.
The APRC is scheduled to meet again next... (See Inside)

If you want to fly, come early – BIA
Passengers travelling on international flights commencing today have been advised to arrive at the Bandaranaike International Airport (BIA) much earlier than the stipulated three hours before the time of their respective flights.
An official attached to the BIA said that it was advisable for passengers to arrive at the airport much earlier than the usual three hours before the time of the flight during the SAARC Summit, which will conclude on August 3.
“There will be more checkpoints on the way to the airport than usual, so it’s advisable for passengers to leave home much earlier than usual,” the official told The Nation... (See Inside)

CEB unions breathe fire over undersea power line
Ceylon Electricity Board (CEB) trade unions have demanded that the government publicises the agreement signed with India on the US$ 450 million mega project between the two countries to set up an undersea power line.
Several leading CEB trade unions demanded that the government publicises the bilateral power exchange pact, which would result in the transfer of 1,000 MW of electricity between the two countries.
CEB Common Services Alliance Convener Ananda Nimalaratna demanded... (See Inside)



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SAARC booster for elections
With the SAARC (South Asian Association for Regional Co-operation) Conference looming, Sri Lankan politics is going though many twists and turns against a backdrop of Provincial Council Elections in the North Central and Sabaragamuwa provinces
The latest issue to dominate the headlines was the offer of an unilateral ceasefire declared by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) for the duration of the Summit. The declaration came rather unexpectedly, and with no strings attached. The Tigers were agreeable to being on their best behaviour, or so they said, and made no demands on Colombo.
From a tactical point of view, it is clear that the LTTE is aiming for a propaganda victory. Militarily hounded and cornered by the security forces, they needed to shore up their flagging reputation and the SAARC conference has provided the opportunity.
Previously, the fears in Colombo’s corridors of power were security, security and more security. The city will come under its... (See Inside)

LTTE’s ceasefire call a trick- MR

The LTTE which suffered a series of serious debacles militarily and psychologically, recently declared a unilateral ceasefire. Meanwhile it was evident that the Norwegian peace brokers were haunting the country once again. Several ministers who promote the federal concept were among those jubilant over the LTTE’s unilateral ceasefire declaration.
“I do not trust the statements of the LTTE. They gunned down Kadirgamar during the previous ceasefire. Now they are up to peace talks again. It is customary for the LTTE to declare a ceasefire, when they are desperate. We are prepared for peace talks provided they lay down their arms. Mahinda Rajapaksa cannot be led astray like other leaders. We continue our humanitarian operations until terrorism is wiped out” the President said, when asked about the present position.
However,... (See Inside)


CEPA: Indian bias or Lankan opportunity?
The Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) that Sri Lanka has been negotiating with India has caused quite a stir in the past two weeks.
There have been claims of secrecy, of Indian bias, of a rushed and non-transparent process, and of lack of stakeholder consultation.
But is this a hidden document that suddenly emerged, as if from nowhere? And what exactly is inside? Will Sri Lankan business die or thrive under the proposed arrangement?
To find out, The Nation spoke to Deshal de Mel, a researcher from the respected Colombo-based think-tank, the Institute of Policy Studies (IPS).
The IPS has been supporting Sri Lanka’s Department of Commerce throughout the CEPA process and recently held a public seminar to present and discuss progress to date... (See Inside)

Make a reality of SAARC
The 15th SAARC Summit is taking on the proportions of an MGM production. Let us all hope that President Rajapaksa and his advisors undertake a reality check and use this opportunity for him to go down in history as the SAARC Chairman who transformed the organisation from a pious talk shop that does not comply with conventions and agreements, creating an organisation which has meaning for the people of South Asia, as was conceived at its inception.
It was way back in 1980 that the idea of regional cooperation between the countries of South Asia was conceived. Thereafter, in 1981, consultations were held in Colombo by the foreign secretaries of the seven countries. This meeting was followed by the first meeting of foreign ministers, who met in Delhi in 1983 and adopted the Declaration on South Asian Regional Cooperation (SAARC). (See Inside)


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India, following on, collapsed again in the face of Muralitharan, who took 11 wickets overall, and Ajantha Mendis.
Debutant Mendis took 4-60, giving him eight wickets for the match, as India were skittled for 138, to lose by an innings and 239 runs.
Gautam Gambhir’s knock of 43 proved the only Indian resistance of any note.
Mahela Jayawardene’s side took an emphatic 1-0 lead in the three-Test series as they dominated the fourth day.
Muralitharan ripped through the Indian batting, taking the early wicket of Virender Sehwag for 13 and subsequently striking at regular intervals.
India lost their remaining nine wickets in little more than a session, marking another disappointing performance with the bat.
VVS Laxman fell to Mendis for just 21, trapped plumb in front on the back pad, and Sachin Tendulkar soon followed him back to the pavilion, caught at backward short leg for 12.
Umpire Billy Doctrove initially ruled not out, having failed to spot the ball flick Tendulkar’s bat as he attempted to paddle-sweep Muralitharan, but third umpire Rudi Koertzen overruled the decision on review. (See Inside)

Point Blank
Saluting our cricketers who perform against all odds

The farce that was made over the appointment of manager for the national cricket team and the tug of war that followed between Sri Lanka Cricket’s interim committee chairman Arjuna Ranatunga and Sports Minister Gamini Lokuge is another sad saga of the politics that affects the game of cricket in the country. This has been the trend since interim committees first started to surface nine years ago. It ended up with the Minister making the statement that ‘it was a mistake to make Ranatunga the interim committee chairman’ which was carried in certain sections of the media and denied by the Minister.
In the context of it all Hashan Tillakaratne, the former Sri Lanka captain, was made to look a scapegoat as the Minister refused to ratify the appointment made by Tillakaratne’s former captain Ranatunga. The issue was sorted out barely a day before the start of the first Test between Sri Lanka and India at the SSC when Sri Lanka Cricket appointed Charith Senanayake, another former cricketer who made his Test debut under Ranatunga against New Zealand in 1991. (See Inside)


BASIL RAJAPAKSA at his democratic best!
Democracy cannot be restored without a cost says United Peoples Freedom Alliance (UPFA) Parliamentarian and Presidential Advisor Basil Rajapaksa. Countering charges by the Opposition that elections and the SAARC summit were a wasteful exercise, Rajapaksa said restoration of democracy, development and globalisation have all been done at a cost. “Nothing is free. We can ignore elections and save money, but for what?” questioned Rajapaksa in an interview with The Nation. He also said the forthcoming elections were being used by the government as a barometer to feel the pulse of the people. “It is essential to feel the pulse of the people. The eastern province election results gave us approval for liberation from the LTTE. And here too we are trying to see how we can help the masses after feeling their pulse,” he said.
Following are excerpts;
Q: The election campaign is hotting up with both the UPFA and UNP talking of winning the.. (See Inside)

“I will never cross over to the government”
The United National Party (UNP) has its own clandestine agenda to win the August 23 Provincial Council elections. The man behind this discrete agenda is none other than UNP’s firebrand S. B. Dissanayake – the National Organiser popularly known as ‘SB’. The responsibility to steer the UNP to victory lies in the hands of SB, who has already evolved a mechanism to ensure victory by defeating the UPFA. He is optimistic and believes the government will not be able to play its own “cheating game” this time.
Dissanayake, who is also struggling to clear his name in national politics after losing his civic rights, is planning to enter Parliament through the National List. He says his ambition is to enter Parliament just one day, make a statement, clear his name and then immediately resign.
“I am not power crazy. But I want to clear my name. (See Inside)

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