|Cambodia, Thailand to face UN over
PHNOM PENH (AFP) – Diplomatic
efforts to resolve a festering border dispute between
Thailand and Cambodia gained momentum on Wednesday, with the
two adversaries set to address the UN Security Council next
Thailand also raised the possibility of the first
face-to-face talks between the two countries’ foreign
ministers since the deadly clashes erupted on Friday with a
volley of shelling in disputed jungle surrounding a
Thai Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya will brief members of
the Security Council on Monday on the rift, an aide said,
adding that a meeting with his Cambodian opposite number Hor
Namhong on the sidelines was “possible.”
In Phnom Penh, Prime Minister Hun Sen said his top diplomat
was preparing documents for the UN meeting.
At least eight people were killed in four days of
cross-border violence, which forced thousands of families to
flee on both sides of the frontier.
Each side blames the other for starting the fighting but
both have held fire since the last skirmish early Monday.
The 11th century Preah Vihear temple, built to honour the
Hindu god Shiva, has been a source of contention between
Thailand and Cambodia since it was granted UN World Heritage
status in July 2008.
The World Court ruled in 1962 that the clifftop structure
belonged to Cambodia but both countries claim ownership of a
4.6-square-kilometre (1.8-square-mile) surrounding area.
Shrapnel and artillery fire appear to have scarred Preah
Vihear, although no structural damage is visible, according
to an AFP photographer who visited the site.
The world heritage body UNESCO said it was planning a
mission to the area “as soon as possible” to assess the
state of the temple, the most celebrated example of ancient
Khmer architecture outside of Cambodia’s Angkor Wat.
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon spoke with both prime
ministers and said he again offered UN help to negotiate a
deal to end the clashes.
|Charles Taylor trial adjourned
LEIDSCHENDAM, Netherlands (AFP) – Former Liberian president
Charles Taylor boycotted his war crimes trial, forcing the
judge to adjourn the case after he and his lawyer accused
the court of “injustice.”
The snub by Taylor, the first African head of state to be
tried by an international court, came as his three-year-old
trial lurched towards a rancorous conclusion.
Lawyer Courtenay Griffiths accused the judges of “a
personalised attack on us” after they refused to admit a
document summarising the defence’s response to allegations
that Taylor armed rebels who killed and maimed thousands in
“This is about ego, not justice,” Griffiths told journalists
outside the courtroom, claiming the judges were merely
trying to teach his client a lesson.
Taylor, 62, has pleaded not guilty to 11 counts of war
crimes and crimes against humanity, claiming his trial was
based on “lies” and an intelligence conspiracy.
But the prosecution argued on Tuesday that Taylor bore “the
greatest responsibility for the horrific crimes committed
against the people of Sierra Leone through the campaign of
terror inflicted on them.”
While conceding the defence final brief was filed 20 days
late, Griffiths insisted that neither he nor his client
would return to court until there is a decision on his
application, submitted Tuesday, for leave to appeal the
The lawyer was scheduled to present oral, closing arguments
but stormed out of the courtroom the day before, prompting
Taylor’s refusal to return to the courtroom from a morning
Both remained defiantly absent.
The court received a letter stating that Taylor “has waived
his right to be present.”
With nobody in court to present closing arguments, judge
Teresa Doherty adjourned the proceedings – originally set
aside for both parties to rebut contentions in each other’s
The rebuttal, no longer on the agenda, would have been the
final step before the judges retire to consider their
judgment – expected mid-2011.
But with a ruling now pending on Griffiths’ appeal bid, it
is no longer clear when the trial will officially close.
|Tanker with huge load of oil hijacked
DUBAI (AFP) – Pirates seized a
supertanker off the coast of Oman bound for the United
States carrying a crew of 25 and a load of more than 1.9
million barrels of oil, officials said.
“We cannot contact the vessel,” an official with Enesel, the
Greek company that manages the Irene SL, told AFP by
The tanker was carrying “about 270,000 metric tonnes” of
Kuwaiti crude, which translates to over 1.9 million barrels
of oil, he said, asking not to be named.
The Bahrain-based Combined Maritime Forces said the
Greek-flagged ship was hijacked at 0926 GMT about 220
nautical miles (370 kilometres) east of the Omani coast, in
the Arabian Sea.
“We can confirm that the Irene SL has been pirated off the
coast of Oman,” a spokeswoman for the international naval
force told AFP by telephone.
“It is an oil tanker,” she said, adding that it had a crew
of 25 and was “bound for the United States.”
“We have no reports of casualties,” the spokeswoman said.
While the identity of the hijackers is unknown, Somali
pirates are the likely culprits.
“We’ve got no specific information about who has taken it,
but I think it would be reasonable to suspect it was an act
of Somali piracy,” the spokeswoman said.
Various websites devoted to information on shipping listed
the tanker as being 333 metres (1,092 feet) long with a
60-metre (196-foot) beam.
Irene SL is the second oil tanker hijacked in two days.
The European Union’s Atalanta mission to the seas off
Somalia and the Gulf of Aden (Eunavfor) said an Italian oil
tanker was taken early on Tuesday 600 miles east of the
island of Socotra by a single skiff with five pirates who
opened fire on the oiler.
That ship had a crew of 22 – five Italians and 17 Indians,
EU forces said.
Piracy has made shipping increasingly perilous off the Horn
of Africa and led to the deployment of an international
force to protect the key maritime corridor.
Berlusconi says Milan
prosecutors acting ‘subversively’
|ROME (AFP) – Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi
said prosecutors requesting to put him on trial immediately
are acting subversively and dismissed their case as a
pretext to oust him.
Berlusconi was reacting to news that Milan prosecutors had
requested an immediate trial based on allegations the prime
minister abused his power and paid for sex with an underage
“I can only say that it’s a farce, they are accusations
without any basis. The only aim of the inquiry is to defame
me in the media,” he said at a press conference focussing on
He said the case was subversive and the charges were
pretexts for opponents determined to remove him from power.
The 74-year-old leader is alleged to have paid for sex with
nightclub dancer Ruby, who was 17 at the time, and
improperly used his power as prime minister by asking police
to release her after she had been picked up for alleged
Berlusconi has denied ever paying for sex, let alone with
Ruby, who turned 18 in November 2010.
His lawyers also claim the Italian leader did not abuse his
power when he told police to release Ruby, because he
believed she was the niece of the Egyptian President Hosni
Mubarak, which was untrue.
Berlusconi had therefore been carrying out his duty by
intervening to help a fellow leader and reduce diplomatic
fallout, they say.
“I’m not worried for myself. I am a rich man who can pass
his time building hospitals for children all over the world,
as I’ve always hoped.”
|First Boeing Dreamliner for Air India
BANGALORE (AFP) – US Aerospace giant
Boeing said it would deliver the first of 27 Dreamliner
aircraft ordered by Air India between October and December –
a delay of several years.
“Air India will receive the first 787 delivery in the fourth
quarter of 2011,” Dinesh Keskar, Boeing India’s president,
told reporters at the Aero India 2011 show in the southern
Indian city of Bangalore.
India’s state carrier has ordered 27 of the troubled 787
Dreamliner aircraft, at an estimated cost of $4.5 billion.
The first delivery had reportedly been slated for late 2008
but was rescheduled numerous times. In August last year, Air
India said it would seek around $840 million in compensation
because of the delays.
India’s biggest private airline Jet Airways has also ordered
10 Dreamliners, but Dinesh declined to announce a delivery
schedule for those.
The Dreamliner was heralded as a new generation of highly
fuel-efficient mid-sized aircraft, but Boeing has
encountered difficulties in bringing the plane to market due
to its use of composite materials as well as integrating
production at various sites.
In December, Boeing said it had installed updated power
system software and conducted rigorous reviews to confirm
flight readiness after it had to halt tests due to an
electrical fire that forced an emergency landing.
|China creates rare earth strategic
BEIJING (AFP) – China is building up
strategic reserves of rare earth metals in a move that could
give it better control over the resource so indispensable to
high tech products, the Wall Street Journal reported.
Storage facilities have been built in recent months in the
northern region of Inner Mongolia with the capacity to hold
more than the 39,813 tonnes of the metals China exported
last year, the paper said.
But details of the strategic reserves have not been made
public, it added on Monday.
China controls about 95 percent of the global trade for the
17 minerals that collectively make up the rare earth metals
The metals, prized for their special chemical or
electromagnetic properties, are used in making mobile
phones, batteries for hybrid cars, wind turbines,
flat-screen televisions and other high tech products.
According to a report issued by the US Geological Survey in
November, about 36 percent of the world’s reserves of the
metals are in China.
With the prices of rare earth metals rising on average by
about 130 percent last year, mining companies in countries
such as Australia have stepped up efforts to extract the
But according to the Wall Street Journal, a new mine could
take a decade to develop, so the processing of rare earth
elements will remain concentrated in China for years.
|Art Auction adds colour to Kala Pola
|Sri Lanka’s popular open-air art gallery cum art fair,
Kala Pola, which came alive on Sunday January 23, 2011 on
the sidewalks of Ananda Coomaraswamy Mawatha (Green Path),
saw the participation of 320 artists and drew a crowd of
“A total of 277 artists registered for this year’s Kala
Pola,” said Cedric De Silva, Chairman, Board of Trustees,
George Keyt Foundation, and there were 43 who remained
unregistered. There was also a steady stream of visitors at
the Kala Pola; many of whom bought nearly 1,000 items – both
paintings and sculptures – with the artists making
approximately Rs.7 million in sales. The amount of sales of
individual artists ranged from Rs.1,000 to Rs.480,000.”
Kala Pola 2011 was declared open ceremonially by Han Tao,
Deputy Ambassador of People’s Republic of China in Sri
Lanka, in the presence of Cedric De Silva, Lallith
Ramanayake, Head of CSR, John Keells Holdings Plc, the
Trustees of the George Keyt Foundation and senior officials
of the John Keells Group.
Conceptualised by the George Keyt Foundation, Kala Pola has
enjoyed the unbroken patronage of the John Keells Group over
the past 17 years. Kala Pola offers upcoming as well as
established artists the opportunity to exhibit and sell
their works of art to art collectors and art lovers. It has
also helped launch the careers of numerous artists over the
years, not only helping them to build a steady clientele,
but also promoting art as a lucrative professional career.
Many Kala Pola artists have been successful and have gone
onto launch careers in the international arena.
From 8:00 a.m. to past 6:00 p.m., Ananda Coomaraswamy
Mawatha was a hive of activity, with curious visitors
including numerous tourists, intent art-collectors and
families on a day out, browsing through row upon row of
colourful creations on display while children gazed in awe
at the stilt-walkers, dancers and drummers providing lively
entertainment. A constant stream of jazz music and a variety
of food stalls including local delicacies added to the
general atmosphere of camaraderie and fun.
This year, Kala Pola introduced the special feature of an
art auction where 15 paintings of selected artists came
under the hammer at the National Art Gallery. A total
revenue of Rs.570,000 was generated as a result of the art
auction. “Your efforts to help artists are deeply
appreciated,” said Anura Dahanayake, a long-term exhibitor
at Kala Pola, whose colourful oil on canvas entitled `Having
a Rest’ was one of the items which attracted enthusiastic
bidding at the art auction.
Kala Pola is sponsored and organised by John Keells Holdings
PLC and John Keells Foundation and presented by the George
|Japan provides cultural grant to SLRC
The Government of Japan has decided to provide 41.7 million
Japanese Yen (approximately Rs.54 million) towards the
Project for the Improvement of TV Production Equipment of
Sri Lanka Rupavahini Corporation’ under its Cultural Grant
The funds provided through this grant would be utilised to
purchase and install ultramodern equipment for the
establishment of a new 2D and 3D animation production studio
at Sri Lanka Rupavahini Corporation (SLRC).
The establishment of this animation studio will enable SLRC
to produce 2D and 3D animation movies for children, and
utilize the popular 3D movie medium to disseminate
information related to national development, enhance
educational programmes, promote good social habits and
values among the children, and promote national harmony. The
project will be implemented through the Japan International
Cooperation Agency (JICA).
The Sri Lanka Rupavahini Corporation is the government-owned
national television broadcasting station in Sri Lanka
managed by the Ministry of Mass Media and Information and
was established in 1982 with funds provided by the
Government of Japan under its Grant Aid Scheme. Further
grant assistance was provided by Japan to SLRC in 1985 for
its expansion (fully equipped new studio) and in 1997 for
its rehabilitation (equipment replacement).
Japan has been providing Cultural Grant Aid to Sri Lanka
since 1979 and a total sum of 979.7 million yen
(approximately Rs.1.3 billion) has been granted up to 2009
under this scheme towards various projects, such as the
provision of a Language Laboratory System at the Kelaniya
University (1990/91), Astronomical Observatory to the Sri
Lanka Planetarium (1993), Educational Program Software to
Sri Lanka Rupavahini Corporation – SLRC (1994/95), Film
Preservation Equipment to the Government Film Unit
(1995/96), Audio Visual Equipment to the Sri Lanka
Planetarium (1996/97), Microfilm Equipment to the National
Museum Library (1997/98), Musical Instruments to the
Aesthetic Training College (1998/99), Audio and Lighting
Equipment to the John de Silva Memorial Theatre (1999/00),
Sound and Lighting Equipment to the Tower Hall Theatre
(2001/02) and Improvement of display equipment to the new
Sigiriya Museum (2009).
The signing of Exchange of Notes for the provision of this
grant to SLRC was held on February 10, 2011 at the Ministry
of Finance and Planning in Colombo between Kunio Takahashi,
Ambassador of Japan and Dr P B Jayasundera, Secretary,
Ministry of Finance and Planning in the presence of Rohana
Perera, Deputy Director General, SLRC, Athula Ransirilal,
Director Film and Dubbing Unit, SLRC and Kiyohiko Hamada,
First Secretary, Cultural Affairs and Information.
|A Review of Souvenir
150th Anniversary of Holy Emmanuel Church, Moratuwa
By Sydney Knight
This souvenir spans the period of 150 years, from 1860 to
This has been published by the Board of Compilers on behalf
of the 150th Anniversary Celebrations Steering Committee in
It contains the Vision, a Mission Statement, a Logo and a
Theme to celebrate 150 years of this significant Parish in
The Preface has been done by the Board of Compilers and also
It has messages from the Archbishop of Canterbury, the
Archbishop of Perth, that being the Former Vicar of Holy
Emmanuel Church, Moratuwa most Rev Roger Herft who was the
special invitee to celebrate the event. It also has messages
from the Bishop of Colombo, the Archdeacon of Galle, the
Incumbent of the Parish, from retired Bishop Rev Kenneth
Fernando, former Incumbent Rev Geoffrey Misso.
This souvenir has 16 chapters, six appendices, a section
entitled In Memoriam and the Anthem sung at the Festival of
The 16 chapters is a walk-down memory lane beginning with
the piece by the Founder, Gate Mudaliyar Jeronis de Soysa
and followed by a chapter on the first 125 years.
Thereafter, pieces by incumbents, beginning with Canon
Lakshman Pieris to the incumbent at the time of the
It has chapters on the Church Wardens, the Sunday School,
the Parish Organisations, the Choir, the Servers’ Guild, of
the Praise and Worship Team, a chapter on the daughter
Churches and on St Johns Home which takes care of the
children. The final two chapters are concerning
Administration and Constitutional matters regarding the
Church of England in Ceylon 1796 to 2010 and messages from
Parishioners who chose to seek Ordination. This includes a
Nun. This covers the period 1986 onwards.
The Appendix has pieces on the Trust Deed. The Canakeratne
Awards, the 150th Anniversary Celebration Office Bearers,
the Steering Committee and the Sub Committee Convenors, on
Archbishops, Metropolitans, Bishops and Archdeacons, the
Incumbents, Assistant Curates and Parishioners who sought
Ordination from 1986 to 2010. The final Appendix is on
Diocesan Councillors, Lay Assistants, Servers and the
Cemetery Board of Wardens from 1986 to 2010.
The In Memoriam reminds the reader of all those now in the
nearer presence of God who served this Parish.
The souvenir has an excellent drawings of the Church on its
cover, the inside front page of the cover and at the end.
The inside of the back cover has a photograph of the
Monument of the Founder. Soon after the page that covers the
anthem there is a copy of the parish photograph which sadly
includes only the adults who were part of her 2010
celebrations. There are also photographs of the Board of
Compilers, of the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Archbishop
of Perth, the Bishop of Colombo, the Archdeacon of Galle,
Incumbent of the Parish, Bishop Kenneth Fernando and the Rev
Before the chapters on the Founder there is a portrait of
him. The souvenir also carries pictures of the Moratu
Walauwa where the Founder resided, pictures of the Church
outside and inside, the six timber arches, the stained
glass, the Church Tower, both outside and inside views.
Moratuwa is well-known for persons who make furniture and
also people who earn a livelihood from fishing. There are
also persons belonging to the urban poor. A critical study
of the Mission of this Parish today will mean asking hard,
difficult, pertinent, relevant and meaningful questions.
Primarily in what way is this parish which kept its 150th
Anniversary being incarnational? In other words, in the
manner God became human, are the members of this Parish
Church entering into the lives of all those worshippers in
the Parish Church and those outside the Parish. It is in
addressing these issues and moving forward can the
celebration be considered meaningful and relevant.
|Jatika Namal Uyana Development Trust
A trust titled ‘Jatika Namal Uyana Development Trust’ was
launched for the conservation of the Jatika Namal Uyana at a
ceremony held at the Parliamentary complex recently under
the patronage of Prime Minister D M Jayaratne.
Parliamentarian Namal Rajapaksa will function as the
Chairman of the new Trust and Secretary to the President for
Parliamentary Affairs Kumarasiri Hettige as its secretary.
Among the other members of the Trust are Secretary to the
Environment Ministry R H M Samaratunga, Senior Assistant
Secretaries to the President Harsha Wijewardena, and Lalith
Sepala Ratnayake, President, Sri Lanka Red Cross Society,
Jagath Abeysinghe and journalist Duminda Sanjeewa
|37th Anniversary of Tennekumbura YMMA,
Thirty seventh anniversary of the Central Tennekumbura
YMMA, Kandy, celebrated with 27 school students of Central
Province who obtained highest marks in the Grade 5
In the photo Mrs Z M Munawwara, Principal of Badiud-Din
Mahmamud Girls’ College, Kandy, awarding a scholarship fund
to a Student with M S Rakeeb, President, A A Mohammed
Nagoorpichai, Life General Secretary, and S Razeek, Director
of Projects, Mr M Fazlin Wahid, Attorney-at-Law and
Secretary of Kandy Baithulmal Fund and S M Nazar, Vice
President of Jumma Mosque, Tennekurnbura
|Brigadier Mudalige promoted as 23
Brigadier Mahinda Mudalige, who had been functioning as
the commander of the 234 battalion of Sri Lanka Army
stationed in Batticaloa following the humanitarian
operations in the East, has now been promoted as the
commander of the 23 Division.
Brigadier Mudalige came in for accolades from the people in
the floods-hit East, for his tireless efforts to rescue
families caught in floods and provide prompt relief to the
Brigadier Mudalige during his stint in Batticaloa took a
keen interest in promoting sports activity among
schoolchildren and fostering harmony and amity among
different communities in the district. A familiar figure
among school children in the district, the brigadier had
organised a series of leadership training workshops and
sports training camps for them.
He also had been playing a lead role in organising
ceremonies to mark the Sinhala/Tamil New Year and Christmas
Carols to mark Christmas every year.
The picture above shows the people in the Batticaloa area
grateful for his services warmly greet Brigadier Mudalige at
a farewell ceremony held recently.
|A petition against RSF’s boycott call
A Facebook Group has been set up by a
group of fans of the Galle Literary Festival, opposing the
RSF call for a boycott of the Festival.
The group has attracted a broad spectrum of Sri Lankans of
all political opinions and ethnicities, demonstrating the
breadth of opposition to the boycott. The members intend to
write to a few of the key signatories to the RSF petition,
once the membership reaches around 300, a similar number to
those who signed the RSF petition.
The number of group members is now nearly half the number of
signatories of RSF’s online petition, and still growing.
That a few friends, with neither funding nor support, could
rally nearly half the number of people that a
well-established, media savvy NGO was able, is a clear
indication that most people think the boycott call was
The group calls on people: “Whether you like the literary
festival or not, whether you support the government or not,
if you feel that Reporters without Borders’ boycott was
damaging to the cause of free speech, please join this
group, to prove that most people oppose the boycott.”
Facebook Group Address:
A blogger who supports the group has argued that the
festival provides a space for discussion and that the
boycott is actually narrowing the spectrum of discussion in
Sunila Abeysekera, an award winning human rights activist
also wrote against the boycott:
Those interested in voicing their opposition are invited to
join the group, simply search Facebook for “RSF’s boycott of
the Galle Literary Festival was damaging to free speech” and
|Postage Stamp commemorating Dr
A Commemorative Postage Stamp and
First Day Cover were issued by the Philatelic Bureau of the
Department of Posts to honour Late Deshamanya Dr P R
Anthonis on his 100th Birth Anniversary that fell on January
21, 2011. Here the first, first day cover is seen being
handed over to Thanushri Hatarasinghe, great grand-daughter
of late Dr Anthonis by His Grace Rev Dr Oswald Gomis,
Archbishop Emeritus, Chancellor of the University of
Colombo. To his left is Upali S Jayasekera, Secretary, JICA
Alumni Association of Sri Lanka which organised the event.
|Pre-school for Indiketiyagoda,
District MP and Chairman of Janasuwaya Development
Foundation Sajith Premadasa has initiated many projects to
upgrade and enhance infrastructure and livelihoods of all
communities in the Hambantota District.
Picture shows Sajith Premadasa inaugurating a pre-school
built at a cost of Rs.1.2 million in Indiketiyagoda,
Potakada in the Beliatta Division. So far, 345 such
pre-schools have been built under the guidance and
leadership of Premadasa