Nation 2  


Cambodia, Thailand to face UN over border dispute

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 week.
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 900-year-old temple.
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 Sierra Leone.
“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 document’s exclusion.
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 coffee break.
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 closing statements.
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 off Oman

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 telephone.
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 girl.
“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 Italy’s economy.
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 theft.
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 in Oct-Dec

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 reserves

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 market.
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 minerals.
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.

LOCAL events

Art Auction adds colour to Kala Pola 2011
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 nearly 27,000.
“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 Keyt Foundation.
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 Aid Scheme.
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 2010.
This has been published by the Board of Compilers on behalf of the 150th Anniversary Celebrations Steering Committee in December 2010.
It contains the Vision, a Mission Statement, a Logo and a Theme to celebrate 150 years of this significant Parish in Moratuwa.
The Preface has been done by the Board of Compilers and also the Editorial.
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 Celebration.
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 celebrations follows.
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 Geoffrey Misso.
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 launched

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 Balasuriya.

37th Anniversary of Tennekumbura YMMA, Kandy

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 Scholarship Examination.
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 Division Commander

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 displaced victims.
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 of GLF

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 wrong-headed.
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 the country: http://jestforkicks.blogspot.com/2011/02/rsfs-boycott-of-galle-literay-festival.html
Sunila Abeysekera, an award winning human rights activist also wrote against the boycott: http://groundviews.org/2011/01/24/writing-against-the-rsfjds-appeal-to-boycott-the-galle-literary-festival/
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 join.

Postage Stamp commemorating Dr Anthonis

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, Beliatta

Hambantota 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